Question the Status Quo
Written by: Leanne Prescott (East Coast Coach)
As far back as I can remember I have asked WHY there was injustice in the world.
- Why are some families hungry?
- Why are some children forced to work?
- Why are some people without clean water?
“Because that’s the way it’s always been” has never been a good enough answer for me. And although this answer was designed to be a comfort somehow, I know in my heart that just because something has always been doesn’t mean it is right.
This answer reflects contentment with the status quo and can sound uncaring and thoughtless. It says the injustice is normal. However, the more I have asked WHY, I’ve learned that being content with the status quo is one of many ways a compassionate heart protects itself. Asking these big questions is so uncomfortable for many people because the problems are tremendously big and the answers are complicated.
I may never have the answers to WHY so many people suffer, but I can change the question to one that can always be answered:
- Some families are hungry. What will I do to help?
- Some children are forced to work. What will I do to help?
- Some people don’t have access to clean water. What will I do to help?
It takes courage to continue to ask WHY even when it is uncomfortable. It requires commitment when you change the questions entirely and begin to ask WHAT. Suddenly you are a part of the solution. When you change the questions, real people with real challenges receive hope.
My search for answers to the world’s injustice has brought me on an incredible journey of advocacy and activism. It is good to ask questions and to challenge the status quo. The very best questions will lead you to act.
Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’
Martin Luther King, Jr.
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Written by: Candice – Youth Ambassador
In 2000, world leaders came together and created the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), a set of eight goals to reduce extreme poverty to be achieved by 2015. These goals include improving maternal health, eradicating extreme hunger, and fighting HIV/AIDS, malaria, and other diseases. Fast forward to 2014. Although some progress has been made, the world is nowhere near close to achieving these goals by 2015.
Fast forward to a few weeks ago. I went on a trip to Ottawa with the Millennium Development Kids, an organization of children and youth who aim to encourage the governments who signed the MDGs to follow through on the promises made. The goal of the trip was to deliver a petition by the Millennium Development Kids. This petition called for the Canadian government to make good on its promise to designate 0.7% of Canada’s gross national product to official development assistance.
When we got to Ottawa, we sat in on a House of Commons session, where we got to see the petition get presented to the Members of Parliament (MPs). The MPs gave our group a standing ovation for our work in collecting signatures for this petition, making us feel the importance of our accomplishment. We all walked out excited and proud of ourselves for achieving this awesome feat . As I walked out of the House of Commons, one question popped into my head: “Now what?” Sure, the MPs were applauding us now, but what action would they take to make this petition come to life?
The question of “what happens next?” haunted me on the entire bus ride back to Toronto. By now, the MPs would have moved on to their next order of business, and things may have Although it seemed like the MPs were so inspired by the action that our group had made, the reality is that Canada is not following through on its promise it made in 2000 to follow through on the MDGs.
Canada has made important strides towards supporting the MDGs, including promising to give $3.5 billion towards child and maternal health between 2015 and 2020. Although this significant step has been taken, there is still so much more to be done. That pledge addressed two of the MDGs, but what about Canada’s commitment to the other six?
Now for the question you must be asking: “So what can we do?”
1. Keep petitioning. We need to call out our government to uphold the promises its made, as well as let the government know that the MDGs are important to us. Get people to sign the petition, write a letter to your local MP, or tweet your MP. Get the message out there.
2. Tell a friend. Knowing is half the battle, so tell a friend about the MDGs. Let people know about these goals, and how achieving them will better the life of BILLIONS of people.
3. Don’t stop. One thing this trip has taught me is that perseverance is key. Your voice is important, so let it be heard. Don’t let discouragement stop your voice from making an impact.
What do you get when two dozen university students go hungry for 30 hours?
In March 2014, the Memorial University World Vision Society had its inaugural 30 Hour Famine, and it was a blast. Strategically located in the University Centre next to the largest cafeteria on campus, a great deal of awareness was made; not only about our newly established society, but about world hunger and global poverty. There was information provided to students about the vulnerabilities of children around the world, and how they can make a difference. There were different trivia games where individuals could participate and win a pair of orange glasses to sport around. There were even students providing personal testimonies of what they’ve experienced first hand in the developing world, and why our actions are so significant.
While global hunger is a very serious issue, there was lots of fun and games happening in our “30 Hour Famine HQ.” The society provided many engaging activities such as “Minute To Win It”, where students had to start and finish a game in less than a minute. There was also a section for board games, a photo scavenger hunt, a photo booth, and even a place for students to hit the books. Perhaps the biggest hit of the day was the “Sit down and make a friend” activity, where two strangers sat in an inflatable pool filled with colorful balloons with questions on them to ask your new friend. There were certainly plenty of new friends made that day.
At the end of the 30 hours all students broke the fast together, where we ate pastries, light sandwiches, and juice. All in all, over $2,700 was raised during the two days our event took place, exceeding all expectations we had in our first year. Like always, there will be some changes to be made. But the difference a few students can make by coming together, going hungry and helping the poor is unmeasurable. I have a feeling that Memorial University’s 30 Hour Famine is the first of many more to come.
Breanne | Lethbridge, AB
I feel so blessed to be a part of such an amazing team of interns here at World Vision. We all come from different backgrounds and have different strengths and passions, yet we are all working toward the common goal of helping children living in poverty. This internship has taught me so much about what it means to live in poverty and what it takes to solve the problem. Most importantly, this internship has taught me that I would really love to continue working with youth and students in a dynamic atmosphere that allows for creativity and open communication. I have gained experience in talking to crowds of people, making marketing phone calls and have learned the art of time management. This internship has been an experience that I will never forget and I will continue to apply what I have learned to my day to day life.
Megan | Winnipeg, MB
I am grateful for bridging opportunities, those that connect you from where you stand and take you to a place you thought impossible. My internship acted as such a bridge during a critical time of my life, a time when I needed to test my skills and gain a deeper confidence in them. During my 8 months at World Vision, I was supported by incredible leadership in the Youth & Student Engagement Department, people who poured into my life and stood beside me as I dug deeper internal wells. In this internship, I was trusted to expand partnerships and network, speak at conferences, present social justice content to youth and students, facilitate leadership workshops, build campaign content, and help support the World Vision campaigns that ignite change locally and internationally. Working remotely, with a national team stretched from coast to coast, I refined a time management, organization, and self-motivation skillset that I believe has prepared me for the next leg of my journey. There are great things to come and I thank World Vision Canada for equipping me and inspiring me forward.