Steve Cook spends most of his time in Charlotte designing computer software, but after reading the biography, What is the What? by Dave Eggers, about Valentino Achak Deng, a Sudanese refugee living in Atlanta--he was no longer content to remained siloed in a techie world. He was dumbstruck when he read about Valentino ironing pants that were way too small for an interview with his mentor who was helping him transition from Sudan to the US. Cook realized he put on his pants one leg at a time just like Valentino, but instead of having to squeeze into worn pants, he had a closet full of options. He could not shake the injustice he felt. Thus, the idea for Equitas (Latin for Justice) was born and over the next year materialized into a nonprofit working to tackle injustice one project at a time.
With the help of Equitas, Cook began a new job, his most important job - learning more about people of Sudan and later Malawi, first just through internet searches and then face to face. The problems plaguing people continents away had always been, "Out of sight, out of mind" for Cook until he began excavating into the needs of the villages by talking with village chiefs, government officials, children, parents, really anybody who would talk with him.
Cook and Equitas have evaluated needs for over 10 years in Malawi; they have drilled wells for safe water, targeted HIV/AIDS rates and have narrowed their focus after the village chiefs and the people of Gadi voiced their concern about the greatest need - access to education.
Cook, with the help of Equitas, provided this by raising approximately $150,000 of the $320K project for the Village Schoolhouse in Gadi (a Malawi village). He continues designing software, but his favorite time of the year is his visit to Malawi to visit with those he now calls friends. He will be there in September welcoming the first children through the doors of the Schoolhouse. These children take pride in the hope of a future where they do not have to leave their country for a better life but will have the confidence, knowledge and skills to become a man like Cook - building opportunities for growth and wealth not only for themselves but for others as well.