This week Prime Minister Harper met with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon to discuss Canada’s role on climate change. Among the topics discussed was the need for aid to the world’s poor. The head of the UN is concerned that the economic crisis in G8 and G20 countries is putting a halt on the progress to eradicate poverty in third world and developing nations. Obviously. Many families in these wealthy countries (including ours) are experiencing, perhaps for the first time, the effects of poverty in their own backyard. Mr. Ban Ki-Moon is urging Canada not to use economic and financial difficulties as ‘an excuse’ to ignore the pledge to double aid to Africa; health programs such as AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis; and food security.
As a Canadian I am happy to accept Mr. Ban Ki-Moon’s challenge not to neglect our commitment to provide aid to the world’s needy, but I understand that if we are going to accomplish this it will need to look different – right across the board from government levels to individuals who support relief organizations such as LeSEA Global Feed the Hungry.
For all of us, it’s no longer a matter of just throwing our excess to better causes, it’s now a matter of being on purpose and doing without ourselves in order to help others. This certainly isn’t comfortable for anyone (how’s that for the understatement of the year?!). Canada has always been blessed with abundance and we are used to living like that…and frankly LIKE living like that. However, I think the economic downturn is ultimately a good thing because it reveals the true desire of Canadians to make a difference larger than themselves, regardless of their own personal comfort.
There are still many ways we can help others, even while we are struggling ourselves. For example, agencies such as The Gleaners are re-purposing excess produce from local farmers by de-hydrating vegetables and fruits as a soupmix or a nutritional additive to rice diets. Each year millions of meals are provided through this ministry. A ministry in Ontario receives product that can no longer be used for sale because it’s at the expiration point, and helps thousands of “working poor” families in Canada – those who have to choose between putting food on the table or paying rent. I talk with families who are able to donate because they give up some of their own meals and use that money, or they have a yard sale in order to donate the proceeds. There are so many innovative ways that Canadians are finding to keep their pledge to help the poor and it makes us a stronger nation!
As we continue our commitment and focus to help others we ourselves will find prosperity returning – that is the spirit of Canada which I am proud to represent!
“Whoever gives to others will get richer; those who help others will themselves be helped.” Proverbs 11:25
Photograph by: Blair Gable, Reuters