We are pleased to share a guest post with you this week from the founders of “Meaningful Volunteer“, a 100% non-profit organization based in Canada that empowers international volunteers to make a meaningful difference in developing communities around the world. Malcolm and Megin Alvarez had a very unique comment that changed their perspective and their life. Their story on fostering is inspiring!
When women thrive, all of society benefits, and succeeding generations are given a better start in life. — Kofi Annan
Building schools or building businesses and then handing them over to the locals in developing communities is very satisfying. At Meaningful Volunteer, we build solar powered schools in developing countries. That’s what we do and that’s how we empower women.
Our greatest joy comes from handing the keys over to a female manager and setting her on her way to empower the local children. We only ever employ females in the traditional patriarchal societies.
For example, Esther, our manager in Uganda, is doing a fantastic job, not only in education, but also in areas such as malaria prevention, fair trade projects, and agriculture. Female empowerment for the win!
Our focus took a unique turn a while back when we were featured in an online news article about the work we were doing. A comment on the site said something like:
Why aren’t they focusing on needs in America? We have plenty of problems here.
At first we were little annoyed at the comment. Here we were trying out best to empower a desperately poor community and some nobody on the Internet criticises us for doing the wrong type of altruism in the wrong place. What the?
Upon further reflection we realized that the commenter was correct. There are some serious social problems, here, in Canada (and America too!).
Canada’s First Nations community ranks 63rd in the world in terms of quality of life standards. Canada dropped from first to eighth as the best country in the world to live primarily due to housing and health conditions in First Nations communities.
This is one of the reasons why we chose to personally foster First Nations children with their moms. At the moment, we have the privilege and joy of caring for a one year old boy and his young mother, a three year old boy, and a fifteen year old male.
They are all fantastic kids. They all have their own unique sets of problems and challenges; nothing that an extended family could not handle. That’s exactly what we have become: an extended family.
We are inclusive and to the best of our abilities we include everyone who wants to be involved in that’s baby or child’s life. The more people that love and cherish that child the better that child will be in life. When we put our egos aside, it’s everyone’ responsibly to ensure health, safety and love to each child.
As foster parents, we are forever juggling the children’s needs, their relationship with their biological family, and instilling them with pride about their heritage.
We have high hopes for the young mother who lives with us. She is not yet ready to take sole care for her son, but we are working every day to make this a reality for her. We will miss the gorgeous, bald, wide eyed little baby that came into our home when he was only 10 days old, but the long term goals of him returning back to his mother is more meaningful and beautiful.
Encouraging moms and seeing them act confidently with their children, while caring and loving them, is a very meaningful and satisfying feeling for us. I would encourage anyone who loves children to open their hearts and home not only to the child, but also to the biological parents as well.
We feel that we now have some semblance of balance in our lives: a focus on developing countries abroad and a focus on problems more close to home.
Have you ever fostered a child or family? Could you see yourself ever doing it one day?
If you are interested in becoming a foster parent, too, and live in British Columbia province of Canada, then you can contact the VACFSS organization on 604-872-6723.
Or, if you are interested in joining our international social good efforts, our next project is to build a new solar powered school in Nepal this October. Please send as an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information on Meaningful Volunteer, you can visit their website: www.meaningfulvolunteer.org.
Photo credits to Malcolm and Megin Alvarez.