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bands and featuring a silent auction with donations from local businesses. Members of a drum and dance troupe that Curtis led (myself included), all of whom had benefited directly or indirectly from the village’s traditions, helped organize the event, as did Curtis’ family. A slide presentation that night showed the faces of the real people in the village who would receive all the donations. In the end, the event raised more than $10,000, the target amount. Curtis has raised additional funds since then. Not only has the school

block been built, but supplies and books have been purchased for students, and excess funds have been used for emergencies, like repairing the village water pump. The classrooms are currently operational, and the Ghanaian government is fulfilling its part of the deal. So what did Curtis learn from this experience? “My experience is that, in

focusing on small grassroots level projects with people who you trust, you can do quite a bit with little money and little bureaucratic red tape.” I learned a lot from having been a small part of that project. Sure, I

had heard about initiatives like this, but it gave me the opportunity to witness firsthand the difference that one person can make by reaching out to friends. I finally realized that, for a long time now, I had been making a difference

on the side, without knowing it. I had always thought and worked outside of the box as a development official by refusing to act within the class structures that can creep into that field of work. Although at times reprimanded for it, I treated senior officers and service staff alike. I afforded them the same amount of respect and dignity and was happy to share with and learn from both. In my mind, the more people who saw me act this way, the better. At this point in my continuing journey to make positive change in the

world, I have discovered that the greatest power of change that I can access and influence is not the powers-that-be, but the power within me. The way I earn and spend my money, the people I interact with and how I interact with them, the differences I make, and the example I set for others can truly and easily affect change. These small actions may not alter the fact that rich people are sitting

in some of the most expensive places in the world holding meetings about poverty reduction—maybe not today. Maybe some of us need to get to those meetings and become part of that inner circle in order to make the fundamental global changes that are necessary to redistribute the world’s wealth. Nonetheless, never underestimate the power of a friendship that crosses political, cultural and economic boundaries; the honouring of someone who otherwise tends to get less respect than others; and support for local, small-scale businesses and initiatives. If we all take these small steps, regardless of our career paths, then we will be making fundamental change in the most fundamental way possible.

// A.S. Rao is from Dundas, Ontario and has studied, volunteered, worked, lived and travelled in 20 different countries. She cherishes the life lessons taught to her by her friends around the world, from all different walks of life, and wishes that the suits could meet them. A.S. is currently based in Vancouver. Page 1  |  Page 2  |  Page 3  |  Page 4  |  Page 5  |  Page 6  |  Page 7  |  Page 8  |  Page 9  |  Page 10  |  Page 11  |  Page 12  |  Page 13  |  Page 14  |  Page 15  |  Page 16  |  Page 17  |  Page 18  |  Page 19  |  Page 20  |  Page 21  |  Page 22  |  Page 23  |  Page 24  |  Page 25