A better world

Justin Dickie
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Christie McClelland always considered herself appreciative of the opportunities she was given.

Now she knows just how lucky she really is.

Christie McClelland always considered herself appreciative of the opportunities she was given.

Now she knows just how lucky she really is.

"I guess what I was most affected by was how happy they were with what little that they had," McClelland said recently, talking about the people she met on her trip to Kenya. "I had heard that, but I dont know that I actually believed that without adequate food and shelter and clothing that you could be happy, but theyre pretty happy.

"It definitely made me appreciate the opportunities available to me just because I live in Canada."

McClelland, a 20-year-old Oxford native and bachelor of science student at Mount Allison University, was one of 25 North American university students who recently travelled to Salabwak, Kenya to help build schools for children in the rural community. She also taught Grade six math for a few days.

She said that the old schools were made from cow dung and sticks, they were without adequate lighting, and they werent weatherproof.

"Not a good learning environment," she said.

The fact it was an education-based project was a big factor in McClelland choosing to volunteer for this program, which was put together by the Leaders Today and Free the Children organizations.

Upon the students arrival in Salabwak, members of the community lined the streets to welcome them. McClelland said the community was extremely appreciative of what her group was doing there.

During the groups four-week stay, they completely built one school and constructed foundations for three more.

"It was a lot of hard work. I knew it would be hard, but it difficult to imagine that wed be mixing cement by the end of it," McClelland said.

"It was physically challenging, but it was fun."

The African children were happy to see the end result.

"When they came in and actually saw that they had new desks and nice new books, they were just ecstatic," she said. "The kids were going crazy. They were clapping and cheering."

McClelland was appreciative in her own right for those who helped her fundraise for the trip.

As a thank you, shes currently putting together a slideshow soon to be presented at the Baptist churches in Amherst and Oxford.

She went to Kenya to try to make a difference for others, and it made a difference for herself in the process.

"It made me more thankful, and that in and of itself is life changing," she said.



jdickie@amherstdaily.com

Organizations: Mount Allison University, North American

Geographic location: Kenya, Oxford, Salabwak Canada Amherst

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