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Raine Maida traded in his Our Lady Peace fame for the black garb of a busker last week to give a 12-hour performance on Toronto’s financial district sidewalks and street corners. His goal was to raise $30,000 to rebuild a school in the Democratic Republic of Congo through War Child.

The Democratic Republic of Congo, where a decade of war has killed millions and displaced countless more, has entered a ceasefire with a new, elected government. People have been returning home, but there is little to return to.

So far, War Child’s efforts in the Congo include the rehabilitation of 11 schools, helping over 4,000 children to an education. Says James Topham, spokesman for War Child, “There is a direct link between education and child mortality.”

This is the second school rebuilding project Maida and his wife, singer Chantal Kreviazuk, have become involved in. Just back from visiting a War Child project in Ethiopia, Ms Kreviazuk says: “I have never been more certain of this grass roots charity’s authenticity, or its integrity. Never have I been more excited about aid and development by War Child Canada. Our money and our time and energy are NOT going to waste!”

Maida agrees: “You give money to a charity and you don’t know where it goes. At the end of this, you’ll be able to see a school. It’s pretty amazing that $30,000 can change the lives of so many kids.”

As Maida’s open guitar case began to fill with donations from passersby, Maida said “I’m amazed at the generosity of everybody. I don’t know if I set my expectations too low, but I figured a bunch of loonies and toonies (Canadian $1 and $2 coins), and there was that, but a lot of people were giving bills, 20s. One guy walked by and gave us $100. Pretty amazing.”

A film crew taped Maida’s day of busking, and the film will debut in mid-November, when he releases his new solo album, “The Hunter’s Lullaby”. The short documentary will accompany the album’s first single, Yellow Brick Road, which Maida says “will be a testament to human goodwill and made for the cost of a cup of coffee.”

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