Adults of Oak Bay need to be on their best behaviour with nearly three dozen Oak Bay High students on the lookout for their next “inmate.”
Already, 44 inmates are booked for the May 4 Jail and Bail fundraiser on Saturday, May 4, at the Bay Centre. But there’s always room for more.
The students are committed to the school’s biennial Live Different charity initiative where they fly to Mexico and build homes for families who need them. The next trip is during spring break 2020, continuing a tradition that started in 2009 seen Oak Bay High students involved in five previous trips to Vicente Guerrero to build 11 homes. Over those 11 years Oak Bay High students also paid for the construction of another home and contributed to a the building of a trades centre.
The Jail and Bail has become the primary fundraiser for the program, which needs $7,500 per house. In 2020 they plan on building two. Money raised does not cover the individual costs of each student or household furnishings for the families.
Grade 11 student Dana Puli first learned about the program in Grade 9 when she arrived at Oak Bay High and had Brent Garraway as a teacher. Garraway’s been involved with the program for a decade and continues to do so today.
“I looked into the work they do and thought this is amazing to be making homes for the under-privileged,” Puli said. “I am not living uncomfortably. I enjoy privileges people [in Vicente Guerrero] don’t. I thought it would be amazing to give back and share some of the basic features that we live with.”
The trip also develops the students’ leadership skills, while allowing them to see first hand how two-thirds of the world lives, Garraway said.
For now, Puli is helping recruit inmates.
The 2018 fundraiser (held in 2017) raised $43,000 in eight hours. Inmates agree to be “arrested” by the Oak Bay Police and are escorted to the constructed jail at the Bay Centre. Inmates are then sentenced to provide a bail amount by a judge and put in jail (complete with an inmate costume, fake tattoos, etc.) and are permitted unlimited phone calls in order to raise their bail amount.
The majority of our inmates pre-raise their bail amount and use the time in jail to enjoy the atmosphere and create memories, Garraway noted.