December 1, 2013 | By PATRICK CALLAN
Hydronics supplier joins effort to educate children in developing nations.
A Surrey, BC hydronics company is reaching out to its business partners to help raise money for building schools in the developing world. Brian De Jaegher, owner of Raven Hydronic Supply Ltd., came up with a fundraising model that asks vendors to provide one discount on one order per year. His company will then match the discounted funds with its own money and donate the cash to Room to Read’s Vancouver chapter.
Headquartered in San Francisco, CA, Room to Read has more than 50 chapters worldwide. The non-profit organization has opened more than 15 000 libraries and 1 600 schools – benefiting 7.8 million children in 10 developing countries.
“I was reading the Vancouver Sun and there happened to be a whole page article about John Wood and the Room to Read organization,” said De Jaegher.
At the time, Wood – who founded Room to Read in 2000 after a life-changing trek through Nepal – was in town promoting his most recent book. After reading it, De Jaegher raced off to the local library to read Wood’s first book Leaving Microsoft to Change the World.
“It was very exciting to read, very uplifting,” he said.
The book inspired De Jaegher to get involved and raise money for Room to Read.
He has set a goal for his company to raise $35,000 in the first-year – enough to build a schoolhouse in a developing country like Cambodia.
Going forward, he hopes to increase fundraising efforts by bringing more of Raven’s business partners on board – such as engineers and contractors – in order to open multiple schools every year.
Construction of the first school is planned to start in early January 2014 and finish by mid-2015.
“We realize the benefit of education, and none of us would be where we are if we weren’t well educated,” he said. “For us it’s a way to pay it forward.”
Sharon Davis, chairwoman of Vancouver’s Room to Read chapter, is someone who also believes in paying it forward. And, like De Jaegher, she was also inspired after reading Wood’s book – it prompted her to launch the Vancouver chapter back in 2007.
“It’s important for every kid to be educated,” she said.
Davis said in the developing world families often have to pay money for their children to attend school. Millions simply can’t afford it and need their children to work instead. “Families are living on $200 per year and it costs $250 per year to go to school,” she explained.
Thanks to the support of one local donor, Davis said a recent report from an elementary school in southern Cambodia shows eight Cambodian teachers are educating more than 450 students in Grades 1 to 6. In the past six years, her chapter has raised more than $1.5 million for Room to Read – including $400,000 last year alone.
Room to Read strives for not only equal access to education, but also gender equality, she said. A strong emphasis in their schools is placed on breaking down barriers about girls being “second-class citizens.”
“It’s been proven that if you educate a girl you change a lot of things: you change her family, her community, probably her country down the road.”
Having someone like De Jaegher and his company raising money plays a large part in Room to Read’s success because it eliminates the need for large departments of professional fundraisers, she added.