Perception Is Reality

Archive for the ‘Civil Society’ Category

(This is a guest post by Scott that continues from June 29th)

After they had charged about 25-30 feet, they stopped and held the line. The crowd started signing ‘Oh Canada’ and sat down in the road to protest the charge. What happened next, made me want to stand up and fight. As soon as we were done singing, the police charged at us again. Some of them even used their shields as offensive weapons. Theres a difference between using a riot shield as a tool for crowd control, and using it as a battering ram.

The following is a guest post by my friend, Scott Young. Please note: the material is emotionally charged.

My weekend started out just like a lot of other Torontonian’s. Stay as far away from downtown as I possibly could. But as the weekend wore on, the news reports came in on what was happening down there. I knew that this was history and I knew that I would never be apart of anything like this again. So I charged up the phone and headed downtown.

Al Gore was referring to accomplishing the Millenium Development Goals in the recent Montreal Millennium Summit whose slogan was Learn, Talk, Act.

And it was through learning, talking, and consequently acting, that we will be able to accomplish the eradication of global poverty, and move towards a society of an all-inclusive global economic upliftment.

“People sometimes don’t like to hear it described this way, but ladies and gentlemen, this is a moral issue. It is a challenge to our understand of who we are as human beings,” Gore said addressing the question on many people’s minds: why should we care?

Why Should We Care?

As Canadians, the question isn’t why should we care, but rather, why do we care. There are thousands of Canadians who join hands day in and day out to keep the momentum building, to make sure that we make a difference within our lifetimes: a difference that is sustainable, and long-term. And we have seen this difference: about 50% of people previously living in extreme poverty, have made their way up. Change is sometimes slow, but evident. It is an irrefutable fact, that as Canadians, we have brought hope to tens of millions of people.

“Shared Sense of Common Purpose”

“How did you rise to solve a crisis that so many said was impossible to solve?” the future generations will ask of us, said Al Gore. He was referring to this evident change and accomplishment that we have achieved, and continue to achieve.

“I want part of the answer to be that on the 40th anniversary of Earth Day in Montreal in the Palais, men and women from all over came together to lift the struggle against extreme poverty…and rally the forces of conscience and common sense.”

How You Can Keep The Momentum Building

It’s being done. Right before our eyes. And we are doing it.

Learn about the issue. Go to the World Partnership Walk website and learn about the issue. But more importantly, learn about how these issues are being overcome, and how you (yes, you) have played a major role in bringing an end to extreme poverty.

Talk about the progress. Those days are long gone when people could talk about problems inconsolably. We are now in the era where we can be confident about our abilities and future as a collective global village. Because we truly are a global village. Share your personal stories of hope and change with your friends, and invite them to participate and learn about the World Partnership Walk. Also follow the Twitter hashtag, #WPW

Act in any way that is possible. Sign up for the World Partnership Walk (Montreal has an exclusive, fully-functional, bi-lingual portal) as a fund raiser, an ambassador, a volunteer. Sign up on a team that already exists, or create your own. Take the leadership position. Donate any amount that you can, and ask your friends and family too. If someone can’t donate, ask them to donate collectively as a Family. Remember, 100% of the funds raised go to the development work, and you get tax receipts.

Because Canadians Can!

Recently, I gave a 5 minute talk, a call-to-action about the World Partnership Walk in McGill University to some 50 students and several other adults. When I was writing down what I was going to say, my heart started beating fast.

It was because for the first time that I’ve told a story, It meant something to me. It was about empowerment. It was about hope, and about confidence in the future. It was about the generosity and leadership.

For the first time, I realized that I could speak about the positive side of international development and refrain from using words like “poverty” and emotional blackmailing. Because, truly, in the 25 years (going on 26) that the World Partnership Walk has been around, Canadians have shown nothing but proactive, meritocratic involvement in the issue.

So, this is what I spoke to. Canadian values, and the results. I went straight to the specific examples, down to the names and the work that was done. The story I told was of Kokilaben from a village in Gujarat, and how Canadians had empowered them to ask questions about their future and make choices about what was important to them. I saw many smiling faces, and many nods.

While I wish I had water before stepping up, I didn’t get a chance. I’m never one to be frightened by large audiences and I remember being on stage since I was at least 4 years old. That’s a long way back, and quite a good memory to have.

But, for the first time in years I was nervous, because I was going to make myself vulnerable to my audience about how I felt. My passion about the walk. In hindsight, it served as a wonderful reminder about Kokilaben’s story.

The challenge was then to talk enough to make a personal connection, but not too much to make it a sap story. The time limit was 4 minutes. I wanted to get across key messages of the Walk that my audience could relate to, doing it in a setting that did not allow for interaction. Yet again, a reminder that those less fortunate don’t always have a voice.

I ended the speech by telling my audience why I walk. They were the reason why I walk.

After you have reviewed the World Partnership Walk website, please sponsor me. 100% of your donations go to the development work. Not a cent goes to admin costs.

Bridges That Unite is coming to Montreal this 7th March. Please come to see where your funds are going. This is an immersive, interactive, and inspiring exhibition. See where your donations are going. For more information, please look at the official Bridges That Unite website.

About the Author…

Born in Karachi, Pakistan in an Adventist hospital, I grew up in a city where on one side I experienced poverty and oppression, while on the other I had the good fortune of Tabish Bhimani being a member of an upper middle-class business family...more...

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