an Interview With Brittany Coulture
Brittany's shredded more mountains around North America and NZ than most of us who have started sustainable community driven projects in Kenya..check that...Britany's shredded more mountains than you period...check it out
How long you been riding for? I’m 20 now and have been riding since I was 19 months old!. My parents took turns holding me as we would pizza down the hill together. You've done some skiing in some pretty cool places.. Has skiing allowed you to travel much or given you any different perspectives? Skiing has allowed me to see so much more of the world and truly appreciate its natural beauty. I have been lucky enough to ski much of North America and also New Zealand. Being out on those mountains allows me to clear my head and to think clearly, it’s a meditation. I find it really makes me appreciate how lucky we are here in Vancouver. When you care about our earth and all the people, plants and animals inside it you feel compelled to do something about it. Many people categorize their interests as either environment or social but to me there is no distinction. To protect the land you must have education on how we can maintain it and what the consequences will be if we do not. On the flip side if we focus on the more social issues such as; community education, sustainability, gender equality and protecting basic needs like shelter and water/food security we will constantly be seeing environmental parallels and consequences. We live i an interconnected world and we must also learn to connect our issues and come together to form amazing solutions. Through traveling I have met so many amazing people all with their own unique ideas on how we can protect our world.
How did your project start? I was last in Kenya two years ago, teaching English in a small rural primary school while living with a Maasai family. The Maasai villages are very big and our manyatta was one of the further homes, so my Kenyan sister and I had to walk just over an hour to reach the school each morning. It was fantastic to walk alongside Giraffes, don’t get me wrong, but the two hours of walking a day does take up quite a bit of time and many of the families in the village feel their children could be of better use if they just keep them at home to do work or to help graze the animals. When discussing these problems with the community an idea was raised that if we could build a pre-unit (Canadian kindergarten equivalent) school and if we could get most of the village’s young children into it then their families would be more encouraged to educate them further.
Tell me more about your project in Africa? We decided to go through with the kindergarten idea and my last week in Kenya was spent fencing off the land we received as a gift from the village chief for the community project. I brought some jewelry the mamas made back with me to Canada to sell at a fair price. Half of the profits go to the mama who made the piece with the other half directly going to the construction of our school. Looking into development work we understand that it must be the community itself who wants to bring itself out of poverty and raise its standard of living. With this is mind we worked with the community to come up with ideas and to make sure the proper intent was there so that our projects can be maintained and sustainable once we take a step back.
So what is happening right now? Our kindergarten has walls! And we are working on getting the roof up. Since January classes have been held under the big tree on our property until the construction is completed. It is very exciting and we have plans to build a rain catchment system very soon, which will hopefully hold enough water to carry over into the dry season and aid survival when water is scarce. We are learning new things all the time and continuously trying to make our project more sustainable.
Why is this project different than other school building projects? It is different because we don’t believe in handouts; we are trying different things and discovering ways to empower people in their communities so that they can shape their own futures. The idea behind our kindergarten is to allow as many children as possible to access to education and hopefully this can assist in the fight against poverty. Our deal with our current community is that we will build them is a school and help them to get on their feet but the maintenance costs, school supplies, paying for a teacher and a food program is up to them once we are up and running. We need to set it up in a sustainable way so that the community is coming together to create solutions instead of just individuals receiving charity.
How can people help out with the Ubuntu Project? We are in the process of applying for official Not-For-Profit status, with the hopes to shortly be setting up a connection with the mamas in the Maasai village to sell their jewelry in Vancouver at a fair-traded price. Donations are always greatly appreciated and valued; we believe that 100% of money given should be invested directly into the field so you can be sure your money has the most impact possible.
We have a sustainable water project in the planning and it will be our next fundraising venture. If people would like to get involved with our fund-raising initiatives here in Vancouver contact us! email@example.com or visit our website ubuntueducationproject.org
We have a fundraising event this Thursday (April 12th) at Mosquito Creek Bar a grill! It starts at 7pm with your $20 donation getting you a burger and a beer. Remember to bring your singing voices cause it karaoke night!
Where are you going in three weeks? In three weeks I will be heading out to Uganda for an internship with Sawa World. I will photograph the trip, provide updates from the field back to the Canadian office and will help Daphne Nederhorst (The founder of Sawa World) focus on reviewing current and future projects.
Tell me more about this project? Sawa World is an amazing organization that is changing the way we look at development. They find local leaders in communities who are making a difference and invite them to share what they are doing, with the help of locally trained ‘Sawa Youth Reporters’,so that they can inspire others who also have the capacity to invoke change. These ‘Sawa leaders’ are paving the way to help bring some of the world’s poorest people out of poverty. Check them out! @SawaWorld
Sounds like amazing work your doing! And still managing to fit shredding in as we saw you ripping it up grouse last week..one last question is it harder to wake up everyday knowing you’re a skier :P At least I don’t have to split my gear in half to get up the side of a mountain, just chuck on some skins baby, all ready to go ;)