A Helping Hand

A few weeks ago my daughter and I ran in the Kash Dash. This is a ten kilometer run starting and finishing at the scenic Wigamog Inn near Haliburton. Lake Kashagawigamog presents the perfect family setting whether you like swimming, canoeing or just walking in the woods. You don’t need to be a runner to enjoy this day. Since we learned of this run we have tried to make it an annual event for a variety of reasons.

It isn’t just the beautiful scenery, the terrific hosts or the barbecue that makes this our favourite run; it is CPAR. Canadian Physicians for Aid and Relief receives the proceeds of this event. This non-profit organization supports a variety of humanitarian projects in Africa. At the heart of their mandate lies the building of caring sustainable communities in which people have safe water to drink, safe food to eat, safe schools to attend and safe places to live and work. Through their projects, they bring hope wherever they go. Because there are few causes as close to my heart as this one, I want to take a moment to tell you about a few of their activities.

One of their projects involves rebuilding war affected communities in Uganda. Through their community youth support programme, they have engaged local youth leaders as peer role models. These young people help to coordinate sustainable projects that provide food, water, shelter, education and work opportunities within their communities. These young people provide hope for other children and teens who have known nothing but war.

Another project involves securing adequate food security for communities in Ethiopia, Malawi and Tanzania. The programme, called Food Security, is intent on building capacity into community based farm groups. Farmers are encouraged to use sustainable agricultural practices, exercise diversity, expand the seed base and advance the role of women in decision making. This programme provides families with the tools to build a safe and sustainable local agricultural industry.

The final project I will describe is water collection in a drought region of Tanzania. Through money raised at events such as the Kash Dash, CPAR installs 30,000 litre rain barrels that have the capacity to service whole communities with fresh water for drinking and sanitation. Such projects allow young people the opportunity to attend schools rather than having to face long, dangerous treks to find enough water for survival.

One thing we have learned on the farm during this hot, dry summer is that we in City of Kawartha Lakes are just one long drought away from facing some of the same problems as those being faced in Africa. We rely completely on nature’s maintaining a balance of sun and rain. Thanks to our changing climate this balance can no longer be taken for granted. So my daughter and I support the Kash Dash which serves people for whom nature and human folly have tipped the balance.

For those who want to know more about Canadian Physicians for Aid and Relief, the web site is www.cpar.ca . For those who enjoy a great run through beautiful hills on a summer afternoon followed by a barbecue with good company, try the Kash Dash on the fourth Saturday of August. In the meantime let’s all recognize that when we become too busy to help out our less fortunate neighbours, we’re just too busy. See you next time.

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