This post is a bit different. It is not as much about leadership but about the social responsibility of us living in relative wealth. It is a transcript of my 10th basic project speech at Toastmasters. Since it was written to be performed on stage I have included parts in CAPITAL letters where I wanted to put some emphasis by modulation of voice. The dots “…” mean a pause to again give emphasis on a particular thought. [The brackets] indicate a section in the structure of the speech.
[Capture the attention]
Planet Earth. EVERY SINGLE YEAR there are 800 million PEOPLE suffering of malnutrition. EVERY SINGLE YEAR there are 1.5 million children dying from hunger. EVERY SINGLE YEAR there are 1.4 million children dying from lack of access to safe drinking water
ONE… TWO… THREE… EVERY 3.5 second there is a person dying of hunger.
And every single year there is 1/3 of all food produced (1.3 billion tons) thrown away in so called developed countries
[Lead to the main topic]
What is WRONG with the World? Does it feel right? Does this feel like one planet? Does this feel like people really care for one another?
[Life if Europe]
I spent most of my life in the heart of Europe and even though I regularly complained about how miserable everything is I was at the end of the day pretty happy. I lived in a very safe environment, had a good education, free healthcare, had lots of food, fresh water and would get regularly mad at my parents for buying me the wrong toy.
And then I grew up and started to travel outside of my country. My first trip was to Australia. Beautiful beaches, smiling people, clean and busy cities. Everything seemed hundred times better. I felt like Europe is the worst place to live… and then I went to Africa.
[Life in Africa]
I spent a month traveling around East Africa. I visited the vast savannas of Kenya, the beautiful national parks of Tanzania and the pristine nature of mountains in Uganda.
I stood in the middle of dessert seeing women walking hours with canisters to the nearest fresh water well, saw small children sitting in the dirt suffering from hunger and diseases.
I visited the Olduvai Gorge in Tanzania, the cradle of humanity and saw the kids in local school. Small, unhealthy kids who had to travel each day many kilometers through wild dessert to the school as it was their only chance for better future. I came to them and offered something sweet. And do you know what their teacher said? “Please, don’t give them sweets, they don’t have enough food and this will just make it worse.”
I went to Uganda walking in the mountains through villages that don’t see many tourists. And small kids would be curiously running around me, touching my white skin and giggling like they never saw such a strange individual with huge backpack. I have never seen such a joy in a kid. So I stopped and offered them something sweet. And the guide turned to me and said: “Please, don’t give them sweets, they don’t know what to do with it and they will never have it again.”
A year later I went to Indonesia, to Papua. Trekking in the wilderness and visiting some of the indigenous tribes. I was invited to tribe ritual where they slaughtered a small pig and had a feast. I got some meat and when saw the sad child sitting next to me I offered it a bite. And the guide said: “Please, don’t give the meat to the girl. She would get spoiled and she will never taste it again as meat is precious and only for men. Women and kids eat just vegetables.”
[Review and summary]
And then I came back to Europe and saw my niece who will never know what hunger or thirst means, who will never need to be worried about safety or unhealthy living conditions and who will have sweets and fresh water anytime she wants without even appreciating the gift of life she is receiving. And once again I need to ask “Do we live on the same planet?”
It is a responsibility of us who live in a relative wealth to share and care. And it is not just about money, it is about social responsibility and it is about the bigger responsibility towards the poor, the Mother Nature and the future generations.
[Call to action]
This is not the planet I want to live on
I WANT TO LIVE IN A WORLD where all the kids have enough food and water
I WANT TO LIVE IN A WORLD where all the kids can go to school and have all the sweets they desire
And I want to live in a world where everyone really really cares and that my fellow toastmasters needs to start with EVERY AND EACH OF US
Twitter type summary: “It is a responsibility of every and each of us to be socially responsible and care about those among us who need our help.”
Do you have an eye opening experience when travelling the world? Have it happened to you that you came from such a trip a different person?