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Midget AE Blyth Brussels Crusaders are OMHA Champions - March 26 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Shawn Loughlin   
Wednesday, 25 March 2015 14:55
The Blyth Brussels Midget AE Crusaders are champions of the province and owners of the Eric Wesslby Memorial Trophy after a pair of wins over the Lambton Shores Predators on Saturday and Sunday.
The Crusaders capped off their championship season on Sunday at the Brussels, Morris and Grey Community Centre with a sweep of the Lambton Shores Predators, based in Forest, winning all six of the points they needed in the first three games of the Ontario Minor Hockey Association (OMHA) series.
On Sunday, Lambton Shores scored first, lighting the lamp with a power play goal in the first period. Their tally was quickly matched by the home team with a power play goal of its own to end the first period.
In the second, the teams traded goals once again, this time they were both even strength, as the Predators went ahead 2-1 and the Crusaders once again evened the score up at two, sending the game to the third period tied at two.
Blyth Brussels then scored a power play goal shortly after the third period began and never looked back, scoring again to make it 4-2 and then added an empty net goal with seconds left to solidify the 5-2 win.
The crowd then helped the players count the clock down to zero and the celebration began as helmets, gloves and mouth guards flew and players and coaches piled on goalie Dalton Carey at the home end of the ice.
Each player was then awarded a gold medal and a chance to hoist the Eric Wesslby Memorial Trophy before taking the traditional trip around Brussels on a Huron East fire truck.
Coach Scott Johnston said he couldn’t be more proud of the team, both as players and as people, as, over the course of the season, he and the coaching staff saw them mature before their eyes.
“I’m very proud of them,” Johnston said the day after the big win. “They were boys at the start of the season and by the end they had turned into young men.”
While Johnston points to many hockey-related factors as reasons why the Crusaders find themselves atop the hockey world, like puck movement and making the Lambton Shores goalie move a lot in the crease, he said it’s what changed in the players that resulted in the win, not adjustments made on the ice.
He points to the players getting along well and creating an environment full of positive reinforcement and devoid of negativity as the reason the team began to come together.
“They really started to believe in themselves,” he said.
Johnston said that at the beginning of the season, the Crusaders had a lot of work to do and he didn’t see them making a lot of noise in the season’s OMHA tournament.
Tim Waechter of Brussels, a defenseman with the team, agreed, saying that the team wasn’t playing as well as it could have at the beginning of the season, but as the players began to believe in themselves, that all started to change.
“Coach Scott always told us to remember the three believes: the coaches believe in us, we have to believe in each other and we have to believe in ourselves,” Waechter said.
Waechter said that while he feels the improvement of the team happened gradually over the course of the season, it was a second place finish at the International Silver Stick tournament in Minden late last year when opinions started to change and the members of the group began to believe in themselves as their coach had implored them to do.
This was Waechter’s fourth trip to the OMHA tournament, he said, and coming away with a win was important to him. So important, in fact, that he cut another sports opportunity short in order to be there.
Waechter was in Hawaii, representing Canada with his rugby team from St. Anne’s Catholic Secondary School, but made the trip back to Canada early, knowing he didn’t want to miss games two and three of the series at his home arena.
Both were once-in-a-lifetime opportunities, he said, but with this being his final year of eligibility in the minor hockey system, he knew where he wanted to be and, in the end, the choice wasn’t a hard one to make.
As for the fire truck ride, Waechter says it was one of the highlights of the day because it’s a chance that not a lot of people get over the course of their lives.
For Assistant Coach Steve Howson, the win brought back boyhood memories. Howson was on a Blyth team that in 1971/1972 became the first team from the village to win an OMHA title.
The win, he said, is something the players will carry with them their whole lives, especially the team’s eight third-year players, who have now played their last season of minor hockey.
Howson said that the players worked hard and they deserve all of the fanfare they receive as a result of the win.
“We’re all very proud of them. They worked their butts off and they’re just a great group of kids,” Howson said.
It was fitting, he said, that the team played its best period of the series in its final period – the third period of Sunday’s game that sealed the championship.
When the playoffs started, he said, the coaching staff encouraged players to count down wins, telling them they needed to win 12 games to win the title.
The Crusaders made their way into the OMHA final by way of another sweep, taking the first three semi-final games against Tweed by scores of 3-2, 4-0 and 6-3. This came after the Crusaders won three of four against Muskoka in the quarter-final.
The team’s playoff run began in Goderich, when the Blyth Brussels team beat Goderich in the Western Ontario Athletics Association AE Group 4 Series B finals, winning the series three games (six points) to two (four points).
The Blyth Brussels Midget AE Crusaders are champions of the province and owners of the Eric Wesslby Memorial Trophy after a pair of wins over the Lambton Shores Predators on Saturday and Sunday.
The Crusaders capped off their championship season on Sunday at the Brussels, Morris and Grey Community Centre with a sweep of the Lambton Shores Predators, based in Forest, winning all six of the points they needed in the first three games of the Ontario Minor Hockey Association (OMHA) series.
On Sunday, Lambton Shores scored first, lighting the lamp with a power play goal in the first period. Their tally was quickly matched by the home team with a power play goal of its own to end the first period.
In the second, the teams traded goals once again, this time they were both even strength, as the Predators went ahead 2-1 and the Crusaders once again evened the score up at two, sending the game to the third period tied at two.
Blyth Brussels then scored a power play goal shortly after the third period began and never looked back, scoring again to make it 4-2 and then added an empty net goal with seconds left to solidify the 5-2 win.
The crowd then helped the players count the clock down to zero and the celebration began as helmets, gloves and mouth guards flew and players and coaches piled on goalie Dalton Carey at the home end of the ice.
Each player was then awarded a gold medal and a chance to hoist the Eric Wesslby Memorial Trophy before taking the traditional trip around Brussels on a Huron East fire truck.
Coach Scott Johnston said he couldn’t be more proud of the team, both as players and as people, as, over the course of the season, he and the coaching staff saw them mature before their eyes.
“I’m very proud of them,” Johnston said the day after the big win. “They were boys at the start of the season and by the end they had turned into young men.”
While Johnston points to many hockey-related factors as reasons why the Crusaders find themselves atop the hockey world, like puck movement and making the Lambton Shores goalie move a lot in the crease, he said it’s what changed in the players that resulted in the win, not adjustments made on the ice.
He points to the players getting along well and creating an environment full of positive reinforcement and devoid of negativity as the reason the team began to come together.
“They really started to believe in themselves,” he said.
Read more...
 
Health Units, EMS Departments May Merge - March 26 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Shawn Loughlin   
Wednesday, 25 March 2015 14:54
Two of Huron County’s largest departments may be merging with their Perth County counterparts in the near future, according to a pair of statements issued late last week.
Investigation will begin soon on the potential merging of Health Units in Huron and Perth Counties, as well as Emergency Medical Services (EMS) and Emergency Management Departments from both counties.
According to a press release issued on March 19, a working group comprised of senior administrators and councillors from both counties will soon be formed. Its task will be to develop a business case that will be presented to both Huron and Perth County Councils for consideration at a later date.
The business case, the release states, will further explore efficiencies that could be created by operated an amalgamated Emergency Services Department.
“Delivering effective public services as efficiently as possible is what our ratepayers expect from us,” says Chief Administrative Officer Brenda Orchard. “A business case analysis will reveal if operating a unified department is in the best interests of both counties.”
The release states that factors analyzed will be sharing technologies and operating systems, governance, response times, economics of scale in managing a combined vehicle fleet and the administrative and reporting requirements of a single department.
“Perth County has a proven record of providing outstanding emergency services to our citizens,” says Perth County Chief Administrative Officer Bill Arthur. “We are committed to maintaining our levels of service to the county, Stratford and St. Marys. County Council have said that we owe it to our taxpayers to fully investigate this potential merger. We look forward to working with Huron County to achieve the best and most efficient service for both counties.”
Similarly, a working group is being created to further explore a potential merger between the two counties’ Health Units. The group will be comprised of representatives from both Health Unit boards, as well as senior staff from both Health Units.
From that early discussion, the release states, it will then be decided whether or not the group should proceed with a firm merger proposal or not.
“The talks are in the very early stages,” says Tyler Hessel, Bluewater Mayor and Chair of the Huron County Board of Health.
The release states that the working group’s initial discussions will focus primarily on whether or not there is a shared vision between the two bodies, whether or not the two Health Units could be strengthened by a merger and if both communities would receive better services as a result.
Huron County Council has raised the idea of merging the two neighbouring Health Units before, but has been turned down repeatedly by Perth.
The release states that merger proposals had been made in 2005 and 2014, but that the climate may be changing and it may be a good time to bring the issue back to the table.
“At this time, the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care has expressed interest in reviewing public health organization in the province, which indicates the provincial context may now be favourable to an amalgamation,” the release states.
Hessel says that the two Health Units are already working together on a number of initiatives, so the foundation for a potential merger has already been built.
“The Huron County Health Unit works successfully with the Perth District Health Unit on many initiatives now,” Hessel says. “Exploring amalgamation will give us an opportunity to see whether public health services in Huron County would be best served by a merger with Perth.”
Hessel says that the working group will provide regular updates of its progress to staff of both Health Units, as well as the public, as discussions progress.
Two of Huron County’s largest departments may be merging with their Perth County counterparts in the near future, according to a pair of statements issued late last week.
Investigation will begin soon on the potential merging of Health Units in Huron and Perth Counties, as well as Emergency Medical Services (EMS) and Emergency Management Departments from both counties.
According to a press release issued on March 19, a working group comprised of senior administrators and councillors from both counties will soon be formed. Its task will be to develop a business case that will be presented to both Huron and Perth County Councils for consideration at a later date.
The business case, the release states, will further explore efficiencies that could be created by operated an amalgamated Emergency Services Department.
“Delivering effective public services as efficiently as possible is what our ratepayers expect from us,” says Chief Administrative Officer Brenda Orchard. “A business case analysis will reveal if operating a unified department is in the best interests of both counties.”
The release states that factors analyzed will be sharing technologies and operating systems, governance, response times, economics of scale in managing a combined vehicle fleet and the administrative and reporting requirements of a single department.
“Perth County has a proven record of providing outstanding emergency services to our citizens,” says Perth County Chief Administrative Officer Bill Arthur. “We are committed to maintaining our levels of service to the county, Stratford and St. Marys. County Council have said that we owe it to our taxpayers to fully investigate this potential merger. We look forward to working with Huron County to achieve the best and most efficient service for both counties.”
Similarly, a working group is being created to further explore a potential merger between the two counties’ Health Units. The group will be comprised of representatives from both Health Unit boards, as well as senior staff from both Health Units.
From that early discussion, the release states, it will then be decided whether or not the group should proceed with a firm merger proposal or not.
“The talks are in the very early stages,” says Tyler Hessel, Bluewater Mayor and Chair of the Huron County Board of Health.
Read more...
 
Attacker May Have Targetted Livestock Truck - March 26 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Shawn Loughlin   
Wednesday, 25 March 2015 14:52
A scary situation played out in the lanes of the 401 West early Thursday morning, as a Brussels Transport truck was the victim of an attack that could have had deadly consequences.
According to Tyler Jutzi of Brussels Transport, one of the company’s trucks was making a run to Quebec over the course of Wednesday, March 18 to Thursday, March 19, bringing pigs to Quebec and returning with cattle. The driver, Jutzi says, was approaching the Thickson Road overpass in Whitby, at approximately 7 a.m. on Thursday morning when he saw a man in an orange ski mask on the overpass.
The events that took place next, according to the driver, seemed to unfold in slow motion, as the suspect dropped a large cement block down onto the cab of the truck.
Jutzi said the driver acted instinctually, raising his right arm to protect his four-year-old son, who was sitting in the passenger seat on a truck ride with his father during his March Break.
Time was on the pair’s side, however, as the rock hit the top of the truck’s cab, denting it and damaging the Brussels Transport sign near the top of the trailer. Had the block been dropped one half-second earlier, Jutzi estimates, the attack could have been a lot more dangerous.
Between early morning 401 traffic and travelling with the flow of cars, Jutzi said, the driver’s options were limited, since he couldn’t simply stop the truck, or change lanes.
The police were called immediately, Jutzi says, and a report was made. The truck sustained minor damage and half of the block was retrieved, as it stayed on the top of truck, while the other half had broken away.
Jutzi says the attack resulted in $2,000 in damage to the truck and he isn’t holding out much hope for catching the culprit because the only description available is a man in an orange ski mask.
“The driver was angry. He’s with his son, taking a ride on March Break and someone disgusting does something like this,” Jutzi says.
While Jutzi says he can’t be sure, he feels it’s possible the truck was targetted because it was transporting livestock.
“It’s hard to think it was random with all of these protests you see around,” Jutzi said.
It’s just a miracle no one was hurt as a result, Jutzi says.
The investigation is ongoing.
A scary situation played out in the lanes of the 401 West early Thursday morning, as a Brussels Transport truck was the victim of an attack that could have had deadly consequences.
According to Tyler Jutzi of Brussels Transport, one of the company’s trucks was making a run to Quebec over the course of Wednesday, March 18 to Thursday, March 19, bringing pigs to Quebec and returning with cattle. The driver, Jutzi says, was approaching the Thickson Road overpass in Whitby, at approximately 7 a.m. on Thursday morning when he saw a man in an orange ski mask on the overpass.
The events that took place next, according to the driver, seemed to unfold in slow motion, as the suspect dropped a large cement block down onto the cab of the truck.
Jutzi said the driver acted instinctually, raising his right arm to protect his four-year-old son, who was sitting in the passenger seat on a truck ride with his father during his March Break.
Time was on the pair’s side, however, as the rock hit the top of the truck’s cab, denting it and damaging the Brussels Transport sign near the top of the trailer. Had the block been dropped one half-second earlier, Jutzi estimates, the attack could have been a lot more dangerous.
Between early morning 401 traffic and travelling with the flow of cars, Jutzi said, the driver’s options were limited, since he couldn’t simply stop the truck, or change lanes.
Read more...
 
Morris-Turnberry Approves Municipal Budget - March 26 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Shawn Loughlin   
Wednesday, 25 March 2015 14:49
The municipality of Morris-Turnberry approved its budget during its March 17 meeting, however exact tax figures are still unavailable.
Morris-Turnberry staff finished the final edits on the budget last month, however announcing how it will affect taxes has been delayed due the education rate not being announced yet.
Administrator Clerk-Treasurer Nancy Michie said that she had received preliminary numbers for the education portion of the tax calculation, but wasn’t comfortable sharing them in open session until she had been told they were accurate. Michie did, however, state that it was lower than the 2014 rate.
The total tax rate increase is 2.5 per cent which includes a municipal increase of 7.25 per cent, a county tax rate decrease of 3.28 per cent and a forecast zero per cent increase for the education rate.
“A residential property assessed at $100,000 will see taxes of $1,578.31, or an increase of $41.55 over the year,” Michie explained.
Councillor Jim Nelemans asked if Michie had any idea when the education rate would be set, and she said she had received no timeline for it. Mayor Paul Gowing asked when the information has historically been availbe and Michie said that this year is much later than normal, adding the education levy had come through on Jan. 22 in 2014.
Deputy-Reeve Jamie Heffer wanted to remind council that just because council is one member short, due to changing deputy-reeve from an at-large position to one taken from the body of six councillors, council shouldn’t stop trying to keep remuneration costs down.
“We adjusted the budget according to [the deputy-reeve change],” he said. “However, I want to make council aware that we do need to be diligent to keep those council expenses in check. I realize that, just the last few months, with new council members, training and all that can go up and eat up more meeting time but from the way expenses are coming in, we need to try and stick to the budget.”
The budget was passed, but opposed by Councillor Dorothy Kelly.
Later in the meeting council made two decisions that maintained the expenses of the budget.
The first was a request from Michie to allow the hiring of a third student for the summer to help with office work as well as going door-to-door throughout the municipality to encourage ratepayers to sign up for the Huron Ready emergency information system.
The system, which automatically calls residents who sign up, can advise people in specific areas of problems such as floods, boil water advisories and extreme weather conditions.
The student, if hired,  would also be shared with the Public Works Department and would be a welcome addition to the municipal workforce according to Director of Public Works Gary Pipe.
Despite Michie agreeing that the third student could be part-time instead of full-time, council was still against the idea, starting with Nelemans.
“I’m opposed to this,” he said. “Maybe a student isn’t that much money, but I’m against it. We’re trying to cut the bills.”
Councillors John Smuck and Sharen Zinn agreed, both citing keeping the budget low as their reasoning.
Council voted to keep the two students that the municipality typically hires and not hire a third.
The second item was the approval of a 2.5 per cent remuneration increase for council members.
While Councillor Dorothy Kelly suggested a one per cent increase, other councillors felt that 2.5, which is close to the Consumer Price Index (CPI) increase, fit them better.
“If you look at the county’s wages, and look at the work we have to do, I think 2.5 per cent is fair,” Nelemans said.
He also thought that tying the increase to the CPI was a good move.
“I think that [following the CPI increase] is a good program,” Nelemans said. “We don’t want a council coming in and having to raise it 10 per cent at once to get on par with other councils.”
Smuck said he had no problem with approving the 2.5 increase but said that council needs to try and cut down on any unnecessary meetings they attend.
“There have been some issues and some meetings where people should not have got paid for what they went to,” he said. “I think we need to look at the meetings we go to.”
Council members approved a 2.5 per cent increase in their remuneration including honorariums and per-meeting pay.
The municipality of Morris-Turnberry approved its budget during its March 17 meeting, however exact tax figures are still unavailable.
Morris-Turnberry staff finished the final edits on the budget last month, however announcing how it will affect taxes has been delayed due the education rate not being announced yet.
Administrator Clerk-Treasurer Nancy Michie said that she had received preliminary numbers for the education portion of the tax calculation, but wasn’t comfortable sharing them in open session until she had been told they were accurate. Michie did, however, state that it was lower than the 2014 rate.
The total tax rate increase is 2.5 per cent which includes a municipal increase of 7.25 per cent, a county tax rate decrease of 3.28 per cent and a forecast zero per cent increase for the education rate.
“A residential property assessed at $100,000 will see taxes of $1,578.31, or an increase of $41.55 over the year,” Michie explained.
Councillor Jim Nelemans asked if Michie had any idea when the education rate would be set, and she said she had received no timeline for it. Mayor Paul Gowing asked when the information has historically been availbe and Michie said that this year is much later than normal, adding the education levy had come through on Jan. 22 in 2014.
Deputy-Reeve Jamie Heffer wanted to remind council that just because council is one member short, due to changing deputy-reeve from an at-large position to one taken from the body of six councillors, council shouldn’t stop trying to keep remuneration costs down.
“We adjusted the budget according to [the deputy-reeve change],” he said. “However, I want to make council aware that we do need to be diligent to keep those council expenses in check. I realize that, just the last few months, with new council members, training and all that can go up and eat up more meeting time but from the way expenses are coming in, we need to try and stick to the budget.”
The budget was passed, but opposed by Councillor Dorothy Kelly.
Later in the meeting council made two decisions that maintained the expenses of the budget.
The first was a request from Michie to allow the hiring of a third student for the summer to help with office work as well as going door-to-door throughout the municipality to encourage ratepayers to sign up for the Huron Ready emergency information system.
Read more...
 
Huron County Economic Development Board, Huron Business Development Corporation May Pool Resources - March 26 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Shawn Loughlin   
Wednesday, 25 March 2015 14:46
The newly-established Huron County Economic Development Board and the Huron Business Development Corporation (HBDC) have agreed to support one another in their efforts to better the county.
At the March 18 Huron County Council committee of the whole meeting, HBDC Past-President Rick Hundey spoke to councillors, asking them to endorse a request for $3 million from the Federal Economic Development Agency for Economic Development on behalf of the Western Ontario Community Futures Development Association.
In addition to asking for council’s moral support of the application, Hundey also made several other recommendations, including the pooling of resources in order to “increase the range and impact of economic development programs and services” in Huron County.
Councillors were very open to the idea, citing a number of positive projects HBDC has been involved with over the years.
Hundey also suggested that perhaps HBDC, with its years of experience, could be brought on as a not-for-profit partner to make application requests. The group could also pass along a short list of its most promising opportunities to the Economic Development Board going forward.
Hundey said that he and the other people involved with HBDC have been “very encouraged” by the steps being taken by Huron County to help foster economic development in the county.
He said that the HBDC would be able to provide knowledge and expertise, but doesn’t have quite as much to offer on the monetary side of things. He said that while HBDC has been able to tap into government resources when it comes to business loans, as far as economic development is concerned, the organization is “kind of poor” when it comes to money.
Chief Administrative Officer Brenda Orchard said that she saw the proposal as a partnership, but that further consultation would have to take place.
Central Huron Deputy-Mayor Dave Jewitt was concerned that a partnership with HBDC could “water down” the pool of money, but Hundey assured Jewitt that’s not what the partnership would be about – it would be about leveraging funds to access more grant money from upper tiers of government.
Bluewater Mayor Tyler Hessel agreed that it was a good idea, but suggested that consultation between HBDC and the Economic Development Board officially occur before any final decisions were made.
Council then made two motions: the first provided moral support to HBDC’s $3 million funding application and the second set up a meeting between the Economic Development Board and HBDC to discuss the potential partnership and how it would work before returning to council for further direction.
Both motions were approved.
The newly-established Huron County Economic Development Board and the Huron Business Development Corporation (HBDC) have agreed to support one another in their efforts to better the county.
At the March 18 Huron County Council committee of the whole meeting, HBDC Past-President Rick Hundey spoke to councillors, asking them to endorse a request for $3 million from the Federal Economic Development Agency for Economic Development on behalf of the Western Ontario Community Futures Development Association.
In addition to asking for council’s moral support of the application, Hundey also made several other recommendations, including the pooling of resources in order to “increase the range and impact of economic development programs and services” in Huron County.
Councillors were very open to the idea, citing a number of positive projects HBDC has been involved with over the years.
Hundey also suggested that perhaps HBDC, with its years of experience, could be brought on as a not-for-profit partner to make application requests. The group could also pass along a short list of its most promising opportunities to the Economic Development Board going forward.
Hundey said that he and the other people involved with HBDC have been “very encouraged” by the steps being taken by Huron County to help foster economic development in the county.
He said that the HBDC would be able to provide knowledge and expertise, but doesn’t have quite as much to offer on the monetary side of things. He said that while HBDC has been able to tap into government resources when it comes to business loans, as far as economic development is concerned, the organization is “kind of poor” when it comes to money.
Chief Administrative Officer Brenda Orchard said that she saw the proposal as a partnership, but that further consultation would have to take place.
Read more...
 
Blyth Native Creates NPO Focused on Ugandan Women - Feb. 19 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Shawn Loughlin   
Wednesday, 18 February 2015 14:22
While the Lulu Tree was first established in June, 2014, the not-for-profit organization founded by Blyth native Emily Wierenga is just beginning to do its most important work yet.
The project began with Wierenga, the daughter of Blyth’s Ernest and Yvonne Dow, taking a blogger’s trip to Africa with the World Health Organization early last year.
It was a short visit, she says in an interview with The Citizen, where she spent three days in Uganda and two days in Rwanda before she returned to her home in western Canada.
While in Uganda, Wierenga met a child her family sponsors. She also met the child’s mother, a peasant farmer, who had walked four hours just to meet her.
It was during this meeting that Wierenga discovered a glaring hole in the mission world.
She could tell that the Ugandan mother had been humiliated with a Canadian having to sponsor her child and it was then that Wierenga wondered about support for third-world mothers and young women.
“My spirit was really troubled by it,” she said.
When Wierenga returned to Canada, she began researching mission organizations reaching out to women in an effort to partner with them, but to her surprise, there weren’t any, so she started one.
The Lulu Project began in June, 2014 and is currently in the process of obtaining its status as a registered charitable corporation. It was created with the slogan “Preventing tomorrow’s orphans by equipping today’s mothers.”
On the organization’s website, which can be found at
www.thelulutree.com, those who are so inclined can sponsor a mother, rather than a child. The aim of the organization, Wierenga says, is self-sufficiency.
Many mission organizations, she says, come with a high level of dependency. The goal of the Lulu Tree is to create independent, equipped mothers who will learn the skills and trades to support themselves, as well as their children.
The sponsorship programs began last month and under the Lulu Tree umbrella there are already four Ugandan women who are beginning to learn the skills to be profitable in their world, with two training to be hairdressers and two training to become tailors. The expectation is that the women will have completed their training by July.
Wierenga says she’s very “anti-white saviour” meaning that with this program, not only is she attempting to equip Ugandan women with the tools to succeed, but she’s also working with a number of Ugandan women to help administer the program in Africa, while partnering with Uganda’s Remnants Haven Ministries, located in the slum of Katwe, creating, for these women, belief in themselves.
She says it was important to her for the program to involve as many local people as possible. There is, however, a Canadian board of directors and an American team working on the project as well.
As the founder of the project, Wierenga oversees the entire initiative, including hiring the Ugandan Staff Mama Esther Natakunda Tendo and the volunteer national co-ordinator Carol Masaba.
Wierenga says she’s far from alone in the project, however, especially when it comes to financially supporting the project.
On the project’s website, there is a shop that is full of products that have been created and are being sold by Canadian artisans. These items, Wierenga says, are all being donated by artisans, who, when they sell an item, donate the proceeds back into the project as the initiative’s only current form of fundraising.
The shop is currently being overseen by Jodie Vanderzwaag, a woman who owned a profitable business before shutting it down to work with the Lulu Tree.
For now, Wierenga says, the shop is a part of the Lulu Tree’s website, but it will gradually be distanced from the website when the organization is granted charitable status.
To learn more about the Lulu Tree, or to get involved, visit the website at www.thelulutree.com.
Emily Wierenga, a native of Blyth and the daughter of Ernest and Yvonne Dow, is seen here on a recent trip to Uganda. It was on this trip that she saw a need and decided to step up, creating the Lulu Tree, a not-for-profit organization based on helping Ugandan mothers to gain the skills to not only care for their children, but to hold down a job in the country.   (Photo submitted)
While the Lulu Tree was first established in June, 2014, the not-for-profit organization founded by Blyth native Emily Wierenga is just beginning to do its most important work yet.
The project began with Wierenga, the daughter of Blyth’s Ernest and Yvonne Dow, taking a blogger’s trip to Africa with the World Health Organization early last year.
It was a short visit, she says in an interview with The Citizen, where she spent three days in Uganda and two days in Rwanda before she returned to her home in western Canada.
While in Uganda, Wierenga met a child her family sponsors. She also met the child’s mother, a peasant farmer, who had walked four hours just to meet her.
It was during this meeting that Wierenga discovered a glaring hole in the mission world.
She could tell that the Ugandan mother had been humiliated with a Canadian having to sponsor her child and it was then that Wierenga wondered about support for third-world mothers and young women.
“My spirit was really troubled by it,” she said.
When Wierenga returned to Canada, she began researching mission organizations reaching out to women in an effort to partner with them, but to her surprise, there weren’t any, so she started one.
The Lulu Project began in June, 2014 and is currently in the process of obtaining its status as a registered charitable corporation. It was created with the slogan “Preventing tomorrow’s orphans by equipping today’s mothers.”
On the organization’s website, which can be found at
www.thelulutree.com, those who are so inclined can sponsor a mother, rather than a child. The aim of the organization, Wierenga says, is self-sufficiency.
Many mission organizations, she says, come with a high level of dependency. The goal of the Lulu Tree is to create independent, equipped mothers who will learn the skills and trades to support themselves, as well as their children.
The sponsorship programs began last month and under the Lulu Tree umbrella there are already four Ugandan women who are beginning to learn the skills to be profitable in their world, with two training to be hairdressers and two training to become tailors. The expectation is that the women will have completed their training by July.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 25 February 2015 15:12
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