Working for change half a world away with Free the ChildrenWritten by Sana Syed
It is no secret that the city of Ottawa possesses some of the most talented Muslim youth aspiring to bring positive change in the world. Marya Jaleel is one of them.
Marya is preparing to embark on a journey that will change the lives of a significant number of children in a country far away from her hometown of Ottawa. She is one of a number of ambitious young people who will be spending their summer in the heart of India --a rural community outside Udaipur to be precise ”“ building a school and volunteering at an orphanage.
The trip was organized by a non-governmental organization called “Free the Children” that works to take child labourers out of the factories and off the streets and put them in schools where they can receive a decent education.
Charity work is nothing new to Marya who has been with Free the Children since the age of 14. Last summer, the University of Ottawa Health Sciences student took a similar trip to Kenya where she volunteered to build a school. Having done comparable work in Kenya, the trip to India will not be overwhelming for Marya.
When she's not travelling, Marya and other mobilisers (youth who are members of Free the Children and NGOs working for social change) meet regularly to volunteer at local events and charities. The trip to India was specifically organized for a group of people called “Me to We Mobilizers”. There is a “MOB”””a group of mobilisers -- in every major city within Canada incorporating youth who have previously done work with like Marya. The MOB gathers at least once a month around the city to volunteer at various events or places and take part in various leadership-building activities.
Every Muslim has an obligation to always look after the less privileged and to give back to humanity. Nevertheless, one can't help but wonder what inspired Marya to be so deeply involved in causes so far away from her.
Marya says being so far away from the less privileged members of society makes it difficult to fully empathise with them. Being in the West makes it nearly possible to fully comprehend the unimaginable problems people suffer half a world way. For Marya, one important reason to be a part of this India trip is because according to her, the only way of fully understanding the trials of the less fortunate is by witnessing them with one's own eyes.
The satisfaction of making a difference in the lives of so many people and knowing that she has been a factor in making this world a better place ranks highly with Marya.
“These kind of trips completely change your perspective on life, for the better,” she says.
Marya also hopes to inspire other youth to follow in her path. Upon her return Marya would like to right away share her stories about her encounters in India. She hopes by doing so, her experiences spur other youth to take action at least locally in Canada.
“It is important for youth to educate themselves on world issues such as child labour as well as poverty. Trips like this are a great, hands-on way to do so,” she says.
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