Young girl, big dreams

Ashton Khan (left) and Maurice Walker

YMCA Peace Medal recipient Marilyn Ize-Dukuze, 15, has
raised around $30,000 for children in war-torn Africa.

For some philanthropists it takes a lifetime to build an organization that helps those in the world who are less fortunate.

One Scarborough student has achieved this by Grade 10.

Marilyn Ize-Dukuze, 15, of Pope John Paul II Catholic Secondary was honored by the YMCA with its Peace Medallion last week at the Malvern Public Library for her work in Greenhope for Children, an organization that has helped children in Rwanda and Sudan.

She has also written a book aimed at young people on how to become a good influence to those around them.

Peace Medallions are given to those who have made extraordinary humanitarian contributions without the help of any outside organizations.

Speaking out at various universities and churches, the local young woman set out to raise awareness of the struggles children in Rwanda and the Sudan must endure on a daily basis. Coming to Canada from the violence in Burundi at the age of six, Ize-Dukuze shares her experiences first hand with local young people.

“When you show the youth here that these children are their own age, they realize they could be living that way if they weren’t in a country of abundance like Canada, ” Ize-Dukuze says.

Through her friends and supporters, the local girl has managed to raise approximately $30,000 for her organization to help give children in war-torn countries access to food, education and transport.

“She’s quiet, but at the same time there’s a resolve there, ” says Peter Alkins, president of Greenhope for Children. “She transmits that very well. ”

Alkins has known Ize-Dukuze for as long as she’s been in Canada. In that time he has seen her grow in “stature, wisdom, and leadership. ”

With the funds that have been raised thus far, Greenhope for Children plans on expanding the program to other nations whose children are in need, particularly Cambodia, as well as building upon what they already have in place.

In attendance at the ceremony were some of Ize-Dukuze’s friends. Asked how some of her peers feel about her activist efforts, she says some of them are quite impressed at the amount of time she puts in and that she has pulled it off.