Toronto school helps build maternity ward in Nigeria

By  Natalie Guadagnoli, Catholic Register Special
  • January 17, 2007

TORONTO - While some schools raise funds to fix the girls' washroom on the second floor, or to purchase new school supplies, the students at Loretto Abbey Catholic Secondary School in Toronto worked together to raise $35,000 to build a maternity ward in Umuahia, Nigeria.

In September 2003 the Abbey's student council and the Loretto Leaders, a social committee group, started the project. The students set an initial goal to raise $15,000 to build a 14-room, semi-detached residential house fit for a medical doctor and a registered nurse. The students were inspired by the United Nations Millennium goals and in a town such as this, there is very little medical help and something such as a new maternity ward would be welcomed.

For the next two years the students worked hard to put on fund- raisers for the maternity project. But it wasn't until September 2005 that it kicked into high gear. School principal Lori DiMarco announced that instead of fund-raising for a bunch of different causes during the 2005/2006 school year, the students would just focus on raising money for the maternity project.

The events of the year included the "Allure Fashion Show," showcasing the latest trends and fashion accessories, and raised more than $2,500. The students also put together a "Stop, Rock and Roll" concert, which involved local student bands and brought in $1,900. The students also participated in the "Walk Against Male Violence" at Queen's Park, raising  $8, 500. The list of fund-raisers for the year continues with a multicultural night, a music department production and an international picnic.

"The events we put on throughout the year took a lot of work but the outcome was great," said Grade 12 student Kim Ellias.

By the end of the year the students raised $35, 000, doubling the amount of the original goal.

Dr. Michael Nwabuogo, who spent five weeks in Umuahia overseeing the project to  completion, presented the students with a plaque in honour of their hard work and dedication.

Having finished the maternity project, now the students want to help St. Vincent's School run by the Loreto Sisters in India by transforming the backyard marsh into a playground for the students. The idea was brought up in Donatina Parente's world politics and issues class when Sr. Doryne Kirby, IBVM, spoke about the needs of Loretto schools worldwide.

"After seeing what it was like to go to school in India, the girls said it would be nice to do our next project in India," said Parente.

"This project provides insight for us who are lucky enough to live in a developed country. This project helps the youth see how much help is needed worldwide," said Grade 11 student Stephanie Pacheco.

"When I look at the youth today, and see all we have and how much money we spend, I think to myself, with all that money we could build two playgrounds," said Grade 11 student Sabrina Silla.

The theme for this 2006/2007 school year is "Love is the greatest gift." The students have this theme written on a banner and will record all fund-raisers they hold that will help contribute to the playground.

(Guadagnoli is a Grade 11 student at Loretto Abbey Catholic Secondary School in Toronto.)

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