Why should I be helping people who live far away?


“As long as I am alive I want to help. Even if the only thing I can do is to wash dishes. I want to help others. Anywhere”– This is one of the first sentences I heard when I met Dr. Dave for the first time, the founder of Light up The World, who we are still lucky to count among our supporters. This man, who is almost 80, and his wife have devoted their life to help. To help others. And listening to him, I just want to help too. Anywhere. Wherever I can make a difference with my energy and professional experience.

It is true, in Calgary, in Alberta, in Canada, there are people who need help. But, as an overall, we live in a country where most of its population has its basic needs covered. By all means, please do help organizations who work locally and nationally to help Canadiens. But let me tell you why I decided to also help Light Up The World. And maybe you will decide to help us too.

One year ago, as part of a series of conferences, National Geographic brought to Calgary a very well-known  astronaut. I attended his talk and one of the things he shared with the audience was the following:  when you travel to space, one of the first things you will detect is poverty. And you know how? Because the planet Earth, from space and at night, only has light in countries where there is wealth. Entire countries, whole continents are in the dark. Any why? For the lack of light. Access to energy is a clear indicator of wellbeing. And the lack of it, an obvious signal of inequality. And that struck me. How unfair. How unjust. That depending on where you are born, your opportunities and your quality of life, even life expectancy, is so different. I went home and soon after I saw a job posting to join Light Up The World. I don’t believe in destiny, or in good luck. But I truly think sometimes things happen for a reason.

Some people were born to change the world but this thought can be paralyzing too for the rest of us. Each individual, however, can make it a tiny little bit better. Like my mother used to tell us when we were little “if life has been generous with you, help others, be generous in return (…) That is also the path for personal happiness”. So my post today is a call for happiness: Help locally. Help internationally. But help. For the price of a coffee, you can make a difference. And if you decide to help us, I can only guarantee two things: a whole team of devoted professionals will make the world a tiny bit better place; and there are no intermediaries: all your support goes directly to the beneficiaries. So hopefully your generosity will also make you happier. At least, it does to me.

Op-ed piece by Ana Robert. Originally from Barcelona (Spain), Ana is the Director of Communications of LUTW since June 2018 – The opinions of this post are totally personal and not the organization’s.