THE BLOG

Why The World Needs More Canada

08/19/2013 04:46 EDT | Updated 10/19/2013 05:12 EDT

For us Canadians, the wisdom of our government to be involved in the affairs of the world is our collective priority and is still how the world envisions Canada to be.

The world has always noted our efforts and indeed -- as Bono reminded us a decade ago -- "the world needs more Canada". For instance, it was Canada's Prime Minister, John Diefenbaker, who heroically helped reject the membership of South Africa from being a member of the Commonwealth in 1960 because of its apartheid policy. Canada's 13th Prime Minister did this by creating a framework where "racial equality became a principle of the Commonwealth" when the members were about to accept it as a member. As if this was not enough to celebrate, he also introduced Canada's race-free immigration policy, welcoming diversity in Canada's population.

Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson also became a great advocate of Canada's reputation aboard. He became a visible and often lonely voice in opposition to sending Canadian combat troops into the Vietnam War. He also became the architect of the United Nations Emergency Force and its peacekeeping efforts throughout the world winning the Nobel Peace Prize in the process.

The Mulroney years also had magnificent international achievements as its legacy. It led the world's efforts in Ethiopia's 1984 famine and became an eloquent opponent for sanctions against the then South Africa. The Chretien years also became known for refusing to participate in the war in Iraq and for Ottawa's 1997 Landmines Treaty.

Stephen Harper's government is continuing Canada's international legacy, while differently, by linking aid with Canada's business interest abroad especially in the mining industry. Among recent announced initiatives are millions for a project to help improve environmental standards in Peru's mining industry and the creation of an institution in mining and development based at the University of British Columbia.

In many struggling countries, there are also thousands of non-for-profit organizations involved in efforts to help curb crippling poverties. Beyond the Canadian government's involvement in the world -- what is profound is the involvement of few inspiring organizations that are having a real impact in the world.

Let me introduce you to a great organization - The African Medical and Research Foundation (AMREF). It is an organization that is living the ideal of what international development should be about and its having a huge impact by creating a movement around a great human cause.

This great international organization was founded in 1957 - the year Canada's Lester Lester B Pearson won the Nobel Peace Prize for his role in solving the Suez Crisis and according to the Nobel Peace Prize committee - for helping "save the world". It was founded by three doctors of British and American origin who felt the need to help East Africa with its dire medical need.

Today - this is how this rare organization intends to embrace its legacy and transform the lives of the neediest in the world. The organization that bills itself as "the leading African public health organization" - recently launched a worldwide campaign to empower African mothers. Via their campaign that is titled - "Stand Up for African Mothers" - it aims to train 15,000 African midwives by 2015. According to the group - "One trained midwife can look after 500 women every year and safely deliver 100 children".

Why focus on women? For AMREF's Director General Dr. Teguest Guerma - "African women are at the center of social and economic life. The death of a mother while giving birth is a big setback for African society". By training more midwives, the Ethiopian born Medical Doctor adds, "AMREF is" helping deliver an immediate, lasting solution to reducing maternal mortality in Africa,"

She adds - "A healthy Africa needs healthy mothers and African mothers need trained African midwives." Indeed - that is why I believe AMREF Canada is a worthwhile organization to support by us all.