Pictured above: Roméo Cormier with Emmanuel Usengimana in Rwanda
On Volunteering With CDF Canada
I consider a volunteer posting with CDF Canada as both a challenge and an honour. It’s a challenge because it brings me to reflect on my assumptions, my beliefs, attitudes and values. Reflecting on concepts like development, progress, equality, best practices, and so on. I wonder whether our partners will embrace the offerings of my Canadian organization, once we’re in the field, or in the detail. Will I personally come across as a condescending westerner from a rich country who thinks he has all the answers, or will I seek to integrate with the community to better understand their culture and the dynamics of their organization?
Taking on a volunteer assignment with CDF Canada is an honour because I realize the selection process could have favoured someone else, and so I’m grateful and honoured to have been selected. It raises my awareness level and I feel that I personify the Canadian co-operator, and how he acts and reacts to local issues and challenges related to the project’s successful completion.
One thing I do know for sure is that, as a volunteer, I receive more than I give. Yes, I bring useful knowledge and new approaches. That could mean the introduction of a new by-product of the farmers’ main crops, like biofuel briquettes from corn stalk, or rice straw, for Rwandan farmers. Or, it could mean the introduction of small-scale technologies for sesame seed farmers in Myanmar that allow them to measure moisture levels in their seeds before bringing them to market, at a higher price. No miracle work here, but simply well-focused web searches at key university research websites before leaving Canada.
Where I receive more than I give is from the people I work with every day. In all my volunteer assignments – totaling eight years now – I am impressed by how more happy and sociable people are, compared to citizens of more developed countries. The more open and receptive I am, the more I discover and appreciate facets of their culture, new displays of relationships and, in short, a new perspective on life. I have become a citizen of the world, and this mind-expanding experience will stay with me for the rest of my life.
Dieppe, New Brunswick, November 2017
Note: Roméo has been to Peru, Myanmar and Rwanda with CDF
We're recruiting for current volunteer openings! Click here to see the postings.