Category Archives: lorrie_miller

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.


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.


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



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.


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!

family smiles.jpg

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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.


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, (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:

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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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Our Maiden Voyage into Howe Sound

“Did you ever think that you, a prairie girl, would be sailing her own boat on the ocean,” wrote my childhood best friend on my facebook album.

Not in a million years. But then again, I haven’t lived on the prairies for over twenty years … And I’ve been next to the sea nearly as long as I lived with a horizon that went on forever and wind that went on longer than that.

This summer we became sailors. Okay, still becoming … but it has been wonderful, whether it has been simply sailing around the bay, tied up at Snug Cove, or anchored at Gambier Island.

Dinghys are for kids who won’t behave… set adrift in 0 knots of wind … they didn’t get far.

Happy weekend sailor.

Scuba Finn.

Keeping watch out front.

My handsome sailor!

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When Vancouver kids Visit Moose Jaw (Saskatchewan)

Twenty years ago I came to Vancouver to go to grad school at UBC.  I never left, Vancouver that is (I did, however, finish my graduate studies). To me, Vancouver was a postcard perfect place, so why would I ever leave? The weather is warm(ish) all year round, so much so that parkas are relegated to skiing or snow-shoeing. Cold is ten below, not thirty … No one has to plug in their car, unless it is electric. So there is no need to dangle an extension cord from house to tree to parking spot to attach one’s block-heater; our cars don’t have block-heaters. There are almost no mosquitoes, not really, not prairie mosquitoes who feast like starving vultures on unsuspecting children. And the wind … well, it’s light, predictable, and infrequent. But what about the rain, people ask … it makes things green, I say, and besides you don’t have to shovel rain.

The first week of our summer vacation, I took my two youngest children aboard a very small and movie-barren flight to Regina where my parents greeted us and drove us all back to Moose Jaw, the city I grew up in. The first night it was thirty-three degrees, the wind shrieked around the trees and lightning lit up the night sky in a blaze of fire-works. It was fantastic. Far more drama than what we are used to at home, and for me, it smelled and felt like my childhood. For the kids it was a great and fantastic show.

All that was familiar to me, is exotic to my children … a giant concrete moose …

… wind that drives the leaves of a tree sideways,

And horizons and sky like no other.

New to them were pocked roads, insect spray, and gopher holes. Finn found three gophers too, but they wouldn’t sick around for a photo. And then they walked my dad’s dog Twinkle.

We took them to the Natatorium where I’d cool off as a child on scorching summer days.

But mostly, being there was about the people, not about the landscape, the weather, or tourist attractions (which they have quite a few). This trip to the ‘Jaw’, was about connecting with our prairie roots, reminding them where some of their people are from.

It is good to be from Moose Jaw, from Saskatchewan; just as it is good to be home here in Vancouver.

(A link to more 2011 Moose Jaw Photos here.)

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