Saturday, May 26, 2012


I am ‘interrupting’ my chronology of the Maori Primary School project to tell you about an exciting event on June 21, 2012: A Southern African Celebration at the Evergreen Brick Works in Toronto, hosted by the Canadian Southern African Network (CSAN).

CSAN is an expanding network of proud Canadians who share a special connection with Southern Africa. Members share a passion for giving back and for having fun. Their broader mission is to empower Canadian and Southern African communities by fostering future leaders through education and goodwill.

On that note they periodically organize fun-filled fundraising events – selecting causes that meet their mandate both here in Canada and in Southern Africa.  This year they have selected the Maori Primary School project as the main beneficiary of this summer solstice celebration at the Brick Works. Mariposa in the Schools, a Canadian charity which organizes cross-cultural programming for students in Ontario will also benefit from the event.

It is going to be a great evening with live African music by Jabulani, drumming by the Rhythm Safari drum circle, traditional and contemporary African dance by Mafa Dance Village and an exhibition of Zimbabwean sculpture from ZimArt’s Rice Lake Gallery. The menu includes some of South Africa’s favourite foods and a great selection of wine from the Cape’s top wine producers.

This would be a great opportunity to find out more about the Maori Primary School project, support two great causes and enjoy summer solstice African-style, in the stunning Holcim Gallery at the Evergreen Brick Works.

There will also be a silent and live auction – which will include a spa experience donated by Ste. Anne’s Spa and Zimbabwean stone sculpture donated by ZimArt.

Tickets for the event, which include dinner, open bar and all the wonderful entertainment, are $175. To find out more or to make a donation to the auction please contact

Hope to see you there!

Next installment soon.

Fran Fearnley

Thursday, May 3, 2012


Meet the Students
When the community leaders for Maori and the five surrounding villages presented a request to my colleague Biggie and I to raise funds for a new school we said yes. Even though we knew it was far more ambitious than anything we had undertaken before! We were impressed by the initiative and commitment the community had already shown in securing land and a site plan. And the need was evident.

Reviewing Site Plan
Shortly afterwards I returned to Canada and started the fundraising. Meanwhile, in Zimbabwe Biggie and his wife, Modest, with a site plan in hand, went about getting estimates for all the materials needed to build the first classroom block. Since we started assisting grassroots projects in 2006 we have always worked the same way. We ask what is needed. Then we evaluate the requests. Once decisions are made we never just hand over money. We source, buy and deliver all the materials and, when needed, hire labour.

Here in Canada the fundraising was off to a good start. Since 2006 Stuart and Victoria Lazier have (until now!) been anonymous angel donors to the projects ZimArt has assisted. And they were the first people I approached to tell the Maori story. The Laziers came on board immediately and their generous donation was what made us feel that the goal to build the first classroom block within a year was actually possible.

ZimArt’s direct fundraising initiatives, which included raffling and auctioning sculptures, were sustained by clients and friends. Some gave the school project a special boost. For example: when friends Jeremy Fleming and Scott Miller held a yard sale last year, 100% of the proceeds went to the school project.

One way and another we managed to reach the top of our fundraising thermometer for the first classroom block last fall and construction started in November 2011. 

Community Leaders - Maori
Join me for the next blog to find out how things have progressed at the school building site since then.

Fran Fearnley