Q& A for the B.O.D of K.I.D.S.:an interview with Carly McAllister (Marketing/Communications) and Jerry Weir(Treasurer) from the Board of Directors of K.I.D.S by Mark Morrison
Question1) What has been the most challenging project to set up and complete for KIDS Initiative? What did the experience teach you?
Carly McAllister (Marketing & Communications): Since I joined KIDS as a volunteer, we’ve completed 2 projects - the first was to setup an HIV/AIDS Resource Centre with the Keini Fighters of HIV/AIDS, and the second was with the Borokwony Women’s Group, to build a chick hatchery and develop a sustainable hatching program. The Kieni Fighter’s Resource Centre faced many challenges because they started just as the COVID-19 pandemic hit in2020. This forced us to change our plans to still achieve success!
The Kieni Fighters had many plans to run workshops and trainings to raise awareness of health and sex education, in addition to skills training for local girls, turning their new Resource Centre into a central hub for the community. However, the new pandemic restrictions meant that these events couldn’t happen. So, the Kieni Fighters switched gears and found new ways to accomplish their goals. They held mobile clinics and conducted 395 HIV/AIDS tests and distributed almost 10,000 condoms. Even with restrictions, they were able to hold 6 workshops with 247 attendees. KIDS Initiative helped connect the Resource Centre to Wi-Fi for the very first time, allowing the Kieni Fighters to launch a Facebook page that provided information on HIV/AIDS and health,allowing them to reach even more people.
Challenges created by the COVID-19 pandemic were common around the world; the way KIDS and the Kieni Fighters pivoted from our original goals allowed us to support the Kieni community in new ways that we hadn’t anticipated!
Question2) How do you plan on KIDS standing out in the charity sector in Winnipeg?
Jerry Weir (Treasurer): As a small organization, we pay no salaries in Canada. We’re entirely run by hard-working volunteers. (Certainly, our projects overseas pay the local people who are managing the program, and we’re proud to provide those employment opportunities.) So,we’re a very lean organization, building new sustainable projects that make areal difference in local communities.
So, when a donor makes a large or small contribution to KIDS Initiative, we think that those contributions go a long way. We can show our donors specifically what their generosity has built and continue to build.
Question3) What are some non-profit groups/charities that you look up to? What are some projects or campaigns they have completed that you would want to mimic?
Carly McAllister (Marketing & Communications): I lookup to MCIC - the Manitoba Council for International Cooperation. KIDS Initiative is a member organization, along with many others in the province. I think they do an amazing job of raising awareness about the importance of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals and engaging the Manitoba community,especially youth, to get people excited about international development.
Question4) What advice about volunteering would you give this generation of university students if you were to give a speech at their graduation ceremony?
Jerry Weir (Treasurer): There are lots of great causes out there, and some of the most interesting work is being done by smaller organizations that you might not have heard of.
Think about what you would like to do, and what you can contribute for a charity.
Groups like Volunteer Manitoba can help put you in touch with a group that’s most able to use your skills.
Also, that will help you get connected with smaller organizations – like KIDS – that aren’t as well known, where you can make areal impact.
Question5) Has living and working in Winnipeg assisted your outlook on aiding international development projects?
Carly McAllister (Marketing & Communications): One of the reasons that I chose to move to Winnipeg for university was how multicultural it was. I was struck by how many languages I heard being spoken when I toured the U of M campus. I had always been interested in visiting other countries and learning about other cultures, so being in a place with other people from all over the world seemed like a great place to be. Over the years,I’ve made connections with people from every continent (except Antarctica) and heard about their experiences in their home countries. This has helped my outlook on aiding international development projects because I heard more about people’s firsthand experience in this area. It’s clear to me that international development is most successful when people in the developing community have aloud voice and direct influence in the development projects themselves. It is local people on the ground that know what they need and know the solutions that will work.
Question6) What helped you stay positive during the 2020 Pandemic? Were there any movies/tv shows that you finally watched or books you finally read after you said, “I’ll do that one day”.
Carly McAllister (Marketing & Communications): Although I didn’t read or watch anything that made me say, “I’ll do that one day,” I used the lockdown's to do things I was wanted to do! Like many other people, I got into baking bread. Also learned how to make pasta from scratch. I had always said that “one day, “I would use my Italian great-grandma’s pasta machine I inherited to make pasta and cannoli and during the pandemic that day arrived.
Question7) If you weren’t in your currently volunteering for KIDS Initiative, what would you want to be doing?
Carly McAllister (Marketing & Communications): If I wasn’t volunteering with Kids, I would likely be volunteering somewhere else.It is important for me to give back because I am lucky enough to have the resources to do so. One place would be interested in volunteering (in Winnipeg)is Art City - a community art centre that offers high quality, free-of-charge art programming to those who need or wish to express themselves creatively.