Tag Archives: Service

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/.

 

 

 

 

Ridleian Wins We Charity Youth Award

Photography by Linda Roy/Ireva Photography, http://www.canadianliving.com/life-and-relationships/community-and-current-events/article/2016-me-to-we-winner-xavier-west
Photography by Linda Roy/Ireva Photography, http://www.canadianliving.com/life-and-relationships/community-and-current-events/article/2016-me-to-we-winner-xavier-west

Ridleian, Xavier West ’20 has been a dedicated advocate for Me to We since he was only 10 years old. Me to We (formerly Free the Children) is an organization that sets out to empower youth to change the world. Once Xavier discovered Me to We, a fire ignited within him to make a difference.

When he was younger, Xavier would frequently listen to Me to We cofounder, Craig Kielburger, as he recalled stories of his service trips to poverty-stricken communities. Hearing these stories inspired Xavier to see what he could do to help. It began small; asking not for toys at Christmas, but for a goat to be given to a family in need – A goat can provide a family in the developing world with both a sustainable source of income and nutritious milk. Xavier realized that while he had all the toys he could ever want, a roof over his head, and a full fridge, there was a family somewhere in the world that didn’t share the same luxuries.

It was then that Xavier’s goal grew and he set out to complete all five pillars of Me to We giving. The five pillars are education, water, health, food and opportunity. Each pillar contributes to breaking the cycle of poverty in developing communities around the world. The first pillar on Xavier’s list was education. Xavier was determined to raise enough money to build a school in Kenya.

He remained devoted and inspired for the four years of his fundraising campaign, even attending the Take Action Camp, where he was able to interact with like-minded individuals share his story, and see where he community service could take him. After selflessly collecting cans, hosting garage sales and rallying his family, friends and the community to help him reach his goal, Xavier raised $11,000. The collected funds were used to build a school in Kenya from start to finish, which Xavier also helped build on site. For this Grade 9 student, this was a chance to see the impact he was making on these communities and gave him the opportunity to experience, first-hand, what his fundraising efforts had accomplished.

Xavier says the most touching moment of his trip was meeting a mother, who showed him and his family what life was like in her community; taking them on a water walk, showing them her goats, and taking them to her home, which she built herself.

“The way she was talking was just so inspirational…she says this magnificent house – that isn’t that big – is amazing, and yet we’re worried about the luxuries that we have, that aren’t even close to what they have.” – Xavier West ’20

When Xavier returned home, the summer was nearing its end and he was about to begin the next chapter of his life – high school. This transition is a big step for students, made even bigger by the fact that Xavier would also be beginning his Ridley journey. ¬Xavier wanted to attend Ridley for the exceptional education that the school could provide, but upon arriving, he realized that this was also a place he could further his commitment to action and service. With Ridley’s own commitment to service, each House on campus is associated with a charitable organization that they support and raise funds for over the course of the school year. Through this programme, Xavier discovered how he could impact his local community, in addition to his efforts abroad. For a student so dedicated to transforming the globe, Ridley was the perfect fit.

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On October 19th, Xavier was presented with the We Charity Youth Award during the 12th annual We Day. This award is given to a child, aged 13-17, who has contributed to Me to We and the fight to end poverty in an inspiring way. In addition to his acknowledgement on stage, winning this award means that Xavier will be able to experience another service trip and he’s setting his sights on Nicaragua.

Xavier’s journey does not end there. He plans to continue to complete all five pillars; doing his part to contribute to Kenya’s food sustainability, clean water availability, health care, and income opportunities, followed by aiding all of Me to We communities.

“My end goal is to do all five pillars in every community that Me to We is associated with.” – Xavier West ’20

To students who are seeking inspiration to make an impact of their own, Xavier says this:

“Do something you’re passionate about. It doesn’t matter whether the cause is big or small, they’re all important. There are so many problems in this world and if we all help, maybe one day all these problems can be solved.” – Xavier West ’20

Read the Canadian Living article.

Ridleians Take Action in our Community

Within Ridley, a thriving community, comprised of students, faculty, staff, parents, and alumni, exists. This community works seamlessly to create an environment in which our school can flourish. Beyond Ridley’s gates, exists another community – our local community. With such importance placed on community service and contribution, it is imperative for a strong relationship to exist between Ridley and the local community.

Ridleians are introduced to community service and partnership at a young age. Ridley hopes that from these experiences and opportunities within the community, our students will become global citizens and will continue to live out our motto – Terar dum prosim.

Just recently, our Grade 6 students participated in the International Baccalaureate Primary Years Programme Exhibition, where they took action to solve local and global issues. This proved to be a wonderful opportunity for our students to become passionate about our world, and work to solve issues that struck a cord with them.

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As the end of the year approaches, our Grade 9 & 10 Civics classes stepped up to the very same challenge. For their summative project, these students were asked to look at our local community and focus in on an issue. In groups, they were then asked to choose a topic based on their own personal interests. Some topics included: environmental conservation, gender equality, animal protection and pollution.

The students were required to explore their topics of choice. Students researched their topics, conducted interviews with community leaders, asked their peers to complete surveys and went into our local community to find out more. From their research and findings, the students set a goal and devised a plan of action. Students set out to raise awareness for their cause, inform the community of local issues, donate to local organizations and even use art forms to share a message.

Upon completion of their project, 28 groups gathered in the Great Hall to share their projects and spread awareness for their causes. It was incredible to see so many students come together to discuss local issues and how we can solve them.

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Following the exhibition, we sat down with six groups to learn more about their topic and how they contributed to our community. These six groups paired with organizations, such as Youth Unlimited, Pathstone Mental Health, the City of St. Catharines, the Canadian Mental Health Association, Brock University, Marz Homes and Canadian Tire, for resources and information, donations and in some cases, the opportunity to collaborate – now and in the future. View the video on the community action project.

The community action project allowed students to exercise one of Ridley’s core beliefs – that a commitment to service and social responsibility will help build a flourishing life – while completing their course. Our school encourages all Ridleians to take action, just as these students have, and contribute to our local community and beyond.

“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.”

― Mahatma Gandhi

 

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.