By Valentina Suarez

Throughout my life, I’ve always thought that everyone suffers in their own way. For me, it was shocking to see how some people were complaining about eating the same meal two or three days in a row, while others were struggling to get at least one meal in a day. It seemed unusual to me to see how those with the opportunity to eat just once per day were generally happier than those with the privilege of eating three times a day with a varied menu.

There was a moment when I thought that it would be great to combine both extremes to make people value the things they have, and what better way than showing them different cultures and giving them another perspective? But, how would I start?

I never found a way to realize this idea until I learned about Unikall CSI, a Canadian non-profit organization created to help youth in Latin America through education and acts of love.

As I immersed myself in this organization, I began to realize how much Unikall CSI contributes to the Latin American community.

One of the first testimonials I read was from Juan Camilo Rodriguez, from Colombia. He taught me several things that I want to share with you.

“I know about the importance of values because everybody talks about them,” Rodriguez said. “But Unikall taught me how to put them into practice and apply them in my daily interaction with others.”

For Rodriguez, life isn’t always about learning and absorbing information. For him, life is about sharing knowledge in the appropriate moment with the right people. Life doesn’t make sense to him when people don’t share what they’ve learnt with the world.

“I like when people want to help my community,” said Rodriguez. “I really appreciate when they give us material elements such as food, clothing, and elements for a better living. But what I have appreciated the most is the time that people give us. Our community is different when I feel their presence here. They make us feel happy; they teach things that we can put into practice with others. It works like a knowledge network where each one transmits to the other.”

Besides contributing with material elements to improve people’s quality of life, Unikall CSI was formed based on tangible experiences that can change lives and leave a legacy. Unikall CSI encourages leveraging talents and uniqueness through meaningful experiences.

“When people ask me if I love soccer, I don’t know what to answer because I can’t measure how much I like it,” said Rodriguez. “For me, soccer is life. However, sometimes I have felt I’m not enough to be a professional soccer player and that there are many more people with better skills than me. With Unikall CSI’s support, I now feel I’m playing with a purpose. Even though there are adversities, now I stay hopeful and thankful in my position because I know that change is coming, and I am ready to welcome it into my life.”

Like Rodriguez, I am grateful for the opportunity, through Unikall CSI, to don my cleats and hit the field, rather than watch from the sidelines.

Valentina Suarez is a second year Public Relations and Strategic Communications Student Durham College in Oshawa, Ontario.

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