A pair of Red Deer Venturer Scouts have been picked to join a team of 15 on an international service project in Madagascar.
Shaye-Lynn Blanke and Heather Mast were chosen from applicants across Canada for the trip to Madagascar to build a school addition and improve water services in Ambato Boeni.
The two 16-year-olds are both with Red Deer 18th Morrisroe Scouts.
“It’s really awesome,” said Blanke, who has been friends with Mast for six years.
The pair had to send in a cover letter, resume and two letters of recommendation to qualify for the project, which was eligible to Scouting members aged 14 to 26.
“I’d always wanted to do something like this and it’s just really exciting for me to be able to help other people,” said Blanke. As well, there’s a spirituality involved in helping others, she added.
Mast was just as happy to hear that they had been chosen.
“It’s pretty exciting. Not many people get the chance to go to Africa,” she said.
“I’ve wanted to do a service project and help others.
“I love to travel so it’s an amazing travel opportunity.”
Helping out is at the core of the Scouting movement and a big reason the two girls have dedicated so many years to it.
Blanke has been in Scouts for 10 years and Mast joined about six years ago after spending some time with the Girl Guides.
The two have been busy fundraising for their trip and are halfway to their total goal of $9,000.
They have been holding bottle drives and been seeking local business donors to help bankroll their charitable efforts.
Their Scout group has also given them some money.
“We will be doing as much fundraising as we possibly can because we don’t want our parents to have to give us any money for it,” said Blanke.
The teens will head to a four-day pre-camp in Ontario at the end of July and then they will head to Madagascar for three weeks.
A three-classroom building will be constructed by the volunteers and a water system will be improved by building a reservoir as part of a $115,000 project.
It will be winter in Madagascar during their stay with temperatures equivalent to an Alberta summer.
Scouts Canada has been working in Ambata Boeni since 2009, when the organization first sponsored the digging of wells.
The partnership built a primary school at the same site in 2012.
This year’s work expands and improves on those efforts.
Prior to 2009, the leading cause of death among children in the community was water-borne disease. Since the two wells were dug, not a single child has died from water-related illness.
To contact Blanke email firstname.lastname@example.org and to reach Mast email email@example.com.
Donations over $20 will receive a tax receipt from Scouts Canada.