In 2007, my perception of our world was altered in a meaningful way. I was 24, and I had just applied to graduate school before getting on a plane to spend time in Africa where I had contributed to building a primary school. It was this trip, six years ago, which set the stage for what would turn out to shape not only my perspective, but also my purpose: enabling opportunities in education.
With an early start to the day, I was ready to change the world, although I did not yet appreciate that first I needed to understand it. There I was. So far from what I knew as my reality; so far from those I loved. As we headed towards the site, the roads were unpaved and the air was dry. We drove past more than one slum, looking down each time out of fear of making eye contact and perhaps offending the wrong person. Cameras weren’t used here to capture what we saw, but emotions of disbelief and sadness imprinted in my memory. This wasn’t my reality, but it was the reality of many.
Hours later we had arrived, and there was the first school that I had helped to build for children I had never met before. Although the bell had rung and the school day was over, they stayed to meet the visitor from Canada. As I got out of the car, the children grabbed my hands, touched my hair and said jambo to greet me. The excitement was overwhelming and their impatience with me to learn their names and pose for pictures with them was amusing. They wanted to be remembered beyond that day.
This is the sixth year that Suzuki Canada has partnered with Richmond Hill Fire & Emergency Services to provide a vehicle for fire inspectors and public educators to travel to schools and various locations in the community to promote fire safety. This partnership is important because with Suzuki’s generous donation, Fire Prevention staff can share critical information about fire alarms, carbon monoxide detectors, 72-hour emergency kits, fire escape plans, and much more, to help save lives. Read more