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Wednesday, May 26, 2010

It Is Not OK

Thoughtfully considered, the plight of the world’s poorest people should be enough to make even the optimistic among us realize that our lifestyle is far from a world-wide norm.

Could we, by some act of will or necessity, screw up the courage to acknowledge that we and our lifestyle are not the norm in today’s world?

What further evidence do we require other than knowing that more than one third of the population of our world lives in abject poverty?

Could we face the stark reality described by Mother Teresa when she said, “It is poverty to decide that a child must die so that you may live as you wish.”?

Is it even possible, given the attachment to our lifestyle, for us to recognize, yet alone address, our poverty?

Have we become the truly impoverished, living on a scale never before seen in history, while so many others are forced to live on scraps?

Are we saying that this is OK?

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

The Poor and Clean Water: When One Dollar Becomes Seven

Soon, many HOPE supporters will be joining us at our cross-Canadian premieres of ‘A Thirst For Africa’, a short film that focuses on our long-term effort to provide clean water access to Ethiopia’s poorest of the poor. Clean water and sanitation is at the heart of our work with the poor. Upon investigation, it’s easy to see why.

What drives us to ensure that every child in a district drinks disease-free water is not soft-hearted sentimentality—it’s a rather hard-headed understanding of just how cost-effective and transformative this kind of initiative really is.

Consider UNICEF’s findings. Their Executive Director Carol Bellamy urges governments to invest in clean water, saying, "The money it takes to provide water and sanitation services is so small when compared to the payoffs[.]"

In fact, UNICEF said that studies show that for every $1 invested in children - including money to improve access to clean water and sanitation - $7 will be saved in the cost of long-term public services.

So when HOPE International Development Agency considers the long-term health, happiness, and prosperity of a community, we are generally on the same page as the community-members who ultimately direct our work. They say they need clean water to drink before any other anti-poverty initiative can be considered. And we agree with them. It makes excellent strategic sense.

We know that clean water means health—up to 80% reductions in deadly diseases. We know it means progress for the women in a community—as hours of their time in searching for water are spared, and girls are enabled to attend school for the first time. We know that the clear and dramatic dividends of a clean water system that a village has laboured on inspire them to go further. Clean water provides the encouragement poor villagers desperately need, if they are to continue working to elevate the prospects of their children.

There is no debate as to the value of clean water. It is a work that we feel every confidence in and it is worth every dollar that we invest in it. If you feel you want to know more, please do get in touch with us and join us at a film premiere in your city.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Freedom from hungers lies beneath their feet

In rural Cambodia, you need look no further than the soil beneath your feet to be reminded of poverty’s absolute dominion over the poorest families in the country.

The soil, while capable of growing a rich variety of vegetables, remains unproductive under the footprints left by family members on their daily journey to scavenge scraps of food from the local market or forest.

The families are so poor that they cannot afford even the most basic garden tools, much less the seeds and fertilizer required to transform the soil beneath their feet into a way out of hunger and poverty.

Rather than starve, families eat concoctions void of any significant nutritional value, including boiled leaves and a watery paste of rice. The long-term effects of chronic malnutrition are especially evident among the youngest members of the families.

HOPE International Development Agency is providing a solution to hunger among Cambodia’s poorest families by helping them transform the soil beneath their feet into gardens of hope that produce a bountiful harvest of nutritious vegetables throughout the year.

In addition to receiving an armful of sturdy gardening tools, families are also given a large quantity and variety of vegetable seeds, training in how to prepare organic fertilizers from locally available materials, and health education, ensuring that the benefits of proper nutrition and sanitation are well understood and received.

Learn more about how gardens of hope are helping Cambodia’s poorest families free themselves from hunger and how you can help.