large group of volunteers

The gift of education

This story was to be published in March, before our operations shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Sadly, our wonderful volunteer, Gail Learn, passed away last month. She was an incredible lady and her reliability and dedication was invaluable to Habitat for Humanity Niagara, she will be dearly missed. Her legacy lives on through her kindness and charitable work.

(Photo: Gail and Dave pictured on the far left.)

Gail and Dave have been volunteering with Habitat for Humanity at our Fonthill ReStore since the store opened over three years ago.

“Dave is a Jack-of-all-trades,” Gail said. “He tests and fixes lights and appliances and I tidy the store, clean the kitchens and price donations.”

Gail shared a story with us recently on how a trip she won to Africa twenty years ago became an investment in the lives of three young Tanzanian children.

In 2000, Gail and her sister, Joan, purchased a raffle ticket at Point Pelee (Gail was hoping to win the binoculars), and to her surprise they won an all expense paid trip to Kenya and Tanzania.

“We had a fantastic time,” Gail explains. “We enjoyed the trip so much, that two years later we went back, and this time my husband Dave came.”

During their trip they met a tour guide named, Elaphasie, whom they got to know a little better, they really liked him and thought very highly of him. Before they left to fly home to Canada, Joan got his email address so that they could all stay in touch.

“A lot of children don’t get education in Africa, it is very rudimentary,” Gail explains. “Dave and I decided to help Elaphasie’s five-year old daughter, Miriam, by sending money for her to go to school. It’s very different than in Canada, the children in Africa are ready to study and learn.”

And that’s exactly what Miriam did. She learned computer skills, English and went on to university to study accounting – all through the kindness of two amazing people.

“While giving money to put Miram through school, Elaphasie was also able to help his two nieces, Grace and Gloria (their father died) to get an education, one is now a teacher and the other is a journalist.”

Gail and Dave’s kindness transformed the lives of these children through education, and they continue to stay in touch with Elaphasie.