I was sent to volunteer in Africa…

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My students at it again!

  • Malaria
  • Women empowerment
  • HIV/Aids
  • Child marriage
  • Street kids
  • Corruption in government
  • Drug abuse

Encompasses a small list of what my students are interested about. Their average age is mid-twenties and they’re all interested in tackling issues of this size. They want to volunteer at their placements and on top of that, observe other class members who have gone into at-risk communities to do their research on community assessments to identify problems and try to find solutions for those communities.

To complete a year long course of “Emerging Leaders” program, they are to complete two grant proposals from the research they have done from the previous course in how to assess communities. They find the weakest links of the communities and address those issues. As part of this, I have given them the opportunity to also be placed in another NGO that best matches their interests and to begin working on the issues at hand.

Not one friend I know back home actively pursue the interests of these likes, of course to each their own, but the idea of contributing time to make real changes in the world, especially with all the harsh criticism that’s vocalized almost everyday and spewing onto Facebook. The only thing I see back home are people complaining about what’s wrong with the world. Few take charge to write to their MPs. Even fewer still goes out to protests. And still, even less – and at this point I’m scratching the bottom of the barrel to say anyone I know – goes out to volunteer time, effort and commitment to try and change anything that they’ve complained passionately about in hot debates while we were hanging out.

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Working away!

Why do I feel like we carry this huge misconception in the “West” that everyone else in the world is lazy if they’re not “rich”. It seems the “West” is even lazier and all we know how to do is complain.

It’s not that the people in the country don’t want change. Everyone I’ve come across is adamant about it. They want change in the biggest way.

Even more so in the less developed world. I see the most enthusiasm for change here than at home. In fact, they are working toward it starting with the community level. Changes there influence key decision makers that eventually gather momentum. Most approaches and methods include contacting politicians and key decision makers to accomplish change.

I was not prepared for the amount of enthusiasm and energy my students want this change. They crave it. They are so hungry to do something about it. They are so motivated to make the world a better place. If we soak up even just 1% of their motivation and apply it to ourselves in Canada, the impact from that would ripple a thousand times and create change in the direction that all Canadians want.

My students are doing it, how are we as a more “developed” country so far behind?

Ian Chow Youth Ambassador, Tanzania, 2013. Originally posted in Ian Chow’s blog, http://www.explorationsevolution.blogspot.ca.

To read more about YCI’s programs in Tanzania, click hereTo read more blogs from our volunteers in Tanzania, click here.

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