Better Together

Think of a time when you had to do something that was beyond your ability and strength. What did you do to get help? For many of us, our first reaction would probably be to seek help from another. Helping one another is an indispensable component of a healthy relationship, family, and community. At the core of social justice activism is the hope to create a just society where each citizen and community plays its part to help one another. Therefore, in our journey to do good and justice in this world, it is vital that we don’t go alone, but together. It’s just better to go together.

There are three reasons that journeying together on a team is better. First, each individual brings with them unique abilities, talents, and resources, that when mixed with what the others bring, can create amazing solutions and results in and through the team. Often, you discover who you are and what you are to do in your relationship to others, for the most meaningful life is tied to being in relationship with and helping others.

Second, a team is place where you can give and receive help. A famous proverb says, “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up.” Discouragement, pain, and failures will often look to overwhelm us in the work of social justice activism, therefore having teammates who can encourage and help one another up is vital to keep persevering.

And finally, it is with a team that the impact for what you are fighting for can be multiplied and turned into a movement. We, at World Vision Youth Canada, believe in the power of youth activist journeying together as team. From coast to coast, we are witnessing teams of youth rallying their communities to believe in a better future for the world’s most vulnerable children. Through the 30 Hour Famine, we are seeing teams of youth using their abilities, talents, and resources to raise awareness about global hunger and child protection, to raise funds to help communities with insecure food supplies, and to build up one another. With the commitment to encourage and help one another, these youth teams are demonstrating that it is possible to make a difference. Although, one team’s action may seem small, added up they are fueling a movement that is impacting lives and brining people together. Margaret Meed was right in her observation: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

Heart of Integrity

Do what gives your heart the most integrity
A friend of mine said this to me a couple years ago on New Years eve. We were talking about our dreams and goals for the new year and all I could say was, ‘I just want to heal the world- but sometimes I don’t know how, or I’m afraid’.

This passion that we have for wanting to see a change in the world, should always be matched by listening – listening to those living in injustice and listening to our hearts. We might not know how to change the world, but we know that we can. If that intention was put on your heart, it is there because there is enough strength and courage in you to do it.

This past year I wanted to do what gave my heart the most integrity.

1. Connect with people that I had met on my travels- without relationship, my so called love for the world is a broken promise.
2. Break walls down- Push through.
3. Be grounded- But let your dreams soar, you are capable.
4. Take risks.
5. Seek Justice in the everyday.- Justice is the restoration of every violation of love.

As I look past these last 12 months, I can tell you that having these intentions in my heart and living them out was the best way to sew back the fibres of the broken promises I had made to myself and all the wonderful people I have met on my past ‘service’ trips.

I started with calling and emailing amazing people I had met in Tanzania, Bolivia and El Salvador. People that at one moment showed me what it was to tangibly live Justice out as a life style, from Meru Peak orphanage, to The Bolivian Children’s Mission and Mons. Ricardo Ayala(Oscar Romero’s secretary). The encouragement that comes from a community of people who everyday fight for the betterment of children, the restoration of our planet and access to education was the fire I was going to build on, in order to continue with my intentions for the year.

I did what I knew I could tangibly do in that moment – which was tell my story and the story of my family – a family that fled a war stricken El Salvador but that saved many peoples lives while living through brutal violence.

So I wrote, and got published in the Latin American Researcher’s of Ontario Annual Magazine Tell Your Story. It matters.

This was my way of breaking down walls and pushing through, not being afraid of my own voice.

I was reminded daily that I had a dream of working in a job that would stretch me, force me to take risks and live out the day to day I was trying to live. World Vision was on my horizon, sometimes its when you feel the most broken, that you find courage in your heart to be who you have always been. Building and being community have been forces in my daily life that remind me that restoration in communities come from youth that lead with open hearts. We are invited to be that hopeful.

Be bold – Dream – You are capable.

Take risks.

At the end of October of this year, I was given the incredible opportunity of traveling to Colombia to visit two friends who are doing beautiful work in the city of Medellin. Being back in Latin America (where my family is from) gave me back the passion I had willfully given away, when I allowed my fear of not knowing how to change the world get in the way. My friend Maria Antonia has an art school for kids, visual art, music, dance, theatre- it was beautiful to see the kids as they discovered their creativity at Maquerule School. Padre Cesar is a priest working at the Seminary of Medellin, a teacher at the Pontifical University and works in one of the poorest barrios of Medellin, Santo Domingo. I spent an afternoon in that Barrio with him- and it broke me, it filled me with many emotions that I don’t have words for. All I know is that as I calculated my words all I could do was blurt out love- my way of healing the world, was to connect, was to honour communities, to listen, and to write. This community has been slowly integrating, education for children and adults, opportunities for employment and transportation in order to access the rest of the city (as they are on top of a mountain). As I share the story of this community, I can tell you that we have started a conversation with World Vision Colombia and we are hoping to see more changes come to this community. The lack of education and the poverty of this community (like so many) is a systemic plague, but by working with the community, we know that injustice can disintegrate itself from the future of this community.

Seek Justice in the everyday – Justice is the restoration of every violation of love. – This goal I will be bringing with me in to the new year, I want every movement I make, to be embedded in to the foot prints of justice that is reborn everyday, when we decide to let love move us. Take this year as a challenge- the whole year. Smile brighter, be kinder, act more intentionally and do what brings your heart the most integrity.

To set you off for this year, I invite you to take our 12 Days of Christmas Challenge, step in to this experience with fire in your bones, a racing heart and hands ready to work!

We are bound by justice – seek it everyday.