Martina Buchal aspires to start a non-governmental organization to empower women, and she thinks her upcoming participation in the One Young World Summit will help her reach that goal.
The summit, which is being held this year from Oct. 2-5 in Johannesburg, South Africa, brings together hundreds of young people aged 18-30 from around the world who want to create positive change.
One Young World has been attended in the past by former United States president Bill Clinton and former United Nations secretary general Kofi Annan. This year, Huffington Post founder Arianna Huffington is expected to appear.
The summit gives young people the kind of media platform and forum ordinarily afforded only to the leaders of nations and corporations.
“This is an incredible opportunity to be around not only other inspiring young people but also seasoned world leaders,” Buchal said. “It's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, so I absolutely had to apply.”
The 25-year-old, who grew up in Sudbury but has been attending university in Ottawa for the past six years, said the organization she's trying to launch is called The Empowered Me.
“Essentially it's an international network of young women working to inspire, collaborate and share resources with one another, to ensure that young women across the globe are aware of all the opportunities that are out there,” she said.
Buchal, who graduated in June with a bachelor's degree in legal studies from the University of Ottawa, said she hopes to make connections at the summit that will ultimately contribute to her organization's success.
“It isn't about me going to a conference,” she said.
“At the end of the day, what this is about is about the network I will bring back to the community. Everyone in Sudbury and throughout the network of the Empowered Me will have access to everything I have access to over there.”
That doesn't mean Buchal isn't stoked to visit South Africa.
“I've never been to Africa before, so I can only imagine how different and dynamic it could be,” she said.
One Young World delegates are normally sponsored by businesses or organizations to attend on their behalf. But because Buchal doesn't have such a sponsor, she needs to come up with the $7,000 the trip will cost.
Even though Buchal worked full-time throughout university to defray her costs, and currently has a job as courtroom clerk in Ottawa, she said she's still saddled with student debt, and can't really afford to go.
That's why she's turned to crowd-sourcing on the Internet, where she's already raised about $2,500. “The support has been incredible,” Buchal said.
Those interested in chipping in to send Buchal to One Young World are asked to visit www.gofundme.com/3vlo1k, and make an online contribution.
Alternately, people can contribute at Buchal's mother's business, Liba's Bookkeeping, which is located at 1332 Regent St. For more information, phone the business at 705-222-5422.