Each passing week brings news of the enormity of the challenges facing humanity and how small the world has become. The unmitigated impact of global climate change was laid out in the recent report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change; its dire warnings foreshadowed the devastation wrought by forest fires in California and BC and deaths last summer due to heat waves in Quebec. Assaults on the rights, dignity, and safety of women are becoming bolder. In Tanzania, where Crossroads works to advance the rights of girls and women the President has called women who use contraception “lazy”, while ordering pregnant female high-school students expelled. Canada has been recently reminded through high profile stories that we are not immune from our own “Me Too” moments.
Technology, trade, transportation and the internet have narrowed the distances between us. We are so interconnected. At the same time, it can feel daunting to consider how we as individuals can turn the tide to effect change…
…but we can. By connecting with like-minded people around the world we can speak with one voice, the way movements to expand human rights or address climate changes do; by supporting innovative partnerships between diverse organizations we can demonstrate the positive impact of international collaboration, the way Crossroads and its partners in the South do; by serving the causes you believe in with the skills and experience you possess you can lead by example. Canada, and Crossroads in particular, is fortunate to have many such citizens with this worldview and a passion for service.
On International Volunteer Day, we celebrate these new global citizens who are changing the world. Citizens like Winnipeg’s Fatou Seck, who is putting her financial services expertise to work to support women entrepreneurs in Senegal strengthen food security, or Victoriaville Quebec’s Robert Trudel, who is applying his legal experience with our partners in Tanzania supporting victims of violence, or Toronto photographer Sierra Nallo, who is finishing up one assignment in Ghana and will soon be departing for a second to help women advocate for climate change legislation. Thank you to all our volunteers our global citizens in Canada and in the global South. The Crossroads community grows richer each day for the all the gifts your bring.
Canada – the world – needs more of these global citizens to serve, to raise their voices, to empower the vulnerable and hold the powerful accountable.
After two and a half years at Crossroads, I am stepping down as Executive Director to return to Africa. I am so proud of the work we have accomplished and the lives we have touched. I am very grateful to the Board of Directors for providing me with this opportunity. I also wish to thank my colleagues in Toronto and Montreal, Crossroads’ partners in Canada and the South, and to all of our volunteers for their commitment, energy, and passion. It has been a wonderful journey and I know our paths will intertwine. I leave knowing the future of Crossroads is bright, and I look forward to supporting the organization as it continues to change the world.