Two MIT student projects win peace grants

Zahir Dossa

Two MIT student projects to promote peace in Sudan and in Bangladesh have won Davis Projects for Peace grants of $10,000 each.

The Davis Projects for Peace, now in its second year, awards funding for grassroots projects designed by undergraduates. This year, the program funded projects from 81 schools and universities. MIT was one of 20 schools in which two projects were funded.

"I am very proud that our students' projects stood out in the Davis committee process," said Matthew McGann, associate director of admissions.

The MIT projects, which will be implemented this summer, focused on the link between economic and educational development and peace.

Mustafa Dafalla, a junior, and Zahir Dossa, a senior, designed Selsabila, the Sudan project, as a self-sustaining NGO that will sell and distribute treadle irrigation pumps to low-income farmers who often rely on buckets to water their crops. Dafalla and Dossa propose to use the Davis funds to purchase Selsabila's first pumps.

"Winning the Davis prize is a great privilege and honor; it affirms our message of sustainable development through the creation of social enterprises," said Dossa.

Sophomore Shammi S. Quddus' project, Building Bridges through Leadership Training, Chittagong, Bangladesh, proposes to unite high school students from three separate schooling systems in activities to help them discern their common interests and work towards common goals. Quddus visited City Year headquarters in Boston to gain insight on how best to work with high school students.

Quddus will use the Davis funds to pay for printing brochures and applications, as part of recruitment for Building Bridges, she said.

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on April 2, 2008 (download PDF).

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