Burris Devanney enjoyed a full career as a high school teacher and administrator in Halifax but also found or created opportunities over the past half-century to work in seven African countries – Zimbabwe, Nigeria, Chana, Gambia, Sierra Leone, Malawi and Uganda. For nearly 20 years, along with his wife Louanne, he managed an NGO (the Nova Scotia Gambia Association) working in education health and community development in the Gambia. Since retiring from NSGA in 2006, Burris has worked for a few weeks each year as a resource person with the national teachers’ union of Ghana (GNAT) initiating and developing a unique community mobilization program that has now reached 60 villages throughout the country. More recently, Burris has worked with the Uganda Teachers’ Union (UNATU) to introduce the community mobilization into nearly 20 communities in Uganda. Today, the work Burris helped initiate is active in Gambia, Ghana and Uganda.
The Gambia Saga is a Canadian and Nova Scotia Success Story –700 students, faculty and professionals travelled from three Nova Scotia Universities (University College of Cape Breton, Saint Marys University and DalhousieUniersity School of Medicine) to this tiny African Country to improve its education ( they now have university and comprehensive schooling for girls and boys, improved economics, and quality health).
As one of the boat people refugees, Thien escaped war-torn Vietnam on a harrowing journey that landed him in a Malaysian refugee camp. Thien Tang had an ordinary childhood living in South Vietnam until it became a Communist state. His father feared persecution of his family and sent his fourteen-year-old son into hiding for over a year. Upon his return, Thien attended a local high school and found a classmate sweetheart. Life once again was good. But it wasn’t meant to last. Thien was forced to go back into hiding again with no hope of return. Like thousands of others, he fled Vietnam on a crowded boat in search of a new life. But first, he had to cross the treacherous South China Sea to reach Malaysia.
Thien’s ship was attacked by pirates and shot at by police. On land, he and his fellow refugees were jailed, starved, and beaten, but survival only brought on tougher challenges. The soldiers forced them at gunpoint back into their damaged boat to be towed to sea. He sought asylum in the United States but found the refuge he was seeking in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, where he lives today.