Imagine a school … a dream in Somalia where they are rebuilding hope.

Since August 2014, as part of my role at UBC, I have worked with a group of dedicated student teachers, who live (lived) in Dadaab, Kenya – a refugee camp of 350,000 + people. They taught elementary and secondary schools in the camps as they studied to complete their Diploma in Teacher Education. Now, about 87 have graduated with this credential and are certified secondary teachers in Kenya and Somalia. Some have gone onto degree programs as well, and are nearing completion of their program.

Last summer, I had the immense privilege to travel to Kenya and into Dadaab to meet many students and be a part of their pre-graduation celebration. There, I was finally able to meet many tenacious and giving teachers. This is when I met Jama.

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left to right: Jama, Samson (UBC), me 🙂 other science grads

Of course, we had met and communicated many times over email, but here we met face- to-face. We have stayed in touch since that time, and I have learned so much more about the incredible work he is doing in Somalia in his hometown of Kudhaa.

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Jama – Head teacher and Director of Rebuilding Hope – Charity – UBC/ MOI university Graduate 2016 – Science Education diploma

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He has started a school for the local children, where 620 students ages 7 – 15 attend daily, and where just over half are orphaned. He and his team have made a huge difference in the lives of these children, but they cannot do it without our collective help.

Although the on-going cost of sending a child to school in Somalia is $6.00 USD/ month, it is more than many can afford. Yet, we will spend this on a coffee and muffin without giving it much though.

Right now, they are in desperate need of financial support. There is not a single textbook in the school apart from teacher text references. Although there is water, it is not on site, nor is it clean. The water currently comes from a salty open air beach well that is contaminated with assorted debris (this is evident in images on the new website). They have a single toilet for the entire school to use. The school also needs a kitchen to feed students a single noon-hour meal, but presently has none.

The demand for education is very high, but the space allotted for the school is not enough. They are presently re-using former army buildings. They are doing the best they can with what little they have, but I am calling upon you to give what you are able to help them rebuild their hope and keep this dream alive and growing.

I am very pleased to share with you their registered Somali charity – and their newly launched website – to share their successes, strategies and their needs.

Rebuilding Hope – RCO Somalia

The donation link is really easy – goes through pay-pal – (that takes 5% … but it is secure payment). I know that every bit helps. I will write more about the program, and progress. Please share widely!!! d53520b2-b6d0-4d0e-b323-9f6e475aa1ec

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Semicentennial – looking back – looking ahead

The past 5 years have gone by in a bit of a blur. But flipping through the pages here – I see that a lot has changed. My children have grown (grown-up), my boat has lost her sails (it’s a stink-pot now) and I have cracked- my 1/2 century mark, and my job at UBC has taken every spare moment since 2013…

I have been sad to have let this site laps for so long, but I think that I will dust off this ol’ blog and breath new life into ‘er.

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My lovely family and friends – in a celebration of moi! Who knew I could draw such a crowd. Love them all.

Now, other than my dog, I’m the smallest in the house! Sigh. It was bound to happen!

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From Summer to September …

September has always seemed more like a beginning than an ending for me. Sure, the days are getting shorter, and the air has taken on a bit of a chill in the evenings, but rather than and ending to a summer, it’s always been a start. Empty binders, fresh erasers, clean lockers, and new shoes were signs of a new school year. This year, like many previous, my children are of to their respective schools. Now, our youngest son is  half way through elementary, our daughter has begun high school, and our eldest  two sons … well, they’re grown, and they get to decide their own schooling.

For me, as a teacher, fall means new students (along with the worry whether there will be enough registered students to run a course), a fresh course outline with new stories pulled from familiar books. I love the excitement that students bring to each new class, believing that it will be good, not simply another course to get through. I do my best to prove them right. IMG_2006 poet's cove IMG_1863 sailing southern gulf islands salt spring Conover Cove

This fall, it seems that summer is still lingering, teasing with toasty play in the sun. Despite so much that is new and exciting about the fall, I am sad to see the long summer nights slip away, and the chill take ahold so deep that I can’t bear to cleat the sheets to my sails. So in that way it is not just a beginning, but an ending. Last weekend may well have been the farewell to our short sailing season. I’m not yet sure, still holding on hope … I’m not quite ready to winterize; after all, it is still fall.

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Room 35.4 Labours

We at Room are wrapping up our 35th volume with the Labours. We are having an anniversary party and issue launch at the Roundhouse Community Centre in Vancouver on December 9, 2012 at 3:00pm. Do check back with the website to r.s.v.p. Here is a sneak preview with the cover and editor’s letter.

EDITOR’S LETTER

Labours

LORRIE MILLER

Every issue of Room is a labour of love, and for this reason I chose labours as the theme of the final issue in our special thirty-fifth anniversary volume. The volume opened with Journey, followed by Shaping the Spark,

and Duality. Now, Labours, in all its iterations, celebrates the past thirty- five volumes in which Room’s collective members have brought to you the labour of women writers and artists.

In this issue, we present a voice from the past, from the very earliest days of Room—then Room of One’s Own—and a new collective member, a voice from our present and future. It is women just like these who have supported us in our labours, and will continue to do so in the years ahead.

With my own understanding of labour, which includes years of university, my four children (no longer all still children), home renovations projects, my teaching load, and picket-line experiences, I hoped writers and artists would push my understanding of labour even further, and they did. The submissions, in all genres, coalesced around several emergent themes: the labour of writing, conventional and unconventional work, labours of the heart—nurturing, caring, bringing life, and letting go. And in the mix of it all was the messy business of life with all its discomforts.

In researching for this issue, I turned to our archives for inspiration. There I found Eleanor Wachtel, longtime member of the collective in our very early days. We are thrilled that she granted us an opportunity to turn the table and interview her. And given our original name, Dori Luthy-Harrison’s artwork of the same title was a natural fit for the issue.

Many artists and writers, at one time or another, turn to unconventional work to support themselves. Andrea Hoff writes about her work as a nude participant in an artist-driven performance art piece. Amber Dawn, our commissioned writer, presents “Lying is the Work,” in which she turns her astute eye first inward to her experience as a sex worker, and then and then outwards to Room, to the reader, and then to society at large. The work of Bren Simmers, Janette Fecteau, and Anna Maxymiw also focuses on atypical work environments.

Our issue’s cover image, The Other Dress, by Katelyn Di Giulio, with its contrast between an Italian starlet subject and her pattern collage landscape, introduces the tension between work and identity in a shifting landscape. This dynamic is continued in the work of K.V. Skene, Kirsten Donaghey, and Susan Braley. Colleen Young takes us to an elegant and tactile moment of sewing and fitting. Amanda Schoppel continues this thinking around domestic skill and art, in the line knots of her art, in which she brings labouring detail to work that is more than a simple nod to traditional women’s handiwork; it is laborious in itself, refined in its quality, and still loose in its edges. Artist and writer, Monique Motut-Firth tells us about her yearlong art project constructed from her late grandmother’s treasures.

The jobs that women have often expected to take, domestic or service-based, are well represented in our fiction. Debra Martens, who first appeared in Room in 1987, now brings us the plight of a young waitress. Janna Payne highlights the vocal and the silent in a woman worker as she manages work and being true to herself. Vivian Demuth’s poem takes us on a metaphorical vertical wilderness journey.

Stevi Kittleson creates whimsical botanical wonders from discarded irons and pencils. Colleen Gillis takes readers into the workday of a traffic officer, and the work of the heart, caring and nurturing, comes through the fiction and poetry of Eliza Victoria, Marilyn Gear Pilling, Janet Hepburn, and Sadie McCarney.

Liz Laidlaw and Jann Everard both connect to the complexity of bringing about new life, celebrating it, acknowledging its fragility, and also letting go of life all together. The tangle of life is a knot that binds tighter as it is tugged—as there is no easy solution.

Closing this issue are two complementary pieces. Morag Hastings’s photograph The Lioness shows the power and vulnerability in the labouring of an experienced midwife who is a first-time mother. Shannon McFerran’s piece tells her own story of birth, the common miracle that has brought us all here. It is a story that many may know from their own experiences, a story that is not a radical departure, but rather a place that is tangible, real, and a time to reset perspectives on life as she comments on both endings and beginnings.

In this issue, we have a multitude of labours, with one’s hands, hearts, and minds, in typical and unexpected places. I do hope you enjoy the fruits of our collective labours!

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An epic journey with Journey: 35.1

I wouldn’t say, actually, that the journey itself was epic, but the local certainly was. This past spring break, my family and I ventured south of the 49th into Arizona to visit friends and to explore the vast wilds of  the Grand Canyon. Despite being raised on the Canadian prairies, where there is a lot of flat and dry world, despite my exposure to the rich and amazing beauty of British Columbia’s coastal rain forests and mountain ranges, nothing had prepared me for the quality of the Grand Canyon: truly epic.

Along one of our many daily hikes, I hauled out Room, 35.1 ‘Journey’ and read passages to my hiking companions. ‘Mom you’re strange…’ was only uttered once, other than that they listened and rationed water. Journey was a great read on our adventure. Hope you enjoy it too.

We also spent a few days at the Historic Kane Ranch. Amazing … quiet…

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Room Magazine 34.4 and 35.4 news

This past year has been a fantastic learning curve for me with the Growing Room Collective. I took on the role of ads coordinator and assistant editor to Amber Hitchen as she edited issue 34.4, Siblings. The cover is a stunning work, one of a series of pieces reflecting and commenting on the Dionne Quintuplets by  GeneviËve Thauvette, 2009.

 GeneviËve Thauvette, 2009

The stories, interviews, poetry and art within this issue all centre around the theme of Siblings in the broadest sense of the term. A peak into the issue and editor’s letter  is here: Room.

With the release of 34.4, and the conclusion of our 34th volume, we enter into the production of our 35th Volume. The first of issue, Edited by ClĂ©lie Rich is themed Journey. It will prove to be a lovely issue (I’ve had a sneak peek). The following two issues will include our contest issue, and an open themed issue. (Each of these issues will have themes that emerge from the submissions, contest winners, and through the editing process, but not from a prescribed call.) Concluding the 35th Volume, will be our Labour issue, 35.4, which I am editing. I am thrilled to take on this issue–labour with all its connotations. Please pass along the call below to all you think may be interested.

CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS:

Room is Canada’s oldest literary journal by, and about women.

Room is a space where women can speak, connect, and showcase their creativity. Each quarter, for 33 issues, Room has been publishing original, thought-provoking works, by emerging and established Canadian women writers and artists that reflect women’s strength, sensuality, vulnerability, and wit.

Theme for 35.4: Women’s work, unionization, the work we do freely from our hearts, birthing a child into the fresh air, all of these things are connected. Room’s issue 35.4 will address and celebrate the completion of our 35th anniversary volume with the theme of Labour.

Room is looking for original, unpublished art, fiction, creative non-fiction, and poetry that explore all iterations of women’s labour, from a labour of love, birth labour, the labour movement, traditional and non-traditional women’s labours—we want to see them all.

(To see what kind of work we publish, check out our current issue, 34.4, Siblings, featuring new work by Elizabeth Hay, or any recent back issue available from our website.)

Please submit to the attention of Lorrie Miller by May 30, 2012.

For full submission details (how and what to submit), go to our submission page. 

ADDITIONAL ART SUBMISSION INFO: send us you most engaging work. These are not images to illustrate the literature, but submissions of their own standing. Submit up to four images (maximum of 1MB sized JPG or PDF) with a short paragraph about the work of art including: the title, size, medium and date. Please include a cover letter as stated in the general submissions page (above). All art submissions should be sent to arteditor@roommagazine.com, (include submission for labour issue and your last name in the subject line).

Newsroom: to stay current with Room’s calls and events, sign-up for our newsletter.

For Queries: contactus@roommagazine.com

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Summer is gone, Fall is here, and Winter soon to follow…

For some reason it has taken me until November 2nd to come to grips with the presence of fall. I have had an explosive All Hallow’s Eve, my yard turned into a temporary cemetery, my home turned into Witch’s Inn. And that is just the start!

Then there are the children … namely my children:

He seems calm and sane enough here… but …

And then my darling daughter has taken on the persona of her favourite, rather unfortunate, childhood literary character:

 

 

 

 

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