Canadians helping communities fight poverty

by Sultan Jessa

Last year’s World Partnership Walk in Ottawa.

Last year’s World Partnership Walk in Ottawa.

Thousands of Canadians—in nine separate communities—will be pitching in later this month to help vulnerable communities in Africa and Asia climb out of poverty.

They will be participating in the World Partnership Walk, the largest and the longest running event of this kind in aid of global development in the country, to alleviate world poverty at a time when severe food crisis is escalating and sometimes erupting into unprecedented riots.

About 75,000 walkers, along with 1,000 corporate sponsors, in Ottawa, Toronto, Montreal, London, Kitchener, Calgary, Edmonton, Vancouver and Victoria will participate in the 24th annual event Sunday, May 25.

In Ottawa, the nation’s capital, and in London, the walk is scheduled for June 1.

The World Partnership Walk is an initiative of the Aga Khan Foundation Canada (AKFC) which, among other things, helps to raise funds and awareness in the fight against global poverty especially in African and Asian countries.

Since its inception in Vancouver in 1985, these walks have raised an unprecedented $40 million and last year alone $5 million was raised to fund education, improve health care, increase rural homes and build community organizations in countries like Pakistan, Bangladesh, India, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, Egypt, Syria, Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda and Mozambique.

The AKFC, a registered Canadian charity, is part of the Aga Khan Foundation, the world’s largest private international development network, established by His Highness the Aga Khan, the 49th hereditary imam of an estimated 12 million Ismaili Muslims.

The foundation is non-denominational agency dedicated to the promotion of equitable and sustainable development particularly in Asia, Africa and the Middle East without regard to faith, origin, or gender.

AKFC currently funds more than 40 development initiatives in a dozen developing countries.

All of the funds raised by participants in the walk go directly to international development initiatives like health programs, education and support for community-based initiatives. Not a single cent is spent on administration, which is covered by the foundation.

An official of AKFC said events like the World Partnership Walk bring Canadians together in a common effort to bring hope and renewal to some of the poorest nations in the world and provides a tremendous help in alleviating global poverty.

Funds raised by events like the walk help AKFC to leverage additional support from major donors like the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA).
The official added one of the most significant global challenges is fighting the far-reaching effects of poverty: “The walk’s continuing success is a tangible sign of the commitment of individual Canadians to the cause of global poverty alleviation.”

The foundation and the Canadian government, primarily through CIDA, have enjoyed a close working relationship for more than a quarter of a century. CIDA provides funding for a number of programs that the foundation supports in developing countries.

CIDA and AKFC work in close partnership to develop effective solutions to poverty.And with assistance from CIDA, the impact of funds raised in Canada is multiplied many times.

This effort by Canadians is helping to bring true meaning to the “partnership” between them and impoverished communities around the globe. This year’s event is of particular significance. It comes at a time when escalating food prices have and are triggering riots in Mexico, Morocco, Senegal, Uzbekistan, Guinea, Mauritania, and more recently, in Somalia.

This month Ottawa announced it would increase food aid to help ease the global crisis.

This is good news to millions of people whose existence is threatened by skyrocketing food prices. This new aid is not conditional.
Food can be bought anywhere on the planet, giving the recipients the biggest possible bang for their aid buck.

Aid agencies around the world are openly expressing fear they may not be able to feed the poorest of the poor. They expect 100 million people will experience food shortage. Fear that the global food crisis will provoke riots on an “unprecedented scale” has led the United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon to establish an international task force aimed at feeding the world’s hungry.

The secretary-general has called on rich nations to contribute $755 million (U.S.) that the international body’s World Food Program needs to meet the immediate needs.

Organizers of the 2008 walk are confident they will easily surpass the $5 million raised last year.

Events like this help create a better understanding of the world’s problems at a time when poverty leads to strife and suffering.

The Aga Khan Foundation is respected for the work it does in areas of health care, education, rural development and strengthening civil society. The foundation’s approach is unique. It makes a long-term commitment to creating opportunities for families and communities living in some of the poorest parts of the world become self-reliant.


Author: ismailimail

Independent, civil society media featuring Ismaili Muslim community, inter and intra faith endeavors, achievements and humanitarian works.

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