A crush of Kildonan-East Collegiate students recently took part in an African adventure.
Fourteen students took part in a two-week long trip to rural Tanzania, leaving Winnipeg on May 11 and returning on May 26. The students had helped raise money to build rainwater-housing tanks for the Umoja Primary School in the village of Rhotia Kati throughout the school year, raising approximately $25,000 for the cause. Students also had to cover travel costs on top of their donations.
Organizing teacher Kathy Athayde said the tanks were completed shortly before the Canadian contingent touched down in Africa.
"It was still curing. We could see that the cement was still setting," she said.
The group participated in the project through Canadian Physicians for Aid and Relief, who helped organize engineers and others to help see it through to completion.
Grade 11 student Karly McMillan said the crew travelled to hospitals and went on safari, but meeting the kids they were helping was a major highlight. In addition to providing funding for the tanks, Kildonan-East students also had sports equipment in tow.
"They put on a little show for us. They danced and sang. They put on a play," recalled the 16-year-old. "We staked tomato plants with them, and we played (soccer) with them for hours."
In order to raise money, the students sold everything from pizza, popcorn, perogies, and Sobeys gift cards, and even teamed up with the school’s culinary department to hold a gourmet dinner.
Grade 11 student Kyle Ward said though he and his classmates were able to make a positive change in the region, their eyes were opened to numerous other issues.
"There are so many other things that they need help with — the government, farming, hospitals and health care," said the 17-year-old. "Everything is outdated and it’s so different from the world we live in."
Grade 10 student Hailey Skrumeda took a new perspective on her education after the trip.
"The kids have to walk so many hours just to get to school, just because they want to be there so bad," recalled the 16-year-old. "Kids here will skip school because they don’t want to be here."
Skrumeda also learned of injustices in the school system, with girls facing physical punishment for tardiness (often as a result of having to do chores), and also sexual abuse at the hands of teachers.
Students also had the opportunity to visit tourist lodges, where they gained perspective on the contrast between the excess in the country and the poverty they saw.
Athayde said after the fundraising and planning blitz this year, the school won’t plan to participate next year, though it is a worthwhile cause she’d like to keep up with in a future year.
Kildonan-East students had last travelled to Tanzania in 2010.