Dena Sharafdin – volunteer spotlight

By: Brier Published: 25/03/2021

It’s no secret that our volunteers are amazing! Time after time, they make incredible efforts to get informed and take action to advocate for a world without extreme poverty. We have so much appreciation for the contributions of every single one.

This month, we’re featuring Dena Sharafdin who is an expert on getting quality Letters to the Editor (LTE) published.

Dena joined us in April 2020 wanting to get more actively involved in social justice advocacy and activism. Since then, she has been extremely successful at getting her voice heard in news outlets across Canada. By November 2020, just 7 months after joining Results, she was co-hosting a workshop on writing LTEs at the Results Canada National Conference. Here’s what drove her to the issues we cover at Results: 

“I believe that extreme poverty is one of the roots of many other issues and struggles that many populations face in the world as it seeps into many other areas of life such as education, nutrition, health, etc. Extreme poverty should not exist, and it definitely should not compromise basic human rights.”

She got her first ever Letter to the Editor (LTE) published in the Hill Times talking about why it’s important that Canada invests in making treatments and vaccines for the coronavirus accessible to all. She remembers how it felt to see her name in print for the first time:  

“At the time, my attitude was not overly optimistic, but I was hopeful in getting published. Once I did, I saw that my efforts and perseverance paid off. I was very proud and it fueled my motivation to continue being active.

So what are Dena’s top tips?

(1) let your passion show. When your genuine passion for the issue is apparent in your writing, the message comes across even more effectively and more impactful. 

(2) develop a template or outline for your letters. Through practice and experience, I have created a template that I roughly follow. This gives more of a structure on how to organize content. An extra tip on what to include in your letter is to follow the “5 Ws”: who, what, where, when, why – this comes in handy when writing about a particular event, issue, or topic.  

(3) never give up! The experience of writing LTEs is never linear. Sometimes you get published and sometimes you don’t. What is important is to keep trying and to not get discouraged! Remembering why you are doing this can be the best motivator! 

Dena really knows the value of persevering through challenges – trying to get an LTE published means facing a lot of rejection time after time. How does she deal with it? Dena knows her power and that she can use her words to make an impact. In writing these pieces, she’s adding her voice in solidarity with those who are not being heard. For her, it’s all about the bigger picture of how advocacy works:

“A quote I’ve always resonated with is “No man is an island” by John Donne. This captures the essence of advocacy which is all about helping others and not letting others’ rights, needs, and issues become neglected, especially if their voices are not being heard or they do not have the resources to fight. I believe that I have the responsibility to help those when I can, regardless of the impact of the issue on my personal life. I believe that with perseverance, consistency, and passion, advocacy can be an immense force to help create a more just and equal world for all.”

What’s next for Dena?
Getting her foot in the door in parliamentary engagement:

“I would love to accomplish actions related to corresponding with members of Parliament and potentially meeting with them. This is definitely something I’m a bit intimidated about, but it’s a challenge that I’m looking forward to pursuing as it’s been a goal of mine for a while to work face-to-face with government officials to discuss global issues and the campaigns of Results in order to pursue our mission even further!”

Thank you Dena for your dedication and passion! Every action you take builds our movement and has positive impacts on global health, education and economic inclusion.

Do you want to use your voice in a meaningful way?

Volunteer with us! Fill out this quick online form and we’ll send you the first steps to becoming a volunteer!

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