‘We’re a little society doing big things’

South Surrey-based society adds carpentry education to Zimbabwe work

Sue Janetti shows some of the artwork and tablecloths that will be up for grabs at a November art and craft show in Ocean Park. Below

Sue Janetti shows some of the artwork and tablecloths that will be up for grabs at a November art and craft show in Ocean Park. Below

A society working to improve conditions in Zimbabwe is expanding its efforts once again, launching a program to teach carpentry in a converted shipping container.

Sue Janetti, a founder of the Zimbabwe Gecko Society, said a fully equipped workshop is expected to be ready for its first intake of students within four months.

“This is a brand-new program,” Janetti said.

The carpentry workshop will be established in Chegutu. Once complete, the compound it is part of will include a preschool and a sewing centre – all within converted shipping containers – as well as a farming program with a sample agriculture lot for students to practise.

Space between two of the converted containers – 20 feet – will be roofed to create a training/community centre.

“Basically, we’re a tiny, little society doing some big things,” Janetti said, of work underway by the society in the poverty-stricken country she was born in.

“We’ve done a lot.”

Janetti founded the charitable organization Zimbabwe Gecko Society with her husband, Frank, in 2008, to increase support to those hardest-hit by the financial turmoil in Zimbabwe.

Their first project in the struggling country was more than two decades ago, when they built an orphanage to bring relief to families caring for children whose parents had passed away.

In the years since the society formed, the Janettis have helped bring clean water and sanitation to communities in Zimbabwe, as well as the farming program Foundations for Farming, which teaches sustainable farming methods.

Converted shipping containerIn more recent years, they’ve been shipping containers of medical, school and other equipment, along with various supplies, then converting the containers for permanent use.

Each conversion takes five to six weeks.

Janetti said the story behind one container that left for the Karunda Mission Hospital in Zimbabwe on Friday (Sept. 23) has “a bit of a twist” to it.

At a conference in Fort Langley last month, Janetti was offered various medical equipment for Zimbabwe, but when she reached out to organize picking it up, she learned it was in Toronto. After the donor arranged for it to be trucked out west, Janetti contacted a doctor the society works with in Zimbabwe to see about sharing shipping costs of the container. He initially said yes, then soon after had to renege due to lack of funds.

Then, Janetti learned of a free container available in Toronto.

“Basically, it presented itself to me,” Janetti said. “I never actually look for containers. It’s always a different story about why it comes about.

“Our goods, after all, turned out exactly where they’re supposed to be.”

The next container of supplies – collected locally and estimated worth more than $500,000 – is to leave the Compassionate Resource Warehouse in Victoria on Oct. 12.

Janetti hopes the balance of that $21,000 shipping cost – another $8,000 is needed – can be raised by then, but said it will ship out regardless.

It leaves the same day as the society’s annual fundraiser dinner, a sold-out affair taking place at the White Rock Baptist Church. Proceeds from the dinner will help purchase such supplies as Tylenol.

Janetti said her passion for the work in Zimbabwe hasn’t faded over the years, but the fundraising is getting tougher.

Handmade beaded wire geckos that she used to bring home from Zimbabwe to sell have become too heavy a cargo to transport, and will make their final local appearance at an art and craft show set for Nov. 5 and 6 at Ocean Park Community Hall (1577 128 St.), along with other artwork and unique items.

She is heartened by efforts of local children to pitch in, including those of two young boys who collect and package candy to sell for the cause.

“It’s not the money for me from the kids, it’s the promotion of caring for people,” Janetti said. “It’s developing empty, caring and all sorts of stuff.

“It’s nice to see.”

For Janetti, the work has always been about seeing a need and chipping in to help.

“And we do make a difference,” she said.

For others wanting to pitch in, Janetti still needs items for the container conversions, including metal windows and doors; deck screws and self-tapping screws; 12-, 16- and eight-foot two-by-fours; solar panels; and trusses; as well as woodworking tools, fabric, sewing machines and school supplies.

To donate, contact Janetti at zimbabwegecko@gmail.com or 604-531-3654.

For more information on the society, visit www.zimbabwegecko.com

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A heavy police presence was on scene on Dec. 28, 2017 following the shooting death on Bates Road in Abbotsford of Alexander Blanarou, 24, of Surrey. (Abbotsford News file photo)
Three men charged with Abbotsford shooting death of Surrey man

Alexander Blanarou, 24, was killed in a rural area on Dec. 28, 2017

A criminal trial for Robert Boule (inset), the owner of the Smuggler’s Inn, is to begin in August 2021, following a failed application to strike down immigration-act provisions that he is charged under. (Photo courtesy of The Northern Light newspaper)
Blaine inn owner’s challenge of immigration act fails

Robert Boule’s trial on human-smuggling charges set to begin August 2021

A B.C. Ambulance Service paramedic wearing a face mask to curb the spread of COVID-19 moves a stretcher outside an ambulance at Royal Columbia Hospital, in New Westminster, B.C., on Sunday, November 29, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. records deadliest weekend of COVID-19 pandemic with 46 deaths; more than 2,300 cases

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry provides COVID-19 update

A family emerged with a purchase at the Tannenbaum Tree Farm at 5398 252 St in Aldergrove on Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020 (Dan Ferguson/Langley Advance Times)
Christmas tree season is off to an early start

People are ‘bored’ with staying home due to COVID-19 and want to decorate early, farm owner believes

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
B.C. researchers launch study to test kids, young adults for COVID-19 antibodies

Kids and youth can often be asymptomatic carriers of the novel coronavirus

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

A convoy of seven pickup trucks, six of which were hauling boats, makes its way around the Chilliwack Law Courts on Dec. 1, 2020. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
First court date for Fraser River anglers ticketed during demonstration fishery

Convoy of trucks circled the courthouse in downtown Chilliwack Tuesday honking their support

A sign is seen this past summer outside the Yunesit’in Government office west of Williams Lake reminding visitors and members to stay safe amid the COVID-19 pandemic. (Rebecca Dyok photo)
B.C. First Nation leaders await privacy commissioner decision on COVID-19 information

Release of life-saving data cannot wait, says coalition of First Nations

MLA Jennifer Whiteside is B.C.’s new minister of education. She is speaking out against Chilliwack school trustee Barry Neufeld and asking him to resign. (Black Press)
New education minister calls on Chilliwack trustee to resign

Whiteside echoes former minister’s promise to look at options to remove Barry Neufeld

Peter Beckett. ~ File photo
Supreme Court of Canada to decide if it will hear appeal in 2010 wife murder trial

Peter Beckett has stood trial twice for murder in connection with the death of his wife, Laura Letts-Beckett

Most Read