BY KALISHA MENDONSA
Lacombe’s own Eric Rajah is looking to make a big impact in the community and beyond, in honour of Canada’s 150th anniversary and in the name of creating a kinder world.
The Lacombe Compassion Project, launched through A Better World Canada, is a way to bring meaningful interaction and kindness to the Lacombe community. Rajah hopes this will translate into other communities as well, as people share acts of compassion and kindness throughout the year, in honour of celebrating 150 years of Canadian history.
“I was 13 years old when my dad said that we would soon be moving to Canada. I had no idea what Canada would be like. The only thing that I remember hearing was that it was a kind, caring, and compassionate country. Fortunately, when we moved to Canada, we experienced what we had heard,” Rajah said.
“There were local Canadians who took us in, helped us find a place to live, helped me find a job -all of those things.”
These meaningful memories encouraged Rajah to participate in the Canadian 125th anniversary celebration through A Better World, and he wanted to revitalize his thankful actions for this year’s Canadian milestone birthday.
His vision for the project is to encourage citizens of Lacombe, and surrounding areas, to begin implementing small acts of kindness throughout the community. To create awareness of the movement, people are encouraged to submit their acts, with photos if possible, to create a visible demonstration of the kindness in the world.
The idea is that people will choose to demonstrate one act of compassion each month for the entire year.
The hashtag #compassion12 will also be shared on various social media platforms to help spread awareness of the project. To submit an act, people are asked to head to lacombecompassion.ca to let their actions be known.
“The way I see it, the roots of Canada are built on a foundation of kindness, caring and compassion towards others. Now that I’m older and have travelled all over the world, I see that Canada still has that image and I want to maintain that. I hope people can help maintain this culture of kindness so that it doesn’t get lost,” Rajah said.
He said in honour of the Canada 150th celebrations, he wanted to create a lasting legacy that contributed something to the people around him.
“This is an idealistic view, but if people could be encouraged to think about others and show compassion, that would be the best gift we could give to Canada,” Rajah said.
“Of course, we can’t just make this announcement and not do anything. We’re working with leaders in our community to start acting in a way that shows compassion through simple things.”
There are many acts that have been suggested, including sending short emails of praise, giving a genuine compliment to someone, helping a friend with errands, saying hello to strangers or covering the cost of an order in a line behind you.
Rajah said the project is very meaningful to him because it is about the essential compassionate Canadian nature he had heard so much about. He said this year is important to him and that he hopes to share that importance with his community and build a legacy through this historical year.
“The best thing we can give (during this national year of celebration) is to go back to the roots of what Canada means to so many people. The best gift we can give to Canada is transformed communities, and people acting with compassion,” said Rajah.
“In its essence, this project is about performing small actions every day that are guided by thinking of ways to make life easier for other people.”
Rajah said there are two main components to the Lacombe Compassion Project.
The first is to encourage people to get involved and build awareness of the project. He said that by presenting the project in the context of a birthday present to Canada, he hopes people will feel connected to the bigger vision and get involved.
The second major component is to provide ideas and set examples within the community for people to follow.
Two examples that Rajah gave were suggesting able-bodied people park further away from stores or services to allow for limited mobility people, elderly citizens and parents to have access to closer stalls.
He also said it would also be simple to register as a organ donor, which could help to save a life in the future.
“The only way you can inspire people is by doing. People are not inspired by talking, and I have learned that myself around the world,” Rajah said with a laugh.
“People are inspired when you walk the talk.”
Rajah said his vision for the project is for it to manifest openly in the Lacombe community, but eventually to see it grow and to influence other communities to do the same.
He added the members of his organization A Better World will be leading by example and contributing to the lacombecompassion.ca web site to help build the awareness, and back up their contributions to the project.
“This compassion project is about doing simple things in our own backyards, here in our community, so that a culture of kindness is cultivated here among each other,” Rajah said.
To get involved, check out the Lacombe Compassion project website, share acts of compassion on social media using the hashtag #compassion12, and contact A Better World with mentions of acts of kindness and compassion in the community.