My parents always taught my siblings and I that helping others is not a favour; but that it is we who are favoured if we are involved in helping others. It doesn’t matter how we help – what’s important is that we do.
During my youth (admittedly then at the prodding of my mother), I was a regular volunteer at various food banks and women’s shelters in my hometown of Montreal. The past decade has seen me volunteering internationally with refugees and displaced populations.
It’s been an incredible journey – ups and downs. Facing innumerable challenges. Many sleepless nights. Countless emotional moments. Seeing people die surrounded by indignity, misery and injustice. And in that indignity, misery and injustice, people who were on the verge of death, find strength to live and see another day.
The suffering and destitution of so many of our fellow humans is overwhelming and can engulf one’s sense of reality. And yet, the irony is that in the most miserable circumstances caused by the deepest depths of depravity, do you see the greatest spirit of humanity. You see the unparalleled courage and resilience of those affected, and the compassion and empathy of aid workers and common volunteers.
As a Canadian, being a humanitarian comes naturally. It is a concept deeply rooted in our tradition, from coast-to-coast-to-coast, to support those in need by being the vessel one can always count on to help, to welcome, to share.
It is in light of this context and with this thought process that OBAT Canada has come into being.
I hope that you will join us – our incredible volunteers, partners, and our wonderful supporters – on our journey to make change and spread good one smile at a time.