Halifax school, navy send donations to West African schools

LCdr Matt Woodburn, ship’s commanding officer, talks about the Canadian Navy’s role in the world.

LCdr Matt Woodburn, ship’s commanding officer, talks about the Canadian Navy’s role in the world.

Lt(N) Linda Coleman, MARLANT PAO ~

When HMC Ships Kingston and Summerside began preparations for their deployment to West Africa, word spread that the ships were offering to transport donations to African schools in need.

Donations poured in from all over Halifax, including École Beaubassin, a local elementary school in Bedford, Halifax.

One teacher was particularly passionate about donating because her husband, Lt(N) Guillaume Desjardins, is the Operations Officer in Summerside.

“When my wife Janie heard we were collecting donations for some French-speaking African countries, she thought this would be a great opportunity to get her school involved; French school to French school,” said Lt(N) Desjardins.

The school found math, science, and French books from its collection to donate. The school also used their Facebook page to reach out to their community as a donation drive, which proved to be a success. Parents and students added to the donation pile, with students even donating some of their favourite reading books.

In the end, École Beaubassin donated over 2,000 French books for Kingston and Summerside to transport to West Africa.

On Feb. 22, the ships’ company delivered the items, along with toys, blankets, toiletries, first aid supplies and clothes to Diaraf Falla Paye, a French school in Dakar, Senegal.

“We don’t often have this opportunity to give donations by hand and see the direct impact it has to those receiving it. This is great; you know exactly where your donations are going. It’s also great to make relationships and hopefully we’ll be back next year,” said Lt(N) Desjardins.

Military members spent the day at the school, conducting repairs to desks, doors, plumbing, and removing large stones from the yard, making it a safer environment for the kids to play in. During the visit, sailors interacted with the curious children who adored playing with them.

“It made me feel special to see how the kids interact, it’s so different from home. It was nice to help them and feel like we’re making a difference,” said Leading Seaman Alexy Thibault, who sang with some girls in the school yard.

Kingston and Summerside are currently deployed on Operation Projection West Africa, engaging with local communities and contributing to regional stability and security.

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