Prince Albert humanitarians looking for a helping hand

Jason Kerr
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Ten members from the Roman Catholic Diocese of Prince Albert are trying to raise money to help bring clean water to those in need.

The Tanzania mission team, from left to right: Celine Grimard, Matthew Derworiz, Danica Beaulac, Katelynne Bohmann, Vanessa Agira, Kayla Richards and Roxanne Richards. 

The group is heading to the African country of Tanzania on June 30 to help build wells for six weeks.

“I think so often we take something like water for granted,” team member Roxanne Richards says. “We live in a pretty comfortable world.”

Of the ten members, eight hail from Prince Albert while two come from Hudson Bay.  They say they’re excited to not only do some humanitarian work, and experience other cultures.  For them, it’s an opportunity to give to people who have so little.

“There was a presentation going on and it grabbed my attention,” Roxanne’s daughter and fellow team member Kayla says.  “I thought, why not me.   I was free, and nothing was really holding me back from not going.”

“For me, I lived there for two years in a refugee camp with my family,” Vanessa Agira says.  “This is a way for me to pay back the community for helping us find a place.”

The project is fairly straightforward.  The wells are already dug, they just need to build the windmills overtop of them to help people draw water.  Afterwards, local residents in Tanzania take over and maintain the wells.

The project is an expensive one, and unfortunately, the group has had problems finding financial support.

“It’s been pretty difficult, I would say, and we’re such a small group, so getting together and getting the community to help has been kind of hard,” Agira says.

The group is supplying the funds for the wells they’re installing, plus paying of their own trip over.  The wells cost $25,000, while they pay $5,000 each in travel and living expenses.

“With 10 people, that’s like a lot to spread (around), and there’s only so much you can ask of family and friends,” Celine Grimard says.

Compounding the problem is the fact that most of those attending are either university students, or working to save money for university.

They’ve also struggled with raising awareness in the community, which they’ve been trying to do since they started planning the trip two years ago.  Most of their fundraising is done through announcements at churches and schools.

“It’s really difficult to get that out,” Roxanne says.  “I had a woman last week that said she’d just heard about it, and how can she get on board.”

The group says they’re hoping to make major gains with their two major fundraisers coming up.  They’re holding a Fast-a-thon, where they go without food for a certain period of time in exchange for pledges, as well as an art raffle.  The raffle features 10 pieces that were either made or donated by members of the community.

Right now, they’re just struggling to get the word out.

“There’s always so much other stuff going on, and people always wonder, why not help where you live first,” Agira says.

The group says they’re also going to hold several barbeques throughout the city as the weather gets warmer, and hopefully, they can raise enough money to give a helping hand where it’s needed.

It’s something they’re looking forward to with both excitement and nervousness.

“We don’t really know what to expect, because it’s completely different from what our norm is, but we’re also excited because it’s the experience of a lifetime,” says Grimard.

To purchase tickets for the art raffle, you can call 960-1134, and for more information about the Fast-a-thon, you can call the Roman Catholic Diocese of Prince Albert.

Organizations: Prince Albert

Geographic location: Tanzania, Hudson Bay

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