A Red Deer school student wins a humanitarian award scholarship

By Mamta Lulla, Red Deer Advocate

Pictured above: Claire Welikoklad helped students in two African countries and won a Humanitarian Service scholarship from A Better World Canada. Photo supplied.

A Grade 11 Red Deer student has won A Better World’s Humanitarian Service Award Scholarship after helping students in two African countries.

Claire Welikoklad, who attends École Secondaire Notre Dame High School, went on a humanitarian trip to Kenya and Rwanda with her dad Jason for about two and a half weeks in October.

“I am shocked and I feel honoured to have won a humanitarian award,” she said.

After taking advice from her dad to do something for the people there, the 16-year-old made booklets with information about Canada’s wildlife and landscape. She shared the booklets with students at five schools in the two countries.

Welikoklad calls the trip “eye-opening.”

She said based on what she has heard about Africa, she didn’t expect the people to be so happy, always smiling and dressed well.

“I guess you expect them to be poor and not so happy,” she said.

What she will always remember is the interactions she had with the students ages three to 14 when they would ask her questions about Canada. She would show them the booklet with facts, pictures of snowy mountains, and Canadian wildlife like moose, deer and coyotes.

“I told them names of the animals and what they would eat and how they live and explain to them about snow and generic things about Canada because they don’t know any of this,” she said.

The Red Deer County resident and her father also visited schools for special needs children and cooked lunches and interacted with the students.

Eric Rajah, co-founder of A Better World, said Welikoklad received the scholarship because she was “outstanding in terms of engaging with students in classrooms teaching them about Canada.”

After she came back, she concluded her experience in a report and submitted it to A Better World Canada, and won the $750 scholarship.

Jacqui McCarty, communications specialist at A Better World Canada, said the trip was part of Journeys of Inspiration that falls under the organization’s umbrella. The trips aim to inspire people to help those in need in other countries and in this case Welikoklad’s dedication to humanitarianism through international service was recognized.

“They come back pumped up about helping people around the world because we often get stuck in a little bubble here, not really seeing what’s going on in other parts of the world,” said McCarty.

To learn about the A Better World’s upcoming trips visit www.abwcanada.ca/trips/#upcoming