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Monday, March 20, 2017

Volunteer Recognition in Canada

How an Ethiopian Immigrant became Canada's most Esteemed Volunteer and Goodwill Ambassador

When Geza Wordofa, the founder of the Multicultural Association of Perth-Huron (MAPH), received a letter last year from Governor General David Johnston informing him he had won a 2016 Sovereign Medal for Volunteers, he had a hard time believing the news.

Even when he called Johnston’s office to confirm the letter had indeed been sent to the correct Geza Wordofa, the honour still didn’t seem real.

In fact, since Wordofa was unable to attend the Governor General’s Award ceremony last year to receive his medal in person, it wasn’t until this year’s ceremony on March 9 in London when the reality of this prestigious honour truly set in (see photo).

“I’m very blessed and I’m enjoying the recognition,” Wordofa said. “To be a volunteer is not easy, and sometimes very difficult. I’ve been involved, day-to-day, with newcomers (to Canada). What does it mean to be a refugee, what does it mean to be a newcomer or an immigrant? It can be good, but sometimes for them it’s very difficult.”

After Wordofa, an Ethiopian by birth and a former United Nations goodwill ambassador, emigrated from Russia to Canada to settle down with his wife Nicole in 2011, he quickly learned first-hand the hardships immigrants and refugees must go through to start a new life in a completely foreign country.

Whether it’s finding a job, shopping for groceries, obtaining a driver’s license or passport, navigating Canadian law, applying for citizenship, learning to recycle, or even something as seemingly simple as learning to use various kitchen appliances, adjusting to life in Canada can take a while. For some new immigrants, that process can be very confusing and often frustrating.

“When I came here from Russia, from Geneva, there was nothing for me. I had no job… there was not any service that gave me my paperwork,” Wordofa said.

Luckily, he had Nicole and the Canadians he met through his work with the UN to help him settle into his new country and his new home in Stratford, but for many immigrants and refugees, it’s not that simple. In September, 2011, only five months after he settled in Stratford, Wordofa founded MAPH, an organization that helps guide new immigrants through the resettlement process.

“We have money for them, we have a house, we have a couch, live. It’s not as simple as that. You give them money, they don’t know how to spend that money. So we give them guidance (for example) on how to eat properly, or to give them some advice (for whatever they need),” Wordofa said.

But without the support and effort put forth by Wordofa’s fellow volunteers in Stratford and the surrounding community, MAPH would have never been able to assist the immigrants and refugees in both Perth and Huron Counties who need that help and guidance most.

Wordofa also had a chance to meet and have his picture taken with
Ontario Lieutenant General Elizabeth Dowdeswell. (Contributed Photo)

“I share this medal with my community and all of the newcomers. When I met the Governor General, I had no words. I said thank you for my community in Stratford who gave me this opportunity,” Wordofa said. “…I want to give back to my community through volunteerism. I want to give back for the community who helps newcomers. They run around for them, they give them rides, they take them to the hospital – I have a long list of people to call who are willing to help out. I love to serve for my community. I don’t expect anything in return.”

For more than five years, Wordofa has worked five days a week for MAPH without pay to better the lives of new immigrants and refugees. An immigrant himself and now a Canadian citizen, Wordofa and other volunteers like him share a unique perspective with those they help, allowing them to better understand the issues, both large and small, that prevent newcomers from living a full life in their new country.

When Wordofa first established MAPH, he was meeting with new immigrants in a coffee shop in downtown Stratford, but since then, thanks to a generous donation of space and resources by Loreena McKennit, MAPH now occupies several rooms in the basement of the Falstaff Family Centre on Waterloo Street, where volunteers have the ability to meet with families, provide them a safe and quiet space to discuss the problems they are dealing with, and determine the next steps in both solving those problems and making their lives in Canada as fulfilling as they possibly can be.

On a more personal note, after living for 15 years as an immigrant in Russia, where people of different skin colours and ethnic backgrounds are often viewed with suspicion and treated with outright hostility, Wordofa is thrilled to be living in a country where the government recognizes his efforts on equal footing with people of all backgrounds, races and religions. That notion was made abundantly clear to him at the awards ceremony in London last Thursday, where he had the chance to meet and speak with both Johnston and Ontario’s Lieutenant Governor, Elizabeth Dowdeswell, as well as many other dignitaries, politicians and service medal recipients.

“I’m equal as anybody. When you go in the coffee shop, you are also the same as anybody – everybody says hi even if they don’t know you,” Wordofa said. “… I am so lucky. We have to respect this country, we have to love Canada.”

Even before moving to Canada, Wordofa spent much of his life helping others, be that working to establish a soup kitchen in Moscow, securing clean drinking water for the people of Ethiopia, or donating toothpaste to new immigrants and refugees in Utah. In Canada, along with founding and working tirelessly for MAPH, Wordofa has also volunteered his time with non-profit groups such as the Salvation Army and The United Way.

For his lifetime of volunteer work, in the past Wordofa has been honoured with the Ontario Government’s Newcomer Champion Award, the Governor General’s Caring Canadian Award and the Top 25 Canadian Immigrant Award. Now, he can add the 2016 Sovereign Medal for Volunteers to that list, a medal which he plans on wearing proudly at this year’s 150th Canada Day celebration. (Source: Stratford Beacon Herald)

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Inspiring Goodwill with Poetry

Whatever Happened to The Goodwill Ambassador?

Paul Amrod

Whatever happened to the goodwill ambassador? 

A poem by Paul Amrod

Witnessing the selfish routine of lobbyists and a money mechanism
becoming cynically the normal affair of our passing hours.

Greeting a neighbor with a 'Good Morning' and a pleasant wish
has vanished with the dawn demonstrating a hideous pessimism.

Allocating the atrocities which somehow our sympathies devour.

The political conscious is contorted around shortsighted principles
contributing to a prognosis of supposed terror playing with gullibility.

I ask myself many provocative questions concerning seriousness
of intention with open-ended book shelves of fairytale like scribble.

Trying to capitalize upon the weakness of others in their deliriousness,
overly excited aggravating their stress, while destroying tranquility.

The boisterous message of alleged superiority exhibits narcissism
with an inkling of conceit compelling avoidance and dismisses
ingenuity while enlivening resistance over absurd acquittals.

May I inquire; Whatever happened to the goodwill ambassador?

The ignorance of a military cooperate complex has perplexed
the intellectual environment in search for the left of middle.

Attempting to impress the youth with false promises the collectivism
is appalled with a continuous barrage of invalid and corrupted fixes.

Better to relax beneath a linden tree whistling with birdsong outdoors
and taking a pen to a page envisioning a princess with a troubadour.

Engendering a paradise of dreamlike passages composing a riddle
tickling our imaginations with pleasurable moments so gently expressed.

Nevertheless our aspirations are daunted and our direction is statically
inactive arousing the frustration of a meandering directionlessness.

Intentionally ignoring the media's spin as their irrational euphemism
is exposed as utter gibberish and nonsense exposing senselessness.

Saving acclamations for a fortuitous occasion can't keep us abreast
of the defiance necessary to counter the streams of grotesque fish
that swim through our legs as we venture courageously against the current.

I ask again; Whatever happened to the goodwill ambassador?

He travelled the world with his mission of cooperation and neutrality
giving of his substance to clarify our deliverance and impartiality.

We were given the power of deduction with the capability of verbal deterrents
to bless our surroundings with examples of his statements assessed.

Showering us with admiration and inspiration presenting his altruism
to reconcile our tribulations and heal our jealousy forevermore.

With insight into the mediation of all philosophies he adores
a genuine and authentic resolve of spiritual abundance and veracity.

Reminding us as well of our groves and gardens galore
there to flourish in Nature and transport us organically.

We are a being, the precious component of this Earth's entirety,
gifted with shrewdness and the curator of our terrestrial d├ęcor.

We possess a sanctified position under the universe's Godly city
to protect the perfect balance of our sequence as heaven's servant.

Petitioning once more; Whatever happened to our goodwill ambassador?

We send a lamentation to our archangels above to implore
a betterment of our situation at hand as we whine for it is a pity.

Selfishness and greed perpetrate the world as we slay the serpent
with a cooing murmur of poesy melting the cold heart we deplore.

As the goodwill grows with significance we salvage our sanity
with one last breath of hopefulness as patience warrants our success.

Poem by Paul Amrod

Restyled format for Globcal International News

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Danny Glover Denounces Racism as Afrophobia

Goodwill Ambassador Danny Glover calls out racism, Afrophobia in the Americas

Danny Glover attends the Special Meeting of the
General Assembly. UN Photo/Amanda Voisard

30 June 2016 – The international community must increase its commitment to fighting Afrophobia and discrimination against people of African descent, United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Goodwill Ambassador and actor Danny Glover has said, speaking during the International Decade for People of African Descent.

In a recently released message, Mr. Glover, who advocates on behalf of the estimated 200 million people of African descent living in North and South America, urged national and multilateral partners in the Americas to ensure that policies work with and in support of this often marginalized group.

“The three UN themes – respect, justice, development – must be utilized as an interrelated guide,” Mr. Glover said, adding that the successes of the Afro-descendent populations help to guarantee successes of the entire society.

In an interview with the UN News Centre, Mr. Glover, an African-American whose grandparents were born in the 1890s in the southern United States city of Louisville, Georgia, spoke personally about race and the segregation of the United States.

“One of the moral underpinnings of my childhood was that my mother would always say that she was eternally grateful for her mother and father because she didn’t pick cotton in September, she went to school in September,” he said, a decision that allowed her to graduate from college in 1942.

These familial experiences are what anchor Mr. Glover, who growing up in San Francisco, California, did not attend a segregated school, in his work on behalf of the UN and the International Decade for People of African Descent which runs through 2024.

“I would hope that there would be a place within this period for specific projects,” he said. Listen below to the types of political projects for which Mr. Glover is advocating.

Today, there are at least 40 million people in the United States alone who identify themselves as being of African descent, and many of them are among the poorest socio-economic groups, according to the UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has said that people of African descent are “among those most affected by racism. Too often, they face denial of basic rights such as access to quality health services and education.”
The promotion and protection of human rights of people of African descent has been a priority concern for the UN. The Durban Declaration and Programme of Action, agreed to at the 2001 World Conference, acknowledged that people of African descent were victims of slavery, the slave trade and colonialism, and continue to be victims of their consequences.

“Wherever we are, whether we’re in Brazil or Colombia or Ecuador, we are decedents of the transatlantic slave trade,” Mr. Glover said. “Whether we’re in the Caribbean or here [the United States] or Canada, we can trace our identity to that moment in human history when essentially we became the capital of the new system that came into existence.”

Listen to Mr. Glover speak more about the shared experience between people of African descent in the clip below.



The International Decade for People of African Descent, proclaimed by the General Assembly in resolution 68/237, provides a framework for the UN, Member States, civil society and all other relevant actors to join together with people of African descent and take effective measures for the implementation of the programme of activities in the spirit of recognition, justice and development.

In addition, the Decade is meant to underline the important contribution made by people of African descent to international societies, promote their full inclusion, and combat racism, radical discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance.

Mr. Glover said the timing of the Decade is particularly important given the ongoing events in his home country of the United States.

“[At] this time in history, you not only have to say more but do more,” he said. “We have an opportunity as we talk about all the things happening internally in the United States, as we begin to look at the present industrial complexity in the United States, the justice system of the United States, the lack of youth employment, violence against young black men and black women, all those things resonate here are a microcosm of what is happening in the rest of the world.”

Republished from News Source: UN News, Goodwill Ambassador Danny Glover calls out racism, Afrophobia in the Americas.