A teacher with a vision of building bridges between a small school in Dartmouth and a group of mistreated youth in Algeria has won a $5,000 scholarship that will help make his dream a reality.
Karim Amedjkouh teaches Grade 12 at Ecole du Carrefour.
Last week he was recognized at the school as this year's national grand prize winner of EF Educational Tours' "Teachers Matter" contest, which recognizes the wonderful work teachers do in and out of the classroom, to mark World Teachers Day in October 2012.
More than 400 nominations were submitted from across Canada for the award, a Top 10 list was selected and voting for the grand prize winner happened on Facebook.
Amedjkouh says he wanted to inspire his students to become global citizens and to take action to break down barriers in his homeland of Algeria.
"As part of the curriculum I encouraged my students to come up with something real, not just money to give to these children in Algeria."
His students came up with an idea to host and run a two week summer camp for marginalized youth in Kabylie, Algeria. Fifteen disadvantaged, poor, ostracized kids ages 10-18 will attend the camp in August.
Five students from Carrefour and three teachers will be heading to Algeria to help out at the camp.
Alicia LaPierre is a former Carrefour student who is going to Algeria.
"I am now a student at SMU and was inspired by my teacher last year. We are all so proud of him. We will help the children at the camp and it is an opportunity for us to share our culture, art and experience. How could I say no?"
LaPierre says Mr. Amedjkouh is a wonderful man who truly cares about giving the Algerian children a chance at having a normal childhood.
"I am so looking forward to going."
Grade 12 student Olivier Barriault is also going to help at the camp.
"These kids don't have anything. Maybe we can get them wheelchairs, or whatever they need. It is a huge opportunity to help others."
Some of the children at the camp will be severely disabled and have been shunned and hidden by their families.
Amedjkouh came to Nova Scotia in 2007 after meeting his Canadian wife in France.
He says he is very proud of his students, his community and of winning the award.
"Another dream that I want to realize is for awareness without borders, without barriers and without judgments for marginalized children."
Lapierre says she knows the trip will change her forever.
"This trip will be phenomenal. I am lucky to be given the opportunity and lucky to have a teacher who did more than teach, he continues to inspire."