Jason’s Sheper's work life spanned 5 continents in a range of computer, financial and business experiences, a musical life as a jazz artist and choral master, a stint as an international development consultant with USAID and an MBA student at Oxford University. He has also owned a 4 star hotel and currently supports an elementary school. Jason and his wife Susan have collaborated on a number of projects, most importantly raising two children in Kinshasa DRC (Democratic Republic of Congo).

Jason’s life is worthy of cinema. He began as a teenager in the mailroom of a large American corporation. And to this day is grateful for the invaluable knowledge of people that he gained from the job. During the 1980’s he worked in sunny California for Computerland – and he relished the enthusiasm and “can do” attitude of the times and people. While at a meeting in Richmond Hill, he met Susan and to hear Jason tell, he decided right then that he wanted to marry her. They went on a date (to a Blue Jays game) and so it goes! She was only here for a brief visit as she was then living full time in the Congo.

Jason decided he’d visit the Congo with her (he had vacation time) and again, so it goes. They married. They returned to California but this version of “paradise” did not appeal to Susan whose life had been filled with much less gloss and more substance in Africa. Jason transferred to Europe and while in Luxembourg they meet a Belgian couple who overheard Jason and Susan talking about the Congo. And so it goes. They move to Kinshasa.
For those of us who know some of the history of the Congo, we know that violence, cruelty and corruption have scourged the land since Belgian colonialism. (Read Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness; a template for Francis Ford Coppola’s “Apocalypse Now” film about Vietnam.)
But as we also know with the worst of times there can be amazing stories of courage, sacrifice and resilience. Humans are complex creatures, capable of brilliance and kindness and also capable to torture and destroy.
The Shepers witnessed the best and the worst. There is no doubt that corruption is a pernicious evil that rots the nation state, but within that state are individuals who create stories of grit and hope. And so, the Shepers used the arts, education, and hospitality services as means to kindle kindness, to feed a thirst for learning and to resist despair.

For Jason the 4 Way Test resonates with meaning. “Is It the Truth?”; “Is It Fair to all Concerned?”; “Will It build Good will and Better Friendships?”; “Will it be Beneficial to all concerned?”.  Written by Robert Taylor in ___________ as a recipe to save a failing company, the 4 Way Test has been translated into over 100 languages around the world. The key principles of truth, justice, friendship and service apply now as much as they did then.
Jason reflected that in today’s world, at least in part of it, truth has become relative to the point that there are no longer shared public understanding of truth as a universal value – each person has their own truth. And while Jason recognized the complexity of the world he thinks we could benefit from a framework that allows us to return to a universal truth. He also suggests that helping people begins with listening and listening again.

Jason gave us lots to think about and we are all grateful to him join our club. As a 35 year Rotarian from Kinshasa, Jason enriches our club with his humanity and life experiences. Thank you so much for choosing DVSRC.