Sharing a Passion for Social Justice with Allan Rock
Youville Centre’s mission is to motivate, educate and nurture young mothers and their children to become self-sufficient, contributing members of society. This year, Youville moms are contributing, not only to their own community, but to the global village. This new philosophy was Inspired by one of our students, Nicole, who viewed a YouTube video of young mothers at Pader Girls Academy in Uganda and shared it with the other young moms on the student council. Youville’s young moms’ newfound passion for social justice has led them to make some very interesting new friends, including Mr. Allan Rock, President and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Ottawa.
As a former Canadian Ambassador to the United Nations and Chairperson of the Uganda fund, Mr. Rock has had the opportunity to travel the world and visit many developing countries, particularly those struggling with famine, disease and war. One such country, Uganda, holds a special place in his heart. While visiting Uganda and learning about how the UN could help with the aftermath of the violence caused by the Lord’s Resistance Army, Mr. Rock visited a school called Pader Academy.
Pader Academy serves “girls who cannot enroll in mainstream education because they have babies, are too old for their age grade level, and/or lack financial resources as a result of the conflict in Northern Uganda”(www.ccfpader.org). Although Youville Centre and Pader Academy are not exactly alike, it was not lost on our students the many similarities they have with the young women learning at this school in Uganda.
Led by their student council, our young moms are learning more about social justice and how they can give back in many ways to those in need, at home and abroad. After giving Mr. Rock a tour, our students gathered with him in the Collective Kitchen to learn more about his experiences, and to share with him the work they are doing to support the young women of Pader Academy.
Mr. Rock shared with the students his journey through high school and university student government, and the various roles he has held in his career thus far. He imparted stories to the students about his time in Uganda and told them about the young mothers who attend Pader and the trauma they have suffered through. It was an exercise in gratitude and empathy for our students, as they learned about the struggles of young moms in Uganda, and felt grateful for the support Youville Centre provides for them in the face of their own challenges.
Youville’s young moms felt that they could relate to the Pader moms, to their challenges and successes and their personal growth as young women and young mothers. They plan to set up a Skype conversation and they are doing what they can to help out their “sister school”.
Many thanks go to Mr. Allan Rock for his gift of time and for imparting wisdom to our students about social justice and political life. We were already so grateful to the University of Ottawa for their annual bursary at graduation and for lending us their athletic facilities for our Physical Education classes, but now we are even more thankful for the relationship we have with the UOttawa team, led by Mr. Rock.