Tag Archives: Inspiration

Elephant parade

I’ve always loved elephants. Ever since I completed a project on them in elementary school, I’ve been really keen about finding ways to support and protect them.

So I was excited to find out about Elephant Family this month – a small but ambitious charity that’s working to save the Asian elephant from extinction and abuse.  While it’s based in London and I haven’t yet decided how I’m going to reach out to them to give my support, I immediately fell in love with their Elephant Parade and wish I could have been there to witness it.

The Elephant Parade, which took place in May, had Britain’s leading artists and designers create brightly coloured elephant statues and strategically place them across London. The goal was to raise awareness and funds, and have people sign their petition to save the Asian elephant. Millions of people would have the seen the elephants, and they ended up raising over £4 million – which is fantastic!

They promoted it using this video as a call to action:

Aren’t these elephants lovely? I would have spent a few hours roaming around trying to find all of them. Here are some photos I found on Flickr (click each to go to the photographer’s page):

Learn more about the cause and see more photos of the parade on the Elephant Family website.

It just gets better from here

“We are where we are. If we keep moving, we’ll be someplace else. We’ll know when we get there.” – Michael J. Fox.

When I think of Michael J. Fox, I immediately think of Marty McFly, the suave, cute and fun hero from the Back to the Future trilogy.

Then I pause and reality sets in and I think of the man. I think of the passionate advocate who’s devoted to his acting, his family and finding a cure for Parkinson’s Disease (PD) and other degenerative diseases. The man who, because of this disease, is either seen stoically still or the opposite, unable to stop moving all over the place. A man that you start to feel sorry for, but then you find out how PD changed him and how he’s stronger than ever now that he’s fighting for this cause with all these people behind him.

About a year ago, I read his first memoir Lucky Man and was swept into his world as he spoke about his successful and lucky life leading up to his diagnosis. I enjoyed his writing style as he narrated his life story up to that point, including how he got into acting, the start of his family, his battle with alcohol and finally having to come to terms with having PD in his 30s.

It was a book I couldn’t put down and so I knew I had to get my hands on his second book – Always Looking Up – The Adventures of an Incurable Optimist.

I managed to get a copy recently at the library and, like his first book, devoured it within just four days.

The second book is organized into Fox’s four life pillars (work, politics, faith and family), which was a change but still easy to read and interesting. I liked how he would focus on one aspect and share what he did and felt in that arena over time. As the book went on, the four pillars eventually blurred together, drawing a whole picture of the man in my mind.

It was a well-written and moving book. He doesn’t deny his luck and the never-ending support he’s received over time, and he clearly and articulately explains his view on stem cell research without an abundance of bias. We know why he cares, obviously, but he addresses the other side of the debate as well.

It’s been a year since I read his first book, so I can’t tell you which one I think is better. But I can tell you that this was an inspiring read and it’s worth picking up – if only to get a glimpse inside of the life of this inspiring Canadian.

Rating: 4/5

One Community

Last night I went with a friend to a South Asian Networking Gala that was organized by a group at work. There was an interesting line-up of speakers and entertainment, there was good food, and getting the chance to meet and talk to some new people was great.

The highlight of the night was when Rahul Singh came on stage to give a speech. What started out as a light-hearted talk ended up being emotionally moving for an entire audience, and Rahul left the stage to a standing ovation.

Rahul is the founder of DMGF, a non-profit organization that goes around the world to help people who are in need of disaster relief. Immediately after news of a disaster reachers their network, DMGF sends out an emergency response team made of firefighters, EMS personnel, and police officers who travel on their own dime (and using their own vacation time) to the country in need. Once in a disaster location, the team rushes to provide clean water, medical care, and save victims from buildings and homes that have been destroyed. They also try to provide that local community with the skills and supplies needed to continue on after the team leaves.

On top of all of that, the organization tries to send out medical packages and training to third world countries, and teams have gone overseas to help train people to locate and handle mines. DMGF has worked with war relief, hurricane relief, flood relief, earthquake relief, tsunami relief, and more. The team has traveled to Sudan, Indonesia, Philippines, Pakistan, Guatemala, Grenada, Iran, Sri Lanka, Guyana, Cambodia, Nepal, Mexico, Thailand, and most recently: Lebanon.

DMGF tries its hardest to minimize costs and ensure that the majority of the money that is donated goes to aid. This is why no one in that organization gets paid. That money is better spent on helping someone survive.

What really got to me was that these people spend every day of their lives trying to save people in their local community. They work hard to get through cultural and language difficulties to help people. And then, when something disastrous happens around the world, they immediately start to put together a plan of action to help even more people. They take time off from work and using their own money, fly there to help save lives. They must work through some of the most intense conditions but they do it because they know that humans, other humans just like you and me, need that help.

Without their help, so many more people would die. I know there are many organizations out there that do many things to help people around the world, but this story in particular really struck me. When something disastrous happens – whether it be a tsunami or war – knowing that people from around the world actually care and would want to help me, would make me fight even more to get through it. It would give me renewed hope about the world and the people in it.

People like Rahul Singh and his team inspire me so much that I can’t really express it in words.

Change

“The remarkable thing we have is a choice every day regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change our past… We cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude.”

— Charles R. Swindol