Alumni Magazine of Cuso International
past and present
Welcome to Catalyst! In this fully online edition, we take you back to the roots of the organization, investigate current challenges facing the international cooperation sector, and share programming success stories from alumni and volunteers.
Cover: Innovation Fund project, Cameroon
Photographer: Brian Atkinson
Looking back, shifting forward
Where have we been, and where are we going? These questions are very much on my mind, and they are the questions we explore in depth in this edition of Catalyst.
Over the past year, Cuso International celebrated its 60th anniversary. It has been an opportunity to look back at where we began as an organization and how we have led with our principles to drive change and support communities around the world over many generations. It has also been an opportunity to take stock of the challenges facing our organization and the international cooperation sector, and to look at how we can adapt, re-visit our priorities and values, and shift within an ever-evolving world.
I invite you – our Cuso community – to join us on this journey of reflection and transformation. To begin, we hope you’ll read through this issue, delving into Cuso’s past in “Grounded in compassion and global understanding,” and looking at some of the bigger questions facing Cuso in “Exploring the possibilities.” We also share stories of our volunteers past and present, with a focus in this issue on Tanzania and successful agribusiness projects led by our partners and supported by our volunteers.
Cuso is an organization with a strong history, and it’s with this solid base – made up of our dedicated community of alumni, volunteers, donors, partners, and staff around the world – that we can effect meaningful change. We are grateful for your support, and we hope you’ll continue to stand with us as we work to create a more equitable world for all.
CEO, Cuso International
Grounded in compassion and global understanding
Early volunteers reflect on their pivotal experiences and the founders who shaped an organization.
Exploring the possibilities
Current and former Cuso staff, leaders, and volunteers delve into some of the issues and challenges facing international cooperation.
Village life invigorated by successful coffee strategy
Over the course of a decade, Tanzanian farmers have reshaped life for their families through a sustainable and profitable coffee business.
Sowing seeds for future growth, improved livelihoods in Tanzania
The Kizimba Business Model engages women and youth in agriculture and agribusiness opportunities.
Who do you recognize in this photo? Help us dust off this memory by sharing your stories or identifying those in the photo. Please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Submissions will be shared via the next edition of Catalyst.
Flashback from the last issue: Who did you recognize?
"Picture in the Fall 2021 edition of Catalyst is taken at Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Nigeria, at the Hausa language training for those of us posted to Northern Nigeria. Certainly, recognize the ones who shared my experiences in Kaduna. I am the one kneeling in second row, second from right in dark glasses. My two roomies are in the back row, Murray Thomas and Doug Longson, third and fourth from left. Our neighbours were Rod and Bev McCloy, second row (sitting) third and fourth from the left. Then of course there is Graham Hart, second row (sitting) third from right, and Eleanor Hart, third row (kneeling), third from left. Made some great memories with these guys."
— Mark Chin-Yee,
Paying tribute to incredible alumni and their vital contributions
Stanley R. Barrett
Stan sadly passed away October 19, 2021, at age 83 from a heart attack. He was a secondary school dropout and teenage rebel who by some strokes of luck became so enamoured of higher learning that it evolved into a PhD and his life work. This work was also very much influenced by his Cuso experience teaching secondary school in Ohafia, Nigeria, and his extensive travels during school holidays to many other parts of Africa.
He spoke often of one trip to Timbuktu and perhaps there are former Cuso volunteers out there who remember that trip. Stan retired from the Department of Sociology and Anthropology, University of Guelph, as Professor Emeritus in 2003. In his 35 years of teaching, he published many books on racism, power, and equality issues, which passed through the hands of students, scholars, and the general public.
He lived for his family, including daughter Mia, son Jay, wife Kaye, and two grandchildren, along with his wide extended family and many lifelong friends around the world. He will also be missed from the squash and tennis courts and his beloved hiking trails in the Pyrenees.
John Davies passed away peacefully in Antigonish, Nova Scotia, on March 30, 2021, at age 87.
John was born in Burnaby, British Colombia, on August 5, 1933. He lived his early life in Burnaby Central Park where his father was the park manager. John became a pharmacist and owned the Central Park Pharmacy in the ‘50s-‘60s. In 1969, he went with Cuso International to be government pharmacist for the Government of St. Lucia. At the Cuso orientation in Antigonish, he met Denise Chiasson, who was a teacher in Barbados with Cuso. On their return to Canada, after exploring South America with backpacks, John and Denise married in Halifax in June 1972. This was the beginning of 45 years of international travel, work, and living and raising their family.
John received his master’s in public health from Colombia University in New York and enjoyed the city with his family. Four years at the University of Hawaii resulted in a doctor of public health with a specialization in maternal and child health and social marketing. International health projects took him to Sri Lanka, Papua New Guinea, Indonesia, Pakistan, Namibia, India, Afghanistan, Mexico, and the United States.
John moved to Antigonish in 2010 for his retirement with Denise and her family. He enjoyed travelling, learning new things, hiking, gardening, reading, writing, music, and storytelling. He was a supporter of the environment and climate change. John was a loving father and husband. He lived an enthusiastic life and continued interest in learning throughout his life.
He is survived by his wife Denise (Chiasson), son Nalin Davies, Antigonish; daughter Caroline Davies, Vancouver; sister Joan Davies, Surrey, British Columbia, and predeceased by his brother Roy Davies, Galiano, and his parents, George Watson Davies and Caroline Davies.
It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Roy Fischer on August 13, 2021, at the age of 81. Much-loved husband of 44 years to Linda Fischer (née Bean), Roy joined Cuso as a teacher in Nigeria (1962-1964) after graduating from the University of Toronto and McGill University, and later served as field staff in Uganda and Nigeria from 1970-1974. He was a recipient of the Queen’s Silver Jubilee Medal, recommended for his service to Cuso. His time with Cuso was an important and influential time in his life, full of adventure and life-long connections.
Roy’s life journey took him to many interesting parts of the world and his influence on people was profound. He had many wonderful relationships with friends and colleagues over his lifetime and he will be remembered as a man of faith, honour and integrity, a true gentleman. He is an example of a life well lived
It is with profound sorrow that the family of John Gruszka announces his passing on October 10, 2021. John is survived by his wife and life partner of 50 years, Fernanda (Fern), daughter Jessica (Ryan Admiral) and grandchildren, Jackson, and Ivy; son Stefan (Jo-Anne Huculak) and grandchildren, Maya and Lauren.
Upon graduation from the University of Waterloo, John and Fern were married and immediately set out on a two-year volunteer placement with Cuso in Tanzania. There, John worked as a fisheries biologist and instructor, becoming fluent in Swahili, and experiencing many adventures in several African countries.
An incredibly proud and loving father, John will be remembered for his great sense of humour, his unfailing integrity, his loyalty, and his perpetual willingness to help others.
Frederick Walter “Fred” Popowich, 74, passed away Friday, August 6, 2021, in the Aberdeen Hospital, New Glasgow. Fred and his wife, Coreen, went as Cuso volunteers for two years to Nigeria, where their first son, Simon, was born. Upon return in 1973, they moved to New Glasgow where he worked as a librarian at PARL until retirement in 2013. Among Fred’s interests were gardening, playing the accordion, genealogy, volunteering at the Museum of Industry, and sports, especially his Canadiens and the former Montreal Expos. Fred will be missed dearly by his family, and many friends and colleagues around Nova Scotia.
Latin America and the Caribbean, 2021-2022
#IamCuso because as a physician and researcher I have a passion for helping others and care about the well-being of communities and volunteers working abroad during the global COVID-19 pandemic.
Marcelina Martine Lubuva
#IamCuso because I have the opportunity to support women and youth in their quest for knowledge and skills in agribusiness, enabling them to generate an income and improve their lives along with the lives of their families and communities.
Marcelina Martine Lubuva is volunteering as a horticultural expert and farm manager in Morogoro, Tanzania.
When I was finishing my MA at the University of Waterloo in 1968, I saw my life as a fork in the road. I took the riskier route and was accepted by Cuso to become a teacher in Trinidad. I ended up in the Planning Department, a role I continued upon my extension with Cuso in Guyana.
My best buddy did continue as a teacher in Trinidad, and based upon his experience, I published my first travel article in Canadian Teacher magazine. I then continued my passion with travel and went on to publish a variety of travel articles, and more than 20 travel books. So, thank you, Cuso, for providing me with my life's path.
An earlier version of this submission was mistakenly attributed to Peter Ackhurst rather than Bill Dumont.
At long last, a 16 mm movie made in Malaysia about forestry there where I served as a Cuso volunteer after graduating from UBC has been put on YouTube featuring—you guessed it: ME! I am sharing it with you to prove to Mr. Fry that I really did do “bush” at one stage of my career in the tropical jungles of Malaysia. Malaysia from 1971 to 1974. Enjoy!!
Nancy Christine Edwards
My self-published book, Not One, Not Even One: A Memoir of Life-altering Experiences in Sierra Leone, West Africa, has now been released by FriesenPress. Hard cover, soft cover, and e-book editions are available on-line from the FriesenPress Bookstore and will soon be available on Amazon.
Proceeds from book sales will be contributed to international development organizations (including Cuso International), which support the education of girls and women in lower-income countries. If you would like me to join your book club or another interest group to provide a reading from and/or to answer questions about my memoir, let me know. I can be reached at email@example.com
I am a former Cuso volunteer and was positioned in the region of Walewale, Ghana, as a Livelihoods Development Advisor. Now I have authored a book relating to my experiences of West African countries. The book discusses the cultural observations, gender issues, religious and political context, corruption issues, security, climate change, dating/marriage culture, etc. It also looks at everyday challenges of the resident population due to ongoing conflicts.
I hope it can provide value to those interested in understanding everyday life in Ghana. I have opened up to all my very personal and intimate experiences while living in Walewale, and ways to adapt to the country. The book is titled Life Beyond Bullets: Memoir of Life in rural Afghanistan and West Africa. The book is now available at Chapters (Canada), Barnes & Noble (USA), Waterstones (UK), and other prominent stores around the world. It is also available on Amazon globally.
Here is a link of the book website for further info:
Kid on the Go! is my new memoir about my childhood and youth, up to 1968 when I departed for Malaysia with Cuso. You can order it on the site or from your local Chapters/Indigo, through independent bookstores and Amazon.ca. It’s also available from libraries that have access to the Ingram Book Catalogue. See places to purchase the paperback or ebook on my website.
You will find a good description and a number of prepublication reviews on my writing (and my 53 funny illustrations) on this link. I hope you will read it and be entertained. Let me know what you think.
Claudia L. Radmore
I am a former cooperant (as Claudia Brown) in Port Vila, Vanuatu, between 1986 and 1989. I am working on a project around Vanuatu weavings, an exhibit which I am discussing with representatives of The Mississippi Valley Textile Museum in Almonte, Ontario. It would involve a written element. I am a writer, a retired teacher. I would love to hear from anyone who has worked with Cuso in Vanuatu at any time, especially if you have your own collection of mats and other textiles woven there. firstname.lastname@example.org claudiaradmore.com
Back in the early 1980s, my buddy Edward Hamel and I were two of many young Canadians who went off to Nigeria under the auspices of Cuso; we left Canada in August 1983. We have kept in close touch ever since. We decided in the fall of 2019 to embark on a venture to collect and edit as many of the stories of Cuso Nigeria as we could. The result, some seven months later, was the online release on blurb.ca of Cuso Nigeria: True stories by Canadians who were there. The book and the stories were well received. We decided late last year to take on a second volume. This too has recently been published, also on blurb.ca. The second book, More true stories about Cuso Nigeria by Canadians who were there is written by 50+ former Nigeria cooperants from the 1970s and 1980s.
We should note that, true to the Nigeria experience itself, we are making no money on this book! These were true labours of love, and the profit level has been set at zero; the book price is set by blurb.ca and is actually quite modest for a quality volume.
Wishing you all the best, Marc Shaw and Edward Hamel
Arthur Shears, a Cuso volunteer in Nigeria, 1971-73, and Field Staff Officer in Ghana, 1975-77, has written a memoir and is seeking beta readers. The memoir, Overseas Adventures – From Afghanistan to Zambia and Points In-Between, describes his experience in 16 different countries from 1971 to 2021. Beta readers provide feedback on the draft. Arthur would like to get at least one alumni from each of the last five decades, the ‘70s, ‘80s, etc., to respond to the questionnaire he will send out. If interested, please contact him at the address below and indicate what years you were a volunteer and where, and whether you would prefer the .pdf or .epub version of the draft. email@example.com
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