Incarcerated youth and community agencies help children in Sierra Leone

The “Dine for a Difference,” fundraiser was held Thursday, Oct. 25, at Central Grand Restaurant to raise money to build a school in Sierra Leone.

More than 50 people attended the fundraiser in support of the Sierra Leone project. The event included dinner with a musical performance by Vi An Diep, a silent auction, and a speech from Teresa Woo-Paw, the associate minister of international and intergovernmental relations.

 This was the final fundraiser for the Sierra Leone project, where Calgary’s incarcerated young offenders and community groups strived to raise $20,000 to build a school in Mamudia.

The idea came from students and teachers at West View School, a Calgary Board of Education School in the northwest for young offenders near the Remand Centre. The young offenders, 12 to 18, who attend West View School were unable to participate in the “Dine for a Difference” event because they are incarcerated.

The northeast region where Mamudia is located is the most impoverished Tara Chaundhary, teacher at West View School and Taren Pinell employee at the Young Offenders Centre gave multiple speechs about young offenders and Sierra Leone project at the “Dine for a Difference” Fundraiser.

Photo by Haleigh Packerarea in Sierra Leone. Ever since 2002, the end of the civil war, Sierra Leone has focused on to rebuilding its infrastructure.

“This has been over a year and a half of invested work, my students started last February, so we are just so excited and this is our last hurrah to celebrate the work we have done so far and to finish and complete our goal, said Chaundhary, a teacher at West View School.

In social studies class, Chaudhary thought building a school in a third-world country would allow the students to engage in hands-on learning. A student in the class recommended doing the project in Sierra Leone.

Young offenders get involved

The young offenders have been involved in the project, by participating to these fundraisers. For instance, students contributed to the artwork that was being sold in the art gallery that was held in February.

“I needed to bring the curriculum to life somehow,” Chaudhary said.

Young offenders, “might be in really difficult situations, but this sort of gives them something to look forward to and something to be interested in, other than why they are in the (young offenders) centre,” said Chelsey Dawes, program manager for Duke of Edinburgh’s Award.

Construction on the school is supposed to start by January 2013. By April 2013, 10 individuals will be traveling to Sierra Leone to speak with children to see the impact the school will have on the Mamudia community.

“I have been working with youth for several years with the Calgary Police Service and these are the city’s future leaders (young offenders),” Sgt. Clare Smart said. “This is the future of Calgary itself.”

She will be part of a 10-person group who will visit Sierra Leone, then share their experiences with the students at Westview through a presentation.

In 2002, Unicef built a school in Mamudia. However, a new facility is needed in the community, because the current school is incredibility crowded due to having about 183 students, five teachers with only three classrooms, said Christina Carrick at Cause Canada.

Cause Canada will support the construction of the school, but also will provide “local teachers, lunch programs, uniforms, shoes and medication,” Carrick said.

After the “Dine for a Difference” event, a total of $4718.25 was raised, reaching the goal of $20,000. However, the Sierra Leone project still needs $5000 to furnish the school, Dawes said.

For more information about the Sierra Leone project, please contact Cause
Canada at 403.678.3332.

hpacker@cjournal.ca