My Story: Go Local Before Global

In the great words of Mother Teresa when asked how to promote world peace, she simply said, “Go home and love your family.” It is similar to an advice which I give people when they ask how to travel on humanitarian work, volunteer mission or conference. My advice and something which really helped me and true for most people is to start local, the place where you call home. Whenever someone asks me, I always tell them to invest in the community before thinking of going global. It’s where your love is needed most.

My journey in volunteering started at NorQuest College, an institution based in Edmonton, Canada where I took my English classes and Academic Upgrading to achieve grade 12 equivalent education. Just few months after registering, I ran for Students’ Council to represent fellow students’ interests and be their voice for things that mattered. I then joined the Student Ambassador program which I can say was the beginning of beautiful things. As a Student Ambassador, I would do speeches at different college gatherings and I would also help out as a guide at events. I volunteered at most event that I could in school and outside to represent the college. Shortly after a year my love for volunteering in the school took me into the community. I reached out to different organizations and would sign up to help whether it was in kitchen, helping to serve food to the homeless or working with young people at the Canadian Red Cross. As a former Refugee and one who knows what it’s like to not have anything to eat and struggling for a better life, helping those in the community gave me a sense of belonging and fulfillment. img_20161104_160158

After almost 3 years of investing in the community, I was ready to expand my wings and reach out to more people. I signed up with an organization called Canada World Youth on an international youth exchange program. We spent 3 months in Ottawa, Canada where I volunteered with Amnesty International and 3 months in Kimende, Kenya where I volunteered at a local school helping with tree conservation. We also did community events while learning more about the UN’s MDGs and how far the world is to achieving them. I felt in love with humanity and realized losing myself in the service of others is something I hope to be doing during and after school for many more years to come. While in Ottawa and Kimende with fellow passionate young people from across Canada and across Kenya, I made a promise to myself to continue such work to greater length once I returned to Edmonton.

It was now March of 2012 when I returned back to Canada from Kenya on a life changing mission. This was my first outside of Canada trip besides when I was immigrated to Canada with family. I felt so fulfilled and something bigger was calling me. I continued volunteering in the community while also travelling to youth programs and Conferences in Calgary, Banff, Toronto , New York City, Moscow and Winnipeg. My work in the City of Edmonton and more specifically at NorQuest College helped me to build a strong foundation and deepened the desire of reaching out to humanity. There was no going back but only forward to bigger and greater things by God’s grace. In September of 2012 I enrolled at Northern Alberta Institute of Technology (NAIT) in Business Administration where the work further continued. I MCed and helped put together students events. Whether it was organizing, attending or speaking in the community, I was always there and present. I was not only helping people in the community, but also helping myself. It increased my knowledge of what was going on in the society and world the world. img_20161117_124651-1

On February 27, 2014 together with passionate and young Africans in the community, we launched Diaspora African Youth Association (DAYA) in order to encourage and bring opportunities for young people to be involved in society’s issues. It was through DAYA that I continued greater investment in the community and it brought joy to my heart to team up with young people to give back to the community that we all call home. DAYA continues to grow and very excited for what tomorrow holds. We were very honored in Feb of 2016 when we won a Social Venture Competition at Youth Assembly at the United Nations through Resolution Project and established Youth Empowerment and Integration (YEI)!! It was one of the happiest moments to see that the work and passion for humanity continues to pay off.img_20161112_115420

Ladies and gentlemen, brothers and sisters, this is only a short highlight for the community volunteering and work I have done throughout the years. Those years of investment have built up and continue to lead to more opportunities of involvement around the world. I encourage you to find a cause that you’re passionate about and get out in the community. Don’t wait for a day that you travel to volunteer or help somewhere else because if you look around you, opportunities for you to help and make things better is available. Lose yourself in the service of others in your community and slowly you’ll find yourself going abroad to do similar work but it all starts where you call home.

For anyone who has wondered or have questions about volunteering and humanitarian work on the big stages, START IN YOUR COMMUNITY and the rest will fall into place. Your knowledge, energy and resources can be best used in helping those around you and only after that, opportunities to network and help others around the world will come. Don’t spend too much time thinking of how to go and save the world while in the community you handle do anything. I would rather be known as someone who’s always helping in the community and at every gathering than as someone who’s ready to travel for missions. Travelling on missions is only rewarding when you have a cause which is dear to your heart in the community because when you travel on missions, you will come back to see how you can best benefits those at home with your experience and great knowledge. img_20161112_122420

As some of you know, I have been based out of Washington D.C since August of 2016 on a Study Abroad opportunity with The Washington Center in International Affairs while also completing an Internship in Refugees with Migration and Refugee Services. On November 17, 2016 I was honored to be invited at Montgomery College in Maryland where I shared my story, the Refugee crisis, community involvement and passion for humanity. My greater joy and desire is to pass the knowledge to others once I return to my home community in Canada called EDMONTON. I am excited to continue community involvement with DAYA and other organizations. Also, I am excited to continue travelling on missions in learning, helping and growing as a human being who’s in love and passionate about humanity. My time in Washington D.C is slowly coming to en end but I truly believe it’s the continuing of bigger and greater things that God has in store.

My next blog post will be on December 10, 2016!! I will have some exciting news and new experience to share as I’ll soon be travelling outside of North America for few days. Please kindly stay in touch through my social media platform for more updates on this journey, its purpose and to which country specifically. God is working miracles in my life.

REMEMBER: GO LOCAL BEFORE GLOBAL

2 thoughts on “My Story: Go Local Before Global

  1. What an inspiration. Continue to do the great work Gerard. May The Almighty be your lead through this Journey. Peace,Love and Respect. Stay blessed.

    Like

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