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Friday, June 25, 2010

The Dog Ate the United Nations’ Homework

This Wednesday, the United Nations published its 2010 Millennium Development Goals Report. On the whole, their assessment is written in a positive tone, and they are calculated when they broach the issue of whether or not their goal of halving global poverty by 2015 is actually - you know - achievable.

Apparently, while there is ‘progress’, every adverse development on the planet (e.g. wars, food crises, recession) makes the Millennium Development goals ‘more difficult to achieve’. Which is sort of like saying, ‘I would have had my homework done but my dog ate it’ - except in this case, the dog is a global economic meltdown.

Their best news hinges on the fact that the number of people in the world living on less than the $1.25 per day global poverty line has decreased from 46 percent in 1990 to 27 percent in 2005.

The question is whether or not the United Nations can really claim responsibility for this development.

If they can excuse their (and by extension, our) failure through complex global developments, can they not also explain their ‘success’ in a similar fashion? For example, doesn’t the rise of Asian economies make a slightly more convincing case for the downward trend of poverty?

HOPE International Development Agency measures its success and failure on a more modest scale than the United Nations. Where we work, there are no other organizations. There are only families, villages, and passionate individuals. They let us know whether things are getting better. They also know to whom they should attribute any progress in their lives. It’s just us, them, and - it goes without saying - you.

Monday, June 21, 2010

'Burnaby to Istanbul’: Doug’s Ride

Doug Ibbott, a long time friend of HOPE International Development Agency, set out on May 8th on the journey of lifetime. He is doing what many people dream about but never execute: embarking on a modern-day adventure. While he’s at it, he’s going to help thousands of the most vulnerable people on the planet.

His objective? To ride his bicycle around the world and to raise $50,000 to help bring clean water to the district of Bonke, Ethiopia, where only 14% of people have access to protected sources.

Leg one has Doug riding across Canada, then flying to Europe where he will ride from Amsterdam to Germany. From there he will cover some 2,000 km along the Danube River to Istanbul.

The ‘Burnaby to Istanbul’ segment of the ride will take Doug until December 2010. He has been on the road for over 50 days and has already cycled to Winnipeg.

For updates please visit Doug’s blog. And of course, if you want to support Doug’s adventure for a cause, visit our website,

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Ethiopia: A Closer Look at Value-Added Microcredit

In recent years, microcredit has been touted as a revolutionary means for helping poor people - even as a solution for global poverty, period. Indeed, the practice of lending the poor (those unable to join commercial banks) low - or no - interest loans to start their own businesses has transformed untold lives, freeing huge numbers of people from poverty. As the effectiveness of microcredit becomes more publicized, the number of agencies offering the poor lending services increases. This is good - and it would be great if all agencies operated with the highest possible standards.

What is the best form of microcredit for the poor? We believe that loans can do much, much more if they are paired with social support. For example, this is how our Ethiopian colleagues describe the support that they offer to women who join their credit groups:
  • Basic Business Skill Training: Covering income generating activities, money management, marketing assessment and other skills relating to small scale business.
  • Literacy program: Arranged for those women who can not read and write in order to make them literate and help them to calculate basic mathematics and work effectively their business calculations.
  • Self esteem training: This is a training to direct the thinking of the women so that they can develop positive attitude about themselves and value them selves accordingly.
  • Nutrition training: This training basically focuses on the use of different food items and how to cook a healthy and nutritious food. Moreover personal hygiene/reproductive health training was also given for the ladies.
We know that these women will feel equipped to become great successes. We know that the outcomes for these women will be overwhelmingly positive. The extra support that they receive is well worth our investment. It ensures that the loan money itself will be given the best possible conditions for transforming lives.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Answering the Challenge

When the challenge of poverty goes unanswered, people perish.

The enormity of poverty – 35,000 children dying every 24 hours and 1.4 billion people living on less than one dollar per day – is beyond comprehension for those of us who have never been directly confronted with carnage caused by abject poverty.

We in the developed world may struggle to comprehend, but families confronted by poverty on a daily basis certainly understand, all too well, the consequences of poverty’s challenge going unanswered.

For the people of Bonke, southern Ethiopia, the challenge has gone unanswered for generations.

Nearly 200,000 people live in Bonke, and the vast majority does not have access to clean drinking water. They know that the water they gather from filthy ponds, and hand-dug water holes frequented by animals, is dangerous. The evidence is right in front of them as they mourn the loss of yet another child killed by drinking the water.

At best, the water these families drink makes them terribly sick. At worst, it kills them. Sadly, they simply have no choice but to drink whatever water they can find – at least until now.

Today, HOPE International Development Agency is answering poverty’s challenge by helping the people of Bonke gain access, through their own efforts and the generous support of donors, to clean water. A long-term effort is underway to bring clean water to the nearly 200,000 people who live in Bonke.

With every village that gains access to clean water, the promise of a life free from poverty comes closer to being fulfilled. In Bonke, clean water is the beginning of a new era full of promise rather than suffering.

Learn more about our effort to bring clean water to the people of Bonke by visiting today.