Tens of thousands of people live in slums, with few opportunities for education or employment. These slums are dirty, cramped, and littered with garbage. Children who live in these slums often have no opportunity to go to school, and many must work long hours in inhumane conditions to earn a few pennies to help feed their families. Women and children may work as ragpickers, sorting through garbage for recyclables that they can sell for a meagre income.
On St. Patrick’s Day, March 17, 2022, nine staff members of GFA World, located in Stoney Creek, Ontario, had the opportunity to empathize with those who live in such circumstances. However, instead of picking through garbage trying to earn money for food, they volunteered to clean up garbage in a nearby ditch.
GFA World’s staff work full time to raise awareness of the needs of the poor around the world and to raise funds to provide practical solutions for the struggles that many families face. They labour in Canada to see entire communities around the world transformed with the love of God. Many children who live in slums have been helped through GFA’s Child Sponsorship Program, and hundreds of national missionaries have been equipped to serve in their communities. Tens of thousands of families have been blessed through income-generating and life-improving gifts generously provided by donors through the GFA World Christmas Gift Catalogue, such as goats and BioSand water filters.
The staff members took an hour out of their workday to pick up garbage in the ditch located between St. John Henry Newman Catholic Highschool and Fiesta Mall, Stoney Creek. This area is frequented by several of the staff living nearby, who were troubled by the growing amount of garbage discarded into the ditch. Following a few weeks of warm weather, the snow had melted sufficiently to reveal the amount of garbage in the ditch, as well as making the cleanup possible.
The weather proved to be even nicer than expected with temperatures in the high teens. The volunteers enjoyed the opportunity to be outside in the fresh air and sunshine while serving the community. The nine staff brought gloves, rakes, and garbage bags from the GFA World office and picked up bottles, plastic bags, and other litter from the ditch and culvert. They worked together using the rakes to pull garbage from the water in the ditch and culvert and braved the thicket of underbrush to remove as much garbage as possible.
In this informal effort to enhance the community, nearly 180 kilograms of garbage was picked up and taken to the Kenora Transfer Station in Hamilton, ON.
Lisa, the staff member who organized the cleanup, said: “It was a privilege to be a part of the change we want to see.”
This was not the first time that GFA World staff have engaged in community service projects and outreaches striving to help others, having in years past participated in the Hamilton Beach Cleanup and volunteering with the Santa Clause Parade, and serving as a polling station during provincial and federal elections. Prior to the covid-19 restrictions in the province that began in the spring of 2020, they also hosted free community events at their office. Serving the Stoney Creek community in such ways is a joy to GFA World, and a local expression of the work that goes on in the field, where national missionaries and local church fellowships also look for ways to uplift their community and build relationships with their neighbours. This may include picking up garbage, planting trees, cleaning toilets at local schools, visiting those in hospitals (where local covid-19 restrictions allow), and seeking ways to help people with their basic needs and daily struggles.