You can hear it almost anywhere, that general negative hum about teenagers. Their list of sins is long; they’re irresponsible, they lack manners and they care about nothing but listening to weird music, texting and hanging out with their friends.
People with opinions like these have obviously never met 16- year-old Honeymoon Bay resident, Alicia Fall. If there is such a thing as a renaissance woman in this day and age, Fall would be its poster-girl. She’s a Grade 11 student, works two part-time jobs, is an accomplished dancer and has a social conscience that belies her tender years.
Fall has many interests but it is her love of one place in particular that is fuelling an amazing project.
“I’ve always really had a passion for Africa, and have always wanted to go there,” said Fall. “ Hopefully, I will have the opportunity to do that soon. But until then, I really want to do something to make a difference there.”
It may be some time before she herself is able to visit her dream country, but her efforts here at home will soon be making an impact on one part of that continent.
Fall has taken it upon herself to raise funds to build a school in Burkina Faso , a small land-locked country in west Africa. The project came about through an Alberta based non-profit group called Bridges of Hope, whose goal is help poor communities in third world countries by relieving poverty and helping build badly needed amenities like schools.
Fall has organized a Fair-Trade Coffee House which takes place this Saturday, Feb. 25 from 3p.m. to 11p.m. in the hall at Sylvan United Church in Mill Bay. The church is located at 985 Shawnigan-Mill Bay Road right beside Frances Kelsey Secondary School which Fall attends.
“The church is not charging us for this event and is letting us use their sound equipment and kitchen facilities and all of the artists, speakers and performers are showing up free of charge,” said Fall. “The vendors are either supporting us by purchasing a table or donating a portion of their profits.”
Besides the fair-trade and local products available, Duncan’s Sunflower Café will be on hand to provide dinner and refreshments. Entertainment runs from 6:00 to 9:00 PM with Falls rounding up an impressive line-up of local artists and musicians.
“We’ve got The Small Town Villians and Naomi Payan from Duncan, Ryan McMahon from Ladysmith, Redwood Green and many others,” said Fall. “They’ve all come out to help.”
Admission to the event is by donation with all proceeds going to the African school project. Donations may also be made by dropping off returnable bottles to the Return It Bottle depot in Duncan and letting staff know it’s for the “Schools to Schools” account. In Lake Cowichan, the Country Grocer is accepting returnable pop and juice containers with jars set up at the tills for the project.
Fall is no stranger to hard work and following through with a dream. She has been dancing with the Carlson’s School of Dance in Duncan for five years and this year will take her Grade 8 Ballet finals. This summer she will be working on a Habitat for Humanities project in Slave Lake, Alberta and hopes eventually to pursue a career in medicine and use her skills to help others in an organization like Doctors Without Borders.
Fall began organizing the Fair-Trade coffee house project in the fall of 2011, taking her idea to a service club at Frances Kelsey because of her keen interest in Africa and ended up taking on a leadership role.
“This is her personal initiative and she’s done all the legwork,” said Lesley Fall, Alicia’s mother. “She has always been into helping others and this is totally her project.”