Summer reading that inspires
Rosemary McCarney, President and CEO of Plan Canada
Given the work we do here at Plan Canada, people often ask us about ways they can learn more about aid and development issues affecting countries across the world and the specific countries where Plan works to improve the lives of children and their families.
There are many different ways to learn about these issues but I usually suggest some good reads, videos or movies as a start.
So, as many Canadians start to rollout their summer and vacation plans, I thought I’d share three Plan book picks that are engaging, informative and inspiring.
We look forward to sharing more Plan picks for books, movies and more and invite you to join the conversation with us on Twitter and Facebook.
Plan book picks
Baking Cakes in Kigali by Gaile Parkin
Expect the unexpected with every turn of the page in this delightful and touching series of vignettes centred around a cake-baker in Rwanda. What I like about this book is that it’s a Rwandan genocide story that doesn’t only focus on the tragedy and horror of those months of mass murder in 1994 – there are many books that do that. Instead, the book takes a lovely, sometimes surprising and often amusing, departure from this, and focuses on the powerful and uplifting stories of the genocide survivors themselves. Be prepared for a fresh perspective, and be prepared to laugh when reading this book, too.
Kilimanjaro and Beyond: A Life Changing Journey by Barry Finlay with Chris Finlay
Join Canadian Barry Finlay, a long-time supporter of Plan Canada, and his son Chris as they share unique father-son moments and embark on a life-transforming journey to Tanzania to climb Mount Kilamanjaro, the highest mountain in Africa, about 19,340 feet above sea level. Along the way, Barry and Chris get a chance to connect with Tanzanian children who will themselves be provided with clean water in their communities as a result of Barry and Chris’s fundraising mountain trek. Sit back and enjoy the read as the two men take on a ”life-changing physical, mental and spiritual adventure,” that reminds us about how making a difference in other people’s lives can bring us to new heights in our own lives as well.
Blood on the Stone by Ian Smillie
Remember the 2006 Hollywood film Blood Diamond starring Leonardo DiCaprio? Worth the view, if you’ve never seen it. Set in Sierra Leone during the civil war that raged there during the 1990s, the movie, through its fictionalized characters, reveals the alarming truth about diamonds being mined in African war zones to finance conflicts and the devastating ripple effects this had on children and families in the region. In a recent opinion piece he wrote for the Globe and Mail, Ian Smillie calls the film a "seriously sanitized version of what actually happened during a conflict that lasted twice as long as the Second World War."
If you’ve never heard of Ian Smillie, I invite you to get to know him by reading his book Blood on the Stone and here’s why: history was made earlier this year when former Liberian dictator Charles Taylor became the first head of state to be found guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity by the Special Court for Sierra Leone in The Hague. In fact, Ian was the first witness for the prosecution at Charles Taylor's trial, which began in 2008. More Canadians should know and be proud of the role that this fellow Canadian and development expert played in alerting the world to the tragedy and truth of "blood” diamonds. Smillie also went on to start a number of Canadian-based initiatives that would evolve into the ethical diamond and mining movement we have in Canada today.
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