Seven Coast Grade 11 students will hoist two heavy buckets of water each and lead community members on a two-kilometre "Water Walk" through Roberts Creek on Saturday to raise money for a humanitarian trip to Senegal next March.
"What we're trying to point out is that these [Senegalese] kids have so many hardships already, like having to walk miles every morning to get water, and we want education to be one less hardship for them," said Katie Woodburn, one of the seven students from Chatelech Secondary School's francophone program who have planned the event.
The trip to Senegal is the culmination of a two-year, on-line course called global perspectives, which is run by the province's Conseil Scolaire Francophone. Throughout the province, 40 students are enrolled in the course, including the seven Chat students. The trip is called the Yaakaar Project; "yaakaar" means hope in Senegal's local Wolof language.
To participate in the trip, students must raise $3,500 for their own travel expenses, plus a minimum of $500 to cover scholarships for Senegalese students - school fees are $200 each annually - plus laptops, textbooks, medical expenses and food. The students will travel to Senegal for two to three weeks, visiting schools in three different villages plus an orphanage.
The Sunshine Coast students have set a target of raising $75,000. So far, they've raised approximately $7,000, but are hoping to see that number grow significantly with the Water Walk.
And the students each have strong, personal reasons for participating in the trip.
"The help that you're bringing those people, you don't do it to get a return. You're doing it and they're benefiting from it, and you just have so much inner joy," Jake Downie said. "I can see in my mind, the faces, the smiles."
Alexa Houle said her motivations are: "Knowing that these kids are way less privileged than we are, to bring help for them to be able to go to school. And to really be able to expand my knowledge of what else is in the world."
The Water Walk is this Saturday, Oct. 2. Sign up is at 9:30 a.m. at Roberts Creek Provincial Park picnic area. The walk starts at 10 and culminates at the Creek hall, where there will be a silent auction, kids' games and a performance by children's entertainer Charlotte Dia-mond. The event ends at 4 p.m. Community members can pledge funds to the students or gather pledges themselves. Contact email@example.com for more info. Donations can be made at http://theyaakaarproject.shutterfly.com.