The minute an earthquake (or any emergency) hits, women's organizations are responding. Before the humanitarian machine kicks in, before food aid drops, before reconstruction efforts get started, women's organizations are creating makeshift shelters, finding and preparing food, protecting girls and caring for the sick. They are an essential part of recovery and a huge asset in relief and reconstruction efforts.
In Canada, we have benefits that many people throughout the world do not enjoy, like a robust insurance system and government safety nets. But it is our willingness to step in and help a complete stranger in a time of need that will keep Canada strong as a nation and allow us to weather all storms, big and small.
Many development projects are the product of the Field of Dreams Syndrome: the naïve belief that if you build a hospital, school or well, somehow, magically, doctors and teachers and maintenance workers will just appear to make the project a success. If we don't empower communities to manage projects independently, we might as well throw our money down the well we just drilled. It's more cruel to promise a better life and not deliver than to never offer aid at all.
The question we hear most frequently from people ready to make a difference is: "Where do I begin?" In our contributions to Impact, we'll tackle some of these questions, using our experience working with communities in Canada and all regions of the world, and in the context of news that's happening right now. This new online community has the potential to bring us together and start making the news instead of just reading it.
Remember the 0.7 per cent of their gross national product (GNP) that the world's riches nations committed to international development? Whatever became of it? Let's have a 0.7 per cent for a new generation, only this time with the concentration on that one part of the world that has lagged behind -- Africa.