Loving Zambia from Lynn Valley

Argyle student Hope Pearmain and her mom Debbie are returning to Zambia at the end of June. It’s a story of fate, coincidence or a divine plan depending on your point of view.


Project Samuel


Today, the Lynn Valley family is supporting the education of 24 orphans in Africa, after a Texa’s businessman went to Zambia was compelled to make a difference 2006. His young son, Brenden Vowell, now leads Project Samuel and later met – and went on to marry – a North Vancouver girl, Kim Close. It was Pearmain’s relationship with Close that brought the family to Zambia last summer.

Hope Pearmain

The Pearmains spent a few weeks in the Chibombo District, three hours north from the capital of Lusaka, at Project Samuel.

“It’s super rural,” said Debbie. “It’s like living in the 19th Century. They don’t have electricity. They cook over open fires. They wash their clothes by hand in tubs. The people live in a basic hut structure.”

The small organization started by the Vowell family sits on 257 acres of land with four homes with hopes of making a difference in the lives of some of the 1.4 million Zambian orphans (that’s 10 percent of its 14 million population).

“We are used to seeing homeless people here that are usually adults or maybe teenagers and that is upsetting but over there, there are five – six – seven-year-old kids running around the streets homeless,” she said. “It’s tragic.”

Project Samuel is a youth revitalization project aiming to raise leaders who will stay and rebuild their nation, said Debbie. With such a big challenge Brenden, then in his early 20’s took custody of 24 children – choosing to take full responsibility and invest totally in improving the lives of those children and their communities. The Pearmains arrived last year to help the Vowells as they welcomed their first birth child and learn more about the project.  It was a life changing experience.


Starting with education


Debbie Pearmain

The Pearmains were naturally drawn to schools in the area in part because their children, then 12 and 15, could relate strongly but also, dad, Mark, is the superintendent of the North Vancouver School District. Schools are little more than walls and roof with a painted blackboard – and expensive, said Debbie.

“Here every child has the right to an education,” explained Debbie. “In Zambia that’s not how it works. It costs $80 USD a term [including uniforms, supplies, tuition and supplies] and the average family lives on one US dollar a day.”    

With a background in HR corporate training and coaching Debbie joined Mark at a number of professional days for Zambian teachers.

“Education is expensive and the dropout rates are high,” she said. “Then in Grade 7 the government begins to mandate exams but the students don’t have the literacy levels to be successful.”

Children in a classroom.

They spent one teacher enrichment day just teaching how to teach an exam that students had never been able to pass.

“Everyone showed up – all the teachers, even the vice principal,” she said. “They are working so hard but without the resources and training they need.”

Even Hope stepped into to teach.

“Hope had a Grade 10 education and was actually in one of the schools teaching because we went into one of the classrooms and they were working on a math problem that no one could solve,” said Debbie. “As a mom I had tears streaming down my face because I was so proud.”


The vision is long


Teacher enrichment.

Last summer’s trip had a deep impact on the Pearmains.

“When we came home we sat down with our kids and said ‘We have had this experience, so now what? What do you want to do?’” she said. “We decided as a family our mission will be to keep these kids in school. We can’t help everyone we saw – but we can help these 24 kids at Project Samuel.”

It’s a plan that was quickly supported by people in Lynn Valley and across the North Shore.

“We did some small fundraisers with family and friends and we have raised enough money for two years for all the kids to go school,” said Debbie. “There are crazy stories of people helping us – reaching out on social media. Random people who I haven’t talked to in 20 years sent us cheques.”

North Vancouver donations.

Pearmain highlights the donations of Park and Tilford Cobs Breads for their support of bake sales and the ongoing support of Dave Smith of SmithWerks Carpet and Upholstery Care and the North Shore Alliance Church. Even Grade 5 and 6 students at Vancouver Christian School raised $5000 at their entrepreneur fair. Plus local Lynn Valley families who have donated soccer gear and necessities, including the North Shore Girls Soccer, North Van Football Club as well as the Argyle PAC. These donations are important part of a soccer outreach program in the rural villages, said Debbie.

With Hope asking to go back, the Pearmains wanted to do even more.

“The system isn’t perfect but we have so much here in North Vancouver. We are blessed to have the North Vancouver Literacy Centre. We’ve got this unbelievable resource that we were connected to because our son struggled with reading,” Debbie said. “I started meeting with Susan McLean  – she has put resources together and has been teaching me how to teach reading.”

The year has been spent creating curriculum for students as well as professional development for teachers. It’s not all business though. There were be plenty of soccer games, movie nights, community days and picnics. The long term goal for Project Samuel is to help more children, be self-sufficient and earn income with its farm and ultimately help create a stronger Zambia.

“My personal mission is to do anything here in North Vancouver I can to get the word out. There are 24 kids who will need to go to college. There are two graduating this year. I want to send each child to college – $1500-2000USD commitment per year per child. They have 24 kids to help. If people want to partner with us on this they can receive tax donations and email me for more information,” said Debbie.

“My vision is long. Not only do I want to see them read and finish high school but I want them to be able to give back to their communities and help break the cycle of poverty for their families in the future. It’s unbelievable – the kids have such dreams but they don’t even know all their options – they don’t know what they could be dreaming about.”

To learn more about Project Samuel visit its website or reach out to Debbie.

To donate go to: icmsgo.com. Then click: DONATE, select: Canada, agency: project Samuel Foundation, supporting: children and project giving.


Looking for more?


There’s always something fun and exciting happening in Lynn Valley. Check out our Community Events Calendar or learn more about Local Activities, Mountain Biking or Hiking and Walking Trails.

From farm to forest

Two Lower Mainland farms are growing their food and delivering it to Lynn Valley giving true farm to table options for local families. One Argyle grad is working the soil near Pemberton, while a lawyer-turned-farmer is guiding three generations on a farm on the Sumas Prairie.


What’s a CSA?


Both small farms offer a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program delivering a box of fresh seasonal fruits and veggies each week or biweekly. The goal is to bring the public and farmers closer together. Members of the CSA program pay in advance for their share which helps farms with start up costs and in-season income fluctuations.  

A Crisp Organics CSA box.

What you need to know

  1. You don’t get to choose what goes in your box – you never know what will be delivered each week. It also means you don’t get a choice. Some CSA programs allow you to pass on a particular item because of allergies or you just don’t like something but if you are picky – this might not be for you. Often the farm will send an email detailing the box which can help identify products you aren’t familiar with.
  2. Expand your palate – Farmers plant what goes best locally, not what big box stores ask for so you won’t get a red pepper in June, but you might in late August. You will also likely get some fruit and veggies you haven’t prepared before, like Jerusalem artichokes or a heritage variety of squash. It is a great way to try something new.
  3. The season’s best – You will be eating the freshest food, not grown in your backyard. You will get fruits and veggies that were picked that morning or the afternoon before. You will find some of the sweetest strawberries and tomatoes of your life in these boxes.

There are two great programs servicing Lynn Valley. CSA programs typically sell out each year,  so if you want to sign up get it done early. Even if the websites aren’t quite ready for the summer 2019 season, sign up for their email lists and get notified of their program kick off.


Four Beat Farm


Argyle grad Naomi Martz has leased 10 acres of land near Pemberton on the traditional territory of the Lil’wat Nation. Four Beat Farm grows 35 different products for its CSA box. Four Beat Farm is Certified Organic, which means no GMOs or synthetic fertilizers are present on the farm and its methods are third-party verified.  They are certified by the Biodynamic Agricultural Society of BC (BDASBC 10*500-40), and use biodynamic growing practices that focus on soil health and creating regenerative farm systems.

A unique feature of Four Beat Farm are its “solar tractors” – their draft horses. The farm uses horses rather than vehicles to work the fields reducing its use of fossil fuels and providing essential compost.

Four Beat Farm delivers biweekly to Lynn Valley on Wednesdays. As a member of the CSA you (or someone you ask) must pick up your box from 3-5:30 p.m. They send out a reminder each week. Last year the season was scheduled from August 15 to October 24 for  a total harvest season of 12 weeks and an extra-large “double share” of storage crops planned to enjoy late into the fall at the final pickup.


Crisp Organics


In 2010 newly minted lawyer Andrew Arkenstyn-Vogler hung up his robes and started a new dream with his parents – an 11 acre farm in Abbotsford.  They have been working the land focusing on sustainability and organic certification. The home farm is certified by the Pacific Agricultural Certification Society, while their extended land is organic transitional.

Crisp Organics runs a large CSA program and serves many farmer’s markets. They grow an array of seasonal vegetables with a focus on greens. They also partner with other organic growers at times to add diversity to their offerings.

The farm’s summer CSA program runs from May 3 to October 25. They deliver once a week to a location near Argyle Secondary. Unique to Crisp Organics – it offers an option to add SPCA certified eggs to your weekly box. If you sign up before the end of February with the code EARLYBIRD you will get a box weekly box free!


Looking for more?


There’s always something fun and exciting happening in Lynn Valley. Check out our Community Events Calendar or learn more about Local Activities, Mountain Biking or Hiking and Walking Trails.

Green thumbs and others needed to help local seniors

There was a curious post circulating a North Shore Facebook group: someone was searching for people who love to garden.


Calling green thumbs


“We have people who in the past have enjoyed gardening, and would still love to do it,” said Eunice Kruse, volunteer coordinator of the Lynn Valley Care Centre. “We have a rooftop garden with raised beds that the residents can use.”

But that can’t happen on their own.

The Lynn Valley Care Centre is looking for a volunteer or two who can share an hour of gardening with residents once or twice a week. The volunteer would take them up to the garden and plant seeds, help weed and visit with the senior, said Kruse.

“We would be looking for someone who loves gardening and can help one or two of our residents at a time,” said Kruse. “It means so much – it gives good mental and physical stimulation. There is also a sense of purpose of being able to do something they used to be able to do.”

The Lynn Valley Care Centre offers intermediate care, extended (complex care), palliative care, and end-of-life care. It has a combination of government subsidized beds and private pay rooms and suites.


Have a passion – share it


If gardening isn’t your thing there are many other opportunities to interact and support the residents, said Kruse. Some volunteers visit with pets, some help organize tea time, one helps seniors get to their appointments with the in-house hairdresser, while others help with arts and crafts. Volunteers also read aloud and host music afternoons and sing-alongs.

 

There is another project Kruse needs volunteers to get started: a social group for senior men.

“I would like to find two-three men who would meet with our elderly men,” she said. “To talk about things that are important to men.”

Research shows that social interaction is immensely beneficial to seniors – or anyone who is feeling isolated, but recent research shows men are less likely to seek out that interaction, said Kruse. She hopes to find enough interest to run the group once a week and give residents a chance to chat about past and current hobbies, interests and adventures.

The reward for volunteers is tangible.

“You see what these visits mean to the residents,” said Kruse. “In just an hour or two you can see someone come to life. It’s a two-way street you give your time and they will give back.”


How to help


To learn more about the volunteer opportunities at the Lynn Valley Care Centre please call Eunice Kruse at 604-982-3709 (she is in Mondays or please leave a message) or visit the volunteer page of its website.

Helping hands sought for Princess Park project

Can you help revitalize part of Princess Park on April 28? Many hands make light work. Here is the press release sent to us with all the news you need to know:

The Lynn Valley Community Association and the Lynn Valley Seniors Association are working together on the 2018 Lynn Valley Annual Park Project.

The location this year is an area of Princess Park near the bridge and dog play area. Park in the parking lot off Princess Avenue. Meet at the Lynn Valley LINK Kiosk which is a short walk down the main paved trail in to the park.

The Park Project will take place on Saturday, April 28, 2018, from 9:00 am to 1:00 pm (come for all or part).

The focus of this community event will be on restoring a section of the park just west of the bridge. District crews will do some preliminary work ahead of time leaving us to restore the natural vegetation and lay down mulch. We will be doing basic gardening work, removing invasive plants, planting natural vegetation, cleaning litter and anything else that needs to be done with the direction and support of the DNV Parks Department.

Do join us for this fun and productive day. We have work for every level of physical ability but we won’t let anyone overdo it. Dress for the weather, as this is a rain-or- shine event! Sturdy boots or shoes, working clothes and gloves are recommended, as it could be muddy! Coffee and snacks will be provided but please bring your own water bottle.

For more information email: info@lvca.ca

Got a great idea for your neighbourhood? Funds available to make it real

The deadline for the Vancouver Foundation’s Neighbourhood Small Grants is fast approaching. You have until April 9 to take advantage of this growing program. Each year many locals take advantage of the $50 – $500 grants given to fund community initiatives.

Kathy Rothnie at an Evelyn Park Canada 150 celebration last summer

“The goal is about connecting and engaging the community,” said Tricia Alsop, of the North Shore Neighbourhood House which oversees the program in North Vancouver. “Community doesn’t mean the same thing to everyone. It doesn’t need to be a project with your neighbours. Last year we gave out about 80 grants.”

Since 2011 the North Shore has been apart of the Vancouver Foundation’s Neighbourhood Small Grants program. The grants are given to projects that bring people together, share skills and knowledge, build a sense of belonging, responsibility, and respect and celebrate diversity, according to the Foundation.

“We had hosted a block party – a potluck kind of party the first year we moved here,” said Lynn Valley’s Shannon Samler, a recipient of a 2017 grant. “Someone told us about these grants so we thought – why not [apply]? It was very easy to do.”

Easy access

“The goal is to make it available to everyone,” said Tricia Alsop. “The application is online but we also have paper applications. If people need help, we can help them work through it. It is supposed to be easy.”

For most projects the most labour-intensive piece is creating a budget.

“It’s a simple process,” said Samler. “Putting together the budget help me think about what I wanted to do. We wanted to take on the responsibility of the main course part of the food and provide a few extras – like face painting.”

The Samlers’ block party was one of a handful in Lynn Valley last year funded by the grants and is a typical project that the Foundation funds.

Other projects on the North Shore included gardening, food, beekeeping, emergency preparedness and craft workshops, invasive weed pulls, intergenerational programs, Little Free Libraries and others.

“It was a great way to meet people,” said Samler. “We learned the names of people we see – not just families with kids that same age as ours. We were able to set up a neighbourhood email list to connect and share concerns.”

Lasting impacts

Samler says the – now annual – event has fostered a more open neighbourhood. Sometimes the grants are what give legs to an idea, said Alsop.

“The grants can help give people the initiative to get started on an idea they have always had,” she said. “We see lasting relationships grow out of the projects – sometimes they can be a help with conflict resolution by bringing people together.”

Organizers welcome more applicants

“We would like to see some new people with new ideas,” said Alsop. “If it fits, there is a good chance they will get the grant.”

The deadline for applications is April 9th. For more information or help with applications contact the North Shore Neighbourhood House at 604-987-8138.