Makorobondo Kamongwa “Dee” Salukombo ’12 doesn’t avoid hard things.
The chemistry major adopted a new country and culture ten years ago when he moved to Cleveland from Uganda, where he and his family had fled as refugees from the Democratic Republic of Congo during the Second Congo War.
After graduating from Denison, Dee was awarded $10,000 through the Davis Projects for Peace initiative, which funds undergraduate projects that promote and build peace across the globe. With the money, Dee returned to his childhood home of Kirotshe where he created a technology-learning center and brought new educational opportunities to his homeland.
To raise visibility for his project, in the summer of 2011, Dee ran 120 miles, from Granville to Lakewood, in three days and raised $9,000 to help build a school in Kirotshe.
Seeing the impact of the school in his hometown just made Dee eager to help even more. “Having helped in building the school, I want to be part of changing the lack of educational resources that slows education and peace in my village.” He said, “Hopefully, the Learning Center will open closed doors for people in the Democratic Republic of Congo.”
Throughout all this time, Dee, a six-time All-American in cross country and track and field, has devoted his life to distance running—wearing down countless pairs of shoes in the process.
Now, he is training for the Olympics. This video by Refugee Services Collaborative of Greater Cleveland highlights the life and work of Dee and his close relationship with his Denison coach, Phil Torrens, and his family.