media17SKANA GEE

The Daily News

Helping people in under-developed countries can be as simple as sending a suitcase full of school supplies, says the winner of
the inaugural Red Cross Young Humanitarian Award.

“Even if it’s small and just takes a bit of time, it can make a difference,” Sunyata Choyce, 28, said yesterday, shortly
before receiving her award at a fund-raising dinner in Halifax.

The Lawrencetown woman founded Children’s Overseas Learning Opportunities & Resources (COLORS) International in 2004, and has since co-ordinated children’s aid projects in South Africa, the Dominican Republic and Haiti.

“It’s all about small-scale, grassroots projects that are really making a difference in the developing world,” said Choyce, who has a degree in International Development Studiesand has taught English as a second language.

The Nova Scotia branch of the Canadian Red Cross also honoured longtime metro volunteer Ruth Goldbloom, a driving force in the creation of the Pier 21 Immigration Museum and now chairwoman of the Pier 21 Foundation.

“I’m overwhelmed and I hate to use that overused word – humbled – but I can’t help but be humbled by this recognition,” Goldbloom told The Daily News.

Now in her 80s, Goldbloom was appointed to the Order of Canada in 1992 and was named one of Canada’s 100 Most Powerful Women in 2006. The Red Cross’s crystal sphere and gold, H-shaped pin is special, she said.

“I’m very aware of what the Canadian Red Cross does, and they are held in awe all around the world.” Still, Goldbloom noted, she’s only doing what she loves.”If you have passion for what you do, that’s the biggest reward,” she said.

Choyce said news of the award has propelled her to embark on another mission to South Africa, which will include HIV education for street kids, installing a new well in a drought-stricken community, and tending to AIDS orphans and other vulnerable children. She and another volunteer leave in late January.

“I hope it inspires a new wave of youth to start doing international work,” she said of the award, for which she was nominatedby community members.

“It’s not such a far-fetched idea anymore. It’s something that can be completely in the realm of reality and hopefully thiswill inspire more youth to take on similar projects to what I’ve been doing over the years. It’s really awesome that I get to be the first one (recipient).”