I know a few friends at CTIF, an Ottawa based non-profit, who travel every year to Senegal, in Africa, with the goal of providing food aid.
When they first told me about this charitable work, I was a bit nonplussed. After all, I’ve never heard much about Senegal (except that it is in Africa). There has not been any tsunami, war, massive outbreak of disease or anything like that on BBC or the other news channels that I follow. I figured that it was time to do some research.
According to the BBC, Senegal is one of the few African countries without any significant conflict, and with a democracy that has been working quite well. So I asked myself, why are my friends going to Senegal this year to give out food aid? The answers were really remarkable.
The economic stats painted a dire picture; the work that my friends are doing is very much the need of the day. 54% of the population of Senegal lives below the poverty line. The UN estimates the poverty threshold at 1.08 dollars per day (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Poverty_threshold). Thus, most of Senegal lives on less than a dollar a day.
So the next time you go with your mates to Tim Hortons, Starbucks or grab a quick pizza, spare a thought for the people who really need this money. That $15 – $20 you just spent will pay for a family of 4 for 5 days.
I have two lessons that I’ve learned from this. Firstly, we should be grateful for what we have been given. Secondly, there is an opportunity to support the good work being done by CTIF. Any money you provide will be 100% used for the intended purpose. There is absolutely zero overhead. All travel and other expenses are already covered by the individuals going to Senegal this year. Any money you or I will provide will go directly to feed those who are in need.
My friends were quite emotional when they talked about their experience. Last year, the queue for the food aid was two kilometers long.
Some people waited two days in line to get the meat being given away.
Two days is a lot of time. However, let’s put this into perspective. This was probably the only meat that this person would have tasted in the entire year. At $1 per day, you can barely afford the staple food items, much less ‘luxury’ items like meat.
If you want to help support this effort, please write a cheque to CTIF c/o Northern Lights Educational Services at 26 Thorncliff Place, Ottawa, ONT K2H 6L2. Please specify if you need a receipt for tax purposes.
I know that some of you may be planning to make donations over the coming Eid festival. I’ve calculated that the rate for a share acceptable for an Eid donation is CAD 125. Seven such shares can be pooled together to purchase a bull for the food aid (please specify the name of the donating person(s) as well).
However, any help that you can provide will be most welcome. If you cannot send 125, at least send the cost of a pizza that you can skip for lunch today.
If writing a cheque is too much work, drop me a quick email or give me a shout over the phone (613.263.8009) and I’ll be happy to pick up the donation from you to pass on to CTIF.