As Canadians, we are fortunate to be living in one of the best countries in the world. We have access to great healthcare and education programs, and our government is responsive to our needs. Unfortunately, many people in other countries do not have access to the same benefits as we do. To show gratitude for what we have as Canadians, we should extend our helping hands to others who are not as fortunate as ourselves.
We have much to offer the world. Not just in terms of our ability to give financial assistance, but also in terms of our ability to give our time and knowledge to promote International Development across the globe. Every single day, the world grows increasingly interconnected; in our day and age, we are truly living in a global village. We Canadians have a great potential to impact positive change across the globe through International Development initiatives.
Assisting communities overseas helps to reinforce how we can all help one another, promote compassion and tolerance and make the world a better place for everyone. Aga Khan Foundation Canada (AKFC) is a charity that not only connects us to what is happening around the world, but it also builds stronger connections between people here in our own local communities as well.
Supporting the World Partnership Walk, an initiative of AKFC, is a great way to involve yourself with International Development initiatives. Being a Walk participant is a demonstration of the Canadian tradition of caring about peace, prosperity and the stability of communities beyond our borders. Supporting the work of AKFC does not only connect us to International Development initiatives, but connects us to local ones as well.
There is a really important role for Canada in mobilizing resources here to support efforts overseas, but not through a paternalistic hand out or by pretending we have all the answers to challenges like global poverty. The most effective way to support sustainable solutions and empower people is to partner with local community organizations on the ground. This is again where AKFC brings a real strength through its relationships. Mobilizing contributions from Canadians, who enjoy such abundance here, and providing others with the tools they need to help make real development happen is a powerful combination. This collaborative approach is a real differentiator for Canada on the world stage, and gives us a tremendous reputation.
Canadians need to understand why we should care about International Development. It’s a frightening statistic that almost half of the world – nearly three billion people – lives on less than $2 per day. Yet out of all the charitable donations made by Canadians each year, 97 per cent (97%) go to local causes while only three per cent (3%) go to International Development. There’s a grave imbalance in this statistic!
Giving through the World Partnership Walk and Aga Khan Foundation Canada is also a great investment. Donations are leveraged several times over through matching contributions from the Canadian government and other partners, and because many of the additional operating costs are covered through volunteer efforts and a separate endowment at AKFC, every dollar raised goes directly overseas.
As an example, the Early Childhood Development Program in Bangladesh was started by a contribution from AKFC, which has since converted $1.4 million in donations to a total budget of $9.4 million (over 6.5 times the original donations). This program has directly improved the quality and delivery of education services appropriate to the needs of the poor, particularly women and children. This investment will pay dividends across multiple generations.
We are lucky to be living in one of the best places in the world. There are millions of people that struggle for basic health, primary education and access to clean water. With our support, and the partnerships facilitated through Aga Khan Foundation Canada, every dollar you contribute is multiplied and creates stronger, more connected communities. Even small amounts, like the cost of a single lunch or dinner, can easily help save a life somewhere else.
Sponsor someone, or come to the World Partnership Walk yourself on May 26. I promise you, you’ll feel great, and we’ll be a part of something much larger than ourselves.
Written by Derek Gent, City Co-Chair for the local advisory council of Aga Khan Foundation Canada, including the World Partnership Walk. Derek is the Executive Director of Vancity Community Foundation.
Vancity Buzz is proud to be a media partner of the 29th World Partnership Walk taking place on May 26, 2013 at Lumbermen’s Arch in Stanley Park, Vancouver.