I recently spent one year getting myself an informal education. I travelled to twelve different countries, and in each of these countries I attempted to find ways to be helpful. I assisted a raw vegan farm in Costa Rica. I tutored English in northern Laos. Here are some of the biggest takeaways from my journey.
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.
The average Canadian spends a whopping four hours and 20 minutes a day watching TV (5 hours in the U.S. for comparison), and that doesn't include social media time. That's 30 hours a week or 1560 hours a year in which the average Canadian sits on a couch. So here's my challenge to you: Give up one sitcom, one iffy reality show to free up an hour of your time each week.
As the dawn of a New Year begins, many of us are making New Year's resolutions both of a professional and personal nature. From eating healthier to taking steps to get that promotion, individuals around the globe are cleaning up the detritus from 2013 and making new resolutions for 2014. In the drive to create new personal and professional resolutions, we should not forget about resolutions to help those less fortune around us.
Whether you're a billionaire, a small business owner, a student, or a retiree, I hope that you will make it a New Year's resolution to volunteer in your community. I can promise you that the personal benefits will be at least as great, and probably more long-lasting, than giving up chocolate or joining a gym!
I will never forget the horrible feeling of having his life depend solely on a stranger's actions. Why would anyone do something without reward or recognition? We may never have the opportunity to thank this person, but their selfless act should serve as a lesson for us all. It is important to volunteer because you never know who it will help- a stranger, a loved one or even yourself.
If you're incredibly lucky, you've never had a friend or family member fighting for his or her life, or stolen by tragedy -- be it cancer, HIV/AIDS or a drunk driver. Such luck, we suspect, befalls very few. Sometimes, however, tragedy opens a door. In helping a loved one, some people -- especially youth -- discover a world bigger than themselves, and a desire to make that world better for others.
We're spoiled. Face it, when the days monumental decision is about which foamy coffee to order, which patio has the best WiFi, or choosing a playlist for a run around False Creek, we're really agonizing over a collection of serious first world problems. Building communities, and supporting the people directly takes boots on the ground, a willingness to get your hands dirty, a get-it-done attitude, and maybe a little voluntouring.
Most people know Burrell as MC Hammer -- the man in the neon parachute pants who helped bring rap music into the mainstream in the early 1990s. But we also know him as an ordained preacher, devoted to raising awareness of the neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) that ravage impoverished communities in the developing world.
"Otesha" means "reason to dream" in Swahili -- a word chosen by founders Jocelyn Land-Murphy and Jessica Lax after meeting in Kenya. After 10 years and dozens of tours, this is Otesha's first "nation-to-nation" tour,in collaboration with the ecumenical justice group KAIROS, to nurture the connection between aboriginal peoples and non-aboriginal Canadians.
Ritu Bhasin is a noted Diversity specialist based in Toronto. With an LL.B. and an MBA, Bhasin has spent a decade in the legal profession and almost two decades volunteering in many areas. I recently chatted with Ritu Bhasin about her work within the community, and her views on social change and diversity in Toronto.
Acadia Solomon just wanted to swim with her friends. Unfortunately the signs posted last year at her favourite swimming spot were clear: it was not safe to swim in or drink the water. So when she heard about a group of First Nations youth walking from Winnipeg to Ottawa to speak out about the "killing" of our nation's lakes and rivers, no power in the world was going to stop her from joining them.
There are so many issues that it's easy to volunteer for a cause that means something to you. Through texting, facebook, Twitter and talking, our (young) volunteers are likely one of our greatest marketing tools. It's National Volunteer Week, let's show them that we care about their commitment to our cause.
Many of us feel that the only way we have left to show our displeasure is to withhold the work that we normally do for free. Are you willing to do the same amount of work for 10 per cent less pay? How about 20 per cent less, 25 per cent less, 35, 50? When would your dignity and self-respect kick in and make you say "just hang on a minute. I'm a trained professional, and I don't work for free."