“An Exercise In Empathy and a Chance to Encourage Thoughtful Discussion”

Live Below the Lines Campaign Manager Erin Deviney interviews YCI Alum Shanna Sunley.

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Many of you who signed up for the Live Below the Line challenge on behalf of Youth Challenge International (YCI) already have a personal connection with the organization, just as Shanna Sunley does. I had the opportunity to catch up with Shanna as a Live Below the Line participant and YCI volunteer to find out why she had volunteered with YCI, why she had taken on the LBL Challenge and most importantly her thoughts on both of these actions.

Shanna went to Tanzania as a YCI Youth Ambassador earlier this year to facilitate project management and to provide leadership training to local youth in Zanzibar. Along with other Youth Ambassadors, Shanna was taught how to carry out a community health needs assessment in the local area, and later presented the findings to key stakeholders to inform future project planning. In addition, the YCI volunteers used their training to organize and host a local International Women’s Day event.

It is thrilling to know that individuals such as Shanna are dedicating their time to improving the wellbeing of communities. However, I was a pleasantly surprised to learn of her decision to make another personal commitment towards the eradication of extreme poverty after having returned from Tanzania. On this topic Shanna said,

I think it (LBL) is an opportunity to be a global citizen. It stimulates reflection about the huge inequities that exist in our world, and takes a massive international issue down to the personal level. It is an exercise in empathy and a chance to encourage thoughtful discussion.”

Shanna’s efforts in the Live Below the Line campaign have had a significant impact on many levels – from raising awareness of global youth development to raising awareness of the issue of extreme poverty. Shanna has successfully raised over $300 to support the work of YCI, an organization that she knows to be effective and sustainable. In fact, in knowing that there are over 1.8 billion people between the ages of 10 and 24 in the world, YCI is unique in that they believe in, and embrace, the power of young people to contribute to their own development.

Also, every conversation that Shanna has had with friends and colleagues about LBL has raised further awareness about the issue of extreme poverty. Yet this challenge is very personal to Shanna having had come back from Tanzania recently. The Live Below the Line experience gave her further insight into the everyday realities of her host family and community members in Tanzania.

As Live Below the Line‘s Campaign Manager, I am continually inspired by Shanna and the hundreds of other Canadians who dared to partake in the Live Below the Line challenge. If you haven’t had the opportunity to embark on this unique challenge or to fundraise, you can still participate until June 30th.

That’s less than 2 weeks away. So, join Live Below the Line before it’s too late. Your efforts will raise awareness of extreme poverty and help support the critical work that Youth Challenge International is doing to end it.



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