February 14, 2005: Headlines: COS - Malawi: Anthropology: AIDS: HIV: AIDS Education: NGO's: Rochester Democrat and Chronicle: Malawi RPCV Joseph Lanning founded the World Education Fund, a nonprofit foundation, in 1999. Since then the fund has sponsored 30 one-year scholarships for African children ages 14 to 20. All are AIDS orphans and many are girls who by their gender and the constraints of their culture are often shut out of secondary school

Peace Corps Online: Peace Corps News: Library: Peace Corps: NGO's : NGO's and the Peace Corps: February 14, 2005: Headlines: COS - Malawi: Anthropology: AIDS: HIV: AIDS Education: NGO's: Rochester Democrat and Chronicle: Malawi RPCV Joseph Lanning founded the World Education Fund, a nonprofit foundation, in 1999. Since then the fund has sponsored 30 one-year scholarships for African children ages 14 to 20. All are AIDS orphans and many are girls who by their gender and the constraints of their culture are often shut out of secondary school

By Admin1 (admin) (pool-141-157-21-200.balt.east.verizon.net - 141.157.21.200) on Friday, February 18, 2005 - 9:14 pm: Edit Post

Malawi RPCV Joseph Lanning founded the World Education Fund, a nonprofit foundation, in 1999. Since then the fund has sponsored 30 one-year scholarships for African children ages 14 to 20. All are AIDS orphans and many are girls who by their gender and the constraints of their culture are often shut out of secondary school

Malawi RPCV Joseph Lanning founded the World Education Fund, a nonprofit foundation, in 1999. Since then the fund has sponsored 30 one-year scholarships for African children ages 14 to 20. All are AIDS orphans and many are girls  who by their gender and the constraints of their culture are often shut out of secondary school

Malawi RPCV Joseph Lanning founded the World Education Fund, a nonprofit foundation, in 1999. Since then the fund has sponsored 30 one-year scholarships for African children ages 14 to 20. All are AIDS orphans and many are girls who by their gender and the constraints of their culture are often shut out of secondary school

Everyday Angel: Africa on his mind

A UR grad's work at a poor Kenyan school inspired him to organize a scholarship fund

Corydon Ireland
Staff Writer

Caption: Joseph Lanning spent time in 1998 researching gender disparities at high schools in Kenya. Upon his return home, he decided to do something "meaningful and sustainable," so he created the World Education Fund. Photo: CARLOS ORTIZ staff photographer

(February 14, 2005) At his desk at the University of Rochester, Joseph W. Lanning is a long way from Africa. But his heart is always with the continent that inspired him.

The 27-year-old UR anthropology graduate, now assistant director of admissions, turned inspiration into action. He was still an undergraduate in 1999 when he founded the World Education Fund, a nonprofit foundation.

Since then the fund has sponsored 30 one-year scholarships for African children ages 14 to 20. All are AIDS orphans and many are girls who by their gender and the constraints of their culture are often shut out of secondary school.

The inspiration for the fund came in the fall of 1998, when Lanning spent a semester in Kenya to research gender disparities in high schools. For the ex-athlete from Fairport High School, the trip was a months-long epiphanic moment, full of insight and change.

He lived with rural families and for a time taught in a cash-strapped school, where boys outnumbered girls 20 to one. The world map on one wall was three decades old, but economic desperation was matched by a desperation to learn.

"I came back from that experience really wanting to do something something meaningful and sustainable," said Lanning. He enlisted a lawyer friend to do the paperwork for a small foundation, knowing how far an American dollar can go in rural Africa.

Today, the average scholarship is $600. That modest sum buys a year of tuition at a private secondary school, with money left over for room and board, books, fees and uniforms. In its six years, the foundation has taken in $15,000, most of it in small donations. "It doesn't take much money to do a great deal of good," said Lanning.

The foundation, at first called the World Education Fund for Women, supported one African student the first year.

Six years later, "we have not spent a single penny for overhead," said Lanning, who takes offense that many large-scale foundations drain too much money into administration.

"He started modestly, just to make a difference," said Ayala Emmett, a UR associate professor of anthropology whose "jaw dropped" in 1999 when Lanning, a student of hers, shared his plans.

"I was struck by the way Joe took anthropology a step further," she said, and adopted what Margaret Meade called "public anthropology" the act of going beyond scholarship to embrace civic action.

There is no big staff at the World Education Fund. Lanning works out of the campus apartment he shares with his wife, Alexis Spilman Lanning, a UR doctoral student in optics.

"My (fund) office is my filing cabinet at home and my personal computer," he said. The fund's board, including brother Benjamin Lanning of Victor, Ontario County, meets in the living room or a local bookstore.

"Joe is a visionary and very passionate about that vision," said the Rev. Brian Cool, director of UR's Catholic Newman Community, who has known Lanning for 12 years. "He's dedicated to a cause that's so admirable."

Lanning prefers a modest touch. "I'm a guy who had an idea," he said, "and found a lot of people who support making it real."

After graduating in 2000, Lanning joined the Peace Corps and served in Malawi, a landlocked nation in southern Africa, where the median age is 16 and 14 percent of adults are infected with HIV.

He had just met the woman he would marry, and she kept the fund going during his two years of service, most of it as an AIDS counselor in Gowa, a village without running water or electricity.

"You realize life (in Africa) is much richer than you see on TV," where images of starving infants and warriors and wildlife predominate, said Lanning. "But there are smiling teenagers and productive cities."

In the last two years, the fund has branched out, sponsoring cultural exchange trips for UR students to Malawi in the summer. They pay their own way.

"It was like a mini-Peace Corps," said Molly Menge, 24, of Rochester, who went last summer, 10 days after graduating from UR with a degree in brain and cognitive sciences.

A trip that transcends casual travel "breaks down stereotypes and breaks down cultural barriers," she said. "It makes you think about what you're valuing."

"It was a life-changing experience," said UR junior Arnab Datta, 20, who went on the same trip and came back inspired again to teach. One night in Gowa, he co-taught an extra-session mathematics course on vectors to eager African high-schoolers by candlelight.

UR graduate student Jose Perillan went to Malawi with the Lanning group last summer "a transformative experience," he said and plans to go again this year.

"Wherever I go (in a career), I would like to help Joe make this a larger program," he said.

Lanning has large plans, expanding from the base of the World Education Fund. Included: Overseas student programs, funded by the travelers, that take in countries and cultures beyond Africa. And summer programs in Malawi and Kenya focusing on basic health education and vocational training.

"For a tsunami, everyone mobilizes," said Emmett of the typical way charity unfolds: grand and impermanent.

"But the kind of day-to-day tasks of making the world better are much more difficult," she said of Lanning's low-key brand of goodness. "It's heroic."

CIRELAND@DemocratandChronicle.com





When this story was posted in February 2005, this was on the front page of PCOL:

The Peace Corps Library Date: February 7 2005 No: 438 The Peace Corps Library
Peace Corps Online is proud to announce that the Peace Corps Library is now available online. With over 30,000 index entries in over 500 categories, this is the largest collection of Peace Corps related reference material in the world. From Acting to Zucchini, you can use the Main Index to find hundreds of stories about RPCVs who have your same interests, who served in your Country of Service, or who serve in your state.

WWII participants became RPCVs Date: February 13 2005 No: 442 WWII participants became RPCVs
Read about two RPCVs who participated in World War II in very different ways long before there was a Peace Corps. Retired Rear Adm. Francis J. Thomas (RPCV Fiji), a decorated hero of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, died Friday, Jan. 21, 2005 at 100. Mary Smeltzer (RPCV Botswana), 89, followed her Japanese students into WWII internment camps. We honor both RPCVs for their service.

February 12, 2005: This Week's Top Stories Date: February 12 2005 No: 443 February 12, 2005: This Week's Top Stories
Peter McPherson keeping busy in DC 12 Feb
Martha Ryan wins Award for pre-natal program 12 Feb
John Perkins reveals dark side of U.S. aid 10 Feb
Kathleen DeBold involved in lesbian activism 10 Feb
Jim Doyle to fix Wisconsin deficit without raising taxes 10 Feb
Chris Dodd proposes Class Action Fairness Act 10 Feb
RPCVs create Tsunami Assistance Project for India 9 Feb
Donna Shalala talks about her Peace Corps days 8 Feb
Senator Frist proposes Global Health Corps 8 Feb
Bush's budget to end Perkins loan forgiveness for PCVs 8 Feb
Tom Petri's Direct Loan Reward Act to save $18 billion 8 Feb
Izaak Edvalson helps educate a Doctor 7 Feb
Carol Bellamy condemns Female genital mutilation 7 Feb
Carl Pope criticizes Bush environmental priorities 7 Feb
Mike Tidwell defends wind farms 6 Feb
Kinky Friedman for real? Voters may not care 5 Feb
Bruce Anderson's Newspaper folds amid money woes 5 Feb

Bush's FY06 Budget for the Peace Corps Date: February 7 2005 No: 436 Bush's FY06 Budget for the Peace Corps
The White House is proposing $345 Million for the Peace Corps for FY06 - a $27.7 Million (8.7%) increase that would allow at least two new posts and maintain the existing number of volunteers at approximately 7,700. Bush's 2002 proposal to double the Peace Corps to 14,000 volunteers appears to have been forgotten. The proposed budget still needs to be approved by Congress.
RPCVs mobilize support for Countries of Service Date: January 30 2005 No: 405 RPCVs mobilize support for Countries of Service
RPCV Groups mobilize to support their Countries of Service. Over 200 RPCVS have already applied to the Crisis Corps to provide Tsunami Recovery aid, RPCVs have written a letter urging President Bush and Congress to aid Democracy in Ukraine, and RPCVs are writing NBC about a recent episode of the "West Wing" and asking them to get their facts right about Turkey.
RPCVs contend for Academy Awards  Date: January 31 2005 No: 416 RPCVs contend for Academy Awards
Bolivia RPCV Taylor Hackford's film "Ray" is up for awards in six categories including best picture, best actor and best director. "Autism Is a World" co-produced by Sierra Leone RPCV Douglas Biklen and nominated for best Documentary Short Subject, seeks to increase awareness of developmental disabilities. Colombian film "El Rey," previously in the running for the foreign-language award, includes the urban legend that PCVs teamed up with El Rey to bring cocaine to U.S. soil.
Ask Not Date: January 18 2005 No: 388 Ask Not
As our country prepares for the inauguration of a President, we remember one of the greatest speeches of the 20th century and how his words inspired us. "And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you--ask what you can do for your country. My fellow citizens of the world: ask not what America will do for you, but what together we can do for the freedom of man."
Coleman: Peace Corps mission and expansion Date: January 8 2005 No: 373 Coleman: Peace Corps mission and expansion
Senator Norm Coleman, Chairman of the Senate Subcommittee that oversees the Peace Corps, says in an op-ed, A chance to show the world America at its best: "Even as that worthy agency mobilizes a "Crisis Corps" of former Peace Corps volunteers to assist with tsunami relief, I believe an opportunity exists to rededicate ourselves to the mission of the Peace Corps and its expansion to touch more and more lives."
RPCVs active in new session of Congress Date: January 8 2005 No: 374 RPCVs active in new session of Congress
In the new session of Congress that begins this week, RPCV Congressman Tom Petri has a proposal to bolster Social Security, Sam Farr supported the objection to the Electoral College count, James Walsh has asked for a waiver to continue heading a powerful Appropriations subcommittee, Chris Shays will no longer be vice chairman of the Budget Committee, and Mike Honda spoke on the floor honoring late Congressman Robert Matsui.
RPCVs and Peace Corps provide aid  Date: January 4 2005 No: 366 Latest: RPCVs and Peace Corps provide aid
Peace Corps made an appeal last week to all Thailand RPCV's to consider serving again through the Crisis Corps and more than 30 RPCVs have responded so far. RPCVs: Read what an RPCV-led NGO is doing about the crisis an how one RPCV is headed for Sri Lanka to help a nation he grew to love. Question: Is Crisis Corps going to send RPCVs to India, Indonesia and nine other countries that need help?

Read the stories and leave your comments.






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Story Source: Rochester Democrat and Chronicle

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Malawi; Anthropology; AIDS; HIV; AIDS Education; NGO's

PCOL17237
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By margocrowther@aapt.net.au (61.68.88.134) on Sunday, July 10, 2005 - 11:31 pm: Edit Post

A pure, beautiful human being, inspiring and uplifting to know there are people sincerely motivated to use there privelege and assetts to the good of humankind and have the awareness to prioritise that opportunity towards those most in need from there personal experience. I am rarely impressed. Thank you Joseph Lanning, for helping me one step further towards hope.

By Cricket (72-160-85-43.dyn.centurytel.net - 72.160.85.43) on Saturday, August 12, 2006 - 8:48 pm: Edit Post

This is a very good fund! I often think about the people of the world who are AIDS orphans and those in need of help with their education. Joseph Lanning has done a wonderful thing in helping these people make a step towards achieving the goal of education! Keep up the great work, you are an inspiration to all around!

By Anonymous (193.220.46.70) on Wednesday, March 14, 2007 - 5:43 pm: Edit Post

l want to hear from you about scholarships.thanks for helping needy people.am chikondi, currentry studying BSc in irrigation engineering.

By Ben-Bella (eassi.org - 81.199.23.142) on Tuesday, June 19, 2007 - 3:52 am: Edit Post

Iam a lady aged 25, a rwandese by nationality but have been a refugee in Uganda, was born in Uganda, studied there for primary and high school, born in a family of 7 children, have both parents but not educated and totally a poor family, i got a chance went for university in Rwanda on government scholarship, my sister also went to Makerere university on an individual's support for four years, now we have a young brother who finished high
school and would like to join university but we have no funds, though we have finished but we have not yet got jobs that can help us raise money for our young sisters and brothers. My question is would you be kind enough and sponsor him wherever you would want him to go for his undergraduate.
Thank you.
Ben-Bella, currently doing internship at EASSI in Uganda on rights of women that will end mid December 2007.

By Anonymous (193.220.46.206) on Sunday, October 07, 2007 - 8:24 am: Edit Post

I am a Malawian youngman aged 28 and currently pursuing a Masters program in African Social History at Chancellor College. For the past year, I have been sponsoring myself with the little I get from my salary but thing are getting unbearable now especially that I have to meet the tuition on my own, accomodation, food, transportation etc. I need some assistance from well wishers. For details, reply via the e-mail address below.

By rashy (blz-rt004-eth1.skyband.mw - 66.36.203.106) on Tuesday, April 22, 2008 - 10:20 am: Edit Post

I am a 18year old Malawian whom currenlty i'm pursing for a dgree in political leadership at The Catholic University of Malawi.In the past months i have been trying to source funds for my education through part-time jobs but i'm just in my first year so,though i have been geeting some little funds, this has been affecting my education in a negative way. i have a parent who is the sister of my mother who also expect me to help her at home with the other relatives.i would like to ask if you could assist me in any way to finish my education


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