Lending hope where there is little

By  Nicole Lau, Youth Speak News
  • March 6, 2008

{mosimage}TORONTO - When Marilyn Ize-Dukuze was 12 she was inspired to help children in Africa. This led her to found Green Hope for Children, a Toronto-based group that raises funds to provide children and orphans in Rwanda and Sudan with an education. To date, the organization has helped 16 children in Rwanda and 10 in Sudan.

“The most important human resource is education, allowing more children a second chance at life,” said the 15-year-old Grade 10 student at Toronto’s Pope John Paul II Catholic Secondary School. 

Last year Ize-Dukuze won the 2007 YMCA Peace Medallion, an award given to students who contribute to peace in society. In 2006, she was nominated for the Me to We Award sponsored by Canadian Living magazine to recognize people who through daily life do work that can affect the lives of others positively.

At an early age Ize-Dukuze experienced what it was like to be a refugee. She was raised in Burundi and immigrated to Canada because of the uncertain political and social climate in her homeland. She experienced living in a refugee camp, “where you are considered as nothing, where you realize the animals there have more rights than you.”

 Ize-Dukuze decided to start Green Hope for Children to bring about peace and positive change. Ize-Dukuze chose the name Green Hope for Children because green signifies growth and hope for change.

Ize-Dukuze fund-raised to get the group started by speaking at churches, high schools and universities, setting up book sales and fund-raising events.

The group has grown to include 20 official members, with numerous volunteers. It meets at St. Joseph Church in Toronto, and the parish lends the group the kitchen and hall for fund-raisers as well.

So far Green Hope has raised $30,000 to build the future of many children in Africa. Soon Ize-Dukuze will apply for charitable status and hopes to expand Green Hope’s operations to countries such as Sierra Leone, Malawi and Cambodia.

“Education is a lasting gift that Green Hope aims to provide the children, who then help themselves and their families,” she said.

Recently, Ize-Dukuze finished writing her first book, I Made Peace the Passion of My Life, which encapsulates the philosophy behind the organization. She is now working on another book that will inspire poor, lonely and orphaned youth to keep their hope alive.

“Any one of us has the ability or power to create positive social change,” said Ize-Dukuze.

(Lau, 19, studies history at the University of Toronto.)

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