*Co-written with Karl Lewis, Fundraising Assistant
Twelve youth are counting down the weeks until they have the adventure of a lifetime.
The youth, who are members of WoodGreen’s Rites of Passage Alumni, accompanied by WoodGreen staff, are going on a trip to Tanzania from Oct. 20 to Nov. 10 to participate in a cultural exchange. The trip includes a stay within a number of communities located in Monduli, Mto Wa Mbu, Ngorongoro and Lake Natron where the youth will explore elements of traditional Maasai culture. They will also have the opportunity to visit the Island of Zanzibar, one of the key transit points for the East Afrikan slave trade.
“Travelling is life-changing and many young people of Afrikan descent don’t often have the opportunity to experience it,” said Maxine Brown, WoodGreen’s director of youth programs and supports.
Trip will help youth to build upon their Rites of Passage journey
In a time where young people face various challenges, WoodGreen’s Rites of Passage provides a transformative experience for youth of Afrikan descent. Many cultures have rites of passage to support people during various life stages. For more than 15 years, WoodGreen’s Rites of Passage, based on a well-tested, internationally recognized Afro-centric curriculum, has done this for youth of Afrikan descent, ages 12-24, in Toronto — we support them as they transition from being teenagers to adults.
This long-awaited Tanzania trip will give the alumni a chance to build upon their Rites of Passage journey to date and to experience further intellectual, emotional, and social growth.
“This immersive cultural exchange will strengthen the alumni’s identities as people of Afrikan descent and expand their worldview. It will allow them to connect with the Maasai people by sharing cultures and embracing East African indigenous practices,” Brown said.
In preparation for the experience, youth have been exposed to the historical and current land rights issues, learning Kiswahili, and researching elements of the culture and norms of the Maasai people.
A chance for youth to learn more about their Afrikan heritage
Twenty-year-old Angelina Gabriel is one of the youth planning to go on the trip. She is looking forward to learning more about Afrikan cultures.
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“I have been a part of Rites for many years and being able to attend this trip means a lot to me,” Gabriel said. “Rites of Passage is not just a club or extracurricular activity. It is a community. A community which promotes personal growth, expression of love, and a haven of cultures—going to Tanzania is just like visiting an extended family abroad.”
Fellow alumni member Sekou James believes that with growing concerns about issues affecting young people of Afrikan descent, this trip will create a shift in their perception of who they are.
“This trip to Tanzania is very important. It serves as a testimony to all the learnings and all the hard work that we put into Rites of Passage. It will close the gap between people from the diaspora and with people back home,” said James.
With the departure date less than two months away, WoodGreen continues to seek support for the Rites of Passage trip to Tanzania. To date, the group has raised more than $40,000, created social media campaigns and is engaged in other fundraising initiatives to reach their goal of $75,000.
If you would like to give a young person a life-changing experience, please donate today in support of Rites of Passages’ Trip to Tanzania. Thank you for your support.