emoment with carl

Too often, we admire great humanitarians, but think there is nothing we can do as individuals in our everyday lives to make a difference. We should think again, says Dr. Samantha Nutt, founder of War Child Canada and War Child USA. Sam, as she prefers to be called, came to the College recently as our 2017-18 Carlos R. and Georgina E. Leffler Memorial Lecturer. The lecture series, created by Linda ’67 and Pat Castagna in honor of Linda’s parents, brings nationally and internationally recognized speakers to campus on topics of educational and public importance. Sam told students and community members about working with children and families devastated by war in Iraq, Sudan, Sierra Leone, and other countries. Disease, violence, poverty, and hunger often have been close at hand as she and her co-workers have struggled to help people who have suffered from war. Like me, you have heard stories like hers, and, beyond applauding and giving a donation, felt there was little that you could do.


Sam laid out three simple ways to help make a difference. First, spend ten minutes each day reading international news. Over the course of a year, those minutes add up to hours that make us informed citizens. Second, carefully pick a limited number of good causes and then give consistently to them and stay informed about what they’re doing. Sam said one reason Somalia and Afghanistan, both countries she has worked in, are such devastated societies is because international attention focused on their conflicts briefly, moved on to the next crisis and neglected their reconstruction. Consistent support makes a bigger difference, she says, then the “yo-yo effect” of a flood of aid followed by a drought of aid. Third, when and where you can, buy and invest thoughtfully. With our dollars, we make choices that can help or hurt. Three simple tasks, three ways to make a difference.

Talking with Sam about her humanitarian aid experiences helped me, Linda '67, and Pat Castagna to understand what we can do to make a difference everyday.

Enjoy the moment,

Carl J. Strikwerda,

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