BY ERIN FAWCETT
One Lacombe man continues work to achieve global connection amongst youth.
Warren Kreway recently returned from a trip to the Ukraine where he took a Grade 11 student, Chase Bailey, 16, to experience global unity through a local project called Through the Eyes of the Children.
For Kreway it all started in 2014 when he went to the Ukraine with a medical team as a volunteer working in hospitals. While there, he was also able to research about his family.
“I’m Ukrainian by heritage but we didn’t know anything, my parents took it to their graves. We found a baptismal certificate from 1872. We were able to research that and I did find family in 2014.”
He was able to spend time with a relative back in 2014 and spent some time during this recent trip with other relatives.
“The purpose of the trip was to build an educational bridge. I had a vision to find a way to help both sides of the world get to know each other in a better way. In 2014 I took a Canadian flag that was signed by our mayor, government officials, Blaine Calkins and all of the MLAs out here,” said Kreway. “I presented it to the system in the Ukraine and it mushroomed on us. In 2015 I wasn’t able to go, but a team went on my behalf and they delivered 70 soccer uniforms and more flags and they started a pen pal program.
“When they arrived back they called me from Toronto and said they had to meet with me. A Grade 6 class from Lviv had made a pictorial for (former) Prime Minister (Stephen) Harper.”
Through some connections they were able to meet with Harper in July 2015 where they presented him with a signed flag, the pictorial and letters from the Grade 6 class in Lviv, Ukraine.
“It got global exposure real quick.”
Kreway also works in Uganda in an orphanage with 53 children. He has also connected them with the Through the Eyes of the Children project as well.
“It’s connecting all three countries on an international perspective to formulate a bridge from the students’ perspective. This year with the blessing of a lot of people in Lacombe and area as well as the government, we took back the letters from (former) Prime Minister Harper to the Ukraine to complete that circle. We started building a bridge and we did some fundraising here in Lacombe. We were able to raise enough to buy blackboards for three schools, we bought a SMART board and an overhead projector for another school, we bought $800 worth of sports equipment for another school and we left three computers. The bridge is beginning to gain momentum,” said Kreway. “The same class that did the pictorial for (former) Prime Minister Harper has now done another one for Prime Minister (Justin) Trudeau. They did a custom-made, hand-painted Ukrainian flag that symbolizes the journey between the Ukraine and Canada. It is arms in a heart-shape with Canada on one arm and the Ukraine on the other.
“We haven’t quite bridged that gap yet but we have everything in place, we are just waiting to hear back from Blaine Calkins.”
Meanwhile for Bailey, he said the trip to the Ukraine was a journey of a lifetime.
“The experience was absolutely awesome. I enjoyed every day,” said Bailey. “I learned some of the language and I love absorbing language. There were a lot of words I picked up and learned and used. I learned about the culture as well.”
Kreway added it was a special experience to be able to bring Bailey on the trip as well.
“I’ve traveled to Africa and I’ve traveled to the Ukraine but I have always gone on my own. What I have seen is only through my eyes and what I have wished and hoped for is that someone can come with me to share in the excitement and the journey. This year it came true with Chase. I took a 16-year-old young man and brought home a 22-year-old adult. It just changed him,” he said. “Chase got to see what it is like to be in a third world country and learn from a student perspective. He is going to bring that back and share with other students here. He already has speaking engagements set up.”
Kreway added another trip is already in the works for next year to continue the work of the educational bridge via Through the Eyes of the Children project.