Basic education is often taken for granted in Canada. But it is not something taken lightly by one Victoria-based grassroots organization.
As a project of the Victoria International Development Education Association (VIDEA), Ukulapha Community Outreach is raising money for and building education-related infrastructures in the small township of Slangspruit in South Africa.
Ukulapha founder, Carolyn Burns, said many of the students are orphans who have lost parents to diseases like AIDS and tuberculosis.
“It’s a very improvised area,” Burns said but programs like their’s are helping to improve resources in the area. “We have a much further reach at the school. We not only touch the children but also the community.”
To help fund all of this work, Ukulapha is hosting its fourth annual I See Hope fundraiser on Friday, Oct. 16, at the Royal Colwood Golf Club.
The evening will kick off around 6:30 p.m. with a silent auction while guests mingle and sip wine from an Okanagan vineyard. A gala buffet will be served just after 7 p.m., followed by desserts and a live auction.
Victoria resident Burns said there are a number of fabulous items in both auctions, including a seven-night cruse for two to Tahiti.
The night will end with a performance by The Legends, playing rock and roll favourites from the 1950s to the 1990s.
“We’re hoping to raise as much as possible,” she said, promising the night to be a memorable one. “This is for the children.”
Ukulapha, named for the Zulu word for “healing,” has been building relationships in the Slangspruit township by focusing its work around the area’s school, which supports more than 1,000 students.
It also partnered with another Canadian group to introduce a nutrition program at the school which provides younger students with a glass of milk in the morning and includes a protein for all children with their midday meal.
“For a lot of the children, it could be be the only meal they get in the day,” Burns said.
Besides working with the school’s committed teachers and principal, she said, Ukulapha is also developing a computer centre to engage the community, part of a bigger plan for the building.
But Ukulapha isn’t just providing opportunities for students overseas. They also host Canadian interns for six months at a time to work in the Slangspruit township, through VIDEA, and are currently accepting applications from anyone under the age of 30.
“It’s really cool. It makes a huge difference at the school,” Burns said.
Tickets for the gala are still available and cost $95 per person. For more information go to ukulapha.org.za or email