Nearly 16 years ago, Galileu Saldanha arrived in Penticton as a part of the Canada World Youth exchange program, not knowing his life was about to change forever.
Saldanha had a dream of one day becoming a doctor, with hopes of opening a rural clinic in his home country of Mozambique.
Joined by 16 other students from Mozambique, South Africa and Canada, Saldanha spent three months in Penticton. And while he enjoyed watching hockey games and trying to adjust to the colder climate, he also spent a lot of time studying.
Fellow exchange student and now lifelong friend Ricardino Matias remembers it clearly.
“Galileu was one of those guys that, even in the program, was deep down in the books while . . . we were out there having fun, running around in Penticton,” he said, adding Saldanha has always been an inspiration to him.
Saldanha was preparing to take a university entrance exam to begin his journey to becoming a doctor when he confided his anxieties to his host parents.
“I shared my dream with (my host parents),” Saldanha said, adding he told them it felt “impossible.”
Inspired by his dream, Saldanha’s host parents, Lorne and Maria Raymond, rallied together with Matias and their local parish to make Saldanha’s dream a reality.
The group’s fundraising efforts were enough to support Saldanha through 10 years of schooling at the Catholic University of Beira. He finished in 2015 and now works in the ICU at a local hospital.
“I finished my studies after 10 years and started working in my country as a doctor, a GP,” he said, adding how grateful he is to not only his host family, but the people of Penticton who helped support him as he achieved his dream.
To thank them, Saldanha spent years saving money he’s made in his new career to fly back to Penticton, visiting his host family and Matias, who now lives in Penticton with his family.
He arrived earlier this year and plans to stay until April, shadowing local doctors and learning all he can.