Former Morinville teacher to work in orphanage

By Lucie Roy

Morinville – Students at Notre Dame Elementary School are helping a former teacher in her quest to help children thousands of miles away. Former Notre Dame teacher Debbie Martin and her husband Larry will be the first western Canadians to volunteer with the London, Ontario-based Blue House Effect Development Organization of Canada, a registered charity that is sending 11 volunteers on a mission trip to the Dominican Republic.

Notre Dame School students have been collecting money in support of the orphanage so the children can have vitamins. Martin said they are bringing as many vitamins as they can. She has been pricing out children’s multi vitamins and wants to bring whatever she can get. The bottles will be opened and the cotton removed to pack in the vitamins.

While she is down there Martin will be working teaching pre-school children for an hour at a time. In preparation for the lesson she has been Itsy Bitsy Spider in Spanish. Martin will also be working with older children, and in keeping with the spider theme, she will teach crafts, having the children make spiders out of egg cartons. The educator said she will have to bring everything with her, including scissors and glue sticks because the materials are not available at the orphanage. Martin will also be working with another teacher to tackle the more serious subject of health. Pantyhose brought along on the trip will be used to make simulated intestines.

Martin explained everyone going on the mission trip brings with them skill sets; her husband Larry is in construction and will teach the older youth how to make beds, a commodity that can then be sold to generate income for the orphanage. “They have to be real team players,” she said of the 11 volunteers and those they will work with. “Everyone working together.”

Martin learned about the Blue House Effect from a school friend, Dr. Maureen Johnston, a practicing pediatrician who travels twice a year to volunteer at the orphanage and encouraged Martin to come along on this trip. They will all meet up in Toronto, travel to Miami where they will catch a direct flight to Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.

Once there, the volunteers will stay at Hotel Zapata in Boca Chica and meet every morning to discuss the daily schedule, what they did the previous day, and did and did not work. They then travel by mini bus to the orphanage in the village of La Urena and stay there all day and volunteer in whatever capacity they can.

Blue House Effect provides food, shelter, education, medical attention and other basic supplies to children in need. Since 2009 they have had more than 90 volunteers go on trips.

Martin said she will make a presentation to Notre Dame students on her return so they can see the results of their support.

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