Changing the world

It’s remarkably refreshing to see local folks working so hard to make the world a better place.

This morning, Amanda Lindhout spoke at the Mayor’s Prayer Breakfast about her horrendous experience of being held captive in Somalia for 15 months while working as a freelance journalist in Africa. But since her release in late 2009, she has been sharing about the power of forgiveness and how good can emerge from the darkest of circumstances.

She has repeatedly emphasized how she has no desire to turn her back on the country of Somalia either, but has established the Global Enrichment Foundation with the aim of bettering the lives of women in particular in the poverty-wracked nation.

Through her travels as a journalist over the years, she garnered an enormous understanding of the consequences of war, famine, violence and oppression. Lindhout believes that educational and economic opportunities are key to helping those in Somalia carve out a brighter future.

She chooses to see the potential in people, having described Somalia as a country full of ‘beautiful and resilient’ people. It’s inspiring to hear her tell her story, which resonates with compassionate sincerity.

Sharing Lindhout’s goal of reaching out is local author and activist Andrew Kooman. Like Lindhout, he has traveled extensively and his writing is filled with keen observations about the harsh realities that many in the world face.

Kooman has written about and discussed everything from poverty and injustice to the unspeakable horrors of sexual trafficking. An upcoming seminar in Red Deer, spearheaded by Kooman, aims to shed further light on the issue.

Kooman’s play, the outstanding and poignant She Has A Name was recently staged in Red Deer to plenty of acclaim, as it portrayed the story of a girl trapped in the world of sexual trafficking overseas.

And through the seminar, set for April 15-16 at the Scott Block, he is hoping to educate the local community that it’s not only an issue affecting people in faraway places — Canada is not immune. It’s a timely event as well, as April is Human Trafficking Awareness Month.

The weekend will feature workshops and guest speakers including MP Joy Smith, who will talk about her National Action Plan to fight human trafficking in Canada.

Local residents should be proud of people like Lindhout and Kooman, who seem to never tire of pointing not only to the grim realities of our world but also to practical ways that can help make a significant difference.