By: Rebecca Klopf
ROCKFORD (WREX) - A Rockford man who swam the English Channel to get a school built in Angola finally sees it finished. Pastor Mike Solberg from Second Congregational United Church of Christ, just returned from the African country where so many need the education. In Angola, people live on less than a dollar a day, almost half of the women are illerate, and only 26 percent of children enroll in school. But a new building could change all that for hundreds of kids in one small town.
"Thousands of people live in mud brick buildings with dirt floors, no running water, no electricity and not all kids have access to education because there aren't enough schools to go around," says Solberg.
13 News gave Solberg a camera to take to Angola to bring back video of his trip. He returned to the town of Waku Kungo for two weeks to dedicate a new school. He says more than 300 people in Rockford helped build it through donations.
Solberg says, "Being there for the dedication of the school that the English Channel swim made possible really brings it all to a culmination."
Solberg challenged people to donate money, in return he swam the English Channel, last year. just a few weeks ago, on October 31st, more than a thousand villagers came out to see him open the school.
"The school can educate over 600 kids in a town where literally thousands of kids get minimum or no education at all because the government literally can't afford to build the space necessary to do education," says Solberg.
The new building will be used by the community 18 hours a day. There will be classes for children during the day and adult education and work training programs at night.
"I hope everybody can see this is a model on how a whole lot of people can work together to make something great happen in another place," says Solberg.
The town already poured the foundation to add two more classrooms but the school needs money to finish them. If you want to help there is more information on Solberg's website www.SwimMikeSwim.com.