Category Archives: Great lives

Jan Johnston: love, life and care in our world of need

On 16th August 2023 Rose Charities and the world lost Jan Johnston whos superpower was boundless compassion for the needs of others and the world . It is impossible to enumerate the huge number of causes to which Jan, in her vibrant, energetic life had dedicated herself to. Jan was the 2008 Charity Rose Laureate, the highest acknowledgment of ones Rose Charities peers of service to mankind.

Jan Johnston. 2008 Charity Rose Laureat

Rose Charities was privileged to have Jan as one of its members becoming involved with her in her pivotal work supporting orphanages in S. Vietnam such as the Be Tho Orphanage in HCMC. . This lead on to her founding with her husband Bill, (the Canadian Consul General in Ho Chi Minh City) of a Vietnam Rose Charities organization which was officially registered then ran for many years. This continued her work with orphans as well as supporting a blind training school (Sia Centre) , sight restoration operations and carrying out emergency relief operations especially in post typhoon and flood disaster where rural areas especially suffer greatly. In this latter area Jan extended her efforts later to pivotal work in Cebu, Philippines assisting with the organization of emergency relief and rebuild after the terrible destruction of super-typhoon Hiyan

Jan and Bill hosted the 2008 Rose Charities International conference in Ho Chi Minh City in their home. Impressively this was needed at the last minute when the Vietnam Government decided that the conference application process had not been completed correctly (despite delegates having arrived !) Perhaps this was a good thing as the event was a huge success due to the arrangements they made.

The paper flowers of Than Thien…

One of Jan’s most lovely initiatives was working towards the re-establishment in Than Thien Village of the rural ancient art of paper flower making, for which Vietnam used to be renowned.

On leaving Vietnam, Jan and Bill generously spent half a year in Cambodia assisting Rose Charities Australia’s Consultant Physiotherapist Johanna Thomson in setting up the Rose Rehab Physical Rehabilitation Centre in Chea Chumneas Hospital, Kandal, in conjunction also with Professor Nous Sarom, the leading rehabilitation (and cleft palate) surgeon in the country and another of the Rose Charities ‘family’. During that time Jan became very interested in rural apiary program(s) and spent much time and effort investigating possibilities for honey beekeeping in all parts of the country .

While most of the Rose Charities initiatives established or assisted by Jan exist to this day, simply stating the facts of Jan’s charitable work however is an utterly inadequate way to describe Jan. Rarely has there been one more instilled with the love of life, her family, and her huge number of friendships. Travelling far and wide with Bill, both in the Canadian Diplomatic Service and privately, they lived in a score of locations at different times worldwide and ever left behind people devoted to her sparkling personality and underlying kindness. Jan’s heart was truly huge and it was almost impossible for a human cause or need to pass her by without her picking it up and trying to help.

In recent years, the environment and the welfare of trees became her passion. She was a tireless campaigner for protecting the remaining stands of old growth forest in B.C . It is for this reason that Rose Charities has started a tree-planting fund in her name for anyone wishing to assist which what she loved so dearly.

We miss Jan awfully. But we at Rose Charities are incredibly thankful to have her as a star in the Rose Charities Family for so many years.

Jan Johnston Memorial Tree-planting Fund (select the fund in the list of causes)