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Friday, May 25, 2012

Peru: Stemming the Tide of Tragedy

Though you may not hear about it in the news, Peru is experiencing its worst floods in history. To date, at least 246,000 people have been affected. More than 52,000 homes have been damaged or destroyed, along with 1,604 schools, 50 health centres, and over 500km of roads. At least 26,000 hectares of farmland are flooded – half the crops grown in Loreto – and over 55,000 farm animals (representing the livelihoods of thousands of families) drowned.

We are trying to be there for these families. We are going to help them to prevent this crisis from creating more tragedies than it already has.

The major challenge currently is preventing the spread of disease. When a population is poor to begin with, and then their clean water supply is cut off (because of damaged water lines), they don’t have enough food to eat, their infrastructure (hospitals, roads, etc.) is destroyed, and huge quantities of mosquitoes are breeding in standing water, this population is going to get sick.

Our goal is to get mosquito nets and medicine into the hands of these flood victims. We are also going to make sure they are taught what they need to know to prevent falling sick. If we can do anything to prevent epidemics, then we will have served these families well. The flood has destroyed enough; the least we can do is prevent further unnecessary suffering.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Somalia: A Job Well Done, But Also Only Partly Done

The United Nations has officially declared the famine in Somalia to be over. For our part, we are reflecting on our food distributions in ‘Zone K’ refugee camp in Mogadishu with gratitude toward how smooth the process was, and humility when we consider how many more people need food acutely.

Since the crisis hit we have been able to distribute flour, oil, sugar, maize, and rice to hundreds and hundreds of families on multiple occasions. Each distribution was designed to provide a family with enough food for two months. We purchased the food locally. We feel confident that our donors’ generosity was maximized as we got the best price for the food purchased by accepting multiple bids from different suppliers. We collaborated with elders in the camps who were able to direct us to the most needy families. The distributions were calm; a spirit of gratitude and community respect prevailed. All in all, our aid plan in Zone K was executed as well as we could have possibly hoped.

But the reality is that despite yesterday’s job well done and the declarations of the UN, people are still pouring into these refugee camps. The reality is that 13 million people have been affected by this drought—a nearly unimaginable figure. The need has outstripped the aid. This sobers us and presses us to continue doing what we can to help.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Manuella: A Haitian Success Story, One Year Later

If you’ve never had the chance to see what we’ve been able to accomplish in post-earthquake Haiti, take a moment to watch the film we premiered in 2011, ‘Hope in Haiti’. At about the 7 minute mark, you are introduced to Manuella, a woman who typifies the situation of young mothers in the developing world: fearful and depressed, constantly labouring to keep her many children alive and well.

Just a few weeks ago, we met with Manuella to see how life has changed for her since she received help through our 2011 campaign on behalf of Haitian families.

HOPE International Development Agency's Director of International Relations, Clifferd Dick, reports that...

‘Real positive change is beginning to happen in her life!  The new tarps that [we] were able to get her continue to provide her and her family significant temporary shelter.  Manuella is also now a member of the local Chinchiron cooperative!  She participates in all the training and education services that [we provide] to farm families…Manuella and her husband have been able to access improved seed and participate in agricultural training as they work to improve their farm yield.  Finally, the water situation is about to change for Manuella!  A part of the storage silo structure that is just beginning to be built is a large water cistern.  This will gather and hold for community use water that runs off from the roof of this building.  The cistern will hold tens of thousands of litres of water, reducing greatly the time and effort required by Manuella's family to collect water.’

It is gratifying to revisit the struggles depicted so candidly on film, and then to consider the changes that have taken place since. Now she is epitomizing the flip-side of the typical developing world mother’s situation: a success story who was just waiting for a small investment of tools and training.