Langley Times

Teacher's Guinea relief trip now set for March

Djiba Camara, a physical education teacher at H.D. Stafford, holds necklaces and bracelets he brought from Africa. Camara’s plans to return to his native Guinea in November have been postponed after he failed to raise the $5,000 needed to ship a container to the African country. - Miranda GATHERCOLE/Langley Times
Djiba Camara, a physical education teacher at H.D. Stafford, holds necklaces and bracelets he brought from Africa. Camara’s plans to return to his native Guinea in November have been postponed after he failed to raise the $5,000 needed to ship a container to the African country.
— image credit: Miranda GATHERCOLE/Langley Times

H.D. Stafford teacher Djiba Camara has had to put off his trip back to his home country of Guinea in November after he didn’t raise enough funds to get the container shipped there.

Around $50 was raised but $5,000 is needed.

“It’s too bad, but my new goal is to go in March, But I will at least ship some things there in February,” said Camara.

Materials, school supplies and sports equipment has been flowing in to fill the container but it costs money to have it shipped to one of the poorest and corrupt countries in the world.

He had organized it so that he was going to be met by local police to help ensure his safety as he tries to get the supplies from the container to students who desperately need them.

The popular Langley teacher and international soccer coach is still hoping Langley residents will help him  get these materials to students so they can have some of the chances that so many have here in Langley.

“They have nothing,” said Camara, who returned to his home country of Guinea (sometimes known as Guinea-Conakry) in West Africa for the first time in 30 years last year. The poverty he saw there moved him to action.

He is speaking to Walnut Grove Secondary students about his cause in January and plans to also speak at Brookswood Secondary.

A video that Camara made of his visit to the local schools can be found on YouTube. It shows boys playing soccer in a dust bowl they call a playground with a ball they made from rags found at the local dump.

Camara, who once coached the women’s Whitecaps team and is a certified FIFA coach, has soccer to thank for helping him escape poverty. “I played professional soccer in Europe and became a Hungarian citizen,” he said.

Sports equipment and school supplies could give these children the help they need to change their situation. Because so many are desperate, they have turned to crime and violence, making it a very dangerous country to go to.

“NGOs can’t work in Guinea because it is so dangerous,” he said. The container will be full of pens, binders, books, shoes, T-shirts, shorts, paper, chalk and more.

While he was there he made a movie which he has posted on YouTube, showing the plight of these young people.

Guinea’s reputation for corruption has choked economic growth, leaving people to live in the depths of poverty, turning to drug trafficking and crime as their only existence, he said.

Guinea ranks 173 out of 180 countries, tied near the bottom with Chad and Sudan.

Camara has asked and met with the Langley Board of Education to take on the challenge of assisting these children to be successful academically and athletically.

He is working with help from the Langley Teachers Association. If you would like to help Camara you can send cheques to the Langley Teachers Assocation office at 5786 Glover Rd., V3A 4H9, c/o Drop Off For Africa. You can also bring donated items to the office.

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