Written by: Miranda, Youth Ambassador
If you had told me that I would be shaving my head when I first received the email inviting me to apply to become a Youth Ambassador with World Vision, I would’ve laughed in your face.
As I was writing my application I was thinking about where I was in my life at that point, and the goals I had for the future. I had just gone on the first two trips of my life, first to Mexicalli, Mexico to build a church and Sunday school with my youth group, and then to Spain and France with my school. I had a desire to not only see the world, but also change the world. I wanted to impact individuals beyond my close family and friends, and broaden my world-views in the process. So when World Vision’s Youth Ambassador Program stumbled into my inbox, I leaped at the opportunity.
Prior to that point, I had participated in the 30 Hour Famine several times, but knew nothing of World Vision beyond that. By the time I found out I had been accepted into the program, I was still fairly blind to the initiatives World Vision participated in, outside of knowing they aligned somewhat with my desire to see a change in the world.
Two months into the program, I was still struggling to not only come up with an impact project, a task assigned to us with the purpose of having every YA create a difference, but also to find my voice in a group of amazing individuals. I’m not overly shy, but compared to some of the YA’s I met, I felt meek. The YA’s I met throughout the program are nothing if not some of the most intelligent, driven and compassionate individuals I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting, and one thing is for sure, they drove me to try to be remarkable myself, even if it was just to keep up with all of the differences they were making in the world.
By the time the impact project proposals were due, I still wasn’t really sure what direction I was heading in. However, the issue of human trafficking had really caught my attention, and tugged at my heart. As the eldest of three younger sisters, the prospect of any young individual being sold and valued for only their body horrified me. The only problem was I wasn’t entirely sure how I could make a change with so little resources available as a youth.
I decided to shave my head because I wanted to show people that you could make a difference no matter what kind of resources you have, as well as make a statement about what human trafficking victims struggle with. The symbolism behind shaving my head was really about the contrast between Canadian culture and that of Bangladesh. Here in Canada, I have continued to be a contributing member of society even after I’ve shaved my head, because I’m valued for so much more than my body, but for human trafficking victims in Bangladesh, they are told they don’t have a worth outside of their body.
Shaving my head was a nerve-wracking experience, and I wouldn’t have wanted it to be any other way. I felt a lot of doubt and hesitation leading up to the experience. It was difficult to lose a part of me that defined who I was so much as a person, and I will admit that I struggled a lot with my perception of myself afterwards. However, I value these struggles as much as I value the good that came out of the campaign. The fact that I’ve struggled with my self-esteem following shaving my head reflects the society we live in, and the kind of problems that aren’t only huge issues in human trafficking, but in my everyday life. Why is it that something so non-permanent and unreflective of my personality plays such a huge bearing on my self-perception? Why is it that shaving my head made such a huge statement with people, when my hair hardly reflects who I am at all?
I think that my journey with the Shave to Save campaign has opened my eyes to a lot of injustice in the world, but it has also given me hope that it can be changed. The fact that Fion and I raised over $6000 is still staggering to me, and proves to me that people truly do care. I may never even meet an individual who was truly impacted by my campaign, and neither will any of those who sponsored us, and that says a lot to me about the capacity of human compassion. The fact that two young women in Canada can fight for the rights of young women in Bangladesh is incredible to me, and it’s really taught me not to underestimate the capabilities of our generation to make a mark.
It goes without saying that as much as Shave to Save changed the lives of those impacted by our sponsor’s generosity, it also changed mine in ways I would never have thought possible. It taught me that no human voice should be silenced. Every time an individual speaks up, a change is made, and a spark ignited. It taught me that human compassion knows no bounds, and as much as we can get caught up in our daily lives here in Canada – where we are blessed with freedoms that so many do not enjoy. There is no reason to ignore the capacity we have to spread equality and justice. Shave to Save taught me to not sit back and wait for change to happen, but to bring change into the lives of those around me. Shave to Save isn’t something that ends in me shaving my head, the real journey has just begun. My desire to change the world is only just being shaped, and I really can’t wait to see where the desire for change takes me next.
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