MY EXPERIENCE VOLUNTEERING AT WORLD VISION CANADA HQ

My name is Deanna Tayloo and I’m currently a third year student at The University of Guelph-Humber in The Family and Community Social Services Program. I take pride in both my school and program, because they offer both a degree and a diploma that can be achieved within just four years. They also offer 850+ hours of fieldwork to ensure that students’ get the most relevant knowledge and real life work experience through field placement. This year, I was lucky enough to get my placement at The World Vision office. During my time here, I support two teams: The Child and Sponsorship Operation team and The Youth and Student Engagement Team. The wonderful thing about this experience is that I’m working for a global NGO that serves the world’s most vulnerable people, which is valuable to me as someone who wishes to become a successful social worker in the near future.

World Vision staff work outside because the office has been damaged and is not safe to work in.   See also D260-0190 by Theodore Sam.  Summary: Photos provided by Corey Scarrow with WV Canada. Content covers WV Canada President Michael Messenger's trip to Nepal. Related video clips in GDAM/HEA/Nepal Eaarthquake folder on Sharefile.

With that being said, the tasks I do in the Child and Sponsorship Operation Team are mainly administrative. I like to think of the work I do here on this team as the behind the scenes action to the bigger picture. Think for example when you watch a movie, you only see the noteworthy outcome of the movie, but “behind the scenes” is where all of the time, effort, and devotion goes into to ensure that everything is perfect for the public to view. The tasks I do on The Youth & Student Engagement Team are mainly to support community outreach aspects. What I love about being apart of this team is that they help you to realize that everyone has the potential to change the world in some way and all it takes is some self conscious recognition and awareness that we are all capable of doing a good deed which believe this is at the heart of the youth team. They strive to reach out to younger generations knowing that they have the potential to lead the future and leave a lasting legacy behind. For example, something as simple as the “Do It Yourself Campaign,” which this team promotes, gives you all the power to create the change you want to see in the world.

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Coming to think of how all of this will be beneficial to me in the long run is because of what this experience has taught me. It taught me how to be grateful for everything that I have. Although I think this is something that everyone who is privileged should think, I’m reminded of this thought when I’m at World Vision. When I’m here, the staff members’ always remind me that the concept of love and hope is something so extraordinary that can heal all. They remind me that the children, families, and communities around the world in developing countries are not as privileged as we are, yet these communities feel so inspired, safe, loved, and secure by something as simple as our love, hope, vision to see change for them. As a whole, this experience has taught me that the “poor” are not just a group of people the “privileged” can easily define as non-productive group that we are obligated to help but they are real people who we have concern for and who we can help. Understanding what this means and how this feels will always be beneficial to anyone who is a social worker or in the helping profession, because we all have the desire to help others’ and advocate for them in the best way we can whether that may be volunteering or working for a global NGO like World Vision, or standing up for social justice on your own.

DEVELOPING THE WORLD’S YOUTH

In light of International Development Week in Canada, I attended Humber College’s celebration based on the eighth Sustainable Development Goal: Decent Work and Economic Growth. They developed their programing throughout the week to explore the theme of ‘Developing the Worlds Youth: Innovations in Entrepreneurship and Employment’. In the opening ceremony I enjoyed cultural songs and dances put on by the Humber music students, guest speakers from Save the Children and the MasterCard Foundation, and Humber’s International Development Program faculty.

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Going into this I had no idea what to expect. Yet, in just the first day, I felt the spark in my head, heart, and hands to pursue international development. What they said was true, this week was about creating a call to action and it definitely ignited that desire to act within me.

The organizations on the discussion panel on the first day were from Plan International, Save the Children, CUSO International, and Humber’s entrepreneurship partnership with an Indonesian University. I found that Plan and Save the Children held similar understandings and beliefs as World Vision, which was that child-centered community development is a primary priority in order to break the cycle of poverty.

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It may be obvious to some, but I learned that youth are the most unemployed populations in the world, which is why youth social entrepreneurship is presented as a solution. Adolescents aged 12-18 are of main focus for non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to work with as it’s pivotal point in development in which identity and beliefs are being built. As a ‘young adult’, I can relate. I have dreams, but no idea how to move them forward. More importantly, adolescents living in low-income, developing regions are experiencing a widening of the gender and education gap at that time in their lives. Girls may be required to get married and bear children, while boys are required to start work to support their families. One thing was made clear by the speakers – the cycle of poverty cannot be broken without transforming the intergenerational cycle.

This week of presentations was to inspire Canadian youth to become social entrepreneurs since this is a time when we “change makers” could be deciding whether to work for ourselves or for an organization. But, it was also to educate us on the impact of social entrepreneurs in developing areas around the world in creating employment and economic opportunities for their communities. Unfortunately, there are many barriers to entrepreneurship when youth already struggle with access to education, finances, transportation, and support, especially if they are a girl.

Between the guest speakers on the panels and the NGO marketplace with other international development organizations, my eyes were opened to the many ways to tackle the Sustainable Development Goals. It is not as clear as we may think, which is why it’s important to celebrate the small successes, be creative, and keep in mind how these goals are all interconnected to lead the world forward. Most importantly, change starts with inspiring the young generations to be the change they wish to see in this world.

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APPRECIATING THE LITTLE THINGS IN LIFE

A quote by Jimi Hendrix resonates my mind “When the power of love overcomes the love of power the world will know peace.” These words I find so strong because thousands of people, most especially children are affected by the aftermath of this – living in countries where there are power struggles and compromise is given the back seat. Having being raised in Kenya and experiencing the 2007-2008 post-election violence makes me appreciate the little things in life. Being able to walk freely, have access to food and even a good night without worrying about tomorrow. Reminiscing how I felt at that particular time gives me goosebumps. I do recall it was around the 30th of December 2007 when my family and I headed back to our home in Mombasa from celebrating Christmas holidays with loved ones in Kilifi. The election votes were being tallied and by around 6pm we had made it to our destination in time to watch the final results of the general elections being announced on national television. Little did I know that the impact it would have on me.

Our country was now under new management but not everyone was happy about it. Here we were back from our village trying to settle in and prepare a list of items we needed in the house then head out for shopping when we heard passers by yelling on the streets in protest. I just brushed it off and figured that those were just youngsters having fun. I remember we were all glued to the TV screen watching the events unfolding and the noise from the street were getting louder. My dad opted to go shopping alone just in case the commotion got worse. He made it to the store to grab some supplies but got a couple of “Sorry we are closing early; we don’t want to get robbed by the protestors.” As is the norm, when there are demonstrations that turn violent in my country, some people take advantage of the situation to loot and destroy property. So dad came back home empty handed.

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At that particular moment we had to survive with what we had and wait till the next day to see if things would cool down. By the time we were going to bed, protests were slowly building up in major towns in the country. Mombasa being a majorly Islamic town has plenty of mosques and they (the mosques) played an important role in unifying the community because the muezzins would warn people of any approaching danger. That night we were all woken up by the muezzin saying “We have an announcement everybody! Wake up! Wake up! You will be attacked! Stay alert! All men please go out and stay on guard! Women and children please don’t go out” this shook me to the core. All the men around our neighborhood spent the night out on guard. The women and children were left in the houses scared not knowing what would happen to our fathers despite them being armed with clubs and axes.

Fast forward January came and schools resumed. Fear was still looming in the air so parents were reluctant on letting their children off to school because of security concerns. I went back to school in February, since my school was quite a distance from home. It was in Eldoret, a town severely hit during the crisis. Cases of buses being hijacked and some getting burnt was frequent, making it safely to school was a relief to my family.

A couple of months later peace was restored, thousands of people were displaced, properties destroyed and loved ones lost. We as Kenyans were left with the task of picking up the pieces and rebuilding our great nation. More work still has to be done to restore the splendor of the nation and I can say Kenyans as a people are taking it one step at a time. Sitting down and reflecting on what children from war torn countries like Syria, Afghanistan , Iraq, South Sudan, Somalia and the Democratic Republic of Congo are going through on a daily basis it got me to appreciate the little things in life. 9 years down the line and the Kenyan general election being around the corner I stand in solidarity with thousands of other people around the world praying for a peaceful election in the land I call home – Kenya.