Local student to share experiences in Africa with Airdrie residents
Laurel Holmes is doing something to change the world.
The 17-year-old Airdrie Koinonia Christian School student recently returned from a trip to Rwanda, Africa with the World Vision Youth Ambassador program.
“I got to see the work World Vision does first hand and see how the money people donate translates into helping families and communities,” said Holmes.
“I also took part in an international youth forum with students from Tanzania, Rwanda, the Congo and Canada. It was neat to meet people your own age from other countries because they are very similar to you. It is interesting to see what they are doing to evoke change.”
As the youth ambassador for World Vision in Alberta, Holmes will now share her experience with churches, schools and businesses across the province.
Diane Paton Kashuba, World Vision regional representative of Southern Alberta, said Holmes will be critical to youth engagement.
“I have enjoyed working with her and seeing her heart for the poor,” said Paton Kashuba.
“She will share what she saw in Rwanda and how World Vision is helping those communities. She had a unique opportunity to learn about this first hand.”
“I will be sharing my experiences with them and making them aware of the issues in the world,” said Holmes.
“It’s really neat to have that experience behind me and I am looking forward to sharing and having a connection with people who care about the same kind of things.”
Paton Kashuba described her as “a fun loving student and person who brings a passion and a heart for those in need.”
“Through that she is really showing her drive to be part of a generation that makes change happen,” she said.
Holmes said the thing that shocked her the most about Rwanda is the spirit of peace in the country.
“When you think of Rwanda, you think of war and genocide and all the negative things but walking on the streets where the genocide happened, you just see how far they’ve come,” she said.
“Obviously, there is still hurt and pain but they’ve come a long way.”
The Grade 12 student travelled to Africa with six other youth, two World Vision leaders and two people to record the experience from Aug. 6 to 21.
“The most memorable part of the trip was visiting a youth centre in Bugesera,” she said. “They showed us traditional dancing and we danced with them for about two hours. We were so immersed in it and I laughed the whole time. Then someone turned on some top 40 hits and they all broke into modern dances like what we do in Canada, it was great.”
She said it was the connections she made with the people she met that will stay with her.
“World Vision is helping people with the basic necessities of life. I am really interested in social justice and helping impoverished people in the world,” she said.
“We are not giving them things. It’s a partnership and they are doing things on their own to help themselves out of poverty. It is not the rich giving to the poor. It is about building friendships and growing together.”
Holmes is looking into nursing and international development as a career and would like to work in AIDS clinics and hospitals around the world.
For more information on World Vision and the youth ambassador program, visit wwww.worldvision.ca or contact Paton Kashuba at 403-470-2430 or firstname.lastname@example.org