Submitted by Clary Fox
A few years ago, a good friend of mine turned 50. She called it her Jubilee Year and had a number of plans she made to celebrate this milestone in her life.
I liked the idea and began thinking of my own upcoming milestone, and how I could best honor the marking of a half century. Contributing significantly to a project in the developing world seemed like a great starting point. International Needs Canada supports a number of community development projects around the world. The appeal is their commitment to work with local community leaders in transforming their own communities. There is strong local ownership and commitment to the work being done.
My attention turned to the small community of Solweizi, Zambia. This is a community of rural families, most of whom have taken in children orphaned through the AIDS epidemic. In 2012, ZACTS Primary school opened their doors to 80 students. Today, the school has over 400 students, none who otherwise would have access to education. Restricted access to education is one of the surest ways of transmitting poverty from generation to generation. These rural families recognized the benefits education would have for their children, and appealed to International Needs to help them open a school. Initial visits to the community by Dr. Neil Stretch, revealed that the children in the area were among the sickest he had ever cared for in 12 years of medical volunteer work in Africa. Many children would walk kilometers to the school, sick with parasites or malaria, because there was a school and two meals being served each day. The school is built on 105 hectares of prime farmland. In order to support the operation of the school, provide jobs for the villagers, and food for the students – a vegetable farm and poultry project were proposed. Significant need, paired with a community very motivated to develop itself, were the main ingredients in choosing this project.
The next step was to find a group of people to help, and who better to partner with – Some St. Michael’s Bow Island Alumni – also pondering their Golden Jubilee Year. We met early in the summer of 2015. My initial goal of $40,000 was quickly pushed up to $50,000. We branded our project the “50 by Fifty” campaign, and the ideas started flowing. Even though over 30 years have passed since high school graduation, we easily slipped into a familiar way of working together. Ideas and questions were freely expressed. It was like the decades didn’t change so many things. We’d played seasons of team sports together, worked on school committees like Yearbook and Student Council. This was the newest project initiative we picked up!
The “50 by Fifty” campaign is committed to raising all the funds needed to complete a state- of –the- art chicken farm that meets livestock standards and can yield 12,000 chickens per year. The group is almost half way to their goal of $50,000! We’ve cycled in the snow in Calgary, and held a very fun cabaret in Lethbridge that drew a number of old friends from Bow Island. Our next plans include an event in Bow Island on May 28th. It’s been inspiring to reconnect with old friends with real purpose.
Please look at our website if you would like to contribute to our cause. One of our initiatives is to create the longest chain of $50 donations. In Zambia the average life expectancy is only 51 years. Our invitation is to all people over the age of 50, to consider adding a $50 link to our chain.
Our website: https://cause2give.unxvision.com/P2PWeb/Default.aspx?EventId=898&LanguageId=1
Or call Clary Fox at 403 390-6069 to talk about how you can get involved.