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Thursday, August 27, 2009

Philippines: Education for indigenous children

Poverty is often viewed solely within the present tense. The long-term consequences, however, can be equally troubling. This is particularly true when it comes to children who do not have the benefit of an education.

For Leila, a young mother and member of group of neglected and poor indigenous people in the Philippines, the long-term consequences of poverty have and continue to be devastating.

Leila believes the poverty she endures today is a direct result of being denied an education when she was a child. She worries that her children's experience will the same as hers... and for good reason!

About 75 percent of children not in school right now have mothers who did not have the opportunity to attend school.

In addition to helping families with their immediate needs, HOPE International Development Agency donors are addressing the long-term consequences of poverty by providing scholarships to indigenous children whose impoverished parents cannot afford an education for their children.

The one-year scholarships provide everything children need, including tuition fees, school books, and supplies. In addition, the scholarships also provide nutrition training, health education, and nutritional supplements for children. Enhanced skills training for rural teachers and additional resource materials for rural schools are also provided.

By providing these scholarships, HOPE donors are addressing both the immediate and long-term needs of indigenous Filipino families and the communities within which they live.

Leila's children will not inherit the poverty that has marred her life. Her children will be the first generation to attend school and in doing so, they will have the opportunity to break the cycle of poverty that has kept their communities impoverished for generation after generation.

Learn more about how you can help send children to school this September by visiting

Sunday, August 23, 2009

With a Little Help From Friends

Impoverished families often find themselves tossed aside, left to languish on the side of the road like discarded household items that are either broken or deemed less than useful by their owners.

When HOPE International Development Agency first met Marie Fe, she was an impoverished young Filipino mother residing in the Philippine city of Calamansian - discarded by society you might say

When our HOPE Filipino colleagues spoke with Marie Fe, they did not see a broken woman tossed aside by society; they saw a person who had a valuable contribution to make, to both her community and her family!

Today, through her ingenuity and hard work, and a little help from a HOPE micro credit lending program, Marie Fe has created a sustainable livelihood amidst the discarded. Marie Fe’s family-run business recycles, reuses, and resells what others, far more fortunate than her, toss aside.

In addition to creating a sustainable livelihood, Marie Fe is also making a valuable contribution to the local economy and the environment. Collecting discarded, but valuable items from the streets and alleys is just one part of her business. Marie Fe’s business also buys discarded items, by the kilogram, direct from walk-in sellers, and in doing so, creates new value for her and her customers.

HOPE has had the privilege of helping Marie Fe build her business and livelihood since 1995, when a local micro credit program we established provided Marie Fe with her first modest, low interest loan. There have been a number of loans since, and in every case, Marie Fe has paid back her loans quickly – a sign that her business is thriving!

Today, Marie Fe and her family live in a modest but comfortable home, directly connected to her expanded shop and storefront. A pioneer member of our Camarin Micro Credit Branch, Marie Fe is now leads a group of 30 women entrepreneurs in her area. In addition to running her own successful business, Marie Fe tends to the needs of the members, guiding them as they develop sustainable livelihoods for themselves and their families.

Marie Fe’s success lays in her ability to see value where others cannot. She likes to say she sees the “shine”, and hence the value, just below the surface on a piece of rusty, discarded metal.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Suffering – An unintended consequence of a comfortable mind?

The mind, pampered by the seemingly unending parade of comfort that accompanies life in the developed world, can quickly fall prey to rationalization.

As admirable as it may be, the ability to rationalize our way toward that which makes us comfortable, both in body and mind, often has the unintended consequence of abandoning others to their suffering.

Rather than being deeply troubled by the plight of orphaned and abandoned children in places such as Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, for example, many of us find a way to rationalize not helping these children – some of whom are a mere 5 years-old.

We should be deeply troubled and frankly, very uncomfortable with the fact that an 11 year-old girl, abandoned to the streets of Addis because she lost her parents, has her childhood stolen from her one night in a dark alley. We should be moved to action by the troubled lives of the more than 3.8 million orphans whose trajectory is not unlike the 11 year-old girl just described.

Yes friend, we should be moved. Perhaps even more importantly, we should be very wary of that which impedes being moved - our ability to rationalize away the hurt and needs of others. This is especially true when you consider that in most cases, it costs us little or nothing to help relative to what we have and enjoy.

The comfortable mind is dangerous to our health and potentially deadly to millions of people worldwide. It is a mind untroubled by the plight and suffering of those who can offer no comfort, to us or themselves.

In the end, however, we soon discover that no amount of comfort can answer for the consequences.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Ethiopia: Going to ends of the earth for clean water - on foot, if necessary

In late spring, HOPE International Development Agency completed a memorable health and sanitation education series in six communities in Dereshe, the southern district where for the last decade we have focused our efforts to bring clean water and basic health to Ethiopia’s poorest villages.

As we approached full clean water coverage for Dereshe district this year, the communities we helped were increasingly remote. The poverty in these villages is exacerbated by their geographic isolation; inaccessible by roads, they are forgotten the rest of the population. Whatever political voice the rural poor might have does not carry over these distances, and so villages furthest from urban centers tend to be the most neglected, the most destitute.

HOPE exists for the sake of the poorest of the poor—an overused expression, but in the case of these villages, a very apt one. Because of this, our Ethiopian staff were more than willing to meet the challenges entailed in serving these far-flung villages of the south.

In order to provide the villagers with the health and sanitation training that is such a necessary component of the clean water program, our training officers walked long distances over all manner of terrain. There are no roads to make the trips by car, and the people in these villages live up on hills and farm in the valleys below. So, in the words of one Ethiopian staff member, “climbing up the hills for up to 10 kilometers round trip for a day’s teaching was a regular day at the office for our staff.”

He went on to remark that “It is a testament to their commitment that they were able to complete their work on time. The equally impressive commitment and hard work of the communities was essential to the success of the project. Each community brought out up to 50 volunteers daily to contribute their labour. This community participation and sense of ownership is the cornerstone of our project.”

He is correct: without this spirit of participation, of passion, of commitment, the task of providing the poorest of the poor with a measurably higher standard of life would founder. We see this spirit again and again in our staff members as well as in the families that actually benefit from the work. It is something that never fails to secure our admiration—and gratitude.