By: James Miller
Students from Princess Margaret Secondary School have organized a talent show with all proceeds going to the construction of a library in Tanzania.
The Maggie and Friends Talent Show will be held Wednesday at 7 p.m. at the high school under the direction of senior students who are traveling to the African nation during Spring Break to construct a library in the town of Arusha, near Mount Kilimanjaro.
Acts are as diversified as rope skipping to African drumming with reliable standards including as piano and vocalists. Many students not involved with the Tanzania project were anxious to offer their talents to the point where auditions had to be held.
Tickets are $7 for adults and $5 for students with all proceeds going towards building supplies for the library.
The humanitarian trips to Tanzania are organized by Maggie principal Sandra Richardson. Several years ago her daughter Lindsey, then 17, ran an orphanage for four months which inspired the veteran educator to become involved herself, later taking a group of 27 Pen-Hi students to Africa in the summer of 2011.
This year it will be a communal effort with students from Maggie, Pen-Hi and Summerland Secondary participating as two groups, one in spring break and another in the summer with 22 and 24 students traveling respectively. In addition to surrendering their spring break, each student is self-funded for $5,000 (the majority of the cost is airfare) and the vast majority of fundraising efforts are to fund supplies.
In addition to giving up an entire spring break, they'll also be without electronics for over two weeks. (These are teenagers remember.)
Richardson said they will attempt to Skype on a frequent basis to the high schools and supporting elementary schools.
"We'll go days without power which is very spuratic at best. There's no point in having cell phones there. We'll take one laptop and an I-pad," she said.
The first trip is March 19 through April 7. Students fly Vancouver to Amsterdam and then Amsterdam to Mount Kiliminjaro — a combined 28 hours of travel time (31 hours coming back.) From Mount Kilimanjaro, they will take a 20-minute bus ride to the final destination.
Days are long, averaging nine hours of construction time under the guidance of a local fundi (foreman).
"The purpose of the trip is work," said Richardson. "Our fundi is guiding us through the project but we are the grunt workers. The students will be swinging picks, digging, building bricks, mixing cement by hand and using very low level technology. It's definitely hard work."
The tour will include a handful of half-day educational excursions and will conclude with a four-day safari where they observe and photograph animals.
Each student has their own motivation for becoming involved.
"I saw a couple of pictures on Facebook and it looked interesting to me," said student Harrison Hall, who's considering a career as an ex-ray technician. "The more I thought about it, it seemed like a cool thing to do."
Fellow student Ashley Stewart was involved with a similar project in Mexico which was run by her church.
"When we went to Mexico and got to know the little kids, and seeing how little they had, when we built them the house and then gave them the keys, it was the best memory ever seeing the smiles on their faces," she said.
Jon Hack, who aspires to be a dentist, also welcomed the opportunity, joking that he already owned a safari hat before the trip was announced.
"It's very seldom you get offered a chance to go to Africa, with a bunch of friends and to do something of great importance," said Hack.
"You always hear about the less privileged around the world but there appears to be a disconnect between us," said student Katharine Harris. "To be able to experience this first-hand will be a great experience."
Caitlyn Spooner echoes her thoughts.
"Ever since I was little, I loved helping others and it seemed like a great opportunity to help the less fortunate," she said.
Scheduled performers for Wednesday's show are: Cody Thompson (piano), Nikola Thompson (piano), Nathan Classen (violin), Jesse Singelton (vocals), Moonlite Supernault (drumming and vocals), Jenna El-Mir (vocals), Kara Gilfillen and Nadia Wojcik (vocals), Tristan Abbey (dancing), Johnny Stuchburry (classical guitar), Danielle Nemechek (guitar and vocals) , Amber Leake (guitar and vocal), Belle and Grace Grant (guitar and vocals), Russell Lee (dance), Jessica Castle (piano), Spiders from the Hood (skipping), Oliver d'Aoust (vocals), Sydney Wood and Lauren Richards (vocals) and
Taylor Graham and Gabe Panis (vocals and guitar).
To learn more about the humanitarian project, visit Maggie Tanzania 2013 on Facebook.