A lot of people may think that my platform is cliche or ‘typical’ but it comes from a place that is near and dear to my heart. This is to explain to everyone why I chose poverty and where my platform comes from.
I am Canadian through and through but I have not spent my entire life in Canada. I was blessed to have been able to travel and grow up in places people can only dream of; Beautiful places like Thailand, Penang, Borneo, and Beijing! Travelling Asia has been so rewarding but eye opening at the same time. Being given the chance to see these places was incredible. I got to ride elephants in Thailand, ride horses on the beach in Brazil, hike up to the middle of the jungle to feed wild orangutans, and see the Great Wall of China (more than once).
Living and travelling these places was absolutely life changing but it was not all beauty. With every new city, or small town I came across, like any other place, had it’s under privileged. It was nothing like the homeless you see downtown Vancouver. Children, who could not be more than 10, were begging for money at traffic lights; men who could not walk, did not have a home, food, or even spare change were lying in the street begging for someone to pity them enough to spare some money. Seeing such extreme poverty at such a young age really takes its toll.
At first I could pass by it and pity those who were less fortunate, hope for the best and move on. It was not until I got lost in a temple on the top of a mountain, with my best friend and brother. We got separated from my mom and had no idea what to do or where to go, this is when the a beautiful monk came and got our attention. We had met him before and shared bracelets but he must have seen the panic in our eyes. He was sworn to silence because of his religion so he just waved and led the way;
He took us to a room with all the other monks from the temple where they had made lunch. They must have thought we were hungry and saw we were totally beside ourselves. They had given us a bowl of food, (saying no was not an option) and let us wait with them until my mom realized we weren’t back down the mountain. I could not believe the kindness of these men who did not know us. It was their selflessness that was the first step to my platform.
After that I had the opportunity to attend We Day, hosted by Free the Children Foundation, which was surreal. Free the Children’s founder Craig Kielburger started a movement that has impacted youth all over the world. Their story to improve conditions for people at home and over seas was truly inspiring. They have been so successful in helping bring clean water, health care, sanitation to third world towns, and so many more success stories that I vowed to help. The entire experience was moving and sparked a need to make a difference like they have.
So instead of hoping for better I strive to make a difference in their lives. Anything that will put a smile on the child in the street or help the man who had lost his hope is the most rewarding feeling I could have ever imagined. Even just the smallest gestures of kindness made a difference; like letting the little girls touch my lashes to see if they were real, taking photos with children who had never seen a blonde, or sparing the money I had when I could, while travelling.
Most do not realize how lucky they are just having a roof over their head and some food in their belly, a lot seem to take that for granted these days. Travelling has made me see how much people need help. They are stuck in poverty while the world has plenty of money to take those who need it most out of it. I believe if we band together we can make a true difference in peoples lives and show that we are not a lost generation.