Tag Archives: Malawi

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.

Making World Connections Through Service Learning

With Hank

This past week, Ridley was honoured to welcome Marie Da Silva, the founder of The Jacaranda School in Malawi, Africa and 2008 CNN Hero, to campus to share her mission and inspiring story. This visit marked the beginning of what we hope will be a strong relationship between our schools.

The Story of Jacaranda School

After losing fourteen family members to HIV, Marie Da Silva felt compelled to devote her life to improving conditions for orphans in Malawi; many who are impacted by the AIDS epidemic and poverty. In Marie’s eyes, the key to making a difference was to offer these children an education, nutrition, home support and proper health care.

In order to set her philanthropic plan in motion, Marie first needed a source of funding. To finance the early Jacaranda School – which was started out of her childhood home – Marie took post as a nanny in Los Angeles, California. For years, she sent the majority of her wages back to Malawi and little by little brought her passion to realization. After her mother agreed to allow Marie to use her home as a basic school house, Marie set to work seeking support, student teachers and materials.

Over the years since the Jacaranda School was simply a hope, it has developed into a place where orphans and young students come to realize a better life.  The developing, multi-building school now has more than 400 students enrolled. These young boys and girls (50/50 male and female population) often walk more than an hour to attend school each day.

Marie has worked selflessly to ensure that basic needs are met so that students, can focus on learning, reach post-secondary studies and break free from constraints. She has incorporated a fully staffed heath clinic where HIV medicines are dispensed, provides two nutritious meals of porridge daily, has four libraries, offers micro-loans to mothers so they may earn for their families, and also provides a nurturing safe-haven where children are distinctively supported. Most amazingly it only costs roughly $20 CDN per month to educated a student, provide him or her with nutrition and HIV medications.

A Ridley Connection

After being named a CNN Hero in 2008, Marie received well-earned recognition for her work in her home country. Marie and the Jacaranda School is now even receiving the support of global figures, such as Madonna.  Marie’s selfless dedication caught the attention of Mr. Rob Burke. Mr. Burke, Ridley teacher and CAS coordinator, has known Marie for seven years and has made 12 trips to Malawi. While at the Shanghai American School, Mr. Burke was actively involved with volunteering and organizing support for the Jacaranda School. He distinctly recalls a friend of his describing Marie as, “a woman with inner steel, wrapped in silk, with a heart three sizes too big,” with which he wholeheartedly agrees.

Marie expressed that she thoroughly enjoyed meeting students and staff at Ridley College and appreciated the warmth and kindness shown to her while she was here. The mutual feeling of gratitude and respect was obvious.

Girls doing their PYP Project on Marie Grade 3

“Meeting Marie Da Silva and being involved with The Jacaranda School has changed the course of my life and possibly for more than 250 students that have experienced the magic of Jacaranda.” – Mr. Rob Burke

Mr. Burke’s dedication to The Jacaranda School and Foundation was recently acknowledged, as he was awarded the Sovereign’s Medal for Volunteers. This prestigious award, which he will be presented by the Governor General of Canada, is given to an individual who has significantly contributed to a local or global community.  We hope Ridleians will congratulate Mr. Burke and be motivated by his example.

March Break Service-Learning Trip

Upper School students will have an opportunity to make a difference and contribute when Ridley makes its inaugural visit to The Jacaranda School over March break. This service-learning trip will take place March 9th–25th, 2017.  Registrants will have an opportunity to experience, first-hand, how Marie’s lifelong mission has improved the lives of so many in her home country. If students are interested in joining this trip, please contact Mr. Rob Burke before November 15th at rob_burke@ridleycollege.com.  A limited number of spots are available.

If you would like to make a donation to The Jacaranda Foundation, please visit http://www.jacarandafoundation.org/.