A Good Home, Building a School in Jamaica, Business, Philanthropy

GIVING BACK, BUILDING FORWARD

Giving back — A commitment to philanthropy — runs deep and wide in our extended family. They inspire me, these relatives – the Josephs among them.

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The Josephs have done well since immigrating to Canada, but they’ve never forgotten their beginnings in Jamaica. Ameen and Glenor Josephs started the Kisko company in Jamaica, making and selling frozen pop in long plastic tubes.

They moved company and family to Canada decades ago, and now Kisko Freezies, the largest in the sector, sells frozen juice and pop products in both North American and international markets.  

When Ameen died several years ago, son Mark became president, and continued the company’s philanthropic tradition.

Kisko Team at Kinloss Trelawny

Late last year, Kisko provided money to expand and furnish a school in a poor area of Jamaica. Mark, family and staff also went there to help build it, in partnership with Food For The Poor Canada, a charitable organization that has built dozens of schools in Jamaica, and Helping Hands Jamaica.

The Kisko team members helped build the school in Kinloss, Trelawny, over several days. As you’ll see in their comments below, and in the video, it was a joyful and memorable trip:

Reggie:  “I assisted with putting up the uprights for the roof and building. I was very excited to go back to Jamaica and help to build a school for the Kinloss community. I would do it again.”

Conrad:  “I helped to offload the building materials from the container.  It was a very good experience to be able to help. I would do it again.”

Jennifer: “I helped with the painting.  I was grateful for the opportunity to be able to go back to Jamaica and be able to do this for the children and the community. It was a very moving experience for me to see the smiling faces of the children.”

Here’s video as the school is being built. You may have to turn up the audio a few times, but this story is well worth watching. Congrats to all involved! You inspire us with your good works.

A Good Home, Books, Preserves

Women of Substance – Author Anne Van Burek’s family

Anne Nenarokoff-Van Burek is the kind of woman I’d like to be when I grow up.  The kind of woman who, in addition to being talented at her profession,  knows how to cook, bake, make delicious preserves AND grow orchids!

Blog Photo - Anne et cusine

I’ve tasted Anne’s “poires au vinaigre” – pears with spices — and it’s addictive.

Blog Photo - Annes Preserves

The woman has flair. Anne knows how to arrange flowers, art and furniture in a room (something which challenges me greatly).

Blog Photo - Bouquet -Jardin

Her home is decorated simply and elegantly – in that French way of combining new stuff with old stuff and still have it all look lovely.

Blog Photo - Salle a manger

Anne is as much at home in Paris as she is in Toronto.

Blog Photo - Salon chez Anne

She has a great relationship with her son and her husband.  And as if all that weren’t enough, Anne teaches French, writes for the theatre and has written an intriguing memoir.

Blog Photo - Book Cover

Ariadne’s Thread: The Women in My Family is  a refreshing read.  It tells the story of the remarkable women in Anne’s family, all of whom were born in Russia before the 1917 revolution. They escaped to France, where, Anne says, “they had to adapt to a life radically different from what they had known. When their world collapsed, they could either collapse with it, or reinvent themselves.”

Blog Photo - Ariadne's Thread 1

The women came from a privileged background.  In Paris, they still had their upper-class manners and traditions, but their income and social standing were both drastically reduced. It was a harsh change and one that could have broken their spirits. They chose to survive instead.

From these women – Anne’s grandmother, aunts and her mother – Anne learned values which have guided her own life: “resilience in adversity, self-reliance, frugality”.

I’ve read this book twice. I gobbled it up the first time –  then read it again, more slowly.

I love it for the characters: Anne’s grandmother, aunts (so different from each other), and her mother. And I love it for the small details (such as Anne’s unmanageable reddish hair when she was a girl, and her teacher’s face and neck, among many other skillful descriptions).

Anne's Father and Aunts
Anne’s Father and Aunts

Canada’s story is sometimes described as “a story of immigration”.  All of us have roots – close roots or distant ones – in another part of the world.  Some of those immigrants came seeking better opportunities for themselves and their children.  Some families gave up luxury to gain freedom.  They fled war, revolution, oppression – leaving their privileged lifestyles, loved ones and precious belongings behind.

Whatever our history, wherever our roots, the stories we Canadians tell are often infused with dreams, sacrifice and faith in a better tomorrow.

By examining the lives of the women in her family, Anne’s book offers “clues for a better future”.

Anne Nenarakoff-Van Burek

“If we want a better world,” she says, “we could do worse than turn to a few old-fashioned values and work at putting them into practice. The book is a tribute to the precious heritage I received from people who lived and loved fully, and for whom everyday life was a celebration. I hope they will inspire many.”

Blog Photo - Inka

Ariadne’s Thread: The Women in My Family is available on Friesen Press, amazon and through most booksellers worldwide. You can buy the book in English or in a bilingual version (French and English). Below are the ISBN numbers:

  • 978-1-897018-53-8 is the bi-lingual version
  • 978-1-4602-0721-5 (Hardcover, English)
  • 978-1-4602-0719-2 (Softcover, English)

One last thing:   did I mention that Anne also embroiders?  That’s her work on the book cover.

A talented woman and an interesting book.

Colour Photos by John Van Burek.