Pearson Family Africa Award

The Pearson family has had strong ties to Africa for more than three decades. Dr. Terry Pearson was born and raised in Vernon, BC. After receiving his PhD in microbiology at UBC and post-doctoral studies in Cambridge, England, he married Anne and the next day moved to Nairobi, Kenya to help establish a new World Bank funded laboratory for research on tropical diseases. After several years, Terry and Anne moved to Victoria—Anne as a primary school teacher and Terry as a member of the Department of Biochemistry and Microbiology. At UVic, Terry continued to research African Sleeping Sickness for 35 years.

Terry and Anne maintained enduring links to Kenya and now, with daughters Katie Malaika and Lauren Naivasha, spent several more years in Kenya, establishing friendships and collaborations in science and education that have persisted for more than 30 years. It became clear to the family that diseases and lack of opportunity for education were limiting the opportunities for many in East Africa. While in Kenya, Anne established the African Children's Book Box Society, a charity that purchases culturally appropriate books written and published by Africans and distributes these to schools in Kenya and Tanzania. The charity expanded its mandate to build schools, libraries, dormitories and clinics in Tanzania with input and support from daughters Katie and Lauren.

Katie is currently a primary grade teacher on Bowen Island and continues to teach about Africa as a way of establishing an interest in internationalism in young minds. As an undergraduate at UVic, Lauren became involved with the Student Refugee Program of the World University Service of Canada (WUSC). After graduation she returned to Kenya and worked with a Harvard team monitoring the 2009 Kenyan election. She now works for the International Organization for Migration in South Sudan and is much involved with issues involving refugees. Through these experiences, the Pearson family has developed a love of Africa and its people and hope to contribute in a small way to helping student refugees to succeed.

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