Today is the day to recognize one of our teachers as he heads out on a pretty amazing experience. Stephen Joudoin (also commonly referred to as “Mr. J”), is travelling to Belarus for the first time, and we had the chance to sit down with him before he left to learn more about his journey and the difference he will be making…check it out!
- Why are you headed to Belarus?
“I’m heading to Belarus as a delegation member of a local organization, Canadian Aid for Chernobyl (CAC). His role will be to assist in the delivery of food boxes, clothing and library books to children and families living in desperate living conditions.”
Now, for those of you who aren’t from the Brockville area, you may not know who CAC is…which is what we’re about to share! Mr. J gave us the details about this organization and what they do make a difference both locally and internationally!
“CAC is a non-profit charitable organization that focuses on assisting people still affected by the 1986 Chernobyl Disaster. Assistance comes in the form of food boxes, clothing, children respite, medical aid, and humanitarian programs such as the reconstruction of facilities in homes, and orphanages. CAC rests solely on donations from individuals, businesses, industries and organizations. One of CAC's programs, called "Children's Relief from Radiation" involves bringing young boys and girls to Canada for several weeks during our summer months. These children are hosted by local families and are provided an opportunity to recuperate and receive medical attention not available to them back home. The humanitarian programs are organized and carried out by some pretty incredible volunteers!”
- How did you get involved?
“I got involved in CAC about 5 years ago when I started dating my soon-to-be wife! Her family is deeply connected to the organization, since the 1990's, and has been instrumental in all that CAC has accomplished over the years. They personally got involved in the organization after going over to visit Belarus as a family and witnessing some of the extreme circumstances people were living in.”
- What do you intend to get out of this experience?
“This will be my first time travelling with the delegation to Belarus and I am anticipating that I gain some candid perspective. My minimal time involved in CAC has been spent on 'this-end' of the organization, packing food boxes, and loading shipping containers for example. I have listened to some pretty remarkable stories from CAC members who have traveled to Belarus before, and I have spent time with the children who have come to Canada during the summer, but I really only have a limited concept for what life is like for them on their end. I am also looking forward to working and meeting some amazing individuals, the ones who make everything that CAC does a reality.”
- What would you tell others who want to learn more about CAC?
“I would encourage others to learn more about the several initiatives that CAC operates. This organization would not exist without the generous contributions of people and the volunteers that carry out the initiatives. There are plenty of opportunities to get involved and CAC is always looking for more big-hearted volunteers!”
We wish Mr. J, and the entire delegation, a safe journey and we look forward to hearing about his experience and the lessons he learned when he comes back home. Stay tuned for a follow up post to recap the opportunity!