Why Just Bangladesh? What about Canada?

Human compassion should have no borders. The reason why I came to Bangladesh for this project is because: 1) it was the only place I could financially afford to visit and stay for long periods of time, and 2) because there is so much poverty here. With over 150 million people in Bangladesh there are more people here earning less than $2 a day than there are people in all the countries which normally get media attention. That’s more than South Africa, more than Cambodia, more than Malawi, and more than Sudan (and Darfur) – combined.

There is also a distinction between the kind of poverty you see here in Bangladesh from the kind of poverty you might see in the streets of Toronto, Canada (my hometown). Before I came to Bangladesh, I saw a program on The National about a reporter who tried to help a homeless person on the streets of Toronto. He did his best to help him on his feet – work placement, finding a place to stay, etc,. But, in the end, the homeless person wound up back at the same street corner. The point wasn’t that it was hopeless to help the poor in Canada (it’s not) – it’s just that solving poverty in Canada requires a focus on certain areas of the social support system that are quite often neglected (such as treating drug addiction, counseling for abuse, and support on mental health issues).

The poorest of the poor in the developing world don’t have access to clean water, don’t have access to education, and are malnurished. Solving global third world poverty is such low-lying fruit to solve that it is a crying shame it still exists in 2008. Maybe the fact many people think that focusing on problems within’s one’s borders and worrying about domestic issues first is part of the reason global poverty still exists. But – and I’ve said this a dozen times – making the world a better place for others, makes it a better place for us all.

19 Responses to “Why Just Bangladesh? What about Canada?”


  1. 1 YM (Auckland, New Zealand)

    Hi Shawn, I’ve watched a number of your videos on YouTube and am checking out your website. What you’re doing is tremendous, and hugely admirable. You’ve made me realise that it doesn’t take extraordinary wealth and influence to help, and that it isn’t difficult to begin – each one of us already has the ability to do so much; all we have to do is decide to do it. You’ve inspired me, and I hope many others out there, to think about what we can do. Thank you, and I wish you the very best as you continue with your important work!

  2. 2 YM (Auckland, New Zealand)

    Hi Shawn, I’ve watched a number of your videos on YouTube and am checking out your website. What you’re doing is tremendous, and hugely admirable. You’ve made me realise that it doesn’t take extraordinary wealth and influence to help, and that it isn’t difficult to begin – each one of us already has the ability to do so much; all we have to do is decide to do it. You’ve inspired me, and I hope many others out there, to think about what we can do. Thank you, and I wish you the very best as you continue with your important work!

  3. 3 YM (Auckland, New Zealand)

    Hi Shawn, I’ve watched a number of your videos on YouTube and am checking out your website. What you’re doing is tremendous, and hugely admirable. You’ve made me realise that it doesn’t take extraordinary wealth and influence to help, and that it isn’t difficult to begin – each one of us already has the ability to do so much; all we have to do is decide to do it. You’ve inspired me, and I hope many others out there, to think about what we can do. Thank you, and I wish you the very best as you continue with your important work!

  4. 4 Kristine (Manila, Philippines)

    I am happy that you’ve chosen to immerse yourself among the rural poor. I am part of an organization that frequently arranges basic masses exposure and integration trips to various sectors in the Philippines like farmers, internal refugees, and picket lines. However their problems have not reached a global audience yet. With what you are doing, I find some inspiration.

  5. 5 Kristine (Manila, Philippines)

    I am happy that you’ve chosen to immerse yourself among the rural poor. I am part of an organization that frequently arranges basic masses exposure and integration trips to various sectors in the Philippines like farmers, internal refugees, and picket lines. However their problems have not reached a global audience yet. With what you are doing, I find some inspiration.

  6. 6 Lisa

    You are an inspiration. I just happened upon the video of the Hardworking Poor of Rural Bangladesh and was so moved by your efforts. I can see your motives are simple and genuine and that is what makes your efforts inspiring. So you see, the strides that you make in this community will not only make a difference to those you directly help, but will make a profound difference to those, like me, whom you moved out of apathy and complacency. I know you are not asking for money but are you accepting donations? God Bless your hands and the work you are doing to lighten the load of the poorest of His children.

  7. 7 Lisa

    You are an inspiration. I just happened upon the video of the Hardworking Poor of Rural Bangladesh and was so moved by your efforts. I can see your motives are simple and genuine and that is what makes your efforts inspiring. So you see, the strides that you make in this community will not only make a difference to those you directly help, but will make a profound difference to those, like me, whom you moved out of apathy and complacency. I know you are not asking for money but are you accepting donations? God Bless your hands and the work you are doing to lighten the load of the poorest of His children.

  8. 8 Lisa

    You are an inspiration. I just happened upon the video of the Hardworking Poor of Rural Bangladesh and was so moved by your efforts. I can see your motives are simple and genuine and that is what makes your efforts inspiring. So you see, the strides that you make in this community will not only make a difference to those you directly help, but will make a profound difference to those, like me, whom you moved out of apathy and complacency. I know you are not asking for money but are you accepting donations? God Bless your hands and the work you are doing to lighten the load of the poorest of His children.

  9. 9 Tim

    Hi Shawn,
    You make me proud to be an american! i am very proud of what you are doing, we need many many more people like you.
    I just donated to save the children per your recommendation.
    You have inspired me to do more.
    Thank you and keep up the great work!
    Sincerely, Tim

  10. 10 Jeanne M.

    Dear Shawn, I came across your YouTube video projects and wanted to know what we could do to help the situation with some of the children (who in my estimation are ‘the real entrepreneurs’, because their ‘businesses’ are based on an “everyday” need to help their families, and not just for the money.) that we saw in your projects? I didn’t seee any information listed, as to where we could send items (or even in some cases money if needed, perhaps to a special account that can be kept watch of, and one that legit?) that would help to ease some of their burdens? I don’t have alot “right now”, but I definitely wouldn’t mind purchasing a few items that would help them ‘all’. Any information that you can provide (why not place the info on YouTube if it all possible?) would be gladly appreciated. Thanks Shawn and may God (who I know is the true inspiration behind your project, whether you believe it or not) continue to bless you, your loved ones, and those in your on-going projects.

  11. 11 Tim

    Hi Shawn,
    You make me proud to be an american! i am very proud of what you are doing, we need many many more people like you.
    I just donated to save the children per your recommendation.
    You have inspired me to do more.
    Thank you and keep up the great work!
    Sincerely, Tim

  12. 12 Jeanne M.

    Dear Shawn, I came across your YouTube video projects and wanted to know what we could do to help the situation with some of the children (who in my estimation are ‘the real entrepreneurs’, because their ‘businesses’ are based on an “everyday” need to help their families, and not just for the money.) that we saw in your projects? I didn’t seee any information listed, as to where we could send items (or even in some cases money if needed, perhaps to a special account that can be kept watch of, and one that legit?) that would help to ease some of their burdens? I don’t have alot “right now”, but I definitely wouldn’t mind purchasing a few items that would help them ‘all’. Any information that you can provide (why not place the info on YouTube if it all possible?) would be gladly appreciated. Thanks Shawn and may God (who I know is the true inspiration behind your project, whether you believe it or not) continue to bless you, your loved ones, and those in your on-going projects.

  13. 13 Owen

    You’re very sensible directing people who want to donate to charities/NGOs. Handling donations yourself risks all sorts of complications unless you get accountancy and accountability issues and arrangements sorted out in advance. Best of luck.

  14. 14 Owen

    You’re very sensible directing people who want to donate to charities/NGOs. Handling donations yourself risks all sorts of complications unless you get accountancy and accountability issues and arrangements sorted out in advance. Best of luck.

  15. 15 Owen

    You’re very sensible directing people who want to donate to charities/NGOs. Handling donations yourself risks all sorts of complications unless you get accountancy and accountability issues and arrangements sorted out in advance. Best of luck.

  16. 16 Shawn

    Hey Owen, yeah – I prefer people to give to established charities. But a lot of people have been asking me to setup a paypal or something like that.

    Hey Lisa, if you can only give to one place – please consider giving to an established charity like Save the Children or Nari Jibon. I am planning on setting up a PayPal type thing in the future. But, like I said, you might be better off donating to an established charity πŸ™‚

    Hey Kristine, the Philippines is definitely a place with a great deal of poverty. I would have loved to have been able to make a difference there too. But, the only reason I can do what I’m doing in Bangladesh is because of the support of my relatives here in Bangladesh that help with room and board.

    And hey Tim – thanks for donating to SC πŸ™‚

    And thanks for the kind words YM πŸ™‚

  17. 17 Shawn

    Hey Owen, yeah – I prefer people to give to established charities. But a lot of people have been asking me to setup a paypal or something like that.

    Hey Lisa, if you can only give to one place – please consider giving to an established charity like Save the Children or Nari Jibon. I am planning on setting up a PayPal type thing in the future. But, like I said, you might be better off donating to an established charity πŸ™‚

    Hey Kristine, the Philippines is definitely a place with a great deal of poverty. I would have loved to have been able to make a difference there too. But, the only reason I can do what I’m doing in Bangladesh is because of the support of my relatives here in Bangladesh that help with room and board.

    And hey Tim – thanks for donating to SC πŸ™‚

    And thanks for the kind words YM πŸ™‚

  18. 18 Shawn

    Hey Owen, yeah – I prefer people to give to established charities. But a lot of people have been asking me to setup a paypal or something like that.

    Hey Lisa, if you can only give to one place – please consider giving to an established charity like Save the Children or Nari Jibon. I am planning on setting up a PayPal type thing in the future. But, like I said, you might be better off donating to an established charity πŸ™‚

    Hey Kristine, the Philippines is definitely a place with a great deal of poverty. I would have loved to have been able to make a difference there too. But, the only reason I can do what I’m doing in Bangladesh is because of the support of my relatives here in Bangladesh that help with room and board.

    And hey Tim – thanks for donating to SC πŸ™‚

    And thanks for the kind words YM πŸ™‚

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