Lorrie Williams – Founder and President of CHES
As a young Canadian teacher who had travelled the world and was looking for a new adventure, I went to east Africa with a friend and found myself the headmistress (principal) of a large rural high school.
One of my duties was to “chase” students home for not paying their school fees. When I returned to Canada in 1985, I set up the Canadian Harambee Education Society (CHES). I am proud of the success of CHES and of its successes: the girls in Kenya and Tanzania who now have better lives, thanks to education.
I joined CHES as a Director in 1991 and served as Treasurer from 1994 to 1998. Appointed Vice-President in 2003, I became the CHES Office Assistant at that time, and continue to serve in the busy CHES office.
Graduated UBC (BA; Teaching Certificate): WWSU (Ed M) I worked for 33 years in public education system, as teacher and administrator. Since retirement, I have volunteered with teachers in training in Zambia and Ghana. I have also volunteered to retrain teachers at a private school in Tanzania, which catered to very poor but bright students. I have recently time spent as a CHES agent in Kakamega, giving me great insight to the life-changing value of a CHES scholarship to girls in Western Kenya.
I have been involved with CHES for over 13 years, first as a volunteer in Kakamega, Kenya for six months and then in Katesh, Tanzania on three separate trips. It is an inspiring and emotional experience to visit the students who have graduated, both who have been fortunate to obtain some post secondary training and those whose lives are productive and purposeful as mothers, wives, working women or community leaders. My role for CHES currently is to recruit volunteers for our programme in Kenya.
I saw the documentary “Educating Margaret” and, inspired by it, got together with my golf instructor, Ginny Golding, her colleague April Stubbs, and ten others to establish the Harambee Charity Golf Classic tournament, with all of the proceeds going to CHES.
I wanted to be more involved in the daily operation of CHES, so applied to become a board member. My role mainly is in fund-raising, with special emphasis on the annual golf tournaments.
I grew up in Vancouver, graduating from UBC and, later the Universities of Oxford and Ottawa. I taught in Tanzania and Australia, but mostly Canada. Retiring in 1999, I became, with my wife Catriona, a safari guide and a strong CHES supporter.
I spent my early life in Scotland and Europe but have lived in Canada since 1958. Graduating from Lester Pearson High School in New Westminster, BC (1961), UBC (1966), The Ontario Teachers College in Ottawa (1969), and UVIC (1987), I have had a career in education in Tanzania, Australia, and Victoria, BC.
I first visited Tanzania in 1969 and since 2001 with my husband Chris, have organized and led safaris and created school partnerships. Volunteering for CHES in Tanzania and Canada combines my passion for Africa and my dedication to the education and empowerment of young women.
Hearing CHES founder Lorrie Williams speak, I was so impressed with her wonderful work with girls that I contacted her in 2000 and went to Kenya as a volunteer in CHES house, where I focused on updating the library. I became a CHES Director in 2002. Until recently, I was a teacher-librarian with the Burnaby School District. Now retired, I am able to volunteer more in CHES’s donated office.
I have been a CHES Director since 1990, serving as Treasurer from 2000 to the present.
After retiring as a high school math teacher, I served as a CHES Agent in Kenya for 1 year (1996-97). I was also able to serve as an agent again in 2000. In 2002, 2004 and 2006 I spent 3 months in Tanzania monitoring the CIDA Projects.
I became interested in the work of CHES after a Tanzanian safari, where I visited schools and saw the great need for education in rural areas. I joined the CHES board after many visits to Katesh, where I worked with students on improving their English language skills. I voluntarily travel twice yearly to Tanzania to work with Tanzanian teachers to implement CHES’s English Immersion program.