I walked into the room, and I was greeted by a sea of smiles. It was great to see some familiar faces (Alain Arthur, Caribbean Vibrations), and (Sharon, Kiwanis Club of Toronto Caribbean), and right away I knew that I was in good company.

The Toronto Caribbean Newspaper had been invited to a Caribbean Diaspora Changemaker Reception hosted by Food For The Poor Canada, and although it was a trek, I had done some research on the organization and learned some incredible things about them.

Food For The Poor Canada works in international relief and sustainable development, empowering communities in Latin America and the Caribbean through five areas of investment: food, housing, health, education, and livelihood. They respond to urgent needs while building community and social infrastructure and utilizes pre-existing networks of local affiliated organizations to better sustain and grow the communities they serve. They ship and distribute food, medicines, and educational supplies, build villages, homes and schools, provide scholarships, and support income-generating projects.

Since 2008, FFPC has:

  • Built 189 homes
  • Built 38 schools
  • Shipped and distributed over 25,000,000 meals
  • Shipped and distributed $44,000,000 in food, medical, educational, and emergency supplies

They currently work in five islands: Jamaica, Haiti, Guyana, Honduras, Bahamas, and through their long-standing network of trusted partners, FFPC focuses on emergency preparedness. They work with government ministries and charitable partners, as well as churches and community leaders.

It is pretty impressive work; Food For The Poor Canada is addressing global challenges, promoting social progress, and creating a more equitable and resilient world. These two interconnected concepts play a vital role in addressing poverty, inequality, environmental degradation, and other pressing issues that affect communities worldwide.

I had walked in right in the middle of introductions; individuals were sharing their background and areas of interest. I appreciated that the moderators gave guests the opportunity to share updates on their individual efforts, and recent community developments.

I saw right away that this meeting was going to identify opportunities for collaboration, or partnership with other organizations, community groups, or stakeholders who share similar goals. In the room were individuals with diverse backgrounds, experiences, and expertise, all from the African Caribbean Community: JCA, BBPA, yes, the community giants were out. It was such a great way to discuss how collective efforts can amplify impact and strengthen community support, without all the formalness.

The group participated in a thoughtful discussion about how we could assist FFTP expand a culture of philanthropy and make a bigger difference in the communities they care about.

One of FFTP Board Members, Arlene Amitirigala, shared with me what was to follow such an impactful gathering.

“Our next step is to move forward with implementing a community of practice (CoP). A CoP is a group of individuals who share a common concern, interest, or set of problems and come together to learn, collaborate, and improve their practices. We believe that by fostering this community, we can create a supportive and empowering space for our respective associations to learn from one another and tap into vital resources.

This event served as a pilot. The plan would be to host quarterly gatherings to further expand our circle, continue the valuable discussions and spark collaborations.”

The power of community collaboration is a remarkable force that can drive positive change, solve complex problems, and create a sense of belonging and empowerment among individuals. Food For The Poor Canada continues to demonstrate that when people come together, pool their knowledge, resources, and skills, they can achieve outcomes that surpass what any individual could accomplish alone.