Canadian Consulting Engineer

Orphans

Lea Chambers is global marketing leader with Golder Associates, and communications manager for the Golder Trust for Orphans. She is based in Calgary.

August 1, 2010   Canadian Consulting Engineer

Lea Chambers is global marketing leader with Golder Associates, and communications manager for the Golder Trust for Orphans. She is based in Calgary.

Q. What is the Golder Trust for Orphans?

Quite simply, it’s Golder’s global corporate charity, and it’s our way of expressing one of our core values, which is sustainability. We partner with projects in Africa and invest in their ability to start small businesses that make them self sustaining.

The trust employs one person — John Howcroft — who works in South Africa. If someone from one of our projects has a business idea for example, John will make sure that it’s a sustainable business, that there is a market for what they want to do, that their business plan is thorough, and that they have considered any of the risks involved. He then presents the idea to our board of trustees.

We’re focused on supporting organizations whose primary concern is caring for kids. Most of the investment projects tend to be agricultural. The trust has 10 projects at present and I try to visit them as often as I can to get updates, take new photos, get video footage, etc..

Q. Have you seen these projects make a difference in people’s lives?

The one that I think is our shining example right now is in Mozambique. It’s called the Mission Station of Carlos Vilanculos. It’s a wonderful story.

Carlos is from a very small village in northern Mozambique and when he was in his late teens during the civil war he fled with nothing and went to South Africa. He ended up in Durban and got an education and learned some trade skills from a Christian group. After Mozambique started to recover he decided to go back to his village and help the people there.

His village is extremely isolated. It’s about 150 kilometres by sand road from anywhere. Carlos had absolutely nothing except the land that his family had owned for generations.

First we helped him drill a well on his property so that he could start a garden to help feed local children.

That was in 2008. Then Carlos wanted to start a chicken business and use the money from selling the chickens to help feed about 100 children in the community who because of HIV/AIDS had been orphaned. These are child-headed households where there is a 12 to 15-year old child usually taking care of four or five younger siblings.

In late 2009 we invested about $20,000 and he built three chicken houses — that included the construction costs, buying the chicks, all the little feeder containers, and getting a generator so that he could keep a heat lamp going at night so the chicks don’t die.

A year later he is now selling about 400 chickens a month to the community. All the proceeds go to feed children — there are now 180 of them. Every two weeks he buys beans and rice and delivers them to the kids in the village who are in need. He has also bought fabric so they can all have a school uniform which allows them to go to school. And he also makes sure that they all have a notebook and a pencil.

I have seen a lot of children in Africa, but the kids in Mozambique and in that village were the poorest I’ve ever seen. The clothes they were wearing were tattered. What Carlos is doing is making a huge difference in their lives.

Visit www.goldertrust.org

for more information. View a video of Lea at a project in Africa at www.canadianconsultingengineer.com


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