Cres­cent Col­le­giate teach­ers re­turns from Uganda

Cres­cent Col­le­giate teacher de­liv­ers dresses to Ugan­dan or­phans

The Compass - - FRONT PAGE - BY NI­CHOLAS MERCER nmercer@cb­n­com­pass.ca

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.”

SUB­MIT­TED PHO­TOS

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.

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