Lacombe teacher donates money to help orphans before she dies

Lacombe teacher Gwen Bader had travelled the world to help those in need. When Hurricane Katrina ripped through Louisiana she returned to the state five times to help build homes.



Lacombe teacher Gwen Bader had travelled the world to help those in need.

When Hurricane Katrina ripped through Louisiana she returned to the state five times to help build homes.

She had also been to Belize, Bolivia, Ecuador among other countries to do what she could.

But in her travels she had never gone to Africa and was thrilled that she was to finally get the chance last year with A Better World.

Sadly, she never made the trip. About four months before she would have gone, she succumbed to cancer at age 48.

However, even in death Bader’s compassion will be felt by those she tried to help.

Before she died the former teacher at Lacombe’s College Heights Junior Academy donated money in her will to a project to build an orphanage for 100 girls in Kenya.

Eric Rajah, co-founder of A Better World, visited Bader shortly before she died in Saskatoon, where she was then living.

She asked him to build the dormitory and take some of her former students to Kenya to open it in time for this Christmas.

“So at that moment I had no choice except to say I would do it,” said Rajah, who did not know at that time where all the money would come from.

On Dec. 16, Rajah and 22 young people and sponsors from across Canada will travel to Kenya to finish the orphanage in time for a Dec. 22 grand opening.

The $50,000 project was funded by a number of sponsors including Bader.

Thousands were also raised at a luncheon paid for by Gord Bontje of Laebon Homes, who visited the orphanage last year.

“She has done so many mission trips, all with A Better World, as a teacher. This is a fitting tribute to her life before and after.”

Julia Loxdale, a Canadian University College student, who is going on the mission to Kenya worked as a 13-year-old with Bader in Belize.

Watching Bader hauling buckets of cement up by rope to the top floor of a building they were working on is one of her lasting memories.

“She was amazing and strong and she was a good leader and an all-round awesome person who always wanted to go on these mission trips,” said Loxdale.

“She would be so happy that we were going.”

Belinda Bader is Gwen’s aunt and remembers her niece as someone who loved young people.

“She was dedicated to doing things with young people and for young people.

“(She was) just energetic. She put 150 per cent or 200 per cent of her energies into whatever she was doing.”

Gwen had hoped to devote much of the rest of her life to working in an orphanage in Kenya.

“She would be delighted that a team is going to be over there to open up a dormitory that a lot of young people will benefit from.”

pcowley@bprda.wpengine.com

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