What started as an apparent whim of a 12-year-old comes to fruition seven years later as Emma Gibbs headed for Africa last Thursday.
The young Oak Bay woman will teach for 10 weeks at Charity elementary school in Arusha, Tanzania through International Volunteer HQ, based out of New Zealand.
“I’ve been wanting to do this for years. It’s important to me to immerse myself in their culture,” she told the Oak Bay News before she left.
Gibbs remembers telling her mom as a youth, “Mumma, I want to go to Africa and work with the cute babies.”
Family friends who consistently returned from Haiti with photos and stories, stoked that desire.
“I’ve never been to Africa and am really curious,” Gibbs said. “Last summer I really started looking into it.”
Already a giver of her time and talents, Gibbs has volunteered with Operation Trackshoes, a University of Victoria-based provincial sports festival for those with developmental disability in a wide range of ages and abilities, as well as Active Start at Queen Alexandra Centre for Children’s Health.
“You really learn patience and how to communicate simply, but get your point across,” she said. “It’ll be different obviously, but I can apply that over there.”
Charity elementary is a private school in a less affluent part of the city, heavily populated with sponsored students. She’ll primarily teach English but looks forward to a few games and songs with bits of math and such in the mix.
“I love kids, but to also be able to do something that will really help them, that they’ll be able to use,” she said.
“They start teaching the children English at three years old. That’s exciting to be a part of.”
Gibbs just completed her first year at the University of Victoria in general sciences.
She expects news of her pending acceptance to the school’s kinesiology program while she’s in Africa. She attended St. Patrick’s elementary and graduated from St. Andrew’s high school and finished a number of courses through Recreation Oak Bay in anticipation of heading for Africa to teach.
“Learning about another culture is fascinating,” she said. “Going to Africa has been a dream of mine for about seven years now so I am excited it is now a reality.”
Learn more about how to sponsor a child, or about the school at charityschoolarusha.com.
Visit Gibbs’ fundraising page at www.fundandseek.com/449e3097 to learn more or donate.