Peter Walsh photo/Telegraph Journal

Teacher hopes a simple CHAT can change lives

by Hilary Page Smith - Saturday, July 31, 2010

This article is courtesy of Telegraph Journal

SAINT JOHN - Canadian sponsors will be able to chat live with orphans in Uganda thanks to the work of a local teacher.

Adam McKim, a world issues and social sciences teacher at Saint John High School, is the founder of CHAT to the Future. The acronym CHAT stands for Care and Hope through Adoption and Technology. His world issues class worked this year to raise funds and build a school in the Kanungu district of Uganda.

McKim said CHAT is modeled much the same way as WorldVision or Foster Parents Plan, but instead of only receiving photo updates and letters, CHAT allows sponsors to talk live through Skype technology with their adopted child in the Ugandan district.

CHAT already has four sponsors lined up and McKim hopes to get 130, one for each child at the orphanage.

It costs $300 a year to adopt a child and Skype chats happen once every few months.

McKim was inspired to create CHAT after a series of Skype conversations held between his class and the children in Uganda.

"I saw those faces in the room when we were Skyping.

"The kids were in tears, there were a couple of teachers there who were really quite broken up over it and I thought this is something that should be shared," McKim said.

"The video connection takes things to a whole new level, so I thought, like Foster Parents Plan, we could create opportunities for sponsorship."

McKim hopes to involve his future World Issues classes at SJHS with CHAT.

A man in British Columbia was the first sponsor to sign up with CHAT and McKim said sponsorship is open to all. He hopes to involve schools and encourage classes to sponsor a child.

CHAT advertises matches through Facebook, where potential sponsors can see photos and read short biographies on the children they will be adopting.

CHAT to the Future will have it's official launch on Monday at McKim's home at 971 Millidge Ave. The fun begins at 10 a.m. sharp when children from the New Brunswick group KidSing will perform a selection of Michael Jackson songs while children in Uganda perform the same songs in a unique Skype-based concert.

"I'm hopeful that, if we have a solid Skype connection, we'll be able to talk for a good hour, but really, it's not something you want to ever really end. We'll keep it going as long as we can," the CHAT founder said.

There will be supervised swim time in a heated pool at the party, as well as a barbecue, games and hand-made clothing sale.

Though CHAT to the Future is still in its infancy, McKim hopes to see the organization spread beyond himself and potentially throughout the country. Funds raised through sponsorship will benefit the entire community.

"On their side (in Uganda) even though they now operate the school called Saint John High Primary, it doesn't have desks, it doesn't have a floor, it doesn't have electricity... Our investments are going to include medicine, malaria nets, we're looking to expand their gardens," McKim said.

For more information about CHAT, visit their Facebook group at "CHAT to the Future" or call Adam McKim at 721-1931.


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