Friday, July 29, 2016

Professional expertise + heart = a better world

“Everyone deserves to live in a home designed by an architect." — Jack Bloodgood, founder of BSB Design

SOME OF YOU, no doubt, read my post about the 25 Mandela Fellows that Drake University has been privileged to host for the last six weeks. For those who didn't, here's a quick overview.


Started by President Barack Obama, the Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders is now in its third year. The program selects 1000 outstanding young professionals between the ages of 25 and 35 from Sub-Saharan Africa who have already established records of accomplishment in promoting innovation and positive change — and brings them to the US for further education and professional experience. 


Here's how selective it is: 40,000 applied for 1000 slots.


I hosted one of the Fellows, Landy Tafangy (who goes by Tafangy) from Madagascar for lunch at the Rotary Club of Des Moines, and I took Tafangy, Jeffrey Arhin from Ghana, Gloria Njiu from Tanzania and Selamawit Wondimu from Ethiopia to a street party to hear a Latino band.



Left to right: Tafangy, Jeffrey, me, Gloria and Selam

I've also been helping our Fellows make extra-curricular professional connections where I can. I linked Tafangy, who in addition to being a physician running a health clinic, is an air traffic controller — with Brian Mulcahy, also a member of my Rotary Club and CFO of the Des Moines Airport, who was able to get the necessary clearance to take Tafangy on a tour of the air traffic control tower. 


Bonga Diamini from Swaziland and Ndolenodji Hyacinthe (who goes by Hyacinthe) from Chad are both architectural company owners who want to bring low-cost, well-designed housing to their respective countries. Swaziland and Chad like many countries in Africa are experiencing extensive migration from rural to urban areas, creating an urgent need for housing. 


Too further their goal, I arranged a three-hour meeting for them with BSB (Bloodgood Sharp Buster) Design


Jack Bloodgood 
founded BSB in 1966 with the goal of 
expanding access to residential architecture design from the sole purview of the rich to a realistic expectation for most people. He famously said, “Everyone deserves to live in a home designed by an architect.” To that end, he integrated architectural design and production housing to create a pioneering business model. 


Doug Sharp joined the firm and substantiated the company philosophy that in addition to creating awarding-winning residential architecture, BSB must always remain a firm with a heart, by championing humanitarian endeavors worldwide. Doug Buster, a passionate design innovator and industry authority on multifamily design, became the second ‘B’ in BSB, broadening the company's capacity and province.


BSB's focus on democratizing residential architecture together with the company's articulated philanthropic beliefs:


— We believe in the potential of human spirit; personal space is important to well being

— We believe that everyone is deserving of an affordable, quality home that lasts
— We believe in producing social good in the largest measurable form possible

. . . made BSB Design the perfect connection for Hyacinthe and Bonga


But it gets better. 


While Doug Sharp was traveling in Africa years back, he saw what the living conditions in shack settlements were like for women, children and families, and in response he founded Abōd Shelters in 2002. With a motto of "one house, one family, one day," Abōd is dedicated to providing low-cost, easily-constructed housing wherever it's needed around the world. 



Left to right: Steve Moore, Michelle Rothfus, Hyacinthe, me, Bonga and 
Corey Schmidt at BSB Design corporate headquarters.

Steve Moore, Michelle RothfusCorey Schmidt and Mary Brown were generous with their time. As I drove Bonga and Hyacinthe back to their apartment building afterwards, they were almost bouncing with eagerness to translate all they learned into positive change for their respective countries.



The country of Chad where Hyacinthe is from


Swaziland is a small country on the eastern edge of South Africa.



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