Many Vancouver Islanders give back through volunteering.
Meet one woman who’s volunteer teaching job has become a life-changing experience for hundreds of the world’s poorest young women.
Members of the Canadian Club take their seats. This Victoria branch was founded in 1906.
Ellen Stensholt is president of the Victoria branch of the Canadian Club.
“So we’ve been around a long time, but we invite speakers who will speak on topics of interest to all Canadians.”
Today’s speaker is Christie Johnson. Her topic? How a journey to Malawi, Africa changed the direction of her life.
“I started as a volunteer teacher, and I met some incredible young women there, and I saw a huge need in terms of education for girls…and I’m a teacher.”
Johnson befriended a Malawi woman named Memory.
“And Memory needed to finish her education, and there were twenty-four other girls that we had worked with, and we together helped to educate them.”
The joy of seeing opportunities open up for those now-educated women pushed Johnson and Memory to open their own high school for girls in Malawi.
The first graduation was 2011.
“We graduate between 80 and 90 students every year…and we’re seeing the change in their villages, in terms of the attitudes towards women.” explains Johnson.
“They become the power in their village, and it becomes really clear to all of the men who were in power that it is worth their while to put their girls in school.”
Of course, it takes money to build and staff the school, and that’s where fundraising comes in.
That fundraising includes an annual Garden Party, which over the past six years, has raised close to $2-hundred thousand dollars.
Board member Dariol Haydock explains that the young Malawi girls “come into the school, they have a home, they have food, they have a caring staff to look after them, and they have a first class education…
“Last year we opened a Primary School, a two-room classroom that has fifty-six children in it, and we’ve had fifteen of our Malawi girl graduates come into the Primary School to do teacher training, which is a big need in Malawi.”
“Over the years” says Johnson “it’s become really clear to me, that the power in what’s happened here is that we have enabled hundreds and hundreds of girls to become agents of change themselves.”
Click here to learn more about APU Girls on the Move.