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Kindness during Crisis, it’s a Canadian thing

POSTED May 21, 2024

Kindness during Crisis, it’s a Canadian thing

Read how the recent Canadian federal budget’s investment in humanitarian aid over the next two years is a crucial step in helping vulnerable people worldwide

By Fred Witteveen, CEO, ceo@childrenbelieve.ca

ghana schoolkids

The recent Canadian federal budget added a fair bit of global goodwill to its bottom line, promising an investment of $350 million towards humanitarian aid over the next two years. It’s really an encouraging development for someone like me, running an international children’s charity. And it should be for you too. Yes, the economic environment in Canada is complex and there’s a lot of need at home. But doing all we can to help people living on the edge of survival amidst war and natural disasters is not only the right thing to do — it’s always been the Canadian way.

At Children Believe we look forward to the opportunity to partner with the Government of Canada on these new commitments. Our organization is very serious about growing our impact in a number of areas affected by crisis, including Ethiopia and Burkina Faso. And this pledge couldn’t have come at a better time, because the truth is, the global funding gap between humanitarian need and humanitarian funding has risen from $6.3 billion in 2013 to $44.7 billion in 2023.

Choices Stolen in an Instant

Throughout my career, I’ve seen how people can have their lives turned completely upside down when disaster strikes. I’ve seen firsthand how conflict can force people from their homes, have them literally flee for their lives only to run headlong into a future filled with more danger. And I’ve seen how weather-related disasters — too much rain, too little rain, rain at the wrong time — can pose a major threat to the health and safety of anyone in its path.

I feel heartbreak when I think of young people like Mounia in Burkina Faso, whose family had been hit by one tragedy after another.

“I was a victim of rape during the security crisis in my community,” she told us. Circumstances were so bad that Mounia, her mother and her child had to leave their home and ended up at a camp for displaced people. It was a time of darkness and despair.

The terrible reality is that right now there are 110 million people like Mounia around the world and more than half of them children. Conflict, extreme weather and human rights violations are all conspiring together to rob children of their choices one by one until they have none. Leaving these children feeling vulnerable, hopeless and powerless.

Choices Restored

Thankfully, I’ve seen how tragedy can turn to triumph. After a month in the camp, Mounia found hope through the helping hand of a social worker from a Children Believe program funded by Canadian generosity. She and her family received not only food, but also health and psychosocial support so that healing could begin.  

Fast-forward four years later, Mounia has not only been able to finish high school, she is now studying psychology and psychosocial intervention in university to help other young women who have suffered from similar acts of violence.

“I want to specialize in psychology in order to provide solutions to these crimes,” she says. “I want to one day become a humanitarian aid worker who will be responsible for taking care of people who have been subjected to gender-based violence.”

Mounia’s recovery was made possible because the right resources were available at the right time. It’s stories like these that demonstrate the importance of having Canada play its part on the global stage in order to reach more people like her and the communities they live in. It’s much more than a moral obligation, it’s an investment in the long-term security, stability and sustainability of the planet.

That’s why Children Believe has joined a coalition of Canadian NGOs and philanthropic institutions to promote the Bigger than our Borders campaign. We’re encouraging the government to use its upcoming G7 Presidency to further demonstrate its leadership by engaging other nations towards reversing the global decline in official development assistance. If we do, we’ll all be doing our part to create more lights in the darkness.

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ABOUT CHILDREN BELIEVE:

Children Believe works globally to empower children to dream fearlessly, stand up for what they believe in — and be heard. For 60+ years, we’ve brought together brave young dreamers, caring supporters and partners, and unabashed idealists. Together, we’re driven by a common belief: creating access to education — inside and outside of classrooms — is the most powerful tool children can use to change their world.

About ChildFund Alliance:

A member of ChildFund Alliance, Children Believe is part of a global network of child-focused development organizations working to create opportunities for children and youth, their families and communities. ChildFund helps nearly 23-million children and their families in 70 countries overcome poverty and underlying conditions that prevent children from achieving their full potential. We work to end violence against children; provide expertise in emergencies and disasters to ease the harmful impact on children and their communities; and engage children and youth to create lasting change and elevate their voices in decisions that affect their lives.

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