Everything seems to be about domestic issues at present, and it’s clear that there are plenty of them to occupy our attention. But things are happening elsewhere, and many of them are positive and uplifting.

Most of you likely know that my wife Jane and I run a non-governmental organization that takes on relief and development projects in the Republic of South Sudan. Each year we travel to a region there that is situated near the border between north and south Sudan, as well as being located at the border with Darfur. It’s not easy work. Building schools, assisting a medical clinic, running music and art camps, funding women’s programs, providing goats to returning families, and working on a project that provides clean water takes a lot of effort and organization.

We’ve now been at it for a lot of years but the progress made in that time continues to inspire us. Each January we takes teams of average Canadians, who help us oversee the projects. Some of them come back year after year and take on the leadership of some of these efforts. It’s remarkable to watch Canadians make such a concrete difference in one of the world’s most troubled regions and also to witness how the southern Sudanese respond to these efforts. This year we’ll be taking a team of 20 with us in January.

Each year, on the first Sunday in November, we host a music concert that is energized by a number of school choirs and music groups that infuse energy whenever they perform. We have had the likes of Ken Dryden, Romeo Dallaire, and Justin Trudeau speak at the event for us.

This year’s concert is this coming Sunday night. Denise Pelley, a remarkable singer and performer, will be the chief music act once again. I’ll be privileged enough to sing a duet with her, accompanied by the youth choirs. There is no cost for the concert, although an offering is taken part way through, with 100% of the funds going directly to programs in south Sudan. If any of you are in the area, please come out and support these initiatives that for 15 years have been helping the people of the south reconstruct their lives and their villages. We all need a bit of good news and the remarkable journey of Canadians working with the southern Sudanese gives people hope for the future. You can learn more at www.casscanada.net