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Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Women in Nepal working together to lift their families out of poverty

Self-help groups provide women with opportunities to expand their capabilities and begin their journey out of poverty in a sustainable, self-directed manner.

Santa Maya Bayalkoti is among a group of women in Dobato, Sindhupalchwok, Nepal who are working together to transform their lives and community.

The earthquake of 2015 destroyed all Santa Maya’s meagre possessions. But it took more than Santa Maya’s possessions, it took away opportunities for her to move beyond surviving.

Following the earthquake, Santa Maya received emergency relief supplies, as well as medicine, clothes, and a shelter for her family.

Later, Santa Maya joined the Godavari Women’s Self-Help Group as it was being formed, and participated in adult education programs, training, and a loan program managed by the group. The training, along with a small loan from the group’s loan fund, enabled Santa Maya to begin vegetable farming and goat raising. More recently, Santa Maya received training in raising poultry and buffalo. Today, she sells eggs and buffalo milk at the local market, giving her a stable, sustainable weekly income.

Santa Maya and the other women in the self-help group she joined after the earthquake are transforming their lives through their own efforts and through mutual support. Santa Maya’s life is much different than it was after the disaster. Today, her family is thriving, and she is even able to contribute to the savings fund of her self-help group each month.

Santa Maya continues to be the author of her journey out of poverty.

“Thank you for giving me the confidence and support to start something of my own”, says Santa Maya.

Self-help groups, like the Godavari Women’s Self-Help Group in Dobato, function as microloan programs, but provide much more than financial assistance. They also create a community of women who encourage, support, and inspire each other to succeed in their journey out of poverty.

Thursday, February 7, 2019

Mothers working together towards self-reliance

Today, 6,300 people in Yella, southern Ethiopia have clean water to drink, right in their community:

Children are no longer becoming sick or dying because of the water they drink. Gone are the 4-hour treks mothers and children made every day in search of water, most of which was disease-laden and potentially deadly. The risk of injury mothers faced from carrying 22 kilograms of water on their backs across rocky paths, is also gone.

Yet right now, many mothers in Yella are facing a challenge that threatens to stop their journey out of poverty.

Yes, the mothers of Yella have clean water. But while clean water is crucial, it’s just the first step towards self-reliance.

Having clean water solves the problem of waterborne diseases damaging the health of the community and taking lives. But clean water alone can’t solve the challenge of mothers not having enough income to care for their families.

Mothers in communities where friends of HOPE International Development Agency have given to establish women’s self-help groups are well on their way to becoming self-reliant and free from poverty.

Meseleah, a 33-year old mother in Yella, is a wonderful example of what happens when the kind of help you can provide arrives at the right time.

Support from friends of HOPE made it possible for Meseleah and 19 of her friends and neighbours to start a women’s self-help group, facilitated by a local leader in their community.

“Being part of a women’s self-help group has really benefited me and my children,” says Meseleah.

Meseleah and her group achieved success because they learned to save money, create and manage small businesses, and most importantly, work together to solve the problems of poverty in their community. Meseleah’s group created sustainable incomes by weaving traditional clothing to sell at the local market. Recently Meseleah took a small loan from her group’s shared loan fund and bought a milk cow. The milk Meseleah sells at the local market, along with profits from the sale of weaved clothing, supports a sustainable livelihood Meseleah has created to feed, clothe, and educate her children.

There are mothers who have not yet received the help that transformed Meseleah and her family. A woman’s self-help group of 15 - 20 women costs $125 per woman. A gift of $125 covers the cost of training, support, and the establishment of a group loan fund that a mother can access to establish a small business that will generate a sustainable livelihood for her family.

Women’s self-help groups, and the mothers who participate in the groups, become self-reliant.

Each time a mother takes a modest loan to establish a small business to support her family, she pays an affordable amount of interest, along with the loan amount, back to her group, growing the loan fund. The more a mother puts into savings, the more she can borrow to expand her business and create even more income. The value women place on supporting each other and working together is evident in the loan repayment rate, which is 100% for groups previously established.

Help a mother in Ethiopia become self-reliant.

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

International Development Week 2019: Together for Gender Equality

A rural community in Ethiopia celebrates the installation of a new water system.

Across Canada, this week is dedicated to international development. Since 1991, International Development Week (IDW) has sought to inspire Canadians nationwide to learn more about global issues and initiatives and become active in bringing positive change.

This year’s theme, “Together for Gender Equality”, embodies Canada’s commitment to the global effort to address gender inequality and encourages all Canadians to be change-makers in advancing gender equality in the world.

HOPE International Development Agency works to reduce poverty on a global scale. With projects throughout the world, HOPE supports the poorest of the poor to establish self-determined, self-reliant lives.

The journey to self-reliance often begins with micro loans for women to start a small-scale business, or access to clean water to stay healthy, or school education for children, or supporting women to become leaders and advocates in their communities, or trainings in new agricultural methods that help to reduce consequences of climate change and natural disasters. In most cases, people living in poverty already know what they need, but they just don’t have the means to do so.

Donors who support the work of HOPE make a huge difference in people’s lives through their generous gifts. They not only bring hope to people, but they also bring empowerment and support them in leading dignified lives.

Friday, January 25, 2019

Helping displaced families in northern Afghanistan survive the winter

Families held on as long as they could. But in the end, fighting in their area forced them to flee their homes. They ended up in Aliabad, a dusty town in northern Afghanistan’s Kunduz Province.

Prolonged drought throughout much of Afghanistan in late 2018 has added to the challenges and misery displaced families in Aliabad are facing right now.

Drought-related conditions and crop failures affected the families on two fronts. They were unable to grow their own food, and they were unable to work in their traditional occupation as day labourers on local farms.

Insecurity in the region, combined with severe food insecurity due to crop failures, food shortages, and an inability to earn income during the growing season, has put families at great risk.

Under normal conditions, families would have saved some of their harvest for the winter months and the income they would have earned as farm labourers would have helped see them through the lean times. But there’s nothing normal about life in northern Afghanistan right now.

HOPE International Development Agency has been responding by supporting families facing severe food insecurity in Aliabad. Women and children are a key point of focus right now and are being helped through the provision of essential food items including flour, rice, and butter.

HOPE’s commitment to these families is continuing so that they can survive the winter, and once winter passes, improve their lives in the long term through access to clean water and other supports.

Friday, January 18, 2019

A mother's journey out of poverty began with dinner and a film

Sancha Maya with her latest brood of chickens.

Sancha Maya was at her wit's end when people attending HOPE International Development Agency film premiere and dinners met her in last year's film.

Today, because of the generosity of people attending the dinners, Sancha Maya and her family, along with hundreds of families just like hers, have a different outlook on life.

“I feel I can do things for myself, my children, and my community”, says Sancha, now Chairperson of her local women's group and proud owner of a successful chicken raising business that provides enough income to send her children to school and purchase food to supplement what she raises in her new vegetable garden.

Today, Sancha Maya continues to move people to action by sharing her story and success with others in her community, helping them find ways out of poverty as well.

Join us again this year in Vancouver on Saturday, May 4, 2019 and help transform lives in the Philippines.


Thursday, January 10, 2019

A homegrown solution to poverty emerges among women in Sri Lanka

To say that families living in Sri Lanka’s Hambantota District urgently need help is an understatement at best. Repeated crop failures, coupled with few opportunities to earn a sustainable income, have pushed families to the edge.

There are 20,000 families caught in this desperate situation. Yet there is a solution on hand that will create sustainable incomes through a proven opportunity they themselves have identified: mushroom farming.

Perfectly suited to the climate and available land, mushroom farming is an ideal solution to the problems these families are facing. With a low cost of production and a quick growth cycle, mushrooms can be harvested and sold multiple times a year, generating a sustainable livelihood for households, the vast majority of which are headed by women who are the sole providers for their families.

A gift of $50 provides the initial funds and training a mother needs in order to create a sustainable livelihood that will transform her family.


Friday, January 4, 2019

In Tuticorin, too much water is as big a problem as too little water

Families in southeast India’s drought-prone Tuticorin district face two critical agricultural challenges.

The first challenge is related to an overabundance of water during the raining season, which floods their farm fields and damages or destroys crops.

The second challenge is related to a shortage of water during the dry season, which makes it very challenging, despite the use of crops well suited to arid conditions, to grow food.

Both challenges lead to the same problem; food insecurity. And food insecurity, if it happens frequently like it does in Tuticorin, ensures that families can never be free of the poverty that has held them captive for generations.

In general, there are two different kinds of agriculture: rain-fed agriculture and irrigated agriculture. Rain-fed farming relies on direct rainfall to water the soil and plants. In the right climate, rain-fed agriculture is less resource intensive and is an inexpensive way for farmers to cultivate their crops. Unfortunately, this kind of agriculture heavily depends on rainfall and therefore is vulnerable to shortage of rainfall, a frequent occurrence in arid areas.

Where rainfall is irregular, dry times or droughts are expected. Irrigation is an important way for farmers to ensure adequate water for their crops. Irrigation requires various types of systems (hoses, pumps, sprayers, drip irrigators) to apply water to the soil. There can be various sources of water used, such as ground water, springs, wells, rivers, canals, lakes, reservoirs, surface water, or even other sources like gray water or desalinated water. Whatever the source, it is crucial for the farmers to ensure that the water itself is not contaminated, in order to prevent diseases.

In Tuticorin farmers are using ponds to collect water. The ponds capture runoff water which is then used for irrigation. Each pond collects and holds up to 500 m3 of water. In rainy times, the ponds serve as catchment areas for excess water, preventing flooding and damage to crops. In dry times, the water stored in the ponds enables farming families to irrigate their crops, ensuring a bountiful harvest.

HOPE International Development Agency is helping farming families construct ponds that will ensure that there is the right amount of water available throughout the year - enabling families to improve their agricultural production, become self-sufficient, have additional food to eat, and generate income by selling excess harvests at local markets.

Friday, December 28, 2018

A special end-of-year gift to bring clean water

By the end of 2018, Umbe will have carried 7,600 kilograms of water for more than 1,800 kilometres. The same is true for every other mother in Umbe’s community of Chano Dorga, located in the rugged highlands of southern Ethiopia.

Filled with dirty water from the Hare River - the main source of water for the families of Chano Dorga - the container strapped to Umbe’s back is heavy - nearly 22 kilograms. Despite the weight and pain, Umbe will faithfully carry the container for hours each day, risking her health and personal safety with each step she takes on the 5 kilometre path that leads to and from the river.

The journey home from the river is always an anxious one. Umbe wonders if today is the day the water in her container will make her children sick again, or worse. But what choice does Umbe have? Her family needs water, even if it’s dangerous. So, she gathers what she can where she can, even if it’s just metres from where filthy cattle bathe.

If Umbe had a choice, she would not give her children contaminated water to drink. Right now, Umbe doesn’t have a choice.

A generous end-of-year gift, given on or before December 31, 2018, will give Umbe clean water.
  • Umbe will never have to put her health and personal safety at risk again - no more dangerous journeys to the polluted Hare River; 
  • Umbe’s children will be healthy, not sick and at risk of dying from waterborne diseases like cholera and dysentery; 
  • The hours upon hours spent gathering water will be put to better use, such as growing more food, training for Umbe, and education for her children.

Your gift will help fund a gravity-fed water system that will distribute clean water from two underground springs, roughly 15 kilometres from Chano Dorga, directly to 15 water points in the community. In addition, a community health nurse will work with women in the community, providing education in health, hygiene, sanitation, and nutrition. Training will be provided so the community can maintain the system.


Thursday, November 22, 2018

This season, give gifts that transform lives! Select from a wide variety of life-changing gifts from HOPE International Development Agency's 2018 GIFTS OF HOPE giving catalogue. The joy you give will be yours this Christmas!


Monday, November 19, 2018

Helping displaced people in Myanmar survive

Nearly 120,000 people have fled their homes and villages for the relative safety of 167 camps across Kachin and Shan states in conflict-ridden Myanmar.

Driven out by armed conflict between militant groups and government forces, displaced families are struggling to survive in the large camps, most of which are ill prepared for such a massive influx of people.

Basic needs, such as food and shelter, are often in short supply. Prices, for those who can afford to buy food like rice or other staples, continue to increase dramatically.

HOPE International Development Agency is supporting local organizations working in the camps to help reduce the vulnerability of displaced people, especially women and children - the most vulnerable in the crowded camps. For children, the situation is very difficult because of the challenging living conditions.

To help families, HOPE International Development Agency is supporting the construction of safe and appropriate shelters in the camps. Having a safe place to sleep and live makes life more bearable for families and helps restore dignity and safety after the trauma of being displaced from their homes and villages.


Friday, October 26, 2018

Clean water is the start of transformation in Mindanao

One sip of the water many indigenous families on the Philippine island of Mindanao are forced to drink can lead to serious illness. Among children, the bacteria-laden water they drink can be disabling and life-threatening. Families would gladly drink water that is not contaminated, but they lack the resources to construct water systems that would bring clean water into their communities.

Diarrhea, easily treated in settings other than rural Mindanao, is among the top 5 causes of illness across the rugged island.

Indigenous families on Mindanao live in remote communities in the mountains and forests. A chronic lack of basic services, such as clean water, make life incredibly challenging for everyone in these communities. In addition, indigenous families are marginalized, making it even more challenging for them to improve their lives.

HOPE International Development Agency is helping indigenous families by addressing the root cause of much of their struggle with poverty; a lack of easily accessible clean water.

Gravity-fed water systems, simple to construct and maintain, are being installed by communities with assistance from our local partners in Mindanao. These systems are a proven and effective method of bringing clean water from uncontaminated sources, such as underground springs, to central watering stations in communities.

Community members participate in the design and construction of each system, taking ownership of the resource. Each community nominates a committee to oversee the use of the clean water and manages the maintenance of the system. Each committee member is trained in water system management and maintenance, ensuring the sustainability of the system.

Beyond the positive health benefits made available by having clean water easily available, indigenous families are able to chart a new course for their communities when they have clean water. For children, having clean water in their communities means that they are no longer chronically ill and the time they used to spend helping gather water can now be spent in school. Clean water, when available in community schools, protects the health of students and teachers alike.

For indigenous families in Mindanao, clean water is the starting point for a journey out the poverty that has held them captive for decades.

Constructing a portion of a water system that will bring clean water to families.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

The first of our fall Film Premiere & Dinners are less than two weeks away.

Join us for dinner and help transform families in Nepal.

It's been just over 3 years since a massive earthquake struck Nepal, killing and injuring thousands.

We've been working with families in Nepal, but more needs to be done to help thousands of families rebuild their lives and livelihoods.

Families need to be free from poverty and together, we can make it happen
Film Premiere & Dinner events are being held in British Columbia in Abbotsford, Kelowna, Terrace, and Victoria.

In Alberta, Film Premiere & Dinner events are being held in Calgary, Edmonton, Grande Prairie, and Fort McMurray.