This summer, one local student will be embarking on the trip of a lifetime as she heads to Africa on a Me to We Volunteer Adventure. Sophie Stevens, 14, will be part of a group of students who will live and work in Kenya for three weeks, building a school and constructing a drinking well. The trip is offered by the Free the Children Foundation, founded by Canadian Craig Kielburger, and it is something Sophie has thought about since she first became involved with the organization while she was a student at Bowmore Public School.
“For the past three years I was part of the Me to We group there,” she said, “and after going to three different We Days I kind of got inspired and thought this would be such an amazing opportunity.”
We Days are held yearly at the Air Canada Centre and thousands of students attend.
“Me to We is the school version and Free the Children is the bigger picture of it all,” explained Sophie.
While in Kenya, Sophie and her group will live in tents with bunk beds accommodating four or six to a tent. Food will be provided by an on-site cook. And there will be lots of hard work, which Sophie is eager to tackle.
“We will be building schools, physically laying bricks to build schools,” she said. “It’s definitely going to be a physical challenge but I think it’s also really exciting because it’s kind of a new physical challenge that we don’t get to experience over here.”
Along with the construction work, the group will get to go on a safari and work with a Masai tribe. They will also get to interact with the local community, which Sophie’s mom says will be a highlight of the trip for her daughter.
“They’ll be spending a lot of time with the kids in the community and I know the kids will gravitate to her because she’s one of those people who kids are attracted to and she loves them,” said Sarah Stevens.
The trip is costing the Stevens family $5,000. To date they have raised, through donations, $1,500. A fundraiser is being held on Friday, Feb. 8 at the Royal Canadian Legion, 243 Coxwell Ave., from 6 to 9 p.m., in an effort to raise even more. There will be pizza, a bake sale (with donations of baked goods greatly appreciated), raffles, and three bands playing three different genres of music. Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for 16 and under.
“I’m enormously proud of her,” said Sarah. “Social justice is enormously important to her and that she wants to tackle something so big and, I think, ultimately life changing, is amazing.”
Tickets to Sophie’s fundraiser are available by calling 416-466-9509. For more information about a Me to We Volunteer Adventure, visit www.metowe.ca