“I want our kids to know they’re going there as guests and that they’re learning much more from the people there than we are bringing,” says Deirdre Timusk, UCC’s director of community service and CAS who also acts as the school’s international exchanges and service trip co-ordinator.
“We’re trying to design these trips so that the service activities are ethical and they’re not taking away local labour. I don’t want the boys going in and digging a well that a local person should be paid to do. We don’t want to be replacement workers.”
Children of Hope Uganda is a community-based, non-profit organization that works to empower war-affected youth impacted by Joseph Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army in northern Uganda. It operates Barlonyo Technical and Vocational Institute and Early Childhood Development Centre and has helped transform the lives of more than 1,100 youth.
“UCC has been raising money for this organization for 10 years but nobody has ever been there,” says Timusk, while acknowledging that recently elected Head Steward Adam Rothman and his mother visited the site on their own last summer in a non-UCC-affiliated visit.
That will change next March when Evolve Tours will offer a dozen UCC students the opportunity to work in a variety of areas to help the local children and youth with a variety of projects while also getting the opportunity to participate in cultural immersion activities, go on a safari and visit the Ugandan capital of Kampala during a 15-day trip focused on Barlonyo.
“I really wanted UCC to have a connection with a school or a place and not just have boys flit around the world to all these different service activities, like dig a well here and plant a tree there,” says Timusk. “I wanted something that maybe we could go back to year after year and develop a relationship with a community.”
An eight-day trip to Costa Rica put together by Evolve will present 10 UCC boys with the chance to engage in a variety of activities while also taking part in community service.
“I’m trying to have the tour company design something where the kids are interacting with either kids their own age or kids younger than them so they can help tutor them or run a camp for them so that they can perhaps get some professional development that they might need for the future,” says Timusk. “Running an enrichment program is something that I’m hoping that we’ll have as part of the itinerary.”