A woman whose name has become synonymous with compassion is being honoured by the Canadian government for her meritorious acts to support families and children who face poverty and Aids every day of their lives in the Roatan.
Drumheller residents and supporters of the Morgan Jayne Foundation know the name Valerie Nelson well. She is the founder of Familias Saludables in the Roatan. This is the organization that administers the Morgan Jayne Project and has been instrumental in saving hundreds of children by stopping the spread of Aids from mother to child. It operates a clinic and works closely with the Charmont Academy allowing those children a shot at a proper education.
She announced via social media that she would be receiving the Meritorious Service Award from the Governor General in Ottawa later in June at a special ceremony. She is humble and accepts the award for all those who have supported the work she does.
“This is a thank you to every one of you who have helped build Familias Saludables and the Charmont Academy, through monetary donations to help us do what we do, through volunteering to help us get stronger and caring about our families and our children,” she said. “You have saved hundreds of babies, educated thousands on AIDS and other issues, supported women and families, provided an education to 60 children, fed them, dressed them and made them safe, and changed the world of families in a small third world country that many of you have never even visited.”
Fred Makowecki has known Nelson for many years, from when he adopted his daughter.
“It couldn’t have happened to a better person, She has worked her entire life, whether it be in Alberta with adoptive families, up north with indigenous youth, in Africa with Aids programs and now this program,” said Makowecki. "With this, she went here and said ‘wow these children are in a bad state and dying at a horrific rate. I just can’t go home, I have to do something.’”
She has spent more than a decade working in Roatan. The Morgan Jayne Project came on about 11 years ago to support the work. While there have been successes, the work still continues
What is unfortunate is we have been going 100 miles per hour for 11 years and then the economy takes this horrific dive and with it goes earning power for families in the province and business support, so we are definitely short,” said Makowecki. “We are struggling every day just to look after the kids we have in school, struggling to get the formula down to them and the day to day stuff.”
The awards presentation will be held on June 23 in Ottawa. Makowecki says they hope to host her in the valley shortly after this date.
“She’s changed my world,” said Makowecki.