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Youth Education Farms

Helping Swaziland’s youth attain knowledge and skills for a brighter future. 

Swaziland is the most AIDS-stricken country in the world per capita, but one Vancouver-based charity is making a difference, one child at a time. “The future for many youth is bleak,” notes Riley Mari, president and founder of Youth Education Farms (YEF). With the help of YEF, though, children of rural Swaziland have an opportunity to go to school and to develop skills they’ll use for a lifetime. 

The organization works with a unique charitable model: money is put into developing local farms, and the return on investment from those farms is then “used to fund children’s education” explains Mari. “Our mission is to create self-sustaining, agriculturally-focused enterprises that will provide local employment opportunities and produce profits that can be distributed to fund the education and basic needs of orphaned and underprivileged children suffering from the HIV/AIDS crisis in Swaziland.” 

“We don’t give handouts,” he points out. Instead, YEF develops and manages commercial agricultural projects in rural Swaziland, and uses the economic returns from these farms to pay tuition fees for orphans who might not otherwise have the opportunity to go to school; those students then attend courses on agriculture, business and goal setting, as well as basic life skills like career planning and AIDS prevention. 

According to the World Bank Development report, growth in agriculture is on average at least twice as effective in reducing poverty as growth outside agriculture. A donation to YEF is one that keeps on giving; by investing in projects that create an economic return your money can have a lasting impact for years to come. Corporate donations can make a big difference, as YEF’s recent partnership with the Justus Parmar Group of Jordan Capital Markets shows. By funding the development of the YEF Cattle Farm (expected to be completed in 2014), the Justus Parmar Group got involved directly with an important project that will generate a sustainable economic return and community employment. 

YEF spends 100 per cent of the net funds from their annual fundraiser on humanitarian development initiatives, while donations from the volunteer Board of Directors cover administrative costs and legal fees.  

Join YEF for its 5th annual fundraising event at Birks Jewelers, September 19, 2014, from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. For more information visit