By: Aabida Dhanji
The annual Toronto World Partnership Walk is just around the corner and will take place on May 26, 2013! The event is not only packed with fun-filled activities for the entire family, but it is all for a fantastic cause. The Walk is Canada’s largest annual event dedicated to increasing awareness and funds to fight global poverty. It is an initiative of Aga Khan Foundation Canada (AKFC), a non-profit international agency and registered Canadian charity, working in Asia andAfricato find sustainable solutions to the complex problems causing global poverty. Last year close to 40,000 people and more than 500 corporate and community teams participated in the Walk in 10 cities across the country.
I had a chance to talk to Rehana, an inspiring and driven Torontonian, who is contributing to breaking the cycle of poverty by creating a team of “tiny” changemakers for the Walk this year.
In 2006, Rehana had a life changing experience volunteering and living in rural areas of South Africafor 9 months. She says, “I will never forget the day we arrived – a foreign country, a new language, no friends or family, none of the comforts I took for granted at home on a daily basis such as toilets or running water. It was an emotional rollercoaster to say the least, but being thrown into a new culture makes you face the reality of your own. It made me realize how much “first” world countries can learn from “developing” countries. I quickly adjusted to living a simple life and was filled with many soulful moments and lessons. I became very aware of the differences between needs and wants. The trip taught Rehana how little it takes to make a big difference. When she had her first child in 2009, it was very important that he would grow up with strong values of compassion, empathy, generosity, kindness, gratitude and a strong inclination to philanthropy.
In 2010 Rehana and a group of mothers created The Tiny Transformers team with the same hope: To get their little one’s involved in the Toronto World Partnership Walk to take steps towards alleviating global poverty. The Tiny Transformers range in age from 18 months to 7 years old. Although the moms do the work in soliciting donations, they get the kids involved by explaining the intention of the Walk and encouraging others to get involved.
The team started out with 9 kids and raised $7,871. In 2011, they grew to 11 kids and raised $11,333.00. In 2012 they grew to 14 kids and raised $13,965.00. To, date the Tiny Transformers have raised over $33,000 and aspire to bring that total to $50,000.00 this year!
While reflecting on working as a team, Rehana says, “We all know that we couldn’t have made this much impact on our own. We come together with a lot of love, a bit of effort and a strong desire to make a difference that allows us to exceed our goals every year. The biggest impact we have all noticed is in our children.” Last year Qais (age 3) looked at his team photo from the previous year and said, “Mommy, are we going to help the kids who don’t have food again – can I give them my toys too?”
Why is it that the Tiny Transformers walk and want to participate in the World Partnership Walk? Rumi, aged 7 says “I walk because the money goes to people who are sick because they can’t buy medicine – so we can help them.”. Armaan, aged 7 says “The World Partnership Walk means that we help poor people get clean water.”. So, despite their size, these kids are passionate about making a difference!
In almost 30 years, the World Partnership Walk has raised more than $75 million to support international development initiatives. Another factor that makes the Walk unique is that 100% of funds raised go directly to poverty alleviating programs, including health, education, rural development and supporting community-based organizations. Additionally, funds raised leverage additional support from large donors like the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA).
Join the Tiny Transformers and thousands of Torontonians at the 29th Annual World Partnership Walk on Sunday, May 26, 2013 at 10:00am at Metro Hall in Toronto.