SOPAR turned 40 and to mark the event, parents, friends and loyal allies gathered in Ottawa on June 8th. It was a night as colourful as India with a typical Canadian touch that will be remembered.
Here are some of the night’s highlights
Gangamma Udugula, an Indian widow, shared her unjust fate and how she managed to take her righteous place in the society with the support of SOPAR-Bala Vikasa. Married at the age of 7, a mother at 15 and a widow at 19, exclusion and poverty led her on the verge of suicide. A small loan offered by Bala Vikasa revealed her innate sense of business.
William Amos, Member of Parliament for Pontiac, spoke on behalf of Federal Minister of International Development Marie-Claude Bibeau. He took inspiration from Gangamma to highlight SOPAR’s innovative work: fostering attitudinal changes to help people take charge of their own development.
Gatineau Mayor Maxime Pedneault-Jobin drew on the teachings of his father Jacques Jobin, international development expert, to illustrate the humanistic approach at the heart of SOPAR’s work. “My father considered that the idea of showing the beggar how to fish rather than feeding him was false. Instead, he believed, like the founders Angèle and André Gingras, that first of all, one must become his friend.
Those who have seen the work done in India have been transformed. Richard Rochefort spoke in the names of SOPAR’s donors. For him, as for many others, the eyes of those we help do not lie be they orphans, villagers, women, widows, farmers. In those eyes, we can read the difference a single donation can make in their daily lives.
Laurence Labbé of SOPAR’s School Program Youth Changing the World. Laurence travelled to India last winter with some of her schoolmates who raise funds for SOPAR to build wells. The students had the opportunity to meet with the villagers they helped. Laurence: “If, from the height of our 15-16-17 years, we succeed in changing the daily lives of thousands of Indians who do not have our chance, no challenge will be beyond our reach.”
Last words: André Gingras evoked a song from Georges Brassens to salute his wife’s spirit and heart.
This song is yours
You, a farmer who without manners
Gave me four pieces of wood
When in my life it was cold …
It was nothing but a wood fire
But in my body
And in my soul, it still burns
Like a bonfire