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November 2021

Alta Vista Lemonade Stand Raises $2000 for Family in Tanzania
By Cheshmak Farhoumand-Sims and Leanne Johnny

What  would  you  do  if  a  widower  friend  on  the  other  side  of  the  world was to write to you to say he can’t afford school fees for his son who now had to leave the village to pursue high school? When the Farhoumand-Sims family received this news from their friend Edward in Tanzania,  the  family’s  four  children  suggested  a  lemonade  stand would be a perfect way to achieve the goal of raising $530 in support of Ramson’s schooling. Their 12-year-old daughter, who is part of the Alta Vista Junior Youth Empowerment Program (JYEP), informed the group of the initiative and they enthusiastically decided to lend support.

August  21,  which  was  perhaps  one  of  the  hottest  days  recorded  in Ottawa, was the date chosen for the lemonade stand. As for the location ... where better than in front of the Alta Vista Park wading pool, always filled with neighbourhood children and their families enjoying a picnic and water play.

Two  days  before  the  event,  organizers  began  spreading  the  word  on  Facebook. Late that evening, Ms. Farhoumand-Sims saw a tag on her Facebook newsfeed ... a message from a Michael Mynott asking her to get  in  touch  to  receive  money  raised  in  support  of  the  fundraiser.  Mr.  Mynott  had  challenged  his  friends  to  pledge  money,  which  he  would  match up to $500.

The  next  day,  Ms.  Farhoumand-Sims  and  Mr.  Mynott  talked  by telephone  about  Edward  and  his  boys,  Ramson  and  Edwin,  and  the  friendship that had developed between this family and the Farhoumand-Sims’ since 2019. That Edward was a hard-working father who was raising two boys after losing his wife, and then losing his job as a safari guide in the lead up to the pandemic.

On the day for the lemonade stand, the kids organizing it were beyond excited and the flurry of activity began. Among the children, Kian Farhoumand-Sims, a budding artist, decided to bring her paintings and clay work to sell, Ishana and Talika Aidroos and their cousin Sonakshi, had  made  beautiful  friendship  bracelets  they  added  to  the  sale  table,  while Carmel and Ben Seleger brought a box of toys and books. Thanks to  parent  Leanne  Johnny  and  her  three  sons  Cameron,  Austin  and  Brendan, there was a big container of cookies. Even young people who were not a part of the JYEP lent support. Emmy Pajnich, a friend from school, dropped off some of her beautiful crafts, and Yausi Kanani, a friend from the Baha’i community, dropped off exquisite cupcakes for sale. And if that was not enough to make for a special day, one of the acilitators of the JYEP, Seema Mullally, a talented violinist, decided she would do a recital at the fundraiser.

Everything was ready for noon, parent Sarita Bhatla was on lemonade-making duty in her home close to the park, and everyone waited patiently for the first customers to arrive. Although not one person was at the wading pool until past 2 p.m., for a solid 3.5 hours straight, a steady stream of friends and neighbours from Alta Vista and the Baha’i community who had heard about the fundraiser on Facebook postings and word of mouth, as well as people driving by, and finally from the wading pool, stopped by and generously donated $2, $5, $10, and even $20 for a 50˘ cup of lemonade, pieces of art, and donated cookies and cupcakes. And it was a very special moment when Mr. Mynott arrived to deliver a cheque for $1050 and enjoy a cup of lemonade.

In the end, the lemonade stand raised just over $2000! It was not only enough to cover the cost of school tuition for the young boy in Tanzania, but it also provided enough for his family to purchase a motorcycle which could be used as a taxi service, providing the family with a livelihood, something Edward had told Mrs. Farhoumand-Sims he was striving for.

On August 27, Edward wrote to Ms. Farhoumand-Sims to say “... I would like to inform you that today I have transferred the school fees to the school account for Ramson for one year, and now looking at the possibility of buying a motorcycle. I’m asking in stores to find the cheapest. I also bought Edwin school clothes, and essential school supplies. My boys are very happy and send lots of thanks to you and your family and community.” Edward subsequently wrote to say that he has bought a used motorcycle and has started to work, and is now without stress.

The moral of the story? The world is smaller than it appears, we are all interconnected, and everyone can make a difference.

Junior Youth Empowerment Program (JYEP) is a program that engages youth 11-15 in seeing and developing their power for self-expression, moral reasoning, and talents and channeling these into social activism and community service. Led by youth mentors, each week the group studies materials to initiate discussions on how to navigate the complex world we live in, resisting the negative forces in the world, and promoting social progress. The Alta Vista JYEP is held every Wednesday from 5-6:30 p.m. and all are welcome. If you’d like more information, please contact Cheshmak Farhoumand-Sims at

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