An Ottawa family is building a secondary school in Madagascar in hopes of preventing child trafficking in the African country.
Blake and Catherine Potter, along with their four children, are hosting garage sales, selling lemonade and making lip balms to raise money to build a school in the village of Ambatomirahavavy, Madagascar.
Their goal is to raise $5,000 to contribute to construction materials, food and school supplies for the children. The Potter family is building the school with the Madagascar Cooperative Foundation, an organization that works to end poverty in the country.
Blake Potter fell in love with the Island country during his time there as a service missionary in 2001. He saw the extreme poverty and when he returned to Canada, his wife said he couldn't get the Malagasy people out of his mind.
"We have continually had the needs of the Malagasy people tugging at our hearts over the years, and after learning about the tragedy of human trafficking occurring to many children there, we couldn't wait any longer to get involved," said Catherine Potter.
"As parents of four beautiful children, it is hard to imagine them growing up in those conditions."
Vulnerable to exploitation
"Those who work in the human trafficking industry know this and target the parents, offering a better life for their children," she explained.
"Sadly, the parents are often tricked to do what seems like the best they can do for their children."
Because the Potters' project focused on helping children, they're making sure their own children share the workload.
"They feel a bond and connection and we make sure they recognize how fortunate they are to be living in such a country as Canada, and to be going to school," Catherine Potter said.
She added they hope to bring their children there one day to connect with the children face to face.
Blake Potter, an Ottawa high school teacher, will be flying to Madagascar to build the school in July.
"Yes, we all have our challenges even though we live in Canada, but typically our challenges don't have to do with the most basic necessities of life," Catherine Potter said.
"We feel we have a moral obligation to give, even if it's just a little bit, because we've been given so much just by living here."