Philanthropy at its best


Voluntourism – Where will you go with $5000?

Hi everyone!

I just came across this and thought would share wit you all who have always wanted to travel and make a difference in a place where every bit helps. Travelocity awards $5000 grants to individuals/groups who would like to travel on any of their signature trips (Brazil, Tanzania, Peru etc). All you need to do is make a video telling why you want to go on that specific trip and what inspired you to apply for the grant. So the catch here is that you should already have done your research about where you want to go and what kind of work you want to do. But say for example, the Brazil trip through Cross-cultural solutions(one of travelocities not-for-profit partners) is in Salvador and you have the option of chosing between an educational/medical etc internship. Also, some programs will have a minimum time requirement such as the Tanzania one has a 3 week minimum-commitment required by CCS and is quite expensice ($3000 plus for just the program). Then there are also some short and sweet programs which I call ” bursts of culture” because they are long enough for you to JUST pick up the language and right when you are blending in, you find yourself at the departure gates at the airport. I did one of these one week exchanges in 2009 to Morocco, and while I loved every second there, I am deserately planning my next visit to Morroco because it just was not enough time! So, my recommendation is, do something longer if you want to a) go somewhere and b) if you get this award!

So heres the link. Now go record!



As I’m sure many of you are acutely aware, the situation in Egypt is tremendously inspiring with hundreds of thousands of people flooding the streets and demanding democratic change in the face of brutal repression, beatings, gunfire, and physical threats by state sponsored thugs and goon squads. The courage of the people of Egypt is an inspiring example of collective resistance. Despite heroic efforts by a civilian movement to peacefully demand change, the state has responded with tremendous violence and carnage. The health scenario in Egypt is grim, as there have been numerous reports by Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights documenting the medical crisis that is emerging. Despite threats of death, those on the streets continue to mobilize and alongside them, doctors and nurses have responded to pleas for assistance and are providing medical care inside Tahrir Square around the clock. As Dr. Ahmed Ali, an oncologist in Cairo, stated, “…the police here have snipers and the youths have nothing but stones…but they keep going on anyway. And as long as they keep going, we will, too.” However, medical supplies in Egypt, particularly Cairo, are dangerously low and there have been widespread calls from doctors and nurses for medical supplies to be donated.


In Toronto, many of us who are doctors, nurses, and health professionals have donated medical supplies that are currently being taken to Cairo by a doctor and a team of volunteers tomorrow morning. After speaking with medics on the ground in Tahrir Square, we have been told that more medical supplies are needed. We need your help to raise money to purchase the following supplies by Monday when another team of volunteers will be leaving to Cairo:

1. Sterile syringes

2. Sterile gloves

3. Local Anesthetic (lidocaine, xylocaine)

4. Sutures (mixture of non absorbable, ie; prolene & absorbable, ie; vicryl) range of sizes 0 to 5-0

5. Needle drivers, forceps

6. Antibiotics, primarily oral Keflex (cefalexin) & maybe in IV form ancef (cefazolin)

7. Oral Ibuprofen

8. Bags of IV solution, Normal Saline &/or Ringers Lactate


We are making a general appeal for monetary donations at this time to purchase medical supplies. If you are able to donate online, please send whatever you can through PAYPAL or if you have a bank account with any of the major banks in Canada, it is easier to send an email-interac money transfer to, as she is helping organize medical relief support. We are only accepting donations until Sunday so please donate generously until then, as we must respond quickly and place orders for local anesthetics, which takes approximately 24 hours to order and receive.


Lets Bake Happiness!

Do you have a passion for baking? Do you love to get creative in the kitchen on your days off and bake endless cakes, cookies and pastries in your spare time? So are Allison and Laura, the co-founders of Iced Capades Cakery baked in Houston, Texas ( They baked for their friend and their families and then next baked for a purpose. They now bake cakes, cookies and other sweet treats for homeless shelters for children who deserve to have the same happiness in their lives as us. So, how can you help them if you a) live in houston or b) dont live in houston.

For a), you can contact them through their website and volunteer to bake a cake for them. Both these lovely ladies will try to match you with a shelter close and convenient to you, OR you can donate money online and let them do the baking.

For b) You can use their idea and approach a local shelter near you and ask if they would like to be involved in this. Then, next approach your local grocery store and ask if they would like to sponsor you supplies ( flour, sugar etc or cake mixes). If not, ask your friends to pitch in $5 at work or more and voila, you can bake a child some happiness!

Its a simple concept.. but a concept that works with a little effort we all can put in once a month. If you have always wanted to do something simple but never quite figured out what it could be, heres a starter for you.

Take Action, Do Something!

2010 – the year of natural disasters

2010, now behind us, was a year of advancement in many ways. The world witnessed the discovery of a new life form, the creation of anti matter within the lab for the first time, creation of self replicating synthetic life, a possible cure to tinnitus, the first man with HIV cured in Germany and these aren’t even close to all the others that I am missing in here. But as life moved forward for most of the western world in 2010, it seemed stagnated by a compendium of natural disasters that struck the world all around. One of the first such was the devastating earthquake in Haiti in January 2010, which still affects millions as we speak with a lack of schools, education, homes, healthcare, clean water amongst many of the basic necessities. Many other areas in the world such as the Solomon islands, Tajikistan, Chile, Mexico, China, Afghanistan, Indonesia and Serbia. There have also been numerous areas such as Peru, Brazil and Phillipines affected by multiple landslides also in 2010.

But while these disasters seemed so far away from home, the floods that struck almost all of Pakistan in August 2010, left me most moved. While I sat next to my best friend siping coffee in August, we both watched the ongoing devastation in Pakistan on BBC. We watched our country’s president on a tour to Birmingham while his country struggled to breathe. We watched while the death tolls rose and finally after nine full days of no international effort, the UN declared a emergency appeal for $459 million in aid to Pakistan to help it resurface above the flood waters again. As of today, about 70% of this money has been raised according to the UN. But yet over 4 million people remain homeless. How do you explain this discrepancy? Where did the $459 million go? Why are there still people living in tent cities while the water slowly receded? The problem lies in the system – in my opnion( you might have your own). The UN donates $459 million to the Pakistan government, one of the most corrupt exisiting governments, and the government pledges to use it to help those in need. But yet, after 6 months, there remains little to no change. NGO’s like red corss and doctors without borders and imran khan foundation receive private donations but atleast, if not 100%, most of it is going towards relief efforts.

Then theres families out there collecting money from friends, families abroad and putting it towards reconstruction projects they have personally undertaken to help those in need. Attached are pictures of one such family(s) doing something on their own to help those they know who are in need of dire help. Everyone wants to do something good for this world, give back in someway. While, you might not be affected by these floods or any natural disaster, there are people out there who really do need your help. If you are interested in helping, and want to cross that off your bucket list, I would strongly encourage you to do so and donate any amount you can to help these motivated individuals rebuild the villages close to them, that they can.

What goes around comes around and if you help someone in need today, one day help will be there for you too when you need it.


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LuLu Green makes going green a breeze!

So, a couple of days ago I suggested some easy things you can do everyday to help end world hunger. One of the things was going organic and buying locally produced foods and supporting local farmers. Along similar lines, is going organic with respect to what you buy,wear,use in your household or workplace. LuLu Green ( is one such example of a department store which helps you buy things you use in everyday life but instead are environmentally friendly and have a reduced carbon footprint. They offer anything from coffee to toothpaste – amazing huh! They even have  environmentally friendly deodrant ( I didnt even know that existed until this second).

How many of you actually thought that being green actually means more expensive items and going out of your way to a “special” store which would be far more inconvenient than going to your local metro. Well, lo and behold, they have online shopping and everyone LOVES online shopping now a days especially with the -30 weather and the never ending rush at stores. So, if you have always wanted to try out an eco-friendly product but never found it in your store or have not had a chance to go because you have been busy, here you go! Order something, try it out and contribute to make the world a better place for the generations to come.

You want to end world hunger? Here is your personalized chance!

Inspired by Heifer Interntational (, I am giving you some ideas to go out and do something to reduce world hunger, one of the millenium development goals put forward by the United Nations.

1.  Donate non-perishable items! Tis the season to give, so be generous and drop in a couple of cans of food at your local foodbank, starbucks ( they collect them during holiday season eg  the one on Bay and Queen Street), your local hospital ( like St. Michael’s) or any other place you can find!

2. Buy fair trade! Whether it be coffee or cotton, make it a point to ask the retailer where this product comes from? If its made in some small nation and they don’t exactly know who makes it, chances are that its NOT fair trade. Most fair trade retailers like second cup, starbucks and other stores will proudly have a display saying they support fair trade. By buying fair trade coffee, for instance, you might pay 50 cents extra per cup at second cup than tim hortons ( not to downplay tim hortons or anything), but you do 2 important things: 1) you get flavored coffee with delicious flavours ranging from belgium chocolate to french vanilla coffee AND 2) you are supporting fair trade farmers by spending that extra 50 cents.


3. Go organic! I know this is difficult for most of us who shop at fashion savy stores like H & M, Jacob, Forever 21 etc.. but beleive it or not some of these stores actually carry organically made cardigans, T shirts, sweaters to say the least. I once bought an organic cotton cardigan from H & M and it is one of the most comfortable pieces of clothing I own. SO point is, keep an eye out for these items at your current stores if you cant completely switch over! Organic farming is environmentally friendly and provides a sound agricultural alternative

4. Farmer’s Markets! I know they are hard to come by in the Canadian winter, but its not impossible to find locally produced vegetables or goods in your very own grocery stores. Sobey’s for one carries a great variety of locally produced, organic goods. By buying these products, such as Ontario eggs ( refer to TV commercial), you are engaging in a simple, yet effective way of helping farmers in your area and hence reducing poverty indirectly, but reducing none the less!

5. Feed someone! Every friday, try to buy a sandwich from a store on your way back from work and drop it off to the homeless man you see sitting on the grates on your way back home. It’s a trivial act, but it will go a long way and has direct impact on someone you see. Practice compassion.


6. Pass on the knowledge! Now that you are done reading this, re post or re tweet it to your friends so that they are also able to do something and take action!


Have a fab sunday everyone!


“Change your profile picture” campaign.. a sham?

This past weekend, thousands of facebook users ( including myself) were actively engaged in an act of charity or kindness: changing their profile picture to a cartoon from their childhood to increase awareness about child abuse. Mine was a smurf, since the little blue creatures were my absolute favorite during my childhood years. The campaign messaged read, ” Change your FB picture to a cartoon from your childhood. The goal is not to see a human face on FB until Monday (Dec 6th) Join the fight against child abuse & copy and paste to your status” or something along those lines as users varied the message on their status updates. Almost every status update on my news feed this weekend was something along those lines, and eventually on saturday evening, I also crumbled to the mounting peer pressure.

But the question is does changing a profile picture really inspire us to do something against child abuse or is it really just a social networking tool to stimulate conversations regarding our favorite cartoons ( which happened on ALOT of peoples profile pictures) and as one friends status update read  ” this changing profile pictures is a good way to talk about cartoons” ( thats not verbatim). And as expected, NSPCC is not behind the facebook campaign  ( as apparent from their twitter update. So what was really the point of this entire melodramatic campaign of ” lets indulge in our memories”. How does that remotely help prevent child abuse or create awareness of child abuse? Well, for one the NSPCC got a ton of media attention and visits to their site probably sky rocketed this weekend. But how many of the people ( including myself) have actually done something about this, or made a donation, or thought about actually volunteering to make a difference. Social media is all great and amazing, but if it leads to only ” virtual” action and no ” real” action, then its not really doing its job.

So those of you who did do an act of kindness this weekend by changing you profile picture, do one more act of kindness and go and actually donate or volunteer, because in the real world a change in profile pictures makes no difference. ( applicable to myself aswell)



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