U of G grads are global heroes
Three U of G graduates are among the 14 people recently recognized by the online travel magazine Verge as “global heroes.” Teresa Mellish, M.Sc. ’98; David Peck, MA ’06; and Victoria Sheppard, B.Sc. ’02, are the Guelph trio who are “doing their part to make a difference in the developing world.”
Mellish is a Prince Edward Island farmer who is also helping farmers in Kenya and Tanzania through a P.E.I.-based organization called Farmers Helping Farmers (FHF). She’s been the co-ordinator and treasurer of FHF since it began in 1979. Its 100 P.E.I. members helped launch a dairy co-op in Wakulima, Kenya, that has grown to 6,000 members. FHF provided cooling tanks for milk and training on how to keep cows healthy.
“As a result of that dairy, $10,000 a day is coming into that community from milk,” says Mellish. “We haven’t done it — they’ve done it for themselves — but we’ve been able to help them do that.”
Peck lives in Oakville, Ont., and is a teacher, a poet and the founder of a social justice organization called SoChange. But it’s his 20 years of experience as a magician that he’s using to help UNICEF buy and distribute mosquito bed nets in hopes of making malaria disappear.
The Mosquitoes Suck Tour is a travelling event that helps high schools raise money for UNICEF. Each show features performances by a comedian, a magician and a speaker from SoChange, who educates the audience about malaria. The show works sleight-of-hand with the Spread the Net campaign launched by comedian Rick Mercer and philanthropist Belinda Stronach. Peck signed on because he sees the potential for his shows to instil passion and plant seeds of change in Canadian students.
Sheppard is a policy analyst at Fisheries and Oceans Canada in Ottawa, but her story begins when she was completing an internship at the United Nations Environment Program in Nairobi, Kenya. She volunteered at a primary school in the nearby Mathare Valley slum. Before leaving Africa, she committed to providing scholarships so some of those students could go on to attend secondary school.
Sheppard established the Canada Mathare Education Trust, which is now paying for 37 children from Mathare to attend secondary schools outside Nairobi. The scholarships provide tuition, room and board, transportation, books, school supplies, uniforms and the potential for a future outside the Mathare slum.