A trip to the Philippines in 2006 stunned a group of students from Holy Cross Secondary School (Surrey, BC) as they noticed the happiness of the people who had so little to be happy about, according to Western standards. This particular voyage across seas consisting of building homes in a rural village was the origin of Beneath One Sky, a non-profit group dedicated to providing awareness of local and global poverty.
After contemplating how those living in poverty in the Philippines could be so happy with so little, the students realized that it was because the people were ‘free of the burdens of greed and jealousy, among other things,’ and challenged the Western notion of what it means to have a home.
Since then, Beneath One Sky has visited the Philippines annually building foundations for homes and gardens as well as connecting with those living in the village. For Shantelle Medel, Group Chairperson and SFU Co-Chairperson of Beneath One Sky , their trips in 2008 and 2009 inspired their first benefit concert, ‘Building Homes for the Poor’, to raise funds to help build a village in the Philippines. Their most recent concert,’Building for Hope’, was filled with wonderful singers, musicians and dancers that helped raise a ton of money.
“The benefit concert is a great opportunity for fellow mission team members like myself to keep helping, to keep the flame alive if you will. Last year was a major success and we can only hope it will get bigger and better from here.” - Jennifer Augustynowicz, Mission Team 2009
Not only is this group focused on conquering poverty overseas, but they are also addressing the issue locally in Vancouver, the Canadian city with the largest income gap between rich and poor. Apart from benefit concerts, Beneath One Sky is active in the community organizing backpack runs, where they bring a backpack filled with basic essentials from clothing to toothbrushes to snacks, and pass out the items to those living on the streets. They’ve also recently founded the Beneath One Sky club at Simon Fraser University, which is hosting thÂ Christmas Bureau Toonie Drive on Monday, November 15-19 from 11am-4:30pm at the Burnaby campus to help the club sponsor one family living in the Lower Mainland who are finding it tough making ends meet.