Crescent Collegiate teachers returns from Uganda
Crescent Collegiate teacher delivers dresses to Ugandan orphans
If you listen close enough, you’ll hear it; that incessant babbling that insists this generation is too preoccupied with playing video games, lying around the house and taking selfies.
Sometimes, it is hard not to get swept up in the talk.
But, that description of students these days does not apply to all of them.
Just ask Crescent Collegiate social studies teacher Marie Woodford. She recently delivered a number of pillow case dresses, school supplies and letters to the Bread from Heaven orphanage in Mpigi, Uganda.
All of those things were either brought in or made by students at the Blaketown school. So, Woodford knows first hand that students sometimes get a bad rap.
“People always ask me, ‘ How are you a high school teacher? How do you do it?’” she told The Compass recently. “My response is always the kids these days don’t get enough credit. Kids are awesome — they’re world changers. They’re people who don’t like the world and want to do something about it.”
Woodford spent two weeks in March delivering the supplies to the 105 children living at the orphanage, while also assisting with work to build a school on the site. They had a school before, but the children were learning in a splintered environment with classes all over the place.
“We wanted to build them a highly efficient learning environment,” said Woodford, with the ‘we’ referring to the Newfoundland based group Jorja’s Journey that aims to empower children. Jorja Hinks, a young girl from Goulds, is the project’s founder.
While helping with the construction, the teacher took the time to drop off the care package from Crescent.
“My Grade 9s here filled my suitcases with school supplies,” said Woodford. “Something as simple as a pencil means the world to them.”
The response to these items was huge, as one would expect.
“The kids were pumped to get the dresses,” said Woodford. “When they get a new dress, for a lot of them that’s the first time they’ve gotten anything brand new.”
It’s pretty powerful to know that something we buy for a couple of bucks can really go a long way.”
The connection formed with Crescent Collegiate is not the only link between Bread From Heaven and this province. Each of the 105 orphans are sponsored by a person from Newfoundland and Labrador.
Getting the goods
A Crescent Collegiate student made each dress delivered to the orphanage. The school’s Allied Youth group handled the sewing work on the 45 dresses. Allison Barnes is the group’s teacher sponsor.
“We take pillow cases from the Dollar Store, or even gently used ones, turn them into dresses,” Woodford explained. “Allison really wanted to get her Allied Youth group involved in the project. So we spent one day after school here in February … making dresses.
“Some of them knew how to work a sewing machine and some of them didn’t. So we showed them the basic skills and they all produced a dress within hours, which was pretty amazing.”
On top of that, staff and their spouses chipped in to help produce the clothes. The Allied Youth group also wrote letters to the orphans, which Woodford described as “pretty awesome.”
Seeing it first hand
It is one thing for a person to give to a charity, but it is something else altogether to see the work your donation is doing first hand.
That’s what Woodford got to experience when her plane touched down in Uganda after what she called “the milk run.”
It was her third year helping out with Jorja’s Journey, but her first time seeing the work done first hand.
Delivering the dresses and the school supplies had a profound effect on Woodford.
“It’s a magical experience, I know people laugh at me when I say magical,” she said. “To see something so simple that took a couple of teenagers at Crescent a few hours, to see the lasting impact it has. I’ve been doing this project for three years and we have dresses in 12 countries, but its pretty powerful to see that happiness.
“Just the simplicity of this project ... Dollar Store pillow cases, some supplies and a little bit of time can make a big difference.”
Marie Woodford (back) is shown here with a group of orphans from the Bread From Heaven orphanage in Mpigi, Uganda. Woodford was there to help with the construction of a school and the delivery of dresses and school supplies from Crescent Collegiate.
Some of the Bread From Heaven children model their new dresses.