Saturday, May 28, 2011

A Girl Named Sue

What do you think of when you hear the term “social responsibility”? Social responsibility, the theory that an organization or individual has an obligation to benefit society at large, is interpreted by each of us differently. Many of us do it passively, meaning we avoid participating in socially harmful acts. How many of us are actively engaging in social responsibility?

Which brings me to a Ninja, actually a “Super Ninja” and her name is Sue.

For Sue, a trip to Central America became a journey of self-discovery and appreciation for the world in which she lives. The story really began when her friend Debbie, tragically lost her daughter in Afghanistan. In 2008 Shirley Case, a small town British Columbia girl from 100 Mile House, along with two other aide workers, was gunned down by Taliban insurgents. Shirley was only 30 years old and had dedicated her life to helping people. Fast forward to 2010. In partnership with SchoolBOX, a Canadian grassroots charity, Shirley's families and friends celebrate Shirley’s life by building a school for over 100 children in Monte Olivo, Nicaragua creating a living testament to this amazing woman. It was an opportunity for the Case family to have a connection to the kind of life that their daughter lived. When Sue finds out that Debbie and her husband Alec are about to embark on a trip to Monte Olivo, she volunteered herself and her sister Karen.

This past Easter, after a four-hour flight from Houston, Sue and Karen arrived in Managua, Nicaragua. They joined ten others, forever known as Shirley’s Super Ninja’s, to help begin building a four-room school in the community of Monte Olivo.

For six days, traveling for over an hour each day to the school site, the group worked in the scorching heat, digging trenches, laying rebar, mixing concrete. “It was the hardest I worked, but the most fun I ever had” said Sue. They also had a daily connection with the locals, especially the children who would get to attend the new school. “It was seeing the children and how hard they worked for something that we take for granted that had a profound affect”. When I asked Sue what was her “awesome”, meaning what was something that she will remember forever she said, “working side by side with a seven year old boy shoveling dirt and knowing I couldn’t quit him and he wouldn’t quit me”.

The trip changed Sue’s life and much like someone who has had a life changing experience, she is reflective about how she has lived in the past and how she can see things differently. “I am much more thankful than before. When I watch programs like World Vision I get emotional because it is real to me in a way that was different before ”.

Sue will be the first person to admit that you don’t have to travel across the world to make a difference; but for her, getting out of her comfort zone, getting the dirtiest she has ever been, crying tears of joy and tears of sadness, working so hard she felt sick, was very rewarding.

For more information about the project in which Sue participated, check out

I loved hearing about the trip to Central America. But let’s face it, the majority of us will not get to Central America to build a school; we won’t get to Japan to help rebuild after the tsunami and we won’t even get to Slave Lake to assist them in rebuilding their community after the devastating fire. Nevertheless, we can be active socially responsible citizens in our own community. We don’t have to belong to a group to get something done. Personal actions can have a profound impact. Simple actions may include keeping our community clean and free of hazards, ensuring that our children have a full tummy when they go to school, and assisting our seniors.

Shirley Case was known to have said to each person she met, “Be the change you want to see in the world” Mahatma Ghandi.

Are you the change?

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