In 1999 I joined the Canadian board of the African Medical and Research Foundation (AMREF). In retrospect this was one of those life transforming decisions that one can only fully appreciate well after the fact. As a board member, and later Chair of the Canadian organization, I was afforded the opportunity to travel to sub-Sahara Africa on numerous occasions to observe the work we were supporting halfway around the world.
As long as I live I will never forget the memory of being toured around Kibera, a slum in Nairobi that exists on no official map. I have this vivid image of a beautiful child, no older than three, playing in a stream or, more precisely, a sewer running down the middle of a pathway and surrounded by the excrement and stench of 800,000 people living within three kilometers of one another. It leaves me thinking about my own 12 year old daughter … that could have been her! The simple fact is that Kiera and all of us have been merely lucky enough to be born and/or live in Canada, a country which in 2017, according to the U.S. News & World Report, in conjunction with Young & Rubicam BAV Consulting and the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, was ranked second in the annual “Best Countries” survey. (Only Switzerland with a perfect score of 10 topped Canada at 9.7) Quite simply, being born and having the privilege of living in this country is akin to winning the lottery of the universe!
I attempt to keep this in mind whenever I complain about the relative insignificant challenges I face in my own life.