Tag Archives: Guatemala

Students Transform Our Globe on Annual Service Trips

The Ridley motto, “May I be consumed in service” was aptly applied by three groups of students who travelled to Malawi, Guatemala and China during the March break. These service-learning excursions provided Ridleians with the unique opportunity to experience the living conditions in these countries, while actively contributing to their betterment.

At Ridley, emphasis is placed on global mindedness and service, so it comes as no surprise that so many Tigers were willing to dedicate their holidays to helping those less fortunate in distant communities. Here are some highlights from each of the 2018 service-learning trips:

Malawi

This March, Ridley continued its commitment to the Jacaranda School for Orphans, with 23 representatives making the long trek to Malawi for two weeks. Mr. Burke, Mrs. Darby and Dr. Des Vignes accompanied 20 students from Grades 9 to 12 as they embarked on an experience of a lifetime. This year, students brought an additional suitcase (23 suitcases total) filled with a variety of resources doe Jacaranda students including medical supplies, toys, laptops, tablets, art supplies, clothing and games.

While there, Ridleians were involved in an array of initiatives to benefit in the well-being of the local community, such as the Days for Girls project, delivering more than 20 feminine hygiene kits to the girls of Jacaranda. Students also worked on an outreach programme, going into a local village and helping to build a home for Mike, a boy in Grade 2, who is living with HIV and is also currently fighting cancer. One of the unique initiatives, that was even featured on a local television station, was the involvement of students collaborating with Jacaranda children to build prosthetic hands, brought in from Ridley’s “Helping Hands” Grade 11 class project.

 “Nothing prepares you for the experience of going to Malawi and Jacaranda. All you can do is “be free to fly” because that’s what the children of Jacaranda would do.” – Mrs. Wendy Darby ’99, Librarian and Archivist.

Many of the students reflected on how their time at Jacaranda had affected their perspective on life in a positive way. Some mentioned how they will now focus on the importance of expressing their gratitude towards their parents, becoming willing to convey their emotions more freely based on their personal observations of the children of Malawi, and treat every day as a gift – not taking for granted simple luxuries like running water and a warm bed.

Ridley’s connection to the Jacaranda School was initiated in October 2016, when founder, Marie Da Silva visited our campus to educate students on her mission in Malawi.

View photos.

Guatemala

The annual service trip once again brought a group of students to volunteer with The Doppenbergs in Guatemala (D.I.G.). This is a non-profit organization that helps build local schools, provides water and nutrition solutions to families and has developed the Centre of Hope for special needs children.

Part of the Doppenbergs mission is, “to work together with other to open their hearts and mind to service so together we can make this world a better place.” Ridleians followed in these footsteps by joining the Doppenberg’s altruistic efforts and positively impacting the children of Guatemala.

Ridleians spent the week participating in various projects, such as painting the school in preparation for the upcoming rainy season, as well as planting the nutrient-rich Moringa plants.

One particular experience put the students into the shoes of the Guatemalans. In an effort to better understand one of the challenges that local families endure, our students participated in a 1.5km “water walk.”

“This water walk made me realize that I take basic human needs such as clean water for granted. I did not realize how much work these women did for water until I experienced it myself.” – Vanessa Ferrante ’21

Students got to experience first-hand what life is like in Guatemala. The most cherished time spent, however, was connecting with children at the Centre for Hope who welcomed our students with open arms. The connections with these children had the most striking impact on our students.

“I learned how to be more independent, I created stronger bonds with my friends and teachers and I experienced a different way of living.” – Victoria Ferreira ’21

View photos.

China

A group of students travelled to China from March 16th to April 1st to participate in a cultural exchange sponsored by the Guiyang Education Bureau. Participants of the trip had the opportunity to collaborate with several primary schools in Guiyang, interacting with the school community, exchanging cultures and taking part in a variety of co-curricular activities.

The school communities were comprised of China’s left-behind children, and our Rildey students’ purpose was to inspire these children to pursue their education, strive to achieve their goals and dreams, and reduce the drop-out rate within these communities.

While all three trips comprised of vastly different experiences, what connects them is the intention behind their travel: giving back. Through these unique travel opportunities, students gain an appreciation of different cultures, opinions and ways of life. Service initiatives continue on campus, with our Ridleians dedicated to transforming our globe.

Top 10 March Break Trip Experiences

During the 2017 March break, six groups of Ridley students embarked on life-changing trips around the globe. With many adventures and memorable stories, it was almost too hard to limit the list of amazing experiences to just ten.

1. Bonding with the talented students of the Jacaranda School in Malawi through music lessons and theatre.

2. Putting the finishing touches on the Centre of Hope – a school for special needs children, that Ridley Students helped build in El Progreso, Guatemala.

3. Earning scuba diving certification at Sodwana Bay – South Africa’s first UNESCO World Heritage Site.

4. Visiting the Vimy Memorial in France just before the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge.

5. Rowing with the Canadian National Team, who were training at Shawnigan Lake, in British Columbia.

6. The Days for Girls group presenting 50 feminine hygiene kits to girls in Malawi. Having worked tirelessly, for weeks, to prepare the hand-sewn packages.

7. Climbing one of El Salvador’s highest peaks, the Santa Ana Volcano.

8. Experiencing a mock elephant charge at Balule Nature Reserve in South Africa.

9. Attending the Last Post Ceremony, at the Menin Gate in Ypres, Belgium, which has been held every night since 1928.

10. Visiting with Old Ridleian, Gaby Florigo de Luna ‘99, in Guatemala.

Students Build Hope During Service Trip to Guatemala

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For 18 students, this March break was about commitment, making a difference and proudly practicing Ridley’s motto: Terar dum prosim ­– May I be consumed in service. This group of students travelled 3344 kilometers from St. Catharines to Guatemala. Accompanied by their chaperones, Mr. Dave Costello, Ms. Allison Harding, Ms. Carla D’Annibale and Ridley parent, Ms. Kim Arnold, the students spent eight days working with the Doppenbergs and their organization known as The DIG.

The Doppenbergs moved to Guatemala six years ago and have since dedicated their lives to helping those living in poverty. Their most recent project has been The School of Hope in El Progreso, Guatemala. This school, when complete, will give students with special learning needs a place to grow. “The School of Hope will be the first of its kind in the region, and will provide access to education for students who typically would not be able to go to school,” says Ms. Allison Harding, Intermediate Teacher. The School of Hope is set to open in early 2017 and our Ridleians spent the week making progress on its construction.

The students began their trip with a visit to El Salitrillo, the first village that the Doppenbergs began working with when they made their move from the Niagara region. While visiting, our Ridleians had the chance to play with some of the local children and visit the school that was constructed by The DIG last year. For some students, this was a chance to revisit the school they’d help build during the 2015 service trip. For the others, it was a chance to see what would become of this year’s project. After an inspirational first day in Guatemala, the students were ready to get started!

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Their first day on the work site was a tough, but rewarding day. The students spent several hours making progress on  The School of Hope. Laying cement and tying rebar was difficult work, but the students were happy to assist in any way they could. In the afternoon, the students visited the nursery run by the Doppenbergs. This nursery helps provide sustainable nutrition to Guatemalans living in El Progreso. Our students helped plant peppers and moringa trees (a plant that provides an incredible amount of nutrition), fill soil bags and place soil around the nursery. After a long day, Ridleians were able to look back and see all that they had already accomplished.

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“The work we did at the site was rather tedious but we managed to get a tremendous amount of work done… I am definitely looking forward to tomorrow”

– Nnamdi Chibuzor ‘21

For the rest of the week, the students continued to help in the nursery and make progress on The School of Hope. Over the course of only a few days, the students could see that they were having a positive impact on the community.

As the end of the trip approached, the students went back to El Salitrillo. The Doppenbergs had spent the last couple of years working on a way to bring clean water to the village. Before the system was completed, the villagers had to walk to a spring, located 15 minutes away, through rough terrain, where they would fill buckets with water and then have to trudge back through the path. Our Ridleians participated in a “water walk” to experience the challenging task that these villagers had to endure multiple times a day.

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“This was an eye-opening experience that undoubtedly left us all with a much greater appreciation for the clean drinking water that we have easy access to at home.”

– Ms. Allison Harding, Intermediate Teacher

The week had flown by, and after days spent working tirelessly, time spent exploring Guatemala and an experience of a lifetime, it was time to say goodbye. As our Ridleians left Guatemala and made the journey back home, they were asked to reflect on their experiences and how it had impacted them. It was clear that in only a week, these students had grown attached to Guatemala and the people who inhabit it. For many, it ignited a fire within them to do all they can to help those in need.

“This trip made me grateful for all that I have…. I hope to come again.”

– Paloma Moragrega ‘20

“I can’t stop thinking about how these two trips have impacted me as a person. I believe that I have grown as a person because of the experience I was able to have.”

– Sarah McCleary ‘19

“This trip had an impact on everyone in many different ways. We were able to see Guatemala from a perspective that most people aren’t able to experience and because of this, are able to learn and grow from it. This will truly be an experience that everyone won’t forget. From arriving on March 10th to departing on March 17th, everyone will surely be able to bring this story back home, spread the word and bring back even more people for next year.”

– Jasmyn Traboulay-Drach ‘19

Each year, these service trips give students the opportunity to experience what life can be like in the developing parts of the world. It is a humbling and enriching experience, that many Ridleians keep with them for the rest of their lives. We can’t wait to see what next year will hold and what opportunities will arise for our students to make a difference.

If you would like to donate to The DIG and help them complete The School of Hope, please click here.