Many ETFO members are involved in projects with an international focus. Some have been featured in past issues of Voice: for example, “A School Without Borders” (Winter 2006) and “The Power of Global Collaborative Learning” (April 2008). (Available at etfovoice.ca) Teachers also make a difference by contributing to the ETFO Humanity Fund (etfo.ca advocacy and action world issues ETFO Humanity Fund) Some also undertake their own initiatives. Here is a sampling.
In 2002, Yvonne Tait, a grade 4 teacher at Wexford Public School in Toronto, received a letter from a former student, now an elementary school principal in Mafutseni, Swaziland. He wrote about the need to build an orphanage for hundreds of local children left parentless as a result of AIDS. The tribal chief had donated land, but there was no money to build. Tait hatched the idea of holding a “Lucky Draw” at her school to raise some start-up money. Tait and the Wexford School community have been supporting the Zama Zama (Try, Try Again) Orphanage ever since. The school’s website (schools. tdsb.on.ca/wexford) shows the results of the more than $20,000 the school has sent: the construction of two large dormitories and a community hall named “Wexford Hall” in recognition of the school’s donations.
Yvonne Tait can be reached at
Horizons Children’s Centre in Sandema, Ghana provides a home for 23 boys and two girls. The project’s founder, Heather Menezes, was working as a volunteer in Ghana when she became aware of the needs of young homeless children in the community. The centre began in a rented room in a house that provided shelter for 12 children. Today it has its own house and a staff of four who ensure the children have food, clothing, medical care and, in addition to going to school, take part in a variety of after school programs. The website horizonscentre.org provides further information, or email email@example.com.
After my various project overseas assignments, I decided to continue my involvement with development projects by volunteering in Central America with World Accord, a non-denominational NGO, based in Waterloo, Ontario. I was part of a team of 12 volunteers who helped build a home in Guatemala during March break. World Accord is working with the Guatemalan indigenous women’s goup Mujeres en Accion (MeA). It is organized and run by Cathikal and Quiche women and most of the project participants are indigenous women of various tribal backgrounds.
In October 2005, Hurricane Stan destroyed the community of Chichoy, northwest of Guatemala City. The people in Chichoy are rebuilding their lives and community. MeA bought a property in the community, allowing 16 families to build new homes. We, the Canadian volunteers, helped rebuild homes and schools. We brought a willingness to work, and in return, received the satisfaction of connecting with people, learning from them and immersing ourselves in new situations and work.