Community Papers

Orval Chapman believes all should volunteer if able

A frequently-read copy of The Poverty and Justice Bible sits on a living room table at Orval Chapman’s home.  - Martin van den Hemel
A frequently-read copy of The Poverty and Justice Bible sits on a living room table at Orval Chapman’s home.
— image credit: Martin van den Hemel

Soft spoken and shy, Orval Chapman has quietly tried to make the world a better place through his 45 years of volunteer work in the community.

While locals may associate his name with his efforts to raise awareness about Amnesty International and Oxfam, he’s also helped sponsor more than 30 refugees to come to Canada.

“I don’t like to see people suffer,” Chapman said from his condo, a copy of The Poverty and Justice Bible sitting on a table next to his living room window.

Born in Lashburn, Sask. in 1933, about 35 kilometres east of Lloydminster, Chapman grew up on a farm and moved to Richmond when he was 14.

He worked as a teacher at many different Richmond schools, including Bridgeport and Mitchell, teaching every grade at one point, but mostly Grades 4 and 5.

Chapman first began volunteering with the non-profit poverty group Oxfam after seeing all of the suffering caused by a civil war in Nigeria.

“There were a lot of people starving to death there,” he said.

After attending a meeting at South Arm United Church, he became a part of the local branch of Amnesty International.

Chapman’s passion for volunteerism has waned ever since he was hit by a car while crossing the street, which left him with 45 stitches to his head.

“Most of us here are very fortunate. This is a rich country. I wouldn’t be here without modern medicine. I would like to see a world where people get medical care and a job to do and earn enough to put their children through school.”

For all of the effort he’s put into helping people around the world, volunteerism has enabled him to expand his social network, and meet people with common interests.

He recently helped organize a fundraiser walkathon at Garry Point Park, which raised $2,000 for Oxfam.

During the 1990s famine in North Korea, he was part of a committee that over the course of four years, raised about $250,000.

“I believe that if you’re able, that we should help one another and make a better world.”

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