Passion for big change in a Small World

My background in Community Development work...

For the past two decades I’ve enjoyed working in the NPO (non-profit) and NGO (non-governmental) sector as a community development worker, writer and coordinator of volunteers, campaigns and events.  Working with Social Service and Humanitarian organizations locally and overseas, I’ve had the opportunity to work with Refugees, Immigrants, children and youth, adults with developmental disabilities and communities in other countries.  I have gained valuable experience in the areas of advocacy, outreach, programming, public engagement, partnership development, events, volunteer and campaign coordination.  A few of the amazing NGO’s I’ve worked with are Amref Health Africa, Habitat for Humanity and Oxfam Canada.  I am presently serving on the Board of Directors for the Gerladina Orphanage and Education Centre based in Bukoba, Tanzania.  All of these experiences have solidified my commitment towards a person-centred approach within a human rights and social justice framework.   Through my networking initiative for positive change ‘YIMBYNation’ (YIMBY stands for “YES, in my backyard!”), I utilize social media and collaboration with other NPO/NGO groups to facilitate community development, build or strengthen networks and mobilize individuals and groups towards social justice, human rights and community activism.  Some achievements I’m proud to carry out on a continual basis are coordinating events and fundraising activities for local and international organizations, participation in short-term community development projects abroad and assisting in advocacy campaigns for women, children and marginalized communities.  One such community project I founded is called 'SWAP Society', where like-minded individuals organize fashion-friendly events to raise funds for local and international causes. As a photographer, I enjoy using my photography as a medium for promotion, creativity and education in my Community Development work.  To see the photos from these projects, be sure to check out my Flickr page!

"Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter."  Martin Luther King, Jr  

Read about my Journey to Zambia here.

Thoughts on big change for a Small World: 

Developing a passion for working with people and towards positive social change in this world, I guess it was inevitable that I would work within local and international community development.  I’m constantly inspired by others who live by their words.  I hope to learn from their model of transforming the world at a grassroots level by helping others feel involved, engaged and empowered.  I believe this starts by challenging negative assumptions and so-called ‘hopelessness’.   Only then can we see the potential in each other, learn from our mistakes and plan for a better future.   

We need to build relationships before we build projects!  It’s vital to value people’s knowledge and experiences in order to encourage empowerment.  When we act as though we are the expert and singularly impose our own knowledge and goals, we are trying to enforce our own power over others.  There is no such thing as ‘value-free’ knowledge.  A community will thrive when there is respect and dignity for all, and when everyone works together from the inside out, collectively building on each individual contribution towards a common goal. 

We are all responsible and change only happens through our actions. A sense of responsibility comes through awareness and through the willingness to see beyond our everyday lives.  Working towards sustainable, positive change necessitates a participatory approach within an environment of equality. We need to create and protect inclusive spaces for people to live, enjoy life and work together.  With a plethora of development philosophies, there are few issues (or for that matter, solutions) that are tackled easily.   That said, we should never forget that just as Community Development is a continual process, our approaches and perspectives in this area need to continually evolve as well. 

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” ~ Margaret Mead 

With my good friend and fellow GOEC Board Member (and International Fundraising Director) Emily Mallett-Jhita, at our most recent Clothing Swap Fundraiser Event held at the organization 'Sistering' in Toronto.  100% of our proceeds go towards GOEC, and any clothing items leftover after the event were donated to the women in the Sistering Program. Check out more pictures of our Fundraising activities for GOEC, as well as other community events I have worked with on my Flickr site. 

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My Community Development links:

Read more about my work with the Gerladina Orphanage and Education Centre (GOEC) in Bukoba, Tanzania here.

Click here for more information on the Community Organizations & partners I've worked with  and /or recommend ~ in addition to more useful links!  

Believing in the power of a community that works together, I endeavor to connect the people, tools & spaces in order to promote action for a better world; one which proclaims “change begins in our own backyards!”.  In Swahili, the words ‘Pamoja, Umoja Ni Nguvu’ mean ‘Together, Unity is Power’.  I believe that together, we have the power to make change happen! 

Thoughts on the value of the school of life... 

An admirer of autodidactsI consider learning a life-long pursuit.  I despise the obsession with educational titles and the status it apparently brings.  Instead, I prefer to summarize my background as a combination of studies in Food Security, Local and International Community Development and early on in my career, Travel & Tourism.  I’ve enjoyed credit and non-credit courses in Art, History, Photography, beginner level language courses (Mandarin, Spanish & Swahili), sewing, drumming and dance.  My ‘learning’ bucket-list seems to increase the older I get, and I still haven’t given up on the idea of going back to school for culinary arts!  Of all my personal achievements, a few recent ones I’m most proud of include building houses in Zambia, pursuing my small aircraft flying license and hiking up a mountain...solo! 

 Nobody can make you feel inferior without your permission.”  ~ Eleanor Roosevelt

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