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Thursday, July 21, 2016

Rasma finds hope in a tiny seed

Rasma Simone lives in the coastal mountains of central Haiti, where she has been a member of the Chinchiron Farmer’s Cooperative since 1995.

Like the other members of the co-op, Rasma grows black beans and a variety of vegetables. The harvest of beans and other vegetables provides for Rasma and her five children.

Rasma is particularly pleased this year with her bountiful yield of beans. With the support of HOPE International Development Agency, Rasma and other co-op members tested a new strain of bean that proved to be exceptionally resistant to drought and disease.

The new seed, in combination with a particularly good growing season, resulted in the best harvest that Rasma and her fellow farmers have seen in over eight years. It has been a welcome relief after two trying seasons of drought.

Rasma’s hard work and a plentiful harvest paid off. Recently, she sold four bags of bean seeds back to the co-op. The beans will be stored in the co-op’s seed-bank until re-sold, at a profit, at the beginning of the next growing season.

With her earnings from the sale of seeds and later her share in the profits from sales, Rasma will be able to help her son with his upcoming wedding celebration and support a soon-to-be born grandchild.

The news of this new variety of bean has already traveled throughout the mountains of central Haiti. Other farmer’s co-ops are now requesting seed for the next planting season.

What an honor we have to walk alongside and work together with farmers like Rasma as they improve their lives and bring long-lasting change to their families and communities.

Rasma selling her bean seeds to Jean Josiel, a co-op member who is on the seed-buying committee.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Rajamma's journey out of poverty began with a self-help group

Mornings were always difficult for Rajamma, a mother and sole income earner for her family of five living in one of the poorest areas of rural India.

As the sun rose over Rajamma’s dilapidated little home each morning, so would her anxiety. How would she feed her family? Would she be able to hire herself out as a day labourer and earn a few rupees to buy food for her children?

Amongst all this uncertainty, one thing was certain; Rajamma and her family were trapped in poverty.

Like much of rural India, the area where Rajamma and her family live is incredibly poor. The majority of families struggle to eke out a living. Some live on as little as one or two dollars a day.

Over the past few decades, HOPE International Development Agency donors have helped thousands of families in rural India in their journey out of poverty.

Thankfully, we were also able to help Rajamma and her family.

Rajamma’s journey out of poverty began when she joined a self-help group in her community.

The group provides mutual support, including skills-training, instruction on how to start small businesses that generate a sustainable income, and small loans to build modest, but sturdy homes and support the creation of small businesses.

In addition to helping members transform their lives, the community also benefits from the presence of the group, through activities such as health-training, medical referrals, camps for schoolchildren, vocational skills-development, kitchen garden training, and meetings with local government officials to advocate for the needs of the community.

Today, Rajamma and her family are thriving rather than barely surviving.

Rajamma and her family live in a safe, sturdy home built with a loan from her self-help group. Her foot mat business, established with training she received and a small loan, is thriving and generating the sustainable income her family needs to continue lifting themselves out of poverty. She is meeting her goal of having her family be self-reliant and free from poverty.

Rajamma feels blessed by what has happened to her family and we celebrate with her. At the same time, we recognize that thousands of families have not yet received the opportunity to transform their lives.

You can give a gift today that will help ensure that another family will get the help they so desperately need in order to start their journey out of poverty.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Good news from Africa's youngest nation

SOUTH SUDAN - Decades of sustained conflict in the region, along with continued conflict and neglect in the years after the forming of South Sudan in 2011, have resulted in water becoming an even more precious resource, often leading to tension and conflict between communities.

Beyond being scarce, the water families do gather and drink is unsafe, as evidenced by the fact that one-third of children under the age of five regularly suffer from diarrhea, a potentially deadly ailment in this region of the world.

Communities, like Ganagara-Osumani and Nanzongozogo, suffered because the water they drank made them sick, especially the children. Finding water consumed a good portion of the day. Mothers, with children in tow, walked for hours each day to gather water from wherever they could. The situation was even worse in the summer when the streams and ponds dried up.

This past month everything changed for the more than 5,000 people living in Ganagara-Osumani and Nanzongozogo because of the support they received from friends of HOPE International Development Agency. After much effort and persistence, clean water has arrived in the two communities.

“People in this area have spent too many years without clean drinking water and many people have died because of what we had to drink,” says Chief Marona Sako. “We thank God, because today marks the end of this challenge.”

Giving these two communities access to water will help reduce water-borne illness and have a profoundly positive impact in how people care for their health and well-being.

Children will now be able to go to school rather than spending their days gathering water with their mothers. Most of these children have never had the opportunity to attend school. The education they receive will transform their lives, and even their communities, as these young children grow up and become leaders in their community.

Today we celebrate with the families of Ganagara-Osumani and Nanzongozogo as they begin to experience the life changing power of clean water. We also take a moment to say thank you for your support in helping HOPE transform lives in South Sudan since the country was formed in 2011.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

HOPE International Development Agency welcomes Dale W. Bowler as Executive Director & CEO

HOPE International Development Agency ("HOPE") is pleased to announce it has engaged Dale W. Bowler as Executive Director & CEO effective as of July 1, 2016.

Dale is no stranger to HOPE having served as a member of its Board of Directors for most of the past twenty years and, for the two years ending April, 2016, as Chairman of the Board. As a result of this service, Dale has an in-depth knowledge of the operations, projects and practices of HOPE and has had an opportunity to meet and get to know a majority of the staff and personnel associated with the organization.

Dale comes from an extensive and successful business background, including twenty-two years as principal of his own company. The experience he gained in project administration and budgetary controls in these activities will serve him well in this new role as that is the framework under which HOPE operates.

While serving with HOPE in the past, Dale has taken the opportunity on a number of occasions to visit some of the projects with which HOPE has been involved to see first-hand the implementation of the programs, and to meet the staff of the agencies HOPE partners with overseas to achieve effective project administration. All this experience will be most useful to Dale as he takes on the leadership of HOPE.

The members of the Board have enjoyed and appreciated working with Dale in the past, with his affable personality and quick wit, and look forward to Dale taking the leadership of the HOPE team and the new dynamic and energy he will bring to the organization.

The Board wishes to express its sincere thanks to Brian Cannon for his dedication to HOPE and service as Interim Executive Director and to the HOPE team (all our staff) for their maintaining the performance of HOPE through this period of transition in leadership.

The Board confirms that David McKenzie will continue his involvement with HOPE as International President, responsible for liaising with HOPE's international affiliates and advising the Board and management from time to time on foreign and domestic matters.

We covet God's blessing on HOPE and seek His wisdom and guidance for the Board, Dale and the HOPE team as we move forward to face the challenge of our mission to help the neediest of the needy in the world.

Thank you for your faithfulness and continued support.

Douglas Eacrett
Chair, Board of Directors
HOPE International Development Agency

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Clean water enables families in southern Ethiopia to focus on improving their lives

HOPE International Development Agency’s relationship with the people of Ethiopia spans nearly four decades. Early in the relationship, it was clear that a long-term commitment would be needed if the country’s poorest people were to become permanently free from poverty.

Whether it be the development of clean water resources, education, care for children orphaned by HIV/AIDS, emergency relief in times of disaster, skills training, microcredit, support for women through self help groups, or health and hygiene training, helping the poorest of the poor lift themselves out of poverty is the goal.

From the beginning, clean water has been central to the work. When clean water is available in communities, families are able to focus on improving their lives rather than simply trying to survive from day to day. Derashe, a remote, mountainous region in southern Ethiopia, is an example of the type of commitment it takes to bring lasting change. It took a decade, but today, more than 90% of the 200,000 people in Derashe have clean water.

Currently, we are working in Bonke, another rugged region of southern Ethiopia. The goal is to ensure that more than 90% of the 195,000 people living in the region gain access to clean water within the next few years.

Help a person gain access to clean water today.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Markets an innovative approach to distribution of hygiene products

 Camp resident uses her voucher to shop at hygiene supply day at the Lisu Camp market. 

To support the health of internally displaced people (IDPs) living in camps in northern Myanmar HOPE International Development Agency provided hygiene products, including bathing soap, laundry soap, liquid soap, toothbrushes, toothpaste, shampoo, sanitary pads, towels, blankets, mosquito nets, and mats to over 13,500 people living in 42 IDP camps.

In order to promote dignity and choice for the people receiving the supplies, Metta, HOPE’s partner in Myanmar, adopted an innovative approach to distributing the supplies. Rather than handing out supplies directly to families, “hygiene supply markets” were organized. On market day, selected vendors set up booths to form a small market containing the hygiene supplies.

On the day of the market, camp residents are provided vouchers to use in lieu of cash as they shop in the market. After the market day, Metta paid vendors for the materials they had provided. This creative approach allowed beneficiaries to make choices and bargain for their hygiene supplies while supporting local small vendors and boosting their business.

Daw, a 49-year-old woman who received hygiene supplies through this hygiene market system, shared how she appreciated this way of receiving supplies, and the positive impact it had on her family.

“On the hygiene supplies market day, I felt like I was shopping, I felt very comfortable. Since personal hygiene materials have been provided to us regularly, our daily wages are better able to cover living costs.”

While having access to basic hygiene supplies is something easily taken for granted, for families in northern Myanmar who have been displaced by conflict, the provision of hygiene supplies is significant, allowing families to stay well and easing financial strain.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Restoring the health of internally displaced people living in camps in Myanmar

Daw, a hygiene promotor, shares health information with a group of women and children.

Health and hygiene can become a serious issue in crowded camps for internally displaced people (IDP).

Metta, HOPE International Development Agency’s partner in Myanmar, has adopted a peer-trainer approach to promote hygiene within the camps. The peer trainers, most of whom are women, are trained in reproductive health, HIV/AIDs prevention, health care, nutrition, personal hygiene, waste management, prevention of waterborne diseases, and environmental protection. Once trained, these peer trainers – known as “hygiene promoters” - both model and teach good hygiene practices to their fellow camp residents through information sessions, distribution of posters about health and hygiene, door-to-door visits, and facilitating regular camp cleaning days.

One such hygiene promoter is Daw, a 35-year-old woman who fled her home village with nine family members and currently lives in an IDP camp in northern Myanmar.

With a grade 10 education and an interest in business, Daw was an excellent candidate to become a hygiene promoter. With HOPE’s support, she participated in the training for hygiene promoters last year and has since been modeling and teaching good hygiene practices in her camp.

“At first I did not have the confidence to conduct hygiene awareness activities,” says Daw. “However, I have learned the importance of maintaining good health, the benefits of personal hygiene, and much more knowledge about health through the experience of serving as a hygiene promoter.”

With time, Daw gained confidence and became a respected member of the camp community because of her role as a hygiene promoter.

“Now I know how to plan hygiene activities, find out the needs of the camp, and conduct hygiene awareness sessions. As I gain trust from others, my confidence grows. I now realize that I have to observe what is going on in the camp environment to be a good hygiene promoter. I am very proud to be one of the hygiene promoters, as we play an important role,” says Daw.

Daw and her fellow hygiene promoters are making a positive difference, not only in their own lives, but equally importantly, in the lives of others.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Help families in Sri Lanka recover in the aftermath of a killer storm.

Sri Lankan flood victims rest by an evacuation camp. (AFP Photo)

Torrential rain, howling wind, raging rivers, and massive mudslides have affected more than 300,000 people living on the island nation of Sri Lanka in South Asia.

Some areas received more than 300 millimetres of rain in 24-hours, triggering the deadly flash floods and mudslides that have claimed 104 lives. The killer storm has forced more than 100,000 people to seek shelter in evacuation camps.

You can enable families to remain healthy and self-sufficient despite everything they have lost. In many cases, families lost all of their possessions, including their children’s school books and supplies.

A gift from you today will help provide dry ration food parcels, kitchen supplies, education materials, perinatal care packages, female health and sanitation kits, and first aid supplies for families in Sri Lanka.

Donate to provide emergency supplies today

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Restoring dignity and hope in Myanmar

For families living in camps for Internally Displaced People in northern Myanmar, every-day life is a struggle to survive, let alone feel dignified.

As a result of ongoing conflict between the Kachin Independence Army and the state, 100,000 people have fled their homes and now live in crowded camps. While they dream of returning home, the reality of landmines, destroyed infrastructure, and ongoing fighting in or near their villages prevents them from returning. In the meantime, they are faced with the reality of camp shelters falling into disrepair, a lack of resources to cover basic necessities such as personal hygiene supplies, and coping with insufficient or unsafe places to bath or use the washroom.

In response, HOPE International Development Agency has been working closely with a partner organization in Myanmar since 2011, providing practical support to meet these needs and restore dignity to families living in the camps.

The conflict in Myanmar is a protracted one. HOPE’s commitment to internally displaced families in the country is long-term.

Over the past few years, donors have supported health care, early childcare development, education, agriculture, and income-generation programs for families living in the camps.

This past year, donors provided support to build and repair shelters, construct latrines, and provide bathing spaces and hand-washing stations that are safe for women and children living in camps across northern Myanmar.

While a return home may still be in the distant future, families can live with dignity when they have secure shelters and the means to stay healthy and safe.

New shelters are helping displaced families in Myanmar regain their dignity.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Clean water changes everything

Of the 80 million people who live in rural Ethiopia, 51% lack access to clean water, and 72% lack access to proper sanitation.

Since 2000, HOPE International Development Agency has helped 300,000 rural Ethiopians gain access to clean water, right in their communities in southern Ethiopia.

Within the next 5 years, HOPE will help 100,000 more people in southern Ethiopia will gain access to clean water.

When clean water is present, families are able to focus on improving their lives through health education and hygiene training. They are also able to increase their income by participating in self help groups that provide mutual support, income-earning skills training, and low-interest loans that enable women to start businesses.

Given the remote and rugged terrain of southern Ethiopia, it costs $750 to provide clean water for one family. That's just $125 per child or adult, for a lifetime of clean water and all that comes with it.

Help a person gain access to clean water today.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Working together to create lasting change

When looking at problems in the developing world, solutions often seem simple. If a community needs water, a well is dug. If a natural disaster destroys a home, a replacement home is built.

While these solutions are clear, direct, and helpful, sometimes equally impactful initiatives, such as self help groups, are more nuanced.

For over 15-years HOPE International Development Agency has been involved in establishing self help groups in India, Cambodia, and most recently, Ethiopia.

At first glance, it may be difficult to see how self help groups could be on par with access to clean water or desperately needed shelter, but dig a little deeper and their magnificence comes to life.

The groups are essentially savings and loan support. While initially guided by a facilitator, in the end it is the women who participate that decide how the groups will be structured and what their purpose will be.

In each location, the groups take on a unique look and feel depending on the needs of the women involved. Saving as little as 15 cents a week, the women can soon start taking out small, low-interest loans to begin income-generating activities.

Aster Tsilo, a woman who recently joined a self help group in Ethiopia, explains how these small amounts can start to make a big difference.

“I joined the self help group 7-months ago. Like all other members of my group, I started saving 2 Birr (15 cents) a week. I received training and technical support on savings and establishing income-generating activities. I started by taking a loan of 200 Birr ($13) and began buying and reselling vegetables. As my experience grew, I started to sell butter as well,” says Aster.

“After paying back my initial loan, I took another loan of 400 Birr ($26) and began to expand my business to new markets nearby. As a result, I am currently saving 14 Birr (95 cents) a week. Before joining the group, my husband and I had been feeding our family two times a day. Now we can manage three times per day,” states Aster.

While the direct economic benefits of self help groups are clear from stories like Aster’s, the groups also lead to a shift in decision making within communities. Women have an outlet to develop their skills and contribute economically that may not have existed before.

As Aster explains, her husband was skeptical at first.

“He was not willing to allow me to join the self help group as women are usually not supposed to go out in public and participate in meetings and other events. However, after I raised the idea repeatedly, he allowed me to join. The situation has now changed completely. While decisions within our family used to be made only by my husband, now we make decisions after consulting with each other and he is supporting me in both my income generating activities and savings.”

From Aster’s story it is easy to see how these groups can become massive movements as they have in India and more recently, Ethiopia.

One of the most impressive aspects of self help groups is their return on investment. A recent analysis found that for every $1 invested, there is a return of $173, an incredible rate and one of the very best for any development endeavor.

Self help groups have already changed the lives of thousands of women around the world. Women have strengthened each other’s voices and have begun to make change happen in their families, communities, and relationships.

While self help groups may not be as tangible as water well or a replacement home, the impact is just as important. With support from HOPE International Development Agency, partners can continue to facilitate these life-changing groups that contribute to the holistic, inclusive, local-led development that HOPE strives to accomplish.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Nepal earthquake survivors building better lives

By the time the earthquake and aftershocks that struck Nepal last April had subsided, 9,000 people were dead, 22,000 were injured, and 800,000 homes lay in ruin.

Sumitra, a life-long resident of Sunkhani, located in the Nuwakot District of central Nepal, was among the survivors.

Recently, one of HOPE International Development Agency’s partners in Nepal visited with families, like Sumitra’s, who have been working tirelessly to rebuild their lives, livelihoods, homes, and community.

Sumitra has lived in Sunkhani her entire life and works as a labourer whenever she can find work. Her husband left her 12 years ago. With three children and no income, life has been a day-to-day struggle ever since.

When the earthquake struck, Sumitra lost everything. In just a few seconds, her house, and everything in it, lay in ruin.

“I felt hopeless. My children and I had no food or shelter,” says Sumitra, recalling the terrifying event. “We had to sleep outside under the trees, with empty stomachs. All of our clothes, food, and blankets were destroyed.

In the hours and days after the earthquake, it became clear that it would take months, if not longer, to recover, especially for the poorest of the poor in rural Nepal, like Sumitra.

“I had lost all of my hope,” says Sumitra. “For days we didn’t hear from anyone. I thought that the government didn’t care if we lived or died.”

But Sumitra’s feelings changed when a relief camp was set up within a week or so of the earthquake. The camp would help build emergency shelters, and distribute food and clothes to the most vulnerable families, like Sumitra’s.

“I couldn’t stop crying because of how grateful I was,” recalls Sumitra when she found out that she would receive the support she needed to rebuild her home.

Today, Sumitra and her children live in a sturdy, safe home. This past month, friends of HOPE International Development Agency raised additional funds to start self-help groups for women in Sumitra’s community. Sumitra, and other women just like her, will receive training, support, and small, low-interest loans to start small businesses that will generate income.

Sumitra and other women in her community have lifted themselves out of the rubble of April 17, 2015 and rebuilt their lives, all through the support of friends of HOPE International Development Agency.

What HOPE International Development Agency is doing
Much more needs to be done to address the poverty that exists in remote communities like Sumitra’s, HOPE International Development Agency is continuing to work alongside these communities to identify the most vulnerable families and provide the support needed to construct replacement homes and establish additional self-help groups that provide women with training in animal husbandry, tailoring, health and hygiene, as well as basic education such as reading and writing. Two schools, destroyed by the earthquake, will be rebuilt so that the children can continue their education and the women have a safe place to learn and plan for their future.