Rafael Duerksen
Director, Canada

In 2021, Generation Rising gained Rafael

As a husband and father of 5, his passion for connecting resources with less fortunate children in Latin America stems from his adoration of his close-knit family. He strongly believes that every child has a right to opportunities to learn and grow.

His leadership ministry journey started in 2009 at the Canadian Mennonite University’s Outtatown discipleship program in South Africa and Guatemala. From there he was called to lead as a Pastor at Springfield Heights Mennonite Church in Winnipeg in 2016. Later becoming the Pastor of Youth and Young Adults at Wainfleet Brethren In Christ Church in Ontario in 2017.

With a Masters in Theological Studies Degree from Tyndale Seminary, Rafael finds fulfillment in sharing biblical, theological and historical foundations of the Christian faith.

Rachel Buhler
Donor Care & Sponsorship Coordinator, Canada

Rachel runs our sponsorship program and takes care of all our donor needs. If you call the office, you'll most likely speak with Rachel!

At the end of 2020, we gratefully welcomed Rachel to the team. as an Office Administrator. Having previously served as an elementary school director at The Meeting Place for 5 years, she embodies a warm, inviting spirit for our donors to interact with. 

With a B.Ed. from the University of Winnipeg and a diploma in Business Administration from Herzing College, Rachel is passionate about utilizing her relational skills to build the bridge between donors and Latin American children in need.

Rachel and her husband, Justin live in Winnipeg and love getting out of the city to enjoy God’s creation.

Ruth Bruinooge
Office Manager, Canada

Ruth joined the Generation Rising team in 2022 and is focused on all the details that make our office run smoothly. She also loves planning the Generation Rising concerts and events that take place across Canada.

Ruth has spent most of her career in the non-profit world, focusing on work with youth and young adults. She is passionate about being involved in work and ministry that makes a difference in the lives of other people. She has travelled to and served in Guatemala numerous time. She has seen first hand how generosity can transform the lives of people living in poverty and can create lasting change for future generations.

Born and raised in Vancouver, she came to Winnipeg for work in 2001 and never left.  She completed her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology at the University of British Columbia. And is now working on her MBA at CMU, with a focus on sustainability and leadership for the common good.

Ruth lives with her husband and son in Winnipeg. They enjoy family bike rides, the occasional game of pickleball and spending time out at the lake

Iomara Yeboah
Communications Coordinator, Canada

At the bottom of 2023, we added Iomara (Io) to the Generation Rising team. She is strongly driven by community and a bigger picture mentality. With roots in Latin America, her devotion to maintaining impactful communication with our donors is highly contagious.

Throughout 2023, Iomara served and continues to juggle roles at Believers Church as a digital ministry coordinator and a worship team member.

Iomara has a Diploma in Business Administration with a major in Marketing from RRC Polytech with a B.A in Communication Studies from York University. Her experience as a content strategist and community manager, made her the ideal candidate to nurture Generation Rising communications.

In her free time, she enjoys her time in community with friends and family, eating at new restaurants and hiking with good company.

Caren Sawatzky
Sponsorship Coordinator, Paraguay

Caren's journey is a testament to the power of embracing diverse experiences. Originally from Paraguay, she had the privilege of spending her formative years in Canada, where she lived with her family for 10 years.

Since returning to Paraguay in late 2014, she has immersed herself in various roles, driven by her passion for making a difference.

With a bachelor's degree in English under her belt, Caren serves as a sponsorship coordinator and translator, using her skills to facilitate communication and support initiatives that uplift communities in Paraguay.

Board of Directors

Mike Duerksen
Board Chair

Mike Duerksen became Generation Rising’s first Director of Operations in 2012, at first only working 15 hours per week while the organization grew. He previously led communications and marketing for Siloam Mission in downtown Winnipeg, and worked for Global Aid Network in Germany. Having grown up in Paraguay, Mike has experienced first-hand the tremendous opportunity that a quality education can offer. He has an MBA in sustainability and a BA in communications from Canadian Mennonite University.

Tomas Martens
Board Member

Tomas Martens is a founding member of Generation Rising. Tomas resides with his wife and two sons in East St. Paul, Manitoba. He currently works for Transport Canada as a Civil Aviation Safety Inspector. Tomas was born and raised in Paraguay. He completed a diploma in Aviation at Providence College, MB and worked as a flight instructor and charter pilot for 6 years before joining Transport Canada. At Providence College, Tomas took an active part in missions as a representative for South America. He has taken students to Aviation Mission headquarters and introduced them to mission aviation.

Ann Ediger

Ann Ediger is a founding member of GenerationRising and resides in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Prior to retirement, Ann worked as a nurse in various hospital and community programs. It was her work in health care and development in Paraguay that convinced her of the importance that education holds as a means to reduce poverty. She continues to be active as a committed volunteer in her community and local church.

Chuck Penner

Chuck Penner became a member of Generation Rising in 2015 and joined the board in 2016. He has been involved in missions and economic development projects in Cuba and Mexico. Chuck has spent over 25 years in the Canadian grain business and has owned and operated LeftField Commodity Research since 2010. He grew up in Manitoba’s Red River Valley and has a Diploma in Biblical Studies from Winkler Bible Institute. He also has a Bachelor of Science in Ag Economics and an Agribusiness Diploma from the University of Manitoba. Chuck and his wife Marlene live in Winnipeg and have three grown daughters.

Sally Kauenhowen
Board Member

Sally and her husband Carl are founding members of Generation Rising. They have 3 sons and 1 daughter and reside in Narol, Manitoba. Sally was raised in Paraguay. She has always been involved with mission projects through church since she joined at age 15. Sally has seen firsthand what a difference it makes for children to have a  quality education in Paraguay. After the family moved to Canada, Carl and Sally were very exited to join with other founding members of Generation Rising and help enable children to a better future.

Helmut Sawatzky

Helmut joined the board of Generation Rising in 2018 after taking part in a service trip to Nicaragua with his church. Helmut was born in Paraguay and continues to foster a good relationship with family and friends there through regular visits. He recently stepped back from the workforce after having served more than 30 some as warehousing and distribution manager. He is a member of a local church where he has served in various capacities including chairman of the board. Helmut resides with his wife Wilma in Springfield, Manitoba. They have two children who are both grown.