The Intercollegiate Studies Institute has awarded a student at the College of William and Mary a $40,000 cash grant for his humanitarian efforts in AIDS-ravaged parts of Africa.
Indianapolis native George Srour is this year's winner of the William E. Simon Fellowship for Noble Purpose. The fellowship is given to graduating seniors “who are dedicated to pursuing lives that will benefit themselves and their fellow men and women.”
After visiting an orphanage in Kampala, Uganda, for hundreds of HIV-positive children who have lost both parents to AIDS, Srour raised $43,000 to construct a school and community center in the city. During his initial visit to the facility, he says he was “just really taken aback when I went into their school that was pretty much built out of timber and bamboo. The whole school now has close to 1,100 kids, and so they were all stuffed in this very tiny, crammed, and poorly built structure which they had to rebuild three or four times a year.”
The William and Mary student more than quadrupled his original fundraising goal of $10,000, making possible the purchase of new uniforms, books, and school supplies. The money also provided a special Christmas dinner for the orphans and the school faculty.
Srour plans to use the Simon Fellowship to start a nonprofit organization that reaches out to student groups at colleges and universities across the United States, involving them in efforts to raise money for a school or a similar institution somewhere in the world. “The hope is that the location will change annually,” he explains, “depending upon where the need might be.”
The fellowship-winning student-humanitarian says, for instance, “This year [the effort] might be targeted in the areas that were hit in the tsunamis. Or it could be in Africa wherever the need is really prevalent.”
Srour's desire to make others' lives better goes back even farther than his interest in responding to the AIDS pandemic. He has also been a longtime volunteer for the Special Olympics, an annual event benefiting the disabled community, and has served in that capacity in both Indianapolis and Washington, DC.