Connie: Today, I am featuring an amazing gal I’ve recently had the honour of getting to know. She has travelled the world and has a heart for women. After travelling the world, she still thinks we can change the it. I think that is just the kind of progressive thinking we need today, ladies. Dare to read on.
I first thought about the world as a bigger idea than my neighbourhood in North Vancouver when my Dad travelled to Kenya in the 1980’s to help build a church. I was around ten years old and remember being really intrigued with his stories of this completely different world than I knew. I grew up middle-class Canadian, not lacking for anything, my school was just around the corner and my neighbourhood was a safe place to play all summer without parents keeping an eye on us. I didn’t know what poverty was or even looked like.
I was first exposed to poverty in Canada when I travelled with my church youth group to the Yukon in the summer to work with children from the Reserves in the area. I had hard time comprehending the basic securities they lacked. I was 17 when I took my first trip to Africa, spending two months in Zimbabwe right after graduating from high school. I was addicted. Now I’m 37 and have travelled to 37 different nations and have been privileged to make friends from so many different cultures and economic groups. I have been able to witness different people, organizations, and churches trying various ways to improve their community or respond to crisis. As a young idealist first exposed to the monumental issues in our world, I used to think the answer was simple. Now I know that I have barely scratched the surface of understanding. My journeys have been a process of stripping away my own worldview and culture so that I may be able to understand the desperation of a young mother abandoning her baby because of her poverty.
My name is Sara and I refuse to be cynical … I still think we can change the world.
Some of my experiences have included living in a village in Uganda for a year to volunteer at a children’s centre that provided education for children in the area, an orphanage for children waiting for help finding extended family, and sponsorship for children in need. I’ve been able to go with short-term mission teams to places like Brazil and Haiti where we worked on providing clean drinking water or building a house for those who lost everything in the earthquake. In my own backyard, I’ve been involved in outreaches to the homeless in Vancouver downtown eastside, and have been completely overwhelmed with the wealth and poverty living next door to each other.
A passion of mine is raising awareness of the issues surrounding human trafficking. I’ve been very impressed by the work of International Justice Mission. They go into regions and work with local authorities to figure out how the systems are broken and give legal help the victims, as well as provide training for local law enforcement. Their Canadian website is: http://www.ijm.ca/whatwedo/
What lies ahead for our world that seems increasingly chaotic? I don’t have a clue, but I choose to believe that when we equip ourselves to be change-agents, communities can be transformed from despair to hope. Am I being too idealistic again?
Connie: I don’t think so 🙂 Will you dare to believe this with Sara? Let’s refuse to be cynical and shock ourselves with what can actually be done through crazy-normal people like ourselves.
* if you’re in the Calgary area, Sara and I are hosting a viewing of the film Miss Representation at Cardel Theatre in Quarry Park at 6:30pm on Tuesday, May 29. Admission is only a food bank donation. Doors open 6pm. Be there early because the theatre only seats 150. More info: http://www.facebook.com/events/351341798263191/