Bringing us together

By Gillian Barth, President and CEO of CARE Canada

I’ve dedicated a good part of my life to CARE. And though my passion for fighting inequality has grown, time hasn’t made the work any easier.

Every day, I see my colleagues pour the best of themselves into impossibly complex challenges. How can we get more aid to countries where the political situation is so complex? How can we compel governments to do more to address global issues? How can we send – as quickly as possible – our humanitarian experts to fragile environments like post-tsunami Indonesia when movement and even basic communications is so difficult?

We’re not the only organization tackling these issues, thankfully. We work closely with peers to help as many people as possible around the world because agencies working together is the right thing to do.

But over my time here, it’s become clear that CARE has focused so much on its work with its local partners on the ground every day, that we have neglected to tell those we depend on for support the full story of what we do. And we haven’t provided you with enough opportunities to act on your own convictions.

The excuses for that are many. We are focused on the people we help and our partners who help us do it. Relative to our peers, we are a smaller organization who relies heavily on our staff to do a lot more with very little. More than ever, we are providing more aid with greater efficiency. It’s a tough task, but one that we’re well equipped to meet.

But we know that we’ve never been alone in our fight against inequality. You’ve been there with us. And now, more than ever, the world is ripe to rise, to do more, to connect together in the face of poverty, inequality and hostility.

Over the coming year you will see us present a refreshed identity that better illustrates our commitment to mobilizing more movement in the fight to end inequality than ever before.

CARE will harness the power of your words and your actions to bring us together – not just as a group of humanitarians or those committed to fighting for the rights of women and girls – but as a human race.

We’ve been doing this work for a long time. And our resolve to end inequality has never relented – not for a moment. But our promise to you is a renewed commitment to include you more in the vital work that remains to be done and to ensure that you are more directly connected to those we work with.

Issues of inequality between rich and poor, men and women were once considered the domain of poverty charities. Images of war or famine were distant and intangible. We were disconnected.

But today, inequality is a battle that has been assumed by everyday champions around the world.

Today, as borders dissipate, the world is right in front of us. We can hear for ourselves the voices of those who have been kept down. We can see the images of families fighting for safety and shelter. And we bear witness to these fights, not just in countries far away and unfamiliar, but right next door.

We know you care enough to make a difference in the world you see and the world you experience every day. You spoke up to call for Canada to do more to help Syria’s refugees. You said we need to act on climate change. You were the force behind movements like #MeToo. You understand that it shouldn’t be a choice between giving locally and giving internationally. We can and need to do both.

CARE isn’t changing the way we help women and girls to lift themselves and their families out of poverty and crisis. We learned early on that putting women and girls at the centre was the best way to change things for everyone. ­­But our new tagline summarizes our renewed focus:

CARE. Bringing us together to end inequality.

This statement means so much to us – and we hope it will mean more to you in the weeks and months ahead. Getting people together – people who care about the same things that you and I do - has always been what we do best.

We may not have invited you to big flashy events. And we’ve not been the best at simplifying the complexity of global inequality down to one or two easy issues or sentences. And the truth is, that won’t change. What will change is the depth of our relationship with you.

For years - since our inception actually - we have been the group of passionate humanitarians that brought people (those living in poverty, those fighting poverty, those representing the people, those unrepresented) together to connect, to learn and to start a ripple of change that continues on to this day.

One of our staff members recently visited a women’s group in West Bank where CARE has worked for years. We asked one woman what was it about CARE that stood out for her. And she explained that CARE staff members did not tell her how to change her life. We sat down, we listened, and we asked her what she needed and how we could help.

It seems to me that this is a universal salve for the issues we face today. Communication, connection, partnership and togetherness. The issues that we face as a human race are many and together is the only way to tackle them.

CARE will work harder to ensure that we can be there with you. We will ensure you can engage and join us, so that together, we can create tangible change that lasts for generations.

- Gillian

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