The Koopmans family (Facebook photo)

BBQ raises over $3,400 for Bulkley Valley family working at African orphanage

It was franks for farmers this Saturday at Telkwa's Castle Bulkley Valley Home Centre (BVHC).

  • Jun. 16, 2019 12:00 a.m.

It was franks for farmers this Saturday at Telkwa’s Castle Bulkley Valley Home Centre (BVHC).

As part of their annual tool sale, BVCH held a BBQ fundraiser for the Koopmans family, who have been working with Heart for Africa, a faith-based humanitarian organization that focuses on addressing issues of hunger, orphaned children, poverty and education in Africa’s eSwatini, formerly Swaziland.

The event raised just over $3,400, money that will help pay for the costs associated with Maria Koopmans type 1-Diabetes, which are not covered by the country.

Arlyn and Maria, along with their children, have been living in eSwatini since 2012.

“We figured we’d try to help [them] out [because] they were always great when they lived here,” said Travis Nanninga, General Manager at BVHC.

Nanninga explained that what started as a trip to Haiti eventually turned into a seven-year stint in eSwatini after the Koopmans found out from a friend about Heart for Africa, specifically their Project Canaan initiative, a large-scale land development program focused sustainable agriculture and crop production.

They needed everyone from farmers to teachers.

Coming from a dairy farm himself, it was a perfect fit for Arlyn.

But it wasn’t easy.

“They had no milk, cows, they had nothing going — Arlyn started it from scratch.”

But that was then and now — nearly three quarters of a decade later — that farm has 66 cows producing milk, with any surplus being sold to profit the farm.

As of March 2019, Project Canaan has 225 abandoned or orphaned children living at its facilities and employs more than 280 people from the surrounding area.

The program is responsible for providing an estimated 3,640 people with food on a daily basis.

Nanninga added his thanks to BV Wholesale, Paul’s Bakery and The Sausage Factory for helping to supply the food for the BBQ.

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