Results: Jamie Rooney & Ben Morrison Cross-Canada Fundraising Initiative

A six-month exchange that changed their world

Jamie Rooney & Ben Morrison’s Cross-Canada Cycling Fundraiser

Founded in 1971, Canada World Youth (CWY) is a world leader in developing international educational programs for young people aged 15 to 35. A non-profit organization, CWY is dedicated to enriching the lives of young people that have a desire to become informed and active global citizens. CWY programs are designed to help youth experience the world for themselves and learn about other cultures and diverse Canadian communities while developing leadership and communication skills.


Jamie Rooney was a youth volunteer in the Young Leaders in Action (YLA) program in 2009-2010. The YLA youth exchange team consists of 9 young Canadians and 9 young people from a partner country who spend six months together doing volunteer work; three months in a Canadian community; three months in a community in Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe, or Latin America. It is a unique opportunity to become involved as a volunteer, discover other cultures, learn another language, and become a true citizen of the world.

As part of the Sooke-Mozambique 2009-2010 exchange, Jamie spent three months in a community in Mozambique where he worked at an orphanage with 18 other youth both Canadian and Mozambican.

In Mozambique the YLA activities are implemented in the two communities of Nampula and Inhambane. CWY has been working for 10 years with a local partner called AJUDE, a Mozambican NGO that is youth-driven and youth-focused. AJUDE seeks to mobilize youth in urban and rural communities by promoting youth volunteerism, activism, and community outreach efforts by way of community-results-based projects.

Every year, youth volunteer at The Estrela do Mar Orphanage in Inhambane. Managed by the government of Mozambique and directed by Antonio Ernesto Seuane, the orphanage is home to Mozambican youth from infancy to their early teenage years. The establishment includes an outdoor courtyard, a large common room and dining area, sleeping quarters, a “baby” room, full bathroom facilities, educational and play rooms, a kitchen, a private area with washing facilities as-well-as a chicken and rooster pen. The orphans are cared for by a staff of local Mozambican women. The orphanage is in constant need of resources, medical supplies, and educational materials; the support of Canada World Youth and the contributions of the YLA program greatly impact the children of the orphanage.  

Jamie was so moved by his experience in Mozambique and the people he met abroad that he wanted to give something back to the orphanage project. He decided to stay involved. Back at home, Jamie called his lifelong friend Ben Morrison and asked him if he wanted to raise money for a worthy cause. The pair resolved to contribute to the orphanage through their love for cycling and exploring their country. They came up with the idea of a cross-Canada cycling fundraiser for the Mozambican projects.

They contacted CWY to find out if they were interested in a partnership. CWY responded quickly and showed great interest in the project, as did the Mozambique organization, AJUDE.


Jamie Rooney and Ben Morrison started their cycling tour on April 21, 2010, on the eastern most point of the continent: Cape Spear, Newfoundland. They cycled around 150 kilometers per day, carrying all their requirements for the trip in different saddlebags strapped to their bikes. Jamie and Ben were hosted by CWY alumni in cities across the country wherever it was possible and camped the rest of the time. The pair pedalled through blizzards on the east coast, flooding in the Prairies, crossed the Rocky Mountains, and escaped the occasional bear-crossing. In early August, the duo reached their destination in Sooke, British Columbia. In total they biked 8,126 kilometers across 10 Canadian provinces. They were able to raise more than $17 500 for the orphanage!


CWY helped the two fundraisers on many levels. For instance, the organization facilitated all the fundraising logistics by creating a fund dedicated to the orphanage project. All the donations went directly to the orphanage fund. CWY was also in charge of promoting the event through its website, publications and social media, and contacted several media outlets across the country, offering great visibility to the duo. The cross-Canada cycling fundraiser was covered by CBC Ottawa News, CBC Radio Saskatchewan, CTV News, Ottawa Outdoor Magazine, etc. Finally, CWY’s Montreal head office generously hosted a celebration and fundraiser.


Six months later, a contract was established between CWY, Jamie Rooney, Ben Morrison, and AJUDE in Mozambique to decide the terms by which the funds would support local initiatives in Inhambane, Mozambique. Everyone agreed on a $4,000 donation each year, for three years. The Canadian Project Supervisor would administer the budget in liaison with AJUDE and the orphanage. The YLA participants (both Canadians and Mozambicans) would have the opportunity to research, plan, implement, and report on the project.



The first CWY-YLA group of 18 youth (Canadian and Mozambican) volunteers arrived in Inhambane. They worked with the staff and children of the Estrela do Mar Orphanage to collectively complete a number of crucial initiatives modeled on the UN Millennium Development Goals. They renovated the underground and above-ground plumbing systems; installed running potable water to the bathrooms, showers, private cleaning area and watering fountains; purchased 10 chickens and roosters as a food supply. Also, they donated toys and fixtures for a room dedicated to mentally challenged orphans; mosquito nets for bunk beds; medical and health supplies; educational materials, etc.


The volunteers made notable improvements to the orphan’s quality of living. One such improvement was the reduction of the prevalence of malaria by supplying mosquito nets to each child. Malaria is the major cause of health problems in Mozambique (The World Health Organization, 2013).

Also by providing educational materials and constructive toys, they increased the literacy and cognitive capabilities of the orphans. Knowing that Mozambique suffers from poor literary rates (43.9% of the total population over the age of 15 is unable to read and write; The World Factbook, Mozambique), this material contributes to the caregivers’ ability to provide daily lessons for the orphans.

Finally, by renovating the plumbing systems and providing complete access to potable water for consumption and hygiene purposes, the youth greatly reduced the infection rates of tinea and skin mycoses among the children. Considering the coastal location of The Estrela do Mar Orphanage, many children had various skin infections and were at great risk of diseases.

In October 2011, Jamie Rooney returned to Inhambane as a Director on the CWY Board of Directors. He attended a meeting with the mayor of the town to discuss the government’s continued support of the orphanage project; he met the Director of the Estrela do Mar Orphanage to establish the next development priorities; he delivered the Certificate of Donation on behalf of CWY and was welcomed by a gala hosted by the children of The Estrela do Mar Orphanage.



During the second year of the CWY Mozambique Orphanage Project, two youth were placed at The Estrela do Mar Orphanage while the rest of the team was involved in other community projects. The priorities for the use of the funds were set by the director and other orphanage staff while the work plan, budget, and accounting norms were developed in collaboration with CWY.


In the second year, the funds were mainly focussed on installations for the baby room. The volunteers cleaned it, repainted it, and added ten locally constructed high-quality wooden cribs, complete with new mattresses and much-needed storage drawers. They also repainted an outdoor educational mural in order to brighten up the courtyard area, organized a cleaning day, and a few other games days for the children.



Project Supervisor Simon Schachner and Director Antonio Ernesto Seuane conducted an informal inventory of the medical resources of the orphanage and concluded that the establishment was in great need of a complete first aid medical kit. Therefore, a part of the last portion of the funding was dedicated to bringing all the medical items recommended by The Canadian Red Cross for a basic first aid kit from Canada to Mozambique.


The funds of the third year were directed towards making the orphanage a safer and better place for the children. These infrastructure initiatives included the production and installation of iron security bars over bathroom windows, a storage room door, locks for doors, a gas stove and oven, and the construction and repair of damaged bunk beds. Other projects included purchasing dustbins, garbage cans, cooking oil, a garden hose and lighting parts for repairs

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