Wednesday, 21 June 2017 13:56

SwiftLink starts a new initiative to help a community in need

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Community members laid the bricks for the foundation of a new school building in the Bubi District in Zimbabwe. SwiftLink is supporting the project to raise more funds for the completion of the structure. Community members laid the bricks for the foundation of a new school building in the Bubi District in Zimbabwe. SwiftLink is supporting the project to raise more funds for the completion of the structure. Photo contributed

A passionate group of volunteers in Swift Current are extending a helping hand to a rural community in Africa who are hoping to build a school for their children.

SwiftLink was established in November 2014 during Swift Current's centennial year by local residents who came together to reach out to a community in a developing country.
The organization's vision is to unify Swift Current residents and to use the compassionate community spirit in the city to help other communities in need.
“It’s about community,” SwiftLink Chairperson Val Choo-Foo said. “One thing that we feel passionate about is not only are we helping another community in need, but when you do that, you unify your own community. So we can bring Swift Current together because we’re helping another community.”
SwiftLink's initial focus was on providing support to the community of Bom Jardim in northern Brazil through a partnership with World Vision. There has been a positive response from Swift Current residents to this initiative and 160 children have been sponsored through World Vision.
“When you're sponsoring a child it helps not only that child, but also the families, the community,” she said. “So that's where we started off in 2014 and we're proud of that accomplishment.”
SwiftLink also hosted a number of events to raise funds for an arts education program in Bom Jardim that helps to get children off the streets, where they may fall victim to violence, exploitation and drugs.
SwiftLink's support for Bom Jardim will continue, but the organization is starting another initiative to support a rural community in Zimbabwe, a landlocked country in southern Africa.
“We're not abandoning or leaving our sister city of Bom Jardim, but at the same time they've come to a place where most of the children that need to be sponsored, have been,” Choo-Foo said. “So we'll kind of maintain that community, for example if we do lose some sponsorship or if there are projects we can help with. That's ongoing and in the meantime we're focusing on a new direction.”
The SwiftLink committee held a strategic planning meeting to discuss the way forward and they identified a new way to achieve their goal. According to Anika Henderson, the community liaison coordinator for SwiftLink, they had to be practical about continuing their humanitarian work in developing countries.
“We’re a really small group that don’t have hands on the ground in places,” she said. “So how could we do something that felt close to our community and connected to our community without having the physical boots on the ground? We came up with the concept of finding local community members who are doing humanitarian work outside of our community and just trying to connect with those people here and try to support the work that they are already doing. It just felt like that would be sort of manageable.”
SwiftLink decided to support a project by the Collin Nyabadza Children’s Voice Charitable Trust to build a new classroom block for Sishawe Primary School in the Bubi District in Zimbabwe. The trust is a non-profit organization that was established in 2012 by Collin Nyabadza, a former teacher from Zimbabwe who now lives in Swift Current.
“Collin’s name was one of several that came up,” Choo-Foo said. “When he came in and gave a presentation it fit all the criteria that we had come up with, and it was just extremely moving and passionate.”
Children in this primary school are currently using a dilapidated structure as a classroom while other students are receiving their education outdoors. The community already started the project to construct the new building, but due to a lack of funds it is now at a standstill.
“It’s amazing to me that the actual school he wants to build will cost $30,000 and he’s already got about $10,000,” she said. “So with $20,000 more he could have the school completed, furnished and ready for children. It seems like a project that we could see to the end quite easily.”
SwiftLink already made a donation of $2,000 towards this project and it plans to raise additional funds. At the moment they are raising awareness about SwiftLink's support for the Zimbabwe project and future fundraising events still have to be planned.
“Obviously if anybody is interested to learn more about it, they can contact us, and if they want to make donations they can,” Choo-Foo said. “It would be great if, just through awareness, we could make the donations. I think we’re going to have to continue to build on this and working on it. These families are waiting and they see the beginning of their school, and now it sits there. So we’re really hoping that we could help him follow through and see the day that the kids get to go into their school.”
In addition to future events in support of the projects in Zimbabwe and Brazil, SwiftLink will be hosting a charity expo at the Swift Current Mall on Oct. 28.
“As we were brainstorming all the great work that’s getting done, we came up with the idea maybe our role also could be showcasing or helping other charities showcase what they’re already doing,” she said.
The expo will be an opportunity for other charities in the community to share their cause with people. For SwiftLink it will be another way to make local residents aware of what others are doing to help those in need in other communities.
“Most of the people I know are looking for something to contribute or give back to,” Henderson said. “When we were brainstorming about this, there was so many people that were brought up that are doing amazing work and a person is just unaware of all that stuff that’s going on. So I think a lot of people would be unaware of that. This is a cool opportunity to provide a little bit of a space or a setting for people to learn about it and share about the work they’re doing.”
For more information about any of the SwiftLink projects, to make a donation, or to become involved with SwiftLink, please contact Anika Henderson at 306-778-4041 or send an e-mail to: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Read 1142 times Last modified on Thursday, 22 June 2017 09:08
Matthew Liebenberg


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