The World Partnership Walk (WPW) Victoria 2019 is happening on the 26th of May, and it is amazing to see how people are connected with the cause of fighting poverty. On this, the Walk’s 35th anniversary, it is important to remember that everything started when two immigrant women decided to fundraise in Canada to give back to their communities in Africa and Asia through the Aga Khan Foundation. In fact, the Walk Core Team in Victoria is primarily comprised of immigrants, and the team’s diversity and various perspectives resonate with the origin story of those two women 35 years ago, stepping out and starting the Walk from zero.
Karima Ramji is the chair of the Walk in Victoria. Originally from Kenya, Africa, Karima has been living with her family in Victoria for about 20 years. Ramji is an example of how far you can go when you have access to opportunities such as the Aga Khan Foundation programs. Because of the education she received in Kenya throughout these programs, she was able to immigrate to Canada as a student and found here her new home. Karima also has family roots in India, another reason why she feels so driven by the Walk.
“Since WPW supports programs in Asia and Africa, it is a good way for me to give back to regions of the world to which I have a personal connection.”
Nashreen Kajani and Barbara Unueroh relate a lot with this desire for giving back to their community. They are also from Africa—Nairobi and Nigeria, respectively. Nashreen moved to Canada when she was only 8 years old, but her roots with Africa remain strong. Nashreen expressed how blessed she feels with all the privileges that she and her family have access to in Canada. The Walk came as a perfect opportunity for her to help other mothers and children in need. Barbara also believes that she can make a difference in other people’s lives, by fighting for others’ freedoms and giving them the opportunity to grow and achieve their goals. She said that it is hard to accept that people are simply struggling to survive and to access basic resources when they should be evolving and pursuing their dreams.
“I am a mother I am motivated by maternal compassion—I feel it is my duty to make the lives of children and women better.”
“I want to help people to fight for their freedom. Freedom from suffering. Help them get a better life. I feel that I am able to stand for people who can’t stand for themselves now.”
The sense of community is strong among the team from other parts of the world as well. Malena Gonzalez Mojarro, originally from Mexico, and the Pakistan-born Nadia Ata assert their main volunteering motivation is the genuine desire to help others. Malena learned from her volunteering experiences how impactful one’s actions can be, and she believes that even the smallest acts of support can have a huge effect on people’s lives. Likewise, Nadia saw in the WPW an ideal platform to contribute her event management skills while supporting an important cause.
“I always try to put myself in their shoes and think of how I would feel if I was in their position. I treat people the way I would want to be treated.”
“Ever since my childhood, I always wanted to help humanity in any way I can.”
Asiyah Robinson is passionate about volunteering and its positive impact on the community. She is from the island of Freeport Grand Bahama, The Bahamas, and found on the Walk a chance to combine her passion for volunteering with her personal mission of empowering women around the world. She was thrilled to learn that the Aga Khan Foundation promotes programs for women empowerment that allow them to access the same educational and professional opportunities as men.
“Volunteering and service are in my blood. I live for being able to work with organizations and contribute any and all of my time to help and support these target communities and people. And I love being able to see the direct effect that my effort can have.”
The advantage of working as such a diverse team is that you learn a lot throughout the process. It is not only about volunteering and dedicating your time for something, but also about sharing your motivations with that of others. I will now talk in the first person for a moment and discuss a little bit about my own perspective. My name is Lara Costa, I am a writer and a newcomer in Victoria. I was looking for something meaningful to volunteer my time to and the WPW cause of fighting global poverty quickly caught my attention. However, I was particularly surprised with all the amazing stories I had the opportunity to learn and the level of commitment that each person is willing to give to the Walk. Even more than that, how emotionally involved they are with the Walk made me realize a powerful thing: more than the people in Africa and Asia that are being supported, this cause also benefits, on a personal level, every single person involved in it. I truly believe in the power of storytelling and how we can inspire and learn throughout different viewpoints. I think because our stories were already connected in some way, we met each other with the World Partnership Walk. By sharing our perspectives, we can inspire more people to help imagine and build a better story for those in need.
The experience goes beyond volunteering, it is about self-fulfilment and self-growth. It is helping yourself by helping others. As Karima Ramji articulated, “It is very satisfying to know that you can make a difference in regions of the world where you may never have been and benefit people you may never meet. It really connects us all as one human family.” It is possible to affirm the Walk Core Team in Victoria reflects the whole World Partnership Walk experience. A group full of diversity that found an opportunity to give back to the community, to use their skills towards a meaningful goal, or simply to embrace the desire to help others. No matter what purpose brought us here, the impact is the same. When we walk together, we are all going in the same direction.
Learn more about how to donate to The World Partnership Walk and walk with us on May 26th at the University of Victoria. www.worldpartnershipwalk.com