Causes We Care About
Sonia was recently interviewed by Betty-Anne Howard, a driving force behind Philanthropic Businesses ...Click here to watch it.
Maison de la Gare
Since 2010 Sonia and her family have been travelling to Africa to volunteer with the forced begging street children of Saint Louis, Senegal, known as talibes. Through their Canadian charitable foundation, they fundraise for Maison de la Gare, a sanctuary in Saint Louis devoted to offering a daily refuge from difficult lives and hope for a better future to the talibes of Saint Louis, while working toward ending forced begging in Senegal.
In partnering with Maison de la Gare, Sonia and her family have made over 20 trips to Africa to support and facilitate the vision of the Senegalese leadership of Maison de la Gare, teaching French and English in Maison de la Gare classes, establishing a computer communications program, a medical clinic, an emergency shelter, a karate program, and helping to establish a garden, a library, apprenticeship programs, and a series of schools in remote villages to educate boys and girls and to keep boys from being sent to the city as talibes.
While Sonia is in Senegal she writes a blog about her experiences, www.soniainsenegal.blogspot.com
To learn more about Maison de la Gare, check out their website: www.mdgsl.com
Check out this video about what Sonia and her family have been doing in Senegal
Karate Can Kick Hopelessness
In 2015 Sonia's son, Robbie Hughes visited Maison de la Gare for the first time. As a karate black belt, Robbie thought he could offer the joys and benefits of martial arts to the begging street kids of Senegal. Supported by Sonia and Maison de la Gare, then 13 year old Robbie introduced the kids of Maison de la Gare to karate, instituting a program of formal regular lessons and membership in the local dojo. Robbie's vision was that martial arts would help the kids develop self-defense skills, critical for surviving on the streets, as well as self-confidence, discipline, and a sense of belonging to something special. Since the 2015 initiation of the karate program at Maison de la Gare Robbie and Sonia have returned to Senegal many times, to teach karate, train with the Maison de la Gare karate kids, and expand and improve the program. Now nearly 100 former and current forced-begging street children regularly practice karate at Maison de la Gare and nearly 30 are regular members at the local dojo, Sor-Karate. Many have developed a true passion for karate and have worked diligently to earn advanced belts. Several now compete as Sor-Karate team members, even earning the right to compete at sanctioned karate competitions.
Martial arts is giving these kids the opportunity to develop tools to take back control of their own lives and rise out of enslavement to become productive members of Senegalese society.
Check out Karate Can Kick Hopelessness to learn about the Global Giving fundraising campaign (for US and UK charitable contributions) and to read regular updates on the karate program at Maison de la Gare.
Check out this video about the history of the Karate program at Maison de la Gare
Kids Kicking Cancer
Sonia has been volunteering over the past year as a martial arts therapist with Kid’s kicking cancer. As a karate black belt Sonia teaches breathing, visualization, and relaxation techniques, in addition to traditional martial arts moves, to help empower the children and provide them with a sense of power, peace, and purpose.
Click here to learn more about the organization: https://kidskickingcancer.org/
Women for Mental Health
Women for Mental Health is a philanthropic program at The Royal Ottawa that brings together like-minded women who inspire conversations and support for mental health. For the past five years, Sonia has been one of these women working to shift attitudes and make real progress in changing the way people think about mental health. This change will help transform patient care and research at The Royal
You can read more about the initiative below:
The Ottawa Mission
The Ottawa Mission is on a mission to provide food, shelter, clothing, and skills, and offer healing, faith, and hope for building a wholesome life. They do this through offering life-changing programs and services to those in need. With the help of an average of 250 volunteers daily the Ottawa mission is able to offer a warm place to sleep, nutritious meals every day, clothing, and clean shower facilities. They also offer addiction treatment programs, medical and dental care, education support, and job training in kitchen and housing support to those who are committed to turning their lives around.
Adrian LeRoy is proud to volunteer at the Ottawa Mission in the food services program in breakfast prep and service which serves over 1000 meals to those who could use a hand each day.
CN Cycle for Cheo
AKay has been participating with her family in the CN Cycle for the past 10 years. The funds raised from the cycle event help make sure CHEO remains an innovative leader in creating better treatment options and finding new cures so that more kids survive cancer. https://cncycle.ca/about/
IPC Cares Ottawa Youth in Action
Through IPC Cares - Ottawa our objective is to help our clients' families exercise the power they have to make a difference. One of the ways we are doing this is with our We Schools group, IPC Cares Ottawa Youth in Action, whereby teenagers are identifying their passions, raising awareness about the issues that are important to them, and becoming leaders to make the world a better place through Me to We facilitated activities and events (and earning high school volunteer hours). Our clients' families (teenaged kids, grandchildren, and their friends) are welcome to join and take action to help to make the world a better place.
Check out some of IPC Cares Ottawa Youth in Action's past events: