We believe that Canadians want our country to be a light in the world, but often don’t know how to help make this true. Then we had the bright idea to take the lead and share that light, literally.
On Saturday, November 17, Ottawa residents were invited to “Share Our Light”, our first-ever community fair. It was an opportunity to get neighbours and friends to talk to each other about a topic that often doesn’t come up in daily conversations: how to end extreme poverty and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.
To help ignite the conversation, we handed out light bulb kits to people who stopped by the event. “We decided there should be two bulbs given out as part of ‘Share Our Light,” said Stuart Hickox, Canada Director for ONE. “One for the person at the door, and one that they could share with someone else. Most people don’t naturally strike up a conversation with each other about extreme poverty. We’re hoping this initiative can help change this so we can build support for increases in foreign aid spending that can end extreme poverty by 2030. That’s our shining goal.”
To shed some more light on the work that is directly helping the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people, we also invited multiple Ottawa-based international development NGOs including:
- The Grandmothers Advocacy Network (GRAN), a network of volunteers working together across Canada to advocate for the human rights of grandmothers, vulnerable children and youth of sub-Saharan Africa. Their work focusses on 3 main key areas: ensuring access to affordable medicines, improving access to education and ending violence against women and girls.
- Help Lesotho, an organization working to empower children and youth to become advocates for social justice and gender equity, and promote the prevention of HIV transmission.
- The Tumaini Children’s Project, an international youth-focused, non-profit organization that was founded in Ottawa and works to provide hope and opportunity to orphaned Kenyan children, many of whom have been affected by HIV/AIDS.
- Ethiopiaid Canada, which is dedicated to empowering people in Ethiopia to live healthy and productive lives.
- The Canadian Food Grains Bank, whose main goal is to provide food in times of crisis for hungry people in the developing world
- A Cup for Africa, which is helping orphans and vulnerable children and their families and other people in need to access the basic necessities of their lives through child sponsorship program
- The Canada Africa Community Health Alliance, an organization that seeks to improve health for rural communities through partnerships to facilitate programs for disease prevention, treatment, care, support, and education to the most vulnerable in Benin, Tanzania and Uganda.
- CanUgan which is providing assistive devices to Ugandans with physical disabilities to meet their mobility and communication needs and enable them to gain economic independence.
- Engineers Without Borders, which supports local innovators to accelerate their impact and apply their innovations on a global scale, to the benefit of millions.
- The Somali Education Fund, an organization of students and young people who work to make education more accessible for youth in Somalia.
Members of Youth Ottawa also helped spark the conversation by live-painting about climate change, poverty and gender equality on site. The Baobab Youth Performers lent their West African drumming and dancing skills to entertain, as did local hip-hop artist, King Kimbit.
We also had the pleasure of welcoming the Hon. Catherine McKenna, Member of Parliament for Ottawa Centre, to deliver remarks stressing the interconnectedness between ending extreme poverty and fighting climate change. She also highlighted the important role that citizens can play to ensure progress is made on global issues and how one small action by an individual can make an impact.
ONE Campaign members from Ottawa-Gatineau, Hamilton & Montréal continued this initiative outside by knocking on doors with Minister McKenna and delivering our LED bulb kits to residents in the area. Over 400 people stopped by the event and we reached a few hundred more while knocking on doors.
We were overwhelmed with the positive responses from people who stopped by the event and by the support we received from those in the neighbourhood and look forward to expanding this initiative beyond Ottawa.
You can also help us spread the light now! Sign our petition calling on Canada to do its fair share in international assistance.
Some photos from the day: