By Vesna Mirkovich
Driving by Sunshine Hills Elementary, you would think the school, nestled in a pleasant neighbourhood of suburban Delta, B.C., is like all the other good neighbourhood public schools. Nothing on the outside would set it apart from the rest. But inside its walls you will find driven and compassionate administrators, teachers, and students whose positive influence has been touching children across the globe.
The Sunshine Hills We Team has been raising funds for various building projects such as schools, wells, and medical clinics in Africa since 2009 and, to date, has raised $180,000. Many of the projects are now done in partnership with A Better World Canada with whom they connected back in 2011.
On April 12, 2017, the school’s We Team presented its annual We Day program to update the school and community about their projects and to celebrate their progress. The team, led by teacher Joan Stephens, is full of conscientious, creative, compassionate students whose passion for helping others spoke volumes throughout the well-rehearsed program. A Better World co-founder Eric Rajah gave a feature presentation and showed pictures of all the finished projects the school has made possible—reminding them that their efforts have materialized into changed lives in Africa!
The presentation ended with the We Team and Eric Rajah defining their next focus: a physiotherapy centre, called Jesse’s Place, in Rwanda. About 100 surgeries are already performed every year, Rajah explained. Funds and personnel are in place to, for example, get children walking at, say $200 per child, but all of these precious individuals need further care in the form of a rehabilitation centre. This is where Sunshine Hills Elementary’s We Team will once again be stepping in. Their goal was to raise $10,000 this year (2017) to build Jesse’s Place—they actually raised $20,000!
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has,” a statement by Margaret Mead printed on the We Day program and recited during the presentation is an apt description of Sunshine Hills’s school culture and motto as well as the We Team’s philosophy. The school’s principal, Elaine Greenhalgh, stands behind the We Team’s selfless efforts, clearly proud and supportive of the positive difference the school is making internationally and not only locally.