“If you want to go far, go together.” As we celebrate National Volunteer Week, this African proverb resonates. Over the last 60 years, Crossroads International has worked with more than 9,000 volunteers and year after year, we witnessed the change they accomplished, the lives they contribute to improve by working with locals as equals. When we come together, when we work together, we can do great things. In 2016-2017 alone, our volunteers gave 54,077 hours to advance women’s rights and fight poverty in Africa and South America. Some worked with Girls’ Clubs, empowering young girls to speak up and know their rights. Others worked with women and youth to improve their leadership skills or develop their business. Young Quebeckers spent the summer in Senegal working with our partner APROFES to optimize garden plots, therefore helping improve food security. These volunteers may have had different mandates, but they all worked together with partners, beneficiaries or other volunteers to implement change. They all took part in a movement improving the situation of women, girls and youth, their work taking us a step further toward gender equality and ending poverty.
“If you want to go far, go together.” This idea is particularly timely. Emergence of movements like “MeToo” or “Times Up” showed us how powerful we become when we rally together behind the same cause. Thanks to these movements, sexual misconduct happening in all walks of life are now centre stage. Violence against women is finally evoking the outrage it deserves. The silence has finally been broken. United our voices can’t be ignored.
Volunteer Cooperation can also be a movement for change. In addition to supporting local partners and beneficiaries to change their reality, volunteers can change the discourse here in Canada. By talking about their work overseas, volunteers can raise awareness about the issues they helped fight during their mandates. And by doing so they can inspire other Canadians to volunteer or to take a stand for women’s rights or for more funding for international development. Real global citizens, volunteers bring a new perspective based on their valuable experience but also values and new skills to enhance their communities.
Our volunteers by working in solidarity with our partners are doing great things. I would like to thank them for sharing their time, expertise and passion and for being real catalysts for change. They are an example for all of us and their dedication and work deserve to be praised and celebrated.