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Nicaragua in need of Algonquin support

By: Kaylea Groover

Two Algonquin professors and six students from the college will travel with Habitat for Humanity to Nicaragua this November to help build houses and bring water to a community in need.

The group will consist of 42 people including Algonquin’s professor and external coordinator of interior design Dana Tapak and her husband Al, interior design students Atena Mirshahi, Hannah Munroe, Kaitlyn Hay and Nicole Veenema, construction professor Michael Nauth and two of his apprentices.

Habitat for Humanity began in Ottawa in 1994 and has built homes locally as well as all over the world through the division called Global Village. This year, the non-profit organization will travel south Nov. 2 to Nov. 12 to La Gallina, Nicaragua to build one or two homes, install Eco-toilets and provide running water to as many homes as possible.

The Department of Interior Design at Algonquin has provided each of the four interior design students with $1,250 – half of the $2,300 it requires to make the trip this year. Dana Tapak hopes that this trip will open up educational opportunities for future interior design students.

“The intention is that we’re going to move towards this being a course in our program, in the interior design program, a third-year elective,” said Tapak. “Part of the course would be that [the students] research the country they would be going to that year and then participate in the build and then come back and report it.”

Construction professor, Michael Nauth has been with Habitat for Humanity since 1994. He fundraised for this year’s trip by using the Canada Helps website to set up a donation page, raising $1,300 in three days to help his students afford the trip. Nauth, who is originally from a Third World country, believe the trip is great for everyone, especially young people, to see what is happening in the rest of the world.

Tapak’s husband Al, who is an Ottawa firefighter generated funds by teaching first aid courses on weekends and raised close to $1,800. The interior design students have also had bake sales to fundraise the rest of the money they will need.

Al, who was a military medic for 21 years and spent time in Rwanda during the genocide, says the trip for him is personal.

“One of the things I came to realize over a long period of time and life lessons is that I wanted to help people and I wanted to get back to a Third World country to see if I can make a difference on my own,” said Al. “I’m going down there for selfish reasons, you want to help people but it kind of makes you feel good at the same time.”

The students and professors will be continuing to raise money for the trip around campus and throughout the community.

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