Open Eyes is an International Development Program founded at Colonel By Secondary School in 2004. The programs goals are to help students understand the importance of being a global citizen.
The past three years Open Eyes has partnered with Help Lesotho, a local NGO that works to help mitigate the ravages of HIV/AIDS in the country of Lesotho, in southern Africa. Open Eyes has been twinned with the Basotho Girls Leadership Corps, a new initiative that works with young girls to help to build leadership skills and community ties.
The twinning program serves to develop relationships between Canadian and Basotho youth as well as create opportunites for Canadian students to learn about Lesotho and the issues facing the young people of this nation.
Future goals of the program are to fundraise for Help Lesotho (through our annual Pancake Breakfast, Spaghetti Dinner, and Street Hockey Tournamen), develop relationships between Canadian and Basotho students, educate Canadian students about HIV/AIDS and to instill in students a genuine sense of global citizenship.
In 2004 the Open Eyes students traveled to Thailand, a country that until very recently was ravaged by HIV/Aids and saw first hand what tremendous strides the country has taken in dealing with the disease. They discovered that Thailand reduced its rate of infection from 140 000 incidents a year in 1991 to 19 000 in 2004 and has become a world leader in the treatment and development of programs for people with HIV/Aids, including drastically reducing HIV transmission from mother to child. Thailand's program has prevented infection in 2 600 newborns each year and could save the lives of over 300 000 children worldwide each year. The Open Eyes team also saw first hand the focus of not only preventing transmission but on promoting social acceptance of people living with HIV.
The students visited the Agape Home, an HIV/Aids orphanage in Chaing Mai where they spent time with the children and staff as well as delivered donations and goods that they had collected and raised in Canada. This emotional visit inspired the team to help play a role in eliminating this disease.
The Open Eyes team conducted a powerful, and informative multimedia presentation to Colonel By students who in turn helped raise thousands of dollars for the Orphanage. The presentation included footage from the Orphanage, outlined Thailand's success in combatting HIV/Aids including the prevention of transmission from mother to newborn and their steps to improve social acceptance of those infected.
In addition the presentation looked at the absolutely devastating impact the disease is having in many developing nations around the world and demonstrated the need for Canadians as contributing citizens in a global community to act and help.