Students set for African journey

A group of Penticton Secondary students will be spending a chunk of their summer far from home, helping improve the lives of children at an African orphanage.

Lane Richardson and Natalie Webb keep the burgers and dogs cooking at a fundraising event

A group of Penticton Secondary students will be spending a chunk of their summer far from home, helping improve the lives of children at an African orphanage.

“Safari means journey, safari wangu means our journey. That’s kind of the adopted name we have for our trip,” said Sandra Richardson, the Pen High vice-principal who will be leading the 22 students on their journey. She visited the Tanzanian orphanages last year with her family.

“When I was coming home last year, I wanted to bring these children with me because they are so beautiful,” said Richardson.

Her husband, however, pointed out that it might be better to go back instead, and that the same amount of energy invested in bringing a child to Canada might help out even more if it was invested in Tanzania.

The Pen High group will be working at two orphanages there, both run by the same umbrella organization. The first, Camp Moses, is for children under seven years old, where they are helping 24 kids, up from the 10 that were there when Richardson visited. However, there are still another 200 on the wait list.

The camps provide schooling, food and try to keep a connection with the children’s families.

“The interesting thing about these orphanages is they really take an active role in trying to reunite the family,” said Richardson, who lists poverty, violence in the family and disability as just some of the reasons why kids end up there. “The stories of the families are really sad.”

When the students arrive, they will participate in a number of projects, including building a classroom at Camp Moses to help accommodate the increasing number of children.

“We will also be re-establishing their playground, which is just a big mound of dirt. Our kids will help refurbish it and give them a place to play,” said Richardson.

The Pen High students will also have a chance to play, spending the last four days of their trip on safari to the Ngorongoro  crater, the Serengeti and some of the other conservation areas.