Around the world and back again

After volunteering abroad, local wants to make change here at home

AT THIS MOMENT, Danny Richmond could be in Uganda, Rwanda, London, Mali or Chicago.

It’s pretty challenging to keep up with this 23-year-old since it seems like each month he’s abroad doing what he is most passionate about: helping others. But this local resident doesn’t want to act alone. He hopes to facilitate a youth movement here in Canada.

“There is a natural energy and talent in youth, a desire to change their communities locally and, more broadly, in the world. I want to know: What can develop this energy into real, tangible projects?” asks Richmond.

Richmond’s excitement about social change began in 2004 when he went to Guyana with Youth Challenge International to work on HIV education in rural communities. He followed this up with another trip to Ghana, to work at the Horizons Children’s Centre, which cares for orphans. 

Then, in 2006, he travelled to Africa with the Governor General and a small team. “Five countries in just over a month,” Richmond says. “It was insane — pretty life changing. I began to realize that youths have more energy, creativity and passion, and that I, as a young person, should be helping to bring this out.”

Richmond believes in keeping activism engaging This includes hosting outdoor concerts to collect food for the local food bank and holding a 10-hour dance-a-thon where he raised over $10,000 for an orphanage in Ghana.

“ Being around people who live in very challenging circumstances … makes you realize how lucky you are.”

Looking back on his travels, the area resident realizes the profound impact they have had on him.

“It is truly humbling,” he says. “Being around people who live in very challenging circumstances, who show themselves to be tremendous human beings makes you realize how lucky you are.”

Richmond was just awarded the Tony Blair Faith Scholarship, where he, along with 29 other interfaith ambassadors, will mobilize his faith community (in Richmond’s case, the Jewish community) to work toward the the fight against malaria. “It’s a tremendous responsibility to think of one’s self as representing your faith,” Richmond says. “I’m extremely honoured.” He will be travelling to Mali, Chicago and London and working through the Canadian Centre for Diversity. 

But he continues to be focused on what he can do at home.

“Sometimes I feel like I’m in five different places, and part of me just wants to pack up and move abroad. But I realize that a lot of the good work I can do is here at home in Toronto.”

Post City Magazines salutes Danny Richmond for working to alleviate epidemics abroad and for promoting youth activism at home.

Article exclusive to TRNTO