Marc Friedman at Lone Pine Elementary School
Staff photo by Angie Baan
Local students get close up and personal with Third World villages.
Judith Doner Berne
Special to the Jewish News
U ncle Marc brought his photo-
graphs of Africa to Lone Pine
Elementary School in West
Bloomfield where the kindergarten, which
included his niece Maddy Wise, had
recently finished studying that continent.
But instead of the usual pictures of ani-
mals in the wild, Marc Friedman brought
photographs of the people who live in a
small village in Mali, West Africa, where
Building with Books (BwB), the nonprofit
organization he works for, constructed a
No, kindergartner Molly Menuck found
out, Mali isn't named after her. But it
takes two different airplanes to get there
and then a drive of about eight hours to
this particular village.
"You all live in subdivisions," explained
Friedman, 47, who grew up in West
Bloomfield, graduated from West
Bloomfield High School and now lives in
Stamford, Conn. "They call them villages.
And they have no electricity and no lights,
so when the sun goes down it gets dark."
Kindergartner Ari Singer knew that
the villagers had to go "somewhere" — a
distance from their houses — to get the
water they used for drinking and bathing.
Classmate Michael Zlotoff knew that they
had to build their homes themselves.
And as Friedman told them, these vil-
lagers also must build their school — but
with help from Building with Books.
Setting The Stage
Ten years ago, Friedman, armed with a
business degree from Western Michigan
University, gave up a more traditional
career to sign on as chief operating officer
(C00) with BwB where he'd been a vol-
Michigan native Jim Ziolkowski, BwB's
president and chief executive officer
(CEO), began his Connecticut-based
organization to both inspire high school
students, primarily in the inner cities of
the United States, and build schools for
illiterate residents of Third World coun-
A critical link between the programs
is that each year two students from each
participating high school are selected to
travel to a developing country and help
build a school.
The General Electric Building in
Southfield is home to BwB's local office
where four full-time and three part-time
employees offer global education units
and run after-school community service
programs in 15 Michigan high schools:
International Academy, Bloomfield
Hills Andover, Bloomfield Lahser, Troy,
Pontiac Central, Pontiac Northern and
Roeper high schools in Oakland County
and Western International, Cass Tech,
Detroit Tech, Renaissance, Osborne
and Communication and Media Arts in
Similar programs exist in 75 high
schools in California, Connecticut,
Illinois, New York and Pennsylvania.
"We're going to expand in Detroit:'
Friedman says, as well as in other cities
and also adding more cities.
At the same time, BwB recently com-
pleted its 200th school in a developing
country. "Our goal is to build in the
poorest part of the poorest countries:'
Schools are on the rise in Mali, Malawi,
Haiti, Nicaragua and Nepal. They con-
tract with each country to hire teachers.
Students attend school by day and their
parents attend at night.
Book Power on page 36