December 13, 2009 Vik Kirsch – Excerpts:
GUELPH — A group of Guelph students is trying to make a difference in the lives of citizens of a small south African nation, and the public can help.
They are working on a youth-focused documentary and hope to receive funding from Aviva Canada’s recently launched $500,000 community fund. A variety of community projects are vying in a competition for proposals and anyone can vote through the insurance firm’s contest website: http://www.avivacommunityfund.org.
“We have a responsibility here to help others elsewhere,” Abid Virani, co-founder and director of Student Reach International, said Sunday.
Simply called Hopeful Documentary, the video is intended to inspire students across Canada to raise $25 million to combat HIV and AIDS in Lesotho, an effort called Reach Lesotho.
It taps students both in Canada and the African nation through a common cause.
“Youth are making a difference,” said Virani, a Guelphite currently studying international development at McGill University in Montreal.
Virani, 19, said he has realized from travelling outside Canada that this country has much to be grateful for. That included a 2008 trip to his family’s modest origins in Uganda, which contrasted with a subsequently more comfortable living in Guelph. The Royal City is where his father, Altas Virani, is an information technology director and his mother, Yasmin Alidina, owns a hearing aid clinic, he said.
With a good living here for Canadians comes a responsibility to help others outside Canada reach their full potential, Virani reasoned.
He’s appealing to Canadians to endorse the Reach Lesotho project by voting for it on the Aviva website.