Bloordale teacher, Toronto students help villages in Philippines
Monday, June 11, 2018
TCDSB students 'put their faith into action'
Six years ago, Bloordale resident and resource teacher Michael Consul was looking for a way to get students from the Toronto Catholic District School Board (TCDSB) to “put their faith into action.”
When exploring ways to do that, he found taking students to the Philippines would be the perfect opportunity.
“When you go there, it’s a culture shock because the way they live is drastically different; but when you come back to Toronto, it’s like a reverse culture shock,” he told The Bloor West Villager. “You realize so many things that we place in high importance that really doesn’t matter.”
That first trip has since become an annual tradition.
Consul runs the Catholic Student Leadership program at the TCDSB's main office in North York.
On Dec. 28, 2016, 23 students from across the board, three teachers, one adult volunteer and Consul travelled to the country for two weeks and visited six villages.
“We never really wanted to go to a village one year, and never go back,” he said. “Every year, we keep going back to those villages to let them know that we’re still here and we still care.”
While there, the group helped in the construction of a new village, volunteered at orphanages, did community cleanups, helped plant trees and had various gift-giving parties for children.
“The kids, they always come back with an extreme sense of gratitude,” he said. “Whether it’s free education, health care, clothes or clean water, they really realize how privileged they are in Canada and that makes them want to give back even more.”
Before the group embarked on the trip, they learned about the country, its people, its culture, its traditions and its history, Consul said.
Student Christian De Lara has close ties to the Philippines, as his parents are from there.
The 17-year-old Grade 12 student at Francis Libermann Catholic High School in Scarborough said he wanted to help out the people from his parents’ country.
“It was surprising to have a bunch of strangers go to their own country and their participation was really high,” he said. “They weren’t shy; they were very welcoming, and they made you feel like you were part of their community and part of their family.”
Danielle Sahadevan, 17, a Grade 12 student at Madonna Catholic Secondary School in North York, told The Villager she wanted to go on the trip because she has a “dedication to helping others in her community.”
“I thought I should take it a step further,” she said. “My mom is from the Philippines, and I thought it was a way for me to not only connect with the community, but to also see my mom’s past.”
Sahadevan added the trip was a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”
“Happiness is not from materialistic things, it’s a lot more,” she said. “It was really nice to give back to communities that were so caring and so loving.”
The full journey of Consul’s Philippines trip can be found at catholicstudentleadership.com.
By Aaron D’Andrea
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