Catherine Charlebois

Catherine Charlebois

Nanaimo students embark on humanitarian aid trip

NANAIMO – Work in West African country includes delivering school supplies.

A group of Nanaimo secondary school students are going to West Africa next week on the trip of a lifetime.

Seven francophone students from Nanaimo District Secondary School have worked hard to raise the money needed to go on an 18-day trip to Senegal with 13 other students from around the province. But it is not your average, relaxing spring break trip – it consists of three weeks of humanitarian work.

The trip, from March 13 to April 1, is organized by the provincial Conseil Scholaire Francophone school district’s distance learning school and is the final part of a two-year global perspectives course.

In Senegal, the students will visit schools to deliver supplies and books, work in orphanages and help out in small villages, using the city of Mbour as a base.

“I’m just expecting to leave there heartbroken,” said Grade 12 student Catherine Charlebois, of working with the children in orphanages.

“I’m excited but kind of terrified at the same time.”

Francis Richard, also in Grade 12, hopes to immerse himself in the experience of culture very different from the one he’s known all his life, where there are no big box stores or cellphones and the electricity doesn’t always work.

“I really wanted to make a difference at some point in my life and this was an option to do it,” he said.

The global perspectives course covers such topics as globalization, African cultures and how industries work in developing countries.

Part of the course requirement is raising $4,000 to finance the trip, $500 of which goes to covering the costs of sending Senegalese children to school – it costs $200 for a child to go to school for a year, so each of the B.C. students will send more than two kids to school for one year.

“We’re sending about 80 children to school between the 20 of us,” said Lucas Pallard, a Grade 11 student.

The seven Nanaimo students raised the money by bagging groceries, selling donuts and hotdogs, roadside cleanup work and making presentations to local service clubs. They also went to elementary schools to solicit donations of items like school supplies, clothing and toothbrushes. Each student will transport a 22.5-kilogram box of these donations to Africa along with their own bag.

Christian Côté, principal of the CSF distance learning school who teaches the global perspectives course, said Senegal is one of the more stable countries to visit in Africa and the students will be staying on a college campus in Mbour.

He said the district decided to run this program online for francophone students from across the province to apply because it would be hard to get enough students from one school – the school starts off with 60 applicants and between 20 and 25 students end up going to Africa.

The trip provides students with an opportunity to think about different ways of living and being happy, Côté added, and the students will see people who live in poverty and don’t have access to electricity or running water.

Just Posted

Janice Coady, left, Aimee Chalifoux and Linda Milford at a vigil for Amy Watts on Wednesday, June 16, outside Nanaimo city hall. (Greg Sakaki/News Bulletin)
‘We need to do better,’ says mother of woman who was killed in Nanaimo

Vigil held for former outreach worker Amy Watts, whose body was found downtown June 3

The B.C. Ministry of Education has announced close to $44 million for the province’s schools for COVID-19 recovery. (News Bulletin file)
Nanaimo-Ladysmith school stakeholders say COVID-19 recovery funding can make a difference

B.C. Ministry of Education announces it expects a ‘near-normal’ return to class in September

Nanaimo artist Melissa Anderson has paintings on display at White Rabbit Coffee Co. for the next month. (Josef Jacobson/News Bulletin)
Nanaimo painter showcases coastal Island views in first exhibit in two years

Melissa Anderson presents ‘Seascapes’ oil painting exhibit at White Rabbit Coffee Co.

New COVID-19 cases on Vancouver Island by local health area for the week of June 6-12. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control image)
New COVID-19 cases up on Island, but health officials say trends going right way

There were 22 new COVID-19 cases in Greater Victoria last week after just four the week before

People line up to get their COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination centre, Thursday, June 10, 2021 in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Vaccines, low COVID case counts increase Father’s Day hope, but risk is still there

Expert says people will have to do their own risk calculus before popping in on Papa

The Co-op gas station at Whiskey Creek is burning after a camper van exploded while refueling just before 4 p.m. on Thursday, June 17, 2021. (FACEBOOK PHOTO)
Exploding camper van torches Highway 4 gas station between Qualicum Beach and Port Alberni

Highway traffic blocked after Whiskey Creek gas station erupts into flames

Helen Austin performing with Trent Freeman at the 2018 Vancouver Island MusicFest. Austin is one of the many performers listed for the 2021 event.
Vancouver Island MusicFest goes virtual for 2021

Black Press to stream 25 hours of programming July 9-11

Greater father involvement in the home leads to improved childhood development and increased marital satisfaction, says expert. (Black Press Media file photo)
Vancouver Island researcher finds lack of father involvement a drag on gender equality

Working women still taking on most child and household duties in Canada: UVic professor

FILE – A science class at L.A. Matheson Secondary in Surrey, B.C. on March 12, 2021. (Lauren Collins/Surrey Now Leader)
Teachers’ union wants more COVID transmission data as B.C. prepares for back-to-school

BCTF says that details will be important as province works on plan for September

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry outlines B.C.’s COVID-19 restart plan, May 25, 2021, including larger gatherings and a possible easing of mandatory masks on July 1. (B.C. government photo)
B.C. records 120 new COVID-19 cases, second vaccines accelerating

Lower Pfizer deliveries for early July, Moderna shipments up

A Heffley Creek peacock caught not one - but two - lifts on a logging truck this month. (Photo submitted)
Heffley Creek-area peacock hops logging trucks in search of love

Peacock hitched two lifts in the past month

The Calgary skyline is seen on Friday, Sept. 15, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
2 deaths from COVID-19 Delta variant in Alberta, 1 patient was fully immunized

Kerry Williamson with Alberta Health Services says the patients likely acquired the virus in the hospital

The first suspension bridge is the tallest in Canada, with a second suspension bridge just below it. The two are connected by a trail that’s just over 1 km. (Claire Palmer photo)
PHOTOS: The highest suspension bridges in Canada just opened in B.C.

The Skybridge in Golden allows visitors to take in views standing at 130 and 80 metres

Most Read