A Q&A With Chris Bray

Introducing…Chris Bray! 

Chris is a Catholic speaker, musician, and author who spends his days travelling across the country, giving people hope by helping them draw closer to Christ. He inspires people everywhere he goes, and from them, he draws encouragement and motivation to grow his ministry.  

He’s partnering with Chalice to speak at the Catholic Educators’ Conference in Vancouver, B.C. But what’s the story of Chris? What’s going on behind that smiling face? We sat down for a Q&A with Chris to get to know the real him.  

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Why Critical Needs are Critically Important

Real talk: maybe you haven’t heard about Chalice’s critical needs program. Or maybe you have heard of it, but you’re less clear on what it accomplishes. In our latest blog post, we’re here to fill in the blanks, and nothing does that better than the story of Meru County’s soon-to-be newest hairdresser.  

Yvonne is studying hair at home in Kenya, and a Chalice sponsor has supported her since 2011. But though she might make haircuts and styling look easy, her journey hasn’t been.  

She, her mother and siblings lived in a neighbourhood that consisted of makeshift homes made from light materials. One night, in December 2020, the family lost everything.  

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Chalice Supporters Made One Family’s Life ‘Beautiful’

Picture Jesmolita, the eldest daughter of three siblings, living near our Orissa site in India. She and her family lived in a small old house, striving to get by on a humble budget.  

In short, it was challenging – at one point, they couldn’t even afford adequate food and clothing. A good education was an even more distant dream.  

Enter Jesmolita’s Chalice sponsor, a kind individual who uplifted the family in their darkest time. 

With their support, Jesmolita started going to school, and her siblings had more support for their education and healthcare, too.  

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A Helping Hand for Marco

When Brother Marcelin first met Marco, he saw a boy who would someday be a great man.  

Br. Marcelin, director of Chalice’s Haiti South site, knew Marco had the potential to accomplish all his dreams. To get there, though, he desperately needed a helping hand. 

Marco suffered from a disease called lichen planus, an inflammatory skin disease that caused itchy lesions in his hands. Everyday actions like putting on shoes or holding a feather were challenging. His mother, Mrs. Marlene, visited many hospitals in the city of Jérémie, but the pricey treatments were out of reach.  

Meanwhile, Marco kept going to school, determined his education wouldn’t be disrupted. 

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An Update On Our Sites in Ukraine

As many of our supporters know, Ukraine is in the middle of a tense political conflict with Russia. Chalice serves three sites in Ukraine: Lviv, Ternopil, and Pochaiv. Sponsored children and their families are safe, and the needs of families have not changed. They’re still dealing with COVID-19 and an increased cost of living, putting them in need of money for food, heating materials, and basic necessities. We are deeply concerned about the ongoing conflict, and we know our supporters feel the same way. Unfortunately, we do not know what will happen until, and if, the situation escalates. We’re monitoring the news closely, and keeping in close contact with all three sites.  

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How Education Breaks the Cycle of Poverty

Since 1992, Chalice has told anyone who will listen about the cycle of poverty. It’s the thing that keeps families poor through generations, and one of our key goals is breaking it.  

We’re big believers that the first step in that process is education. For many in the developing world, education isn’t a matter of enrolling in a public primary school and getting there on the bus. In Zambia, for example, students in rural communities walk long distances to school, and only 55.3% of students pass their grade 9 exams.  

Lack of education and support means kids don’t continue to post-secondary education, limiting the type of jobs they can access. Chalice is working to change that, and by the end of 2022, our Zambian sites want 95% of children to pass grade nine exams and move to the next level.  

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Lucia’s Good Luck at Last

You’re never fully dressed without a smile, and wearing one comes naturally for mother-of-three Lucia. She’s a strong and cheerful woman who will do anything for her family.  

She, her husband Joel, and their three children live near our Samar site in the Philippines. Two of the children are sponsored. In December of 2017, her husband became seriously ill and couldn’t work for almost a year. 

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School Fundraiser Builds Lasting Connection

Thanks to his many years as a school principal, Jason Borkowski is pretty familiar with fundraisers. But this year’s fundraiser at Star of the Sea Elementary surpassed all expectations.   

Students at the Catholic school in Surrey, British Columbia raise money every year through a walk-a-thon. Traditionally, students have fundraised for school needs – playground equipment, new computers, etc.  

Amid COVID-19, Borkowski and his colleagues felt they needed to pay forward their blessings.  

“This year, we really wanted to focus on somebody besides ourselves,” Borkowski, principal of the school, shared in an interview. 

His original focus was on Chalice’s 2021 Christmas gift catalogue. He wanted the kids to learn that even a small amount of money can make a difference, and of course, about donating online.  

Soon after, though, he learned about Grapesyard Education Centre in Nairobi, Kenya, a member of Chalice School Connections Campaign.  

School Connections is one of Chalice’s core programs, pairing schools in Canada with schools in Tanzania and Kenya. The Canadian school fundraises for their sister school, and they both pray for one another and exchange videos. Whether they fundraise $2000 or $20,000, it all contributes to positive change.  

Borkowski’s hope was for the students to see, “There are kids in the world who need and deserve just as much as they [students at Star of the Sea] do,” he said.  

Across all grades, the school embarked on a walk-a-thon and took pledges from donors for Chalice.  

Originally, they planned to raise $20,000, with most of that destined for Grapesyard. 

The students looked at that goal, and it was as if they collectively said: We can do better. 

In total, the classes raised $40,261.28 – more than doubling their goal. 

More than $31,000 of the money is headed to Grapesyard, a truly transformative gift that will pay for water taps, school uniforms, teachers’ tables, first aid kits, kitchen improvements, classroom floors and more.  

Star of the Sea also sponsors two children through Chalice, so some of the money will cover that for the year. The rest will go towards the gift catalogue – with a twist. The students will personally pick out the gifts and learn the value of giving.  

Not only did the school raise money, but it made lasting connections by teaching the students about the issues that affect people in Nairobi. Younger classes learned through stories, while older ones learned about government and economy in Kenya.  

“It became sort of a school-wide study of the area,” Borkowski said. 

He plans to deepen the connection by writing back and forth with Grapesyard, and hopes the fundraiser will help students see the world differently.  

After all, kids from Grapesyard smile the same smiles they do in British Columbia. Joy is joy, no matter which continent you’re on.  

Follow Chalice on Facebook and Instagram for daily updates from our sponsor sites, impact stories, and more! 

Three Quotes from Saints to Inspire Your Resolutions

New year, new you, right? Though every day is a chance for a fresh start, the start of a new year is the beginning of a new chapter, symbolically and literally.  

Whether your resolutions are big or small, or don’t yet exist at all, a bit of heavenly wisdom can always lend hope for the new year. Taking inspiration from the sayings of our favourite saints, we’re sharing three ways to level up your New Year’s resolutions. Bonus – all these saints are from the regions where Chalice serves!  

#1 “If I had a thousand lives, I’d give every one to Jesus.” – St. Lorenzo Ruiz, patron saint of the Philippines 

As St. Lorenzo surely knew, growing deeper in faith is always a great resolution. This year, think about how you can give your life to Jesus a little more. That could be taking in a spiritual podcast* (Bible in a Year, anyone?), going to Mass, or spending an extra five minutes in daily prayer. At the end of the 2022, you can ask yourself: how did I give my life to Jesus this year?   

*Keep your ears open for the first episode of our Chalice podcast, Stories from the Table, at the end of March!  

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Sponsorship Spells Success for Surya

Bleak and desolate.  

That’s how Surya felt after his father passed away when he was just 13 years old. Left living in a rental home with only his ailing mother and younger brother, the future looked hopeless. 

The Chalice Tamil site, however, wasn’t very far from where Surya lived. Soon, he grew acquainted with the site staff, and was accepted into the sponsorship program. Soon, it gave him and his family a new lease on life. 

Surya quickly proved his ability in several disciplines, including sports and mechanical activities. Repairing and assembling materials was particularly fascinating. So, when the time came, he was encouraged to study for a diploma in mechanical engineering. 

And study he did! Soon after graduation, Surya became a final inspector in quality deportment at a tire company. Not only has he risen in the ranks, he’s now one of the most important employees in the company. 

For young people like Surya, the Chalice sponsorship program offers them healing from traumatic experiences.  

“I will always be grateful to my sponsor, whom I hold in high esteem and who helped me learn the value of friendship and solidarity, in the same way, I think all the staff of Chalice for having chosen me for this program,” Surya writes. 

Want to give hope to someone like Surya? Find out more about the Chalice sponsorship program!  

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