West Shore RCMP Const. Mike Robinson and his wife Liisa are using their vacation time to help build a school classroom in Tanzania.

West Shore RCMP Const. Mike Robinson and his wife Liisa are using their vacation time to help build a school classroom in Tanzania.

West Shore officer uses vacation to build a classroom in Tanzania

West Shore Serge

West Shore Serge

Const. Mike Robinson

Home province: Saskatchewan

Years of service: 8

Years with West Shore detachment: 2

West Shore RCMP Const. Mike Robinson, a former teacher, has traded in his textbooks for tools after heading to a school in Africa this summer.

Mike and his wife, Liisa Robinson, travelled to Tanzania for a month starting early July to help build a new classroom and playground at an orphanage in Arusha, a city with a population of about 1.3 million in the northern part of the country, near the Kenyan border.

“We heard about the need for help from some former colleagues who went over there to do some work at the orphanage last summer,” said Mike, who taught school for nine years before deciding to join the RCMP. “They put a lot of effort into organizing this.”

Mike and Liisa, a counsellor at Camosun College, are using their vacation time and covering their expenses for the trip so all of the money they raise will go toward improvements at the orphanage.

They have been raising funds through sales of a calendar featuring photos of some of the 120 kids between the age of two and 16 who live there.

They were both touched by the generosity of the Colwood Dental Group for a donation of toothbrushes and hygiene kits.

“Items like that are very expensive there,” noted Liisa, who said the couple leapt at the opportunity to travel to Africa.

“We love to travel and we’re really keen to go,” Liisa said. “Travelling to Africa to help children at an orphanage was too good to pass up. It’s a little humbling that so many people we’ve talked to look at it as a great thing to do because we see it as something that will be rewarding for us on so many levels.

“I’m sure we’ll come back with a different perspective on the challenges people face in other parts of the world, things we take for granted here in Canada, and that’s important to both of us. We’ll probably learn more from the kids than we could ever hope to teach them.”

While Mike said they enjoyed previous trips to Thailand and Cambodia, he anticipates that their time in Africa will be quite different than their previous experiences.

“I’m looking forward to it as a new adventure, living out of a backpack for a month, living frugally. One of the appeals is that the money we raise here goes a lot further there. I think we can do a lot with what we’ve raised so far.”

Profits from the calendar sales and online donations have netted $1,600 so far, a total the Robinsons hope will grow.

“Everyone at the (West Shore) detachment has been really supportive so far,” Mike added.

Anyone interested in helping make a difference for the children at the orphanage can make a donation at robinsonafrica.blogspot.com.

rick.stiebel@rcmp-grc.gc.ca

—Rick Stiebel is the Langford-RCMP community liaison.