This year again, I am raising funds for the 27th World Partnership Walk, Canada's largest annual event dedicated to fighting poverty. In the past few years, I have been involved with the Walk at an intimate level, leading the Media and Marketing campaign for the Montreal region, helping to create a uniform social media strategy, and best of all, getting to see the impact of our work for myself during my Awareness Trip to Africa in 2009 with Aga Khan Foundation Canada (AKFC).
It was my heavy involvement with this not-for-profit organization that earned me an invitation to Kenya in the summer of 2009. Of course, I paid for all of my own expenses. This trip was an eye-opener for me because AKFC brought us behind-the-scenes, to the grassroots level, to see where the money goes and how much our little efforts can accomplish. It was during this trip that I truly understood, for the first time, that marginalized populations are just like us. We all have the same hopes and dreams, for ourselves and our children. We're all striving to make a better world, not just for us but for the whole world.
But why raise funds to eliminate world poverty? It seems like a pretty elitist goal, doesn't it? I mean, it's not like the world is actually ever going to change, is it?
I think that recent developments in Egypt prove that change is possible, as long as we, as a worldwide collective, as determined, passionate and patient. Change doesn't happen overnight, though, and one of the first steps to sparking change is creating awareness.
That's why although I have moved to Kingston, my involvement with the Walk has not ended. Kingston falls under the umbrella of the Ottawa Walk, and I will be the acting as a regional manager of sorts for the area. That means I will be reaching out to all of my new Ktown friends to help me raise funds and spread the word about this awesome event and the projects it enables. I have also set my personal fundraising goal for 2011 at $2,500. You can contribute any time at http://www.akfcnetcommunity.ca/netcommunity/NailaJ.
What makes the World Partnership Walk - and AKFC - such a stellar cause? 100% of the funds raised through the Walk go directly to international development projects that help people help themselves through long-term sustainable solutions in education, health, sanitation, culture, community strengthening, the environment, gender issues... and more. The Foundation's multi-pronged approach aims to enhance the quality of life of some of the poorest people in the world in cross-cutting ways, and that's what I love about it.
It doesn't give a man a fish, to use the popular cliché. It teaches him, his family, and his whole community to fish, then offers him or her a microfinance loan and professional resources so he can learn how to sell that fish to nearby villages and then teach them to do the same.
Change happens one step at time, but we all have to march together. It takes time and commitment, from both internal and external players. And it takes a certain kind of will to see a project of change through until the end. I truly believe that, as I have seen with my own eyes, the World Partnership Walk has the right techniques, the proper resources and the benefit of a long-term approach to make it all work.
And how do I know that? Because its projects put smiles on the faces of little boys and girls in Asia and in Africa. Because that boy in the picture is able to go to a rural school every day without worrying how his family will survive if he doesn't work the fields all day. And his sisters in urban areas can daydream about being doctors and teachers during class instead of wondering if they will be harassed by sugar daddys or rapists on their walk home. Because their parents feel secure in the knowledge that their children will be better off than they are. That they will never have to worry about food, safety, or having a preventable illness.
Raising funds for the World Partnership Walk means allowing these children to BE just that: children. Together, we can change the world and make that dream a reality. Together, we can take steps to end global poverty. Won't you walk with me?
The 27th World Partnership Walk will be taking place in 10 cities across Canada for three consecutive weekends, starting on May 29, 2011. Join me at Major's Hill Park in Ottawa on Sunday, June 12, 2011 and be part of the over 40,000 Canadians raising more than $6 million towards eliminating global poverty.