Parry Sound-Muskoka MP Scott Aitchison travelled to Kenya last week as a guest of Results Canada to see the progress the country has made thanks in part to assistance from Canada.
According to the organization’s website, Results was founded in 1980 in the United States “with the mission of mobilizing, educating, and empowering a network of citizens and politicians to raise their voices to end extreme poverty.” Six years later, Results Canada was founded with groups in Vancouver, Calgary, and Montreal.
“I was eager to support that,” says Aitchison. “I think it’s the right thing to do.”
He met officials with the organization while he was campaigning to be the next leader of the federal Conservatives. He said they encourage MPs to encourage the government to make a “strong commitment” to The Global Fund.
Aitchison visited Kenya along with Kenora MP Eric Melillo, Mississauga-Malton MP Iqwinder Gaheer, and Kitchener South-Hespeler MP Valerie Bradford.
He says being able to see first-hand what the support from Canada has done to improve the country is something he won’t soon forget. “I think a lot of Canadians don’t realize the international assistance, the development assistance, that we provide to countries around the world,” he continues, adding that some may think it doesn’t make that big of a difference.
Aitchison visited Makueni County and spoke with Governor Mutula Kilonzo Junior to who he gifted a Canada pin. He also visited the Mother and Child Hospital and a health clinic where he says there was a large crowd on hand to welcome them.
One of the programs Aitchison learned about stems from The Muskoka Initiative and Maternal, Newborn, and Child Health. The idea was started in 2010 by former Prime Minister Stephen Harper and endorsed by the leaders of the other G8 nations. Harper later committed $1.1 billion in funding for the initiative, according to the Government of Canada’s website.
“We were able to see on the ground the real life, literally life and death, results of that initiative,” says Aitchison.
What will stick with Aitchison the most was his visit to Kibera, which he says is the largest informal settlement in Africa. “A visit to a place like that is jarring but what will always stand out for me is the smiling faces of the most beautiful little children who were just kind of in awe to see this group of people but as soon as you would wave to them and give them a little fist bump they were so excited and wanted to show you everything they were doing, show you their home, their community,” he explains.
“It was a remarkably positive and hopeful message,” he says. “I got to tell you, a society with as little as the poorest in Kenya, I met really, very positive, hopeful, really grateful people who I think have a lot to teach those of us in the west that have a lot more than we realize,” says Aitchison.