Meet Barbara Wybar, a graduate of McGill and a proud supporter of the Faculty of Arts Internship Program. Wybar is also the Director of the Children of Peace program, a weekly enrichment program for up to 150 orphans and needy children living in a poor, rural community in Eastern Uganda. She is part of an international team of voluntary workers, who together with local paid Ugandan workers support and run the project, along with several other initiatives coordinated through its umbrella organization, the Bududa Learning Center. From the plight of orphans and other vulnerable children to the lack of education for teenagers and young adults, the Center's programs are funded entirely from overseas donations (mainly from Canada, the US and UK), with a significant part of the funding coming from the sponsorship program for the children. And for the last two years, Wybar has generously hosted McGill students through the Arts Internship Program, including 2011 Arts intern, Danielle De Costa, U3 Anthropology and World Religions (pictured above).
Q. Where are you from? Where do you live now?
A. I now live 9 months of the year in Bududa, Uganda. I am originally from Montreal. I am proud of the fact that I am from two old English Montreal families who have been in Montreal since before the War of 1812: the Birks and the Brodies
Q. What did you study at McGill?
A. I was in the Faculty of Arts and I studied Fine Arts and Psychology.
Q. What can you tell me about your time at McGill? Are there any memorable experiences you would like to share?
A. I loved my time at McGill. I loved the knowledge I acquired and it made me thirst for more, so I went on and studied education at the University of Edinburgh. I am a bit embarrassed to admit that McGill was also a social time for me as well and so I grew up in many ways. There are so many memorable experiences. Which one should I pick? Football Games, ah ha moments in French class with a professor from France who talked about religion from his honest perspective. The winter festival with the ice sculptures, art history classes and a paper I wrote on Chartres Cathedral, and many, many more.
Q. What led you to start the Bududa Learning Centre?
A. This is such a long story. Could I refer you to a paper I wrote about why it was such a good fit? http://aglifpt.org/publications/peaceways/fall2009/bududafall2009.htm
Q. Was there anything from your McGill experience that influenced your career path?
A. I got a fine education at McGill and with that behind me, I followed my career path in education, having earned a Masters degree from the University of Edinburgh in Education. I was a teacher and then a mother and homemaker and then a teacher again. The education I got at McGill, was like an awakening to all the possibilities and opportunities in this world to grow and develop.
Q. How did you hear about the Arts Internship Program?
A. I heard about the Arts Internship Program from Ann Vroom, who is now on the board of McGill I believe. She connected me to McGill, and to Ann Turner and the rest is history.
Q. What do you hope McGill interns learn from their time at the Centre/Uganda?
A. What I hope all of the volunteers who come to Bududa learn by living here is how two thirds of the people on this planet live. We may read about the third world but there is nothing as powerful as actually living in it. These volunteers get an opportunity to live in an isolated and impoverished corner of Africa without running water or electricity and experience it first hand. This may sound like a cliche and an overstatement, but it seems to change lives, especially those of young people.
Q. Do you have any advice for students looking to volunteer in Africa/overseas?
A. Please come. Contact McGill’s Arts Internship Program and let them know you’d like to come to Bududa, located in the south-east part of Uganda. There is an opportunity to help the Africans but also, speaking for myself, I am learning so much about life from the Africans I live with.
To learn more about Children of Peace and the Bududa Learning Center in Uganda, Africa, visit http://bududalearningcenter.org/www.bududalearningcenter.org/Bududa_Learning_Center.html