Vol. 2 No.
11 "India is the cradle of the human race... " - Mark Twain
By Dilzayn and Dilnoor Panjwani
"In Canada we are fortunate to have a strong health care system to turn to when we're sick. Yet despite unprecedented advances in health care, many children and families in developing countries still do not have access to basic care needed to treat preventable and curable diseases. Partnership can be a powerful force. I look forward to walking with you in partnership to help alleviate global poverty and help to break down barriers to accessible health care, one step at a time" - Hon. George Smitherman, Deputy Premier & Minister of Health and Long-Term Care.
"I want to take this opportunity to thank Aga Khan Foundation Canada for organizing the 2008 World Partnership Walk. Every year the Walk exemplifies the commitment by Canadians to fight poverty all over the world. Education is a right that every child in the world should enjoy. I am proud to walk in partnership with you again this year, to diminish the many obstacles to educational access in the world and endeavour to provide opportunities to those who are less fortunate than we are."- Hon. Kathleen Wynne, Minister of Education
Over seven thousand people left the comfort of their homes on a sunny spring Sunday morning, under the clear blue skies, to walk the streets of Toronto. They walked not just to burn some calories but to unite in partnership to fight global poverty!
This year, the 24th World Partnership Walk, an initiative of Aga Khan Foundation Canada, attracted thousands of people from the Greater Toronto Area and a record number of 220 corporate and community teams, unified in a common effort to bring hope and renewal to some of the poorest communities in the world. Organized by a team of dedicated and selfless volunteers, this year's Walk aimed to surpass the 1.7 million dollars raised last year.
Although a few small steps for the participants, but a giant leap for humanity! All funds raised (100%) will go directly to international development initiatives and help support programs in health, education, rural development and strengthening community-based organizations.
The opening ceremony commenced at Metro Hall, Toronto, with the singing of O Canada by the Ismaili Muslim Youth Choir. Omar Sachedina (Co Host Canada AM CTV) hosted the opening ceremonies. Roshan Esmail (Walk Convenor 2008) welcomed the guests and participants. Khalil Shariff (CEO-AKFC) delivered the keynote address. Guests of honour, George Smitherman (Deputy Premier and Minister of Health and Long Term Care), and Kathleen Wynne (Minister of Education) addressed the audience and performed the ribbon-cutting ceremony to inaugurate the Walk. They were joined by Yasmin Ratansi, MP (Don Valley East), Reza Moridi, MPP (Richmond Hill), Bas Balkissoon, MPP (Scarborough--Rouge River), John Tory (Leader of Ontario PC Party), David Barrow (Mayor of Richmond Hill), City Councillors Denzil Minnan-Wong, John Parker and Karen Stintz, Dr. Barry A. McLellan (President and CEO, Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre), Bruce Harber (President and CEO, York Central Hospital), Mohamed Manji and Alnasir Samji (Presidents of Ismaili Councils for Canada and Ontario, respectively), and many more dignitaries.
The World Partnership Walk truly epitomizes the noble Canadian spirit of giving and volunteerism. The young and the old, men, women, children, youth, mothers with pushchairs, and some brave ones with walking aids - what an inspiring spectacle it was to watch them walk along the five kilometers route to the beat of the Ismaili Band. Their hearts were filled with hope for the poverty-stricken people around the globe.
The after-walk entertainment with music and dance performances, hosted by Husein Madhavji of CTV, created a vibrant and festive atmosphere, as people enjoyed their lunch on the grounds of Metro Hall.
With over forty thousand walkers across the nation, the World Partnership Walk is one of Canada's longest running annual event dedicated to increasing awareness about global poverty. The Walk is organized by volunteers in nine cities across Canada - London, Ottawa, Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Kitchener and Victoria. The Walk has raised over $45 million since inception. Funds raised by the Walk have helped Aga Khan Foundation Canada to leverage additional support from large donors like the CIDA (Canadian International Development Agency). This year marks the celebration of the 25th anniversary in partnership with CIDA.
Aga Khan Foundation Canada, an agency of the Aga Khan Development Network, supports long-term sustainable programs that are managed at a local level. The Foundation focuses on basic health care, education opportunities for children and adults, assists rural communities in working together to find solutions and helps strengthen civil society. "Smart Solutions" empower those directly in need with skills, knowledge and tools to improve their lives and livelihoods.
[Photos by: Dr. Dilkhush Panjwani]