Champlain College hosts service learning trips for the same reason it organizes study abroad opportunities: to offer life-changing, cross cultural experiences for students.
This May, 11 Champlain College students will embark on the Uganda Service Trip and volunteer at the Malayaka House. As a safe haven for orphaned, neglected, and abandoned Ugandan children, the Malayaka House was established by Vermont native Robert Fleming in 2005. With the help of Fleming and five “Aunties” (caretakers), more than 40 children—ranging in ages from infant to early twenties—call the Malayaka House home.
Children receive everything they need in order to be healthy, happy, educated, and gain the skills they need for their futures. This is all thanks to donations and the dedication of those involved in the program.
One of the 11 students volunteering on the Malayaka House service trip this spring is Halima Said ‘23, a Social Work major at Champlain.
“I have a passion for giving back and helping people,” says Halima. “I believe that attending this trip is a great opportunity for me, and my future in social services. It will be a great learning experience.”
Halima says she is interested in working with the Peace Corps one day, which prides itself on a similar service aspect.
In order to gain these service-learning skills and extend their help to the Malayaka House, Halima and her peers must raise $8,000 by March 1. All donations will cover the students’ travel expenses, as well as help provide food, clothes, education materials, and more to the 40 children.
Director of Student Engagement Lisa Mazzariello, and mathematics Professor Warren Sides, will be accompanying students on the adventure. “I am excited for such an amazing experience, and can only imagine who I would be today if I had this opportunity when I was 18,” says Mazzariello.
But most importantly, Mazzariello wants the Champlain community to know why it’s so important we support students like Halima, a first-generation college student, in their efforts to help others.
“Halima works in the Department of Student Life and fills in for shifts at 6:30 AM, or ones that don’t end until 11:30 PM,” says Mazzariello. “Add in her studies, just being a student in today’s world, and supporting her family, and you can get a good sense of who she is. To say she is hardworking and brings light into the community is an understatement!”
Students attending this service trip—which is organized by the Champlain College Office of Service & Sustainability—will be volunteering over the course of three weeks by helping the Aunties with daily chores, farming, homework, and spending time with the children.
“Malayaka also has a number of entrepreneurial micro-businesses in farming, crafts, safari travel, and food production that helps sustain the program,” explains Halima. “We could really use the community’s help so we can have this once-in-a-lifetime experience and attend this trip.”
Please note this trip has been canceled due to the rapidly evolving COVID-19 pandemic.