June Fedorchuk

June Fedorchuk

June Fedorchuk was born in Alberta, Canada in 1936 and became a psychiatric nurse at the age of 18. She later married Mervin Fedorchuk in Edmonton, Alberta. June and Mervin’s first-born of 5 children, Terry Fedorchuk was a healthy, happy baby and a compassionate child. Terry often defended and protected his classmates when others would bully them, many times taking them to his own home on difficult days until their parents could come to pick them up.

At 10 years of age, Terry began to experience an inexplicable pain in the right side of his face. At the age of 11, the doctors diagnosed him with cancer. The next 2 years were filled with a series of radiation treatments, chemo therapy and very little hope of a cure. When he was deathly ill, his father sat beside his bed, started to cry and said to Terry, “If I could change places with you, Son, I would do it.” Terry then reached for a Kleenex and gave it his father and calmly said, “Dad, if you or Mom or one of the other kids had to be sick, I am glad it was me because I CAN TAKE IT.”

With June at his side, in the summer of his “Grade 7” year, Terry passed away at St. Mary’s Hospital in New Westminster, B.C., Canada.

Terry’s life here on earth, although too short, has left an incredible impact on his family and friends for generations to come. His courage, his faith and his unbridled optimism made it possible for his family to cope with his suffering and eventual passing on August 18, 1970.

Over the years, Terry’s courage had inspired June to be courageous in her work and in her life. She felt committed to continue his legacy of helping the less fortunate and the downtrodden, and worked on the streets with the homeless, helped heal families affected by alcoholism and founded and ran a home for adults with special needs.  She did all this with the same faith and optimism that Terry had.

Soon after her retirement, her daughter gave her a birthday present – a small sum of cash to be used by June in any way she wanted – in the cause of helping others.  June took the money, and went off to Guatemala to work at an orphanage, sanding down and painting desks a bright yellow and red, cleaning, and doing whatever they needed. Eventually, she headed off on a small boat and met a Mr. Kamal Jahanbein. His NGO, Kamal Foundation was the school building organization that CAFRED founders, Mauricio, Eduardo and I had volunteered with. She told him of a community she had heard of that needed a school in a far away village and they both went to see the site.

June fundraised and worked with Kamal Jahanbein and CAFRED founders on the school building project in 2008 in Rio Dulce, Livingston, Guatemala.

On her way back to Vancouver from a trip to the finished school in Guatemala in January of 2010, she visited us in Washington, DC. It was at that time that she told me the story about her son, Terry. On that same visit, I showed her the photographs that Mauricio and I had taken of our proposed project in Rio Frio, San Vicente, El Salvador. When she saw the pictures, she exclaimed, “that’s my school! I can do this project!” After that, she committed to be the principal donor.

I could not resist naming the school after Terry as I never forgot his story. I thought his story would be an inspiration to the children – and an example of the power and dignity of children. I told the community school board about June and Terry and asked if they would consider renaming the school, and they immediately agreed. (They joked only at the prospect of having to learn to pronounce his name:  “Terry Allen Fedorchuk”!)

I wanted June to be surprised by the name change when she came to the Inauguration so I asked her daughter in Canada if we could go forward with the idea. With Tracey’s and her siblings’ permission, we then approached the Salvadoran Ministry of Education.

To their credit, the Salvadoran Ministry required that we make a formal case for the proposal. After receiving the required paperwork from both CAFRED and the community of Rio Frio, they said that the decision would have to be approved by June, and that the approval would have to be in writing, with her signature attached. I told Tracey right away, as time was getting short, and she drove to her Mom’s to get her approval. After seeing the proposed school emblem with Terry’s name and the flag of Canada emblazoned in the crest, and a good cry, June wrote the letter to MinEd.

With June’s letter in hand, the Salvadoran government approved the name change.

-Gary Urra, CAFRED President

A Special Day

On the following Saturday, the town of Rio Frio  was abuzz with activities.

Centro Cultural Pablo Tesak collaborated with CAFRED to put on a show with giant puppets, “Pan” and “Chan”, art workshops and mask painting for the children,  and a genuine batucada!

…and mural painting!

The competition got heated as the CAFRED team volunteer artists painted the mural on the opposing wall of the school: San Salvador Caricature Artist, Daniel Diaz interpreted and laid out a take-off design previously used at CAFRED’s El Olimpo School (orginal design by Glasswing International).

             

While all this was going on, Pablo Tesak Cultural Center was holding a workshop for the ladies of Rio Frio in the fine art of making basil-infused “pan” – a lost (or at least, “endangered”)  tradition from the Mayan culinary world! (below left) …and CAFRED volunteers were making American-style hot dogs (below right) with a Salvadoran touch – a delicious topping of pickled cauliflower and carrots and cabbage!  Yes, there was something for every taste!

 
                       
 
At the end of the day, we kicked off our shoes for a well-deserved respite!
 
 
(A note to Centro Cultural Pablo Tesak and its many talented people): Thank you to all of you! We are especially indebted to our dear friends, Ildiko de Tesak (President of CCPT, humanitarian and promoter of the arts) and Antionieli Chicas (Salvadoran Cultural Promoter) who put this together with 48 hours advance notice and for making an unforgettable day for one tiny forgotten – or almost but no longer forgotten! – community on a dirt road far from public transportation and all such luxuries that many take for granted, such as electricity and running water – but now filled with hope for a better future through CAFRED’s initiatives and a little help from our friends – actually a ton!  It’s amazing what a little TLC can do for people – for all of us occasionally need the human touch, a word of kindness and a day to make our troubles seem far behind, and to know that someone cares about us. This entire project from start to finish has truly been a remarkable work of  love and dedication by so many (more on that in blogs to come) …
 
Thanks from CAFRED (Central America Foundation for Rural Education Development)
 

First Painting Party

  CAFRED delivered the brand new school to the community, the culmination of two years of planning and collaboration among the municipality of San Vicente (Mayor Medardo Lara), the Ministry of Education Director for San Vicente (Lic. Candido Campos), the community and CAFRED. … Continue reading

First Painting Session – Meeting at McDonalds

The construction of the school in Rio Frio having been completed and handed over to the community, the last pre-inauguration stages involved the painting of the school and pre-inauguration celebration, taking place on two back-to back Sundays and involving the entire local community of Moms and Dads and students from the four towns that the school serves: San Jose Rio Frio, San Bartolo Chamico, San Romero and Llanos de Achichilco, and over 100 volunteers from San Salvador (a 64 km. drive). Some of our CAFRED crew met at McDonald’s for the first painting session (basic blue and white – the national colors of El Salvador) and headed off from there.