Visiting Shaughnessy Elementary School (VOH Partners)

Last week Nancy and I attended an assembly at Shaughnessy Elementary School in Vancouver, B.C.  Nancy’s Sister, Beverley Neville, is a teacher at the school and, after a visit to Village of Hope – Kitwe three years ago, spearheaded a partnership between Shaughnessy Elementary and VOH Community School in Kitwe, Zambia.

Over the past 3 years Shaughnessy has raised over $30,000 and has also collected and sent clothing and school supplies to the Village of Hope. This initiative has involved the staff, parents and students of Shaughnessy Elementary.

The purpose for the assembly was to celebrate the achievements of the fund raising initiatives and the success of the partnership. Three cheques were presented for Village of Hope totalling over $10,000. Over $8000 of that amount was raised through the ZamZoom walk-a-thon.

The assembly began with the Singing of both the Canadian and Zambian national anthems. Some of the students even entertained us with an African Dance. Many students read letters that they had received from their pen pals in Kitwe.

Present at the assembly were the principal – Mr. Barrie; the Associate Superintendent for the Vancouver School Board – Dr. Valarie Vangaard;  the teachers; members of the PAC (parent’s council); the

Shaughnessy-VOH partnership student committee, and the students of Shaughnessy Elementary School.

I had the opportunity to address the students and began by thanking them for their hard work in raising the funds. Then I spoke to them about my role as one who speaks on behalf of the vulnerable children of Africa. I used the illustration of “big people verses little people”. I told them that no matter how old we are, how big or how small and no matter what the colour of our skin, we are all equal as human beings.

Unfortunately, in the world today, there are many children who are not treated as equals and do not have a voice and therefore need others to speak on their behalf.

I also told them that what excites me most about their involvement with Villages of Hope is the fact that little people are speaking on behalf of other little people, that through their various initiatives they have made their community aware of the need in Kitwe. I challenged them not to forget what they have experienced when they become big people – that they need to continue to speak on behalf of the many vulnerable children in the world today.

Nancy and I had the opportunity to visit Ms. Neville’s grade 7 classroom after the assembly. The principal Mr. Barrie presented us with mugs, lapel pins and pens, all with the Shaughnessy Elementary School emblem, to take back to Zambia for the staff.

The students then had the opportunity to ask us questions about the work we do in Africa, life in Africa, and specific questions about the community school and students in Kitwe. We were very impressed with the student’s depth of knowledge.

The partnership between Shaughnessy School and Village of Hope-Kitwe School has been a huge success. Not only has the partnership been fruitful in raising funds and supplies, it h

as helped to spread the word of what Villages of Hope – Africa Society is doing overseas. It has also been a great teaching tool for the school; the students through this partnership have learned to be global people. Finally, I believe that for many of the students this experience will remain with them throughout their adult life. I expect that many of them will continue to speak on behalf of the many vulnerable people of the world.

The Shaughnessy partnership is one which needs to be replicated.

I would like to thank Ms. Neville and her team for all their hard work, Mr. Barrie for allowing this partnership to happen, and all the students for their energy, enthusiasm and dedication to this project – you are all an inspiration!

Until next time,

Sergio Bersaglio

Executive Director – Villages of Hope-Africa

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