A couple of weeks back, I was reminded of two things. First, why I do some of the “work” I do for CEF. (I use quotations because it’s hard to consider it work when you really like all the people you deal with all the time with CEF and our various partners). Second, I’m convinced that generations following mine will do more good and make more progress towards social justice than mine did. A tough admission for a Boomer as we often like to believe we are the last generation of change. The Summer of Love, draft resistance, Silent Spring and the beginning of the environmental movement, and all that. And yet here we are on the brink of climate disaster, we have political chaos in the US and elsewhere, to say nothing of the rampant violence and refugee crises’ that are washing over the world.
I attended two events that focused my mind in the way I mentioned. The first was WE Day in Vancouver. CEF has funded a number of projects through WE (formerly Free the Children) with great results. We get invited to WE Day in Vancouver as a result, and get to exult with the thousands of young people excited to be part of a movement to change people’s lives in Canada and around the world. I admit I can only last 2 hours as the energy in the arena is overwhelming. But in that time, in a way I don’t recognize, I see that change can happen. That kids can be engaged to care about what happens to others. Here, and in other places. To understand that your neighbour is as much the person next door and down the street as it is the girl in Ethiopia who wants to go to school. It’s a highly successful model that looks like it has lots of legs, and good for them!
The second event was interestingly even more reassuring. If you read our blog at all you will know about our great partner, KIDS, (Kids international Development Society) that does so much fantastic work in Cambodia. I love KIDS and like to attend their fundraising dinner in Nanaimo in the fall every year. KIDS has attracted lots of wonderful people to their cause, particularly in Nanaimo, but it is an eight year old girl who has stolen my heart and the show the last two years.
Sumalee is 8. She is of Thai/Canadian/British/Polynesian heritage and was born in Nanaimo and adopted by a wonderful couple there. She is marvelously dedicated to KIDS and to helping others, and can raise money like a slot machine. Sumalee spends her summers creating handmade Christmas cards (all the time playing Christmas carols in July!! And driving her folks nuts), which she then sells (hundreds of them) to help support programs for kids in Cambodia. She has a pen pal who she corresponds with. She has parties that raise money. And she has given the keynote talk at the KIDS function for the last two years. And brought the house down both years.
Imagine the 8-year-old, standing on a chair behind a lectern, giving a talk about her recipe for being a Global Citizen. I am assured by her mother that she has written this herself. She has the audience wrapt in a way I have only seen a few speakers do at a fundraiser. Paraphrasing her “recipe” is this:
A) understand what you are interested in seeing happen in the world: girls going to school, clean water, families able to support themselves. OK, got that?
B) what are you passionate about doing in the world? Singing? Art? Dancing? Hosting parties?
Whatever it is, take B and use it to support A. And voila. You are a Global Citizen. And imagine the 8-year-old making us laugh and sigh and then we give her a standing ovation.