“After an introduction like that you’d expect I’d be walking on water,” Orbinski jokingly remarked after an impressive, accomplishment-filled introduction from Tshepo Institute director, Robert Ames.
Dr. James Orbinski, former international president of Doctors Without Borders and a Nobel Prize winner, spoke before a nearly full lecture hall at the Research and Academic Centre West, on Thursday evening. The two hour event, starting at seven, was hosted by Laurier’s Tshepo Institute, dedicated to studying contemporary African issues and trying to find results that would produce positive changes in Africa. The theme of the night, as dictated by Orbinski, centered on climate change in pertinence to the global health initiative, using African nations and Haiti as the geographical focal points.
After initially describing his affinity for the continent of Africa, Orbinski proceeded to talk about the current climate situation, citing a World Bank study that predicted a four degrees Celsius rise in temperature over the next few years.
“Increased temperatures will lead to hardship, and ultimately, social collapse,” said Orbinski when citing a report on climate change. He later added from a different report, “Yellow Fever and Malaria might one day come to Canada, all because of climate change.”
The Order of Canada recipient left one final message for the audience. It was one of inspiration, in which he encouraged people to get active. He acknowledged that it is a “silly notion” to, as an individual, expect to change the world. Instead, he suggested that all it takes is participation to make the difference.
“The key thing I wanted to communicate is that it’s up to us,” Orbinski said of the need for the Western World to act. “The basic issue is to engage.”
Laurier student Mansi Parasher felt inspired by the words spoken by Orbinski at RCW’s basement lecture room. She commented, “Orbinski really emphasized the importance of engaging with the world and others, and having a purpose; be the change.” She added, “I think it was great and people really engaged with what he was saying.”