Dance the night away at Fiesta Fabulosa

Fundraiser helps Oak Bay High students build homes in Mexico

Oak Bay High’s Live Different participants are fundraising for this spring’s return trip to build two homes in Vicente Guerrero

Oak Bay High’s Live Different participants are fundraising for this spring’s return trip to build two homes in Vicente Guerrero

Put on your dancing shoes and prepare to dance the night away during Fiesta Fabulosa, an adult dance and silent auction at Oak Bay High Friday (Nov. 27).

With music by the wide-ranging cover band The Groove Diggers and more than 80 silent auction items already collected, it promises to be a fun night for all in the school’s brand new gym, says Oak Bay High teacher Brent Garraway.

The dance is a fundraiser for the Oak Bay Live Different program, which will see 34 students travel to the rural community of Vicente Guerrero, Mexico during Spring Break 2016 to build two homes for local families. Throughout the process, they will become fully immersed in the Mexican community, learning not only about the Mexican culture but also about themselves, says Garraway, the Live Different program co-ordinator who has accompanied the students on all three previous trips.

Some 96 students applied to participate in the trip, with 34 selected, along with 12 alternates who undertake the same preparation as the others, from beginning to end, in case a spot becomes available. Some are young enough that they’ll also be able to reapply for the next trip, Garraway notes.

“The first couple (of trips) went so well, word spread and it just went from there,” he says of the program’s popularity despite its significant commitment. The students, who range in age from Grade 10 to 12 and come from all areas of the school – sports, arts, academics, and those who have yet to find their passion – spend two years working together, preparing for the trip beyond fundraising.

“You want them to feel like a family,” Garraway says.

While the students pay for their own travel and living expenses, they also raise more than $32,000 to pay for the building supplies, along with a variety of other resources they take down for the community, Garraway says.

“Most kids describe it as life-altering, life awakening, life-changing,” he says of the experience, noting that each night they’re away they have a “debriefing” to talk about the day.

“It just opens their eyes.”

Living alongside the families, seeing the impact their efforts can have in a very real sense is significant. “They start from nothing and at the end they have a home,” he says. “They get to see the people move into their new home. It’s a pretty cool thing to see.”

Garraway hopes to see between 300 and 400 people at the dance. After raising about $25,000 at the successful “jail or bail” fundraiser, its hoped the dance will generate the remaining funds needed.

Fiesta Fabulosa runs from 7 to 10 p.m. and includes live music, cash bar and silent auction. Tickets are $15 and include one drink. Tickets must be bought in advance and can be purchased through the Oak Bay High school office.