Tuesday, 19 July 2016

Roots of Change raising funds to help development in Nicaragua

For the Bonnyville Nouvelle.

 A local group is trying to raise money for a mission trip to Nicaragua where they will help build homes and other infrastructure.
Submitted photo

A local group of students and their parents are raising funds to go on a mission trip to build better homes and infrastructure in South America next spring.

The group of students and parents are raising funds to help support the charity Roots of Change, which works to spur development in remote areas of Nicaragua. The group will be performing for a fundraiser on July 23 at the corner of the Home Hardware.

The Smith Boys, a local trio of brothers who play traditional Celtic tunes, will be leading the show. There will also be a charity barbecue selling hot dogs and hamburgers to raise funds for the mission.

“This will be the third mission trip for parents and students,” said former École des Beaux-Lacs instructor Yvonne Veraart, who is leading the fundraising. “Our mission is to help impoverished people in Nicaragua.”

About 25 students and parents, including Justin Smith of the Smith Boys, will be headed to Rigo Berto, also known as Plan Grande, in northern Nicaragua. Each traveller is paying their own way on the 10-day trip – the money raised through the fundraiser is going to be used exclusively for the construction.

“Not everyone there has proper shelters, proper washrooms and the things that we have,” said Smith, who plays guitar for the band. “I believe you should be helping everyone live an easier life instead of just casting them away.”

The group plans to help improve plumbing and housing for the small village as well as help build systems to improve local irrigation.

“In one community, we’re going to help build an oven to bake bread,” explained Veraart. “Some of the women want to start up their own enterprise to be self-sufficient.”

Veraart added that she was hoping to match the $15,000 the group raised for their last mission in 2014. During that mission to San Benito, Roots of Change helped build a family garden, brought supplies for schooling and installed pipes to help the flow of running water.

“It doesn’t finish the project, it just helps get the community going,” commented Veraart. “We don’t go there to change them, we go there to help them get back on their feet.”

She noted that the trip was as important for the people going as for the people living in the village.

“It’s a wake up call, the kids are transformed,” expressed Veraart. “Every student should get a chance to go see what the real world is like. We live in a bubble here, and we have so much. It’s important for kids to see that you don’t need that much to be happy. These people are poor yet they have so much to give.”

Veraart also mentioned that her group has a donation bin at the Bonnyville Bottle Depot. Interested donors can just mention École des Beaux-Lacs at the counter to donate to the cause.

The mission heads to Nicaragua on April 17, 2017, for Easter break.

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