When Shakira Abubakar was a grade ten student in Brampton, Ontario, she was concerned about her peers apathetic attitude towards the genocide in Darfur. To make a difference, she gathered a group of friends and started Project Darfur in her school. Her goal was to provide a platform where youth and students could educate themselves and advocate change. In the course of working on Project Darfur, Shakira expanded the scope of the mission; in 2004, she formed Continental Rescue Africa.
This organization is a registered charity run completely by volunteers; its mission: to empower youth and women to take the lead in issues hindering their wellbeing. Recognizing that the world is facing challenging times, CRA allows individuals to help make a difference and learn about global issues.
In keeping with this mandate, CRA is organizing their second annual To Africa with Love fundraiser on February 6 to raise money for the Sisters of Substance weekend leadership retreat and the summer volunteer abroad Experience Change program. The goal of the fundraiser is to raise $6,000, which will ensure that 100 girls attend the Sisters of Substance retreat. It will also come in handy for five students who wish to make a difference in the lives of street children in Ghana.
The Experience Change program takes students on a one-month summer volunteer abroad program to Ghana, West Africa. In Ghana, they volunteer in teaching positions, volunteer in orphanages and organize leadership workshops with the locals on issues such as poverty and health. The highlight of this years program is that volunteers will be given the opportunity to make a public service announcement and write a book, compiled with stories of their experiences.
The Sisters of Substance project aims to encourage and enable young girls to develop leadership skills, to become aware and think critically about social, economic and political issues surrounding them and to take the lead in making a change in their communities. This project features a weekend leadership workshop, where participants engage and network with guest speakers, mentors and each other. In addition to enhancing their leadership skills, these young girls develop new skills and enjoy canoeing, hiking and camping as part of the experience.
What do you hope to achieve with CRA? is a question that some may be hesitant to answer. When confronted, Abubakar said that her goal was to provide a platform where todays youth can take a stand on issues that matter to them and to explore not only solutions, but the problems that render them complicit. I hope to create a global network where youth of the global north
and south can work together in solidarity for a peaceful and sustainable
future for all.