While some Regina residents flocked to Mexico’s sunny beaches this February, a church group from St. George Orthodox Cathedral saw a whole different side of that country and did its best to make it just a little bit better.
Led by Father Cosmin Sicoe, the group made its way to Tijuana’s St. Innocent Orthodox Orphanage, established by Project Mexico in the 1990s to take in teenage boys who would otherwise live on the streets. Sicoe had first seen the orphanage in 2005, and the facility and the work of Project Mexico left a notable impression on him.
«I saw that this project brought a little bit of joy in an area of the world where there is so much sadness,» he said. «So I came home and I told my parishioners about this project and this was the beginning.»
The church kicked off a project called ‘Clean the World, Save the World’ and for three years, St. George parishioners took their recycling to SARCAN. By February, the recycling — along with a couple other fundraisers — had brought in the $17,000 needed to send 12 members of the church, including its priest, to volunteer at the orphanage.
Sicoe involved the church’s youth group, since he felt it important that group members have the opportunity to go.
«I think we are a little bit spoiled here in Canada,» he said. «We take everything as granted, and I wanted them to see that life can be different and we should not take everything as granted. On the other hand, I have observed in the life of many young people here in Regina a lot of sadness without a real reason, and I wanted these young people to discover the joy of life is within you, not outside you. And I wanted them to see that people of Tijuana, even if they are living in poverty, they are still joyful, sometimes even more joyful than we are here in Canada with all of the prosperity we are enjoying here.»
The group — about half of them youth in their teens and early 20s — arrived at the orphanage on Feb. 9 and stayed until the 14, helping with various tasks, like making and applying stucco to the surrounding wall, digging a drainage trench, and plumbing and electrical work.
Unlike some of the others, youth group member Megan Tocaruk, 20, had been there previously, interested then, as she is now, in pursuing charitable work.
«I think being from Canadian society, we don’t understand how privileged we are …,» she said. «We can hear about the rest of the world having less money and stuff, but until we actually go there and see how the rest of the world lives, we won’t really be able to understand the distribution of wealth and inequity that is involved in that, as well as we can’t really fully appreciate what we have here.»
Catch up on all the action with the Winter 2009 newsletter …
Project Mexino Donation