Last year the Canadian health care system managed to save $400 million. Sounds great, right? Now what if we told you that Canada did it by poaching trained doctors from the poorest and most vulnerable communities in the world? To prosper, Africa must keep her brilliant children home. And developed nations like Canada have a role to play here, too. For a start, we must address the issues in our own health care system that requires us to draw so many health professionals from developing countries where they are needed more.
We've all seen the ads. A white person -- often a celebrity -- strolls through a dilapidated village of mud huts, stooping to pick up one of the strategically-placed children who sit listlessly, their bellies bloated with hunger. The problem with these ads is they reinforce negative stereotypes about people in Africa and other developing countries -- that they are helpless victims who need to be saved. The goal of the ads is to tug heartstrings and create an emotional connection between you, the potential donor, and the people in need. Numerous studies have shown that donors respond better to appeals that include an "identifiable victim"-- putting a name and face to the cause -- than they do to a statistic.
Canadians are frantically scrambling to knock those last few items off of their Christmas shopping lists. Traffic is impossible, free parking spaces are non-existent, and stores are jammed to the rafters; last-minute stress abounds. Come Boxing Day, many will survey the carnage -- the mounds of packaging and torn wrapping paper -- and lament the waste and excess of holiday consumerism. It's a good time to stop and think that, just maybe, the best gifts don't come in a box.
It's likely one-year-old Rana was malnourished the entire year she'd been alive, since aid hadn't reached the village in her lifetime. Doctors could do nothing by the time she was admitted to the field hospital just north of the Syrian capital of Damascus. She died within 24 hours of admittance. Rana was born, and died, during the civil war that is slowly attacking Syria's children. The people left in her ghost town of Moadamia are bargaining chips for the rebel Free Syrian Army, which refuses to relinquish control of the area long enough for humanitarian groups to distribute aid. For these children of war every aspect of their life has been diminished, or stolen.
At age seven, Uwizeye barely escaped the genocide in her homeland of Rwanda, fleeing with her family to the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Two years later, war came to the DRC and the family had to run again, back to Rwanda. Her parents vanished, never to be seen again. With some support from her two older sisters, Uwizeye told us she persevered.
One of the best networking tips we've encountered is to be selfless. Listen actively, immerse yourself in a stranger's work life for the duration of the conversation and figure out what you can do for them. Remember, if you're too focused on the question, "what can empathy do for me?" you're missing the point.
Rob Stewart's whole life changed the day he found the "curtain of death." In 1999, Stewart was 22 and enjoying a carefree existence as an underwater photographer and filmmaker. "I was selfish before. I was just travelling, photographing animals, thinking I had the best job in the world," he told us.
Her Excellency Sharon Johnston, wife of the Governor General of Canada's teenage audience members were victims of sexual abuse participating in an after-school art therapy program that helps them open up and talk. It's one of the many programs at Stepping Stones International -- a small organization working with orphaned and vulnerable youth in Botswana.
More than 250,000 children under 18 are involved in at least 17 conflicts around the world today. In 2008 Romeo Dallaire, now a Canadian Senator, founded the Child Soldiers Initiative to raise awareness, pressure world governments to take action, and train police and military forces from around the world to protect children and prevent them from being recruited as soldiers.
They say a butterfly flapping its wings can cause a tornado on the other side of the world. A fascinating new study, "The Arab Spring and Climate Change", essentially applies the "Butterfly Effect" to global current affairs, examining how climate change may have influenced the revolutions that rocked the Middle East.
The United Nations World Health Organization estimates that 140-million women and girls around the world have experienced female genital mutilation (FGM). In December the UN unanimously passed a resolution banning the practice. What shocked us was discovering FGM is a serious issue in Canada, too. In 2011, almost 29,000 women from Africa and the Middle East became permanent residents of Canada. Dr. Davis, who has worked with hundreds of immigrant women, says a high percentage of these will have undergone FGM.
The Oscar Pistorius murder case in South Africa; rape in the Democratic Republic of the Congo; gang rapes in India; Pakistan acid attacks, and missing and murdered Aboriginal women in Canada. Each news item was served up by reporters and anchors as a separate, isolated story. In fact they are all different versions of the same story, told over and over again, night after night, from one country to the next. Why do we treat all these disparate threads around the world as unrelated events? According to UNIFEM, one in three women -- one billion members of our human population -- will be raped or beaten in her lifetime. It's time to wake up and connect the dots.
There are approximately 23.5-million people living with HIV in sub-Saharan Africa. Without medication one in two children living with HIV/AIDS in the developing world will die before their second birthday. We have an opportunity now to change that. A new piece of legislation before Parliament -- Bill C-398 -- aims to cut the red tape.
Cluster bombs have been employed in at least 31 countries since the Second World War. Eighty-nine per cent of tens of thousands of cluster bomb casualties are civilians, a quarter of them children. Canada does not use cluster bombs, and was among the first to sign the UN Convention on Cluster Munitions in 2008. However, four years later Canada still has not ratified because of concerns how the Convention will impact our relationship with allies.
"I hate when my leather seats aren't heated," says a grinning boy, who isn't sitting in a luxury car, but perched atop a pile of gravel outside a cinder block building with no windows. This is from a short video called The First World Problems Anthem -- a cheeky, teasing shot at us pampered First World dwellers featuring Haitians reciting a litany of complaints you're far more likely to hear at Second Cup than in a seedy slum.
It is a test of manhood from another time and place, with a modern twist: For 15-year-old Jackson Ntirkana to earn a chance to go to high school, he had to become a warrior first -- by killing a lion. Although born into a traditional nomadic Maasai family that tended livestock on the savannah, Ntirkana dreamed of going to school and becoming a politician, building bridges between his people and the rest of Kenya. Now Ntirkana and his friend are touring Canada promoting their joint autobiography, The Last Maasai Warriors.