Must-See Schools for Burkina Faso Fundraiser @ The Rock House in St. John’s

Tonight in St. John’s there is not only one of the best showcases in local music, but also a fundraiser in support of a fantastic cause — to build a primary school in Burkina Faso.

Kieran O’Connell spoke with organizer Ian Vardy regarding why he chose this particular cause, how we can show support, and the importance of transparency in humanitarian efforts.


Tell us a little about who you are and what you do?

Haha. I always find that question difficult, yet totally understand it’s the best place to start. My name is Ian Vardy, I do some things. I think people may recognize me as the photographer behind A kind of highly stylized document of the indie music scene over the last several years. I’m also the son of Cal Vardy, a great man who passed away in July of 2014.

Could you tell me about what lead you to put this event together?

My family and I feel like an entire year stopped, except, to gratefully spend the remaining time with my father. Since part of 2013 and most of last year I spent visiting a hospital, then spending the last part of 2014 mourning, I went into 2015 knowing that I would create purpose and something positive. This led me to honouring my father’s life in education, which led me to and their experience with building schools in the third world. This led to fundraising as part of a team, which in turn started this event. Personally though, with my love of this music scene and the people in it, the first event I knew I would do, was this show.

Why Burkina Faso?

Well, I was drawn towards Burkina Faso; I was inspired by it and knew of it. However, what really made sense was that it has a very clear need for humanitarian efforts surrounding education. It has the highest illiteracy rate in the world at 78%. No country has reached financial stability without achieving a literacy rate of around 40%. So that led my focus and created a passion in me. There is a lot of work to do in many places; I just want to start to do some of it somewhere.

People can learn about where their donations are going at – why is it important for humanitarian efforts to keep transparent finances?

Speaking generally, people have a lot of options, maybe too many, it is important to build a trust with people who believe in a cause enough to donate to it. One of the ways to do this is to be forth coming with what portion of a donation is going to administration of the effort and what is going towards the effort directly. People can then make an informed decision based on being comfortable or uncomfortable with that break down. I am personally comfortable with the break down; I am glad I pay for my own plane ticket for example and that accommodations are via a family that will volunteer to take me in, thus leaving a high portion of a donation going directly to school building.

I know this is a little off topic, but while we are on humanitarian efforts. I would like to encourage your readers, if they wish, to read up on other things going on within efforts and aid today. Microfinances; probably check out Garmen bank and any YouTube lectures by Muhammad Yunus. Being a director of information technology, I have a soft spot for all the amazing things being done in the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. So check that as well.

This show has a stellar line-up, did you envision getting this specific line-up initially? If so, why?

YES! I started knowing I wanted to do a show that reflected the diversity of the indie music scene here. That is the why. It was pretty easy after that to get it to fit. The groove and melody created in Slick Nixon, that surf rock of Jonny and the Cowabungas, musician’s hip hop, sick rhymes / beats of Hear/Say and the brilliant rhythm choices inside of indie folk/rock Green and Gold: It just shows off this city so well. I’m very excited and grateful to these bands donating some time for this cause. I am of course, also grateful to Tony Murray of the Rock House for enabling it to happen.

Can we expect more fundraising events for this particular effort?

Well actually, I have an online auction running until mid-May. Some really talented artists and kind local business owners donated great items. Just to name a few; Jud Haynes prints, a Snack Paintings Original, The Adelaide Oyster House, The Club and Moksha Yoga. That is online now; you can find it via the In Memory of Cal Vardy, Fundraiser for Burkina Faso FB Page, the Sin Jawns FB Page or

I have to see where I stand after these two things. I actually love putting off shows, so maybe there will be another in a smaller setting. Stay Tuned! In the meantime, come to the Rockhouse Friday!

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