In the next few days, Wayne Bozzer will be traveling from the North of Ontario to the north of Sudan, in Africa.
Bozzer, the well-known executive director of the Timmins YMCA will be one of a group of Northerners taking part in an international outreach program to the YMCA in Sudan.
For many years, the Sudbury YMCA has maintained a relationship with the YMCA in Khartoum, the capital city in the north of Sudan. Sudbury’s “Y” has enlisted financial aid from the YMCA operations in Timmins, North Bay and Sault Ste. Marie.
Bozzer says a $1,200 contribution from the Timmins “Y” is leveraged with dollars from the Canadian International Development Agency with the result that it forms a substation contribution to the Sudanese operations. He says the overseas trip is a first for him and it’s the first time the Timmins “Y” has become involved assisting the international YMCA movement.“We try to tag along where we feel we’re capable of tagging along,” Bozzer said.
The effort will be used for skills development training for Sudanese. Each year, the YMCA in Khartoum will train 800 adults, 400 younger adults and 400 youth in a variety of vocational skills, according to a news release from Sudbury YMCA.
Bozzer says many Canadian YMCAs have international projects. He is pleased Timmins is contributing, even in a small way, to help out a YMCA in central Africa.
He says the Northern Ontario team, consisting of two staff members and two volunteers, will be meeting with their Sudanese counterparts to see how Canadians can offer further assistance.
“We are international,” said Bozzer, adding that he is looking forward to the trip to Africa to get an appreciation of the realities of the world.
“I think we’ll see how privileged we are you know, and our little “Y” here in Timmins is not too badly off,” Bozzer admitted.
He says the Timmins YMCA building, the former St. Alphonse School on Poplar Avenue was only purchased in recent years “and our little 1939 schoolhouse is probably a lot better than what we’ll see over there.”
Bozzer, who calls himself “a news junkie” says he is becoming more acquainted with the challenges of life in Africa, but says he is sure the trip will “be a real eye-opener.”
He suggests the trip will take him and he colleagues “totally and quickly out of the cultural cocoon of life” in Northern Ontario. It may be happening sooner than he thinks. As he browzed the internet on his laptop computer, Bozzer noted there would be a brief stopover in Cairo, Egypt for a few days where the temperature was 35 Celsius.
Despite that Bozzer says he won’t be in his typical summer casual clothes. No matter the heat you won’t see Wayne Bozzer lounging in walking shorts he says.
“Men are advised not to do that. We have to respect the culture.”