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The world is calling…

on April 14, 2012

The World Partnership Walk is my main philanthropic effort each year. It is an initiative of the Aga Khan Foundation Canada (AKFC), a non-profit international agency that has a remarkable track record for successful global development efforts in Asia and Africa. As a member agency of the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN), AKFC works to address the root causes of poverty with a particular focus in the areas of health, education, rural development, and capacity building. Every project also factors in gender equity and protection of the environment.

Although His Highness the Aga Khan, the founder and chairman of AKDN, is the 49th hereditary Imam (spiritual leader) of the Shia Ismaili Muslims, AKDN projects and initiatives aim to improve living conditions and opportunities for people regardless of their particular religion, race, ethnicity, or gender. His Highness the Aga Khan has made a commitment to help improve the quality of life of those living in some of the poorest parts of the world and he has dedicated more than 50 years of his life to development efforts.

For more information about His Highness the Aga Khan, the AKDN, and AKFC, please click here, here, and here.

I truly believe that changing the world for the better forever starts wtih just one step. For me, walking the talk means participating in the World Partnership Walk and helping to educate my family, friends, and colleagues about how we can make an impact in some of the poorest and most beautiful and inspiring places in the world. We never even have to leave the comfort of our lives in Canada in order to do so, although I personally think that seeing is believing and it wasn’t until I started traveling to places like India, SE Asia, and Africa that I realized the incredible impact I could make simply through compassion and education and awareness.

I have learned so much from people who previously would have had my pity. The developing world is full of bright, capable, beautiful people. They have taught me about gratitude. About hope. About faith. About resiliency. I no longer have pity for those in the developing world. I have a deep sense of respect and awe for them. They make do with far less than I can ever imagine and despite the common images of helplessness of people in developing societies, the vast majority of my experiences have been of people who are enterprising and who are creative and who want the same things that I do – a better life for our families and a chance to make the world a better place no matter how far reaching our impact.

It is only by chance that I was born in Canada. My parents left Uganda as refugees 40 years ago. It has meant a world of difference for me. Until the past 10 years, I didn’t realize that mine was a privileged upbringing if only because there was always food on the table, a roof over my head, parents who loved me, access to education and health care, and security that was my birthright. It is so very easy for me to imagine now that my life may have been very different if it weren’t for the politics of East Africa in the late 60s and early 70s. It wasn’t until I went to East Africa in the fall of 2009 that I truly realized how strong a calling it is for me to do what I can to help the people who very easily could have been my fellow countrymen and women.

Over the past 10 years it has become clear to me that the way to better the world is by recognizing one another’s humanity and working together to deal with the root causes that limit the potential of people everywhere. Nowhere is this easier to do than in the developing world for there is so much that we can do and it won’t require too much time or money – we are so lucky that our western currencies go such a long way in places like Asia and Africa (and if you’ve ever traveled to these continents you know what I mean – $10 allows you to live and eat like a rich person) and the people in these places are incredibly motivated to contribute the hard work and dedication that will result in their kids having access to education, clean water, and basic health care. That’s actually one of the things I love about projects supported by the Walk – they take into account the needs of the communities by consulting with the people and getting them to join in the development effort. The people in these communities may not have monetary resources but they have a limitless supply of innovation and gumption.

We really are blessed to live in a country where strong and free is not only part of our national anthem but it is also part of every aspect of our existence. Here’s our chance to ignite the spark of hope for people who only want some of what we take for granted. Let’s make the world a better place one step at a time. Join me in supporting the World Partnership Walk. You’ll make a lifetime of difference with just one click.

You can sponsor me here.

Some added incentives are the facts that 100% of your donation will go directly to projects in Asia and Africa (not a single cent is spent on administration), you will get your tax receipt by email within a few business days of making your online contribution, and partner agencies like the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) match funds at a ratio as high as 8:1. What an incredible way to make your dollar go the distance in the developing world.

If our animosities are born out of fear, then confident generosity is born out of hope. One of the central lessons I have learned after a half century of working in the developing world is that the replacement of fear by hope is probably the single most powerful trampoline of progress.
~ Aga Khan IV


4 responses to “The world is calling…

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