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Thursday, December 26, 2013

Bringing hope into the lives of the world's poorest families

It’s Boxing Day and as the year draws to a close we remain deeply grateful for all that donors have accomplished.

In 2013, there were many people to be helped, and many tragedies that required immediate action. Each time, donors responded without pause. The consistent support that we witnessed, month after month, inspires us to keep doing everything we can to eradicate poverty. Hundreds of thousands of people were touched this year all across Africa, Asia, and the Americas. We cannot thank you enough for all that you’ve done, and all that you continue to do.

HOPE International Development Agency donors lifted orphaned children up out of poverty and gave them an opportunity to create a new life. Impoverished parents used micro-loans to start small businesses that generated sustainable sources of income; allowing them to feed and educate their children. Communities came together and created clean sources of water that will last for decades.

Access to clean water is one of the ways that hope was brought back into the lives of people this year.

In Burundi, Africa, one of the poorest countries in the world, we began working with communities to develop and build water systems that provide abundant supplies of clean water. For families living in Matara and Bubanza, Burundi, there truly is no proper way to express the impact clean water has in their lives. Once the systems are completed, mothers will be able to think about the future because their children will be healthy and well-fed.

Clean water is the cornerstone of survival, and with it, life can thrive.

With the arrival of clean water in communities throughout Cambodia, Bangladesh, the Philippines, and Ethiopia, children are able to go to school rather than spending their days gathering water. Most of these children have never been given an opportunity like this before. A proper education is the key to children growing up and pulling themselves, as well as their communities, out of poverty. Their learning means that they can find stable work, start businesses in their communities, or in many cases, continue the work being done by getting involved in helping others.

The joy on their faces when they hear they can stop working in the fields or carrying water, and get an education instead, is one of the things that  keeps us going. It is their hope and their excitement for the possibilities that lay ahead that gives us the strength to keep reaching out and touching as many people as we can with the help you provide.

So today, and everyday, we say thank you. Thank you for continuing to make stories like these a reality for these families and so many more. Thank you for helping us to keep reaching for one more life, every day.

Without your support, none of this would be possible.

With your support, the world is being changed one step and one day at a time.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Poverty; a threat to all

It matters not whether we live in the developed world or the developing world, poverty threatens every one of us.

Here at home, poverty is often associated with a loss of dignity and a fall from the economic grace that many view as a birthright.

Among impoverished communities throughout Africa, Asia, and Central America, however, poverty can do more than take your dignity; it can take your life.

Children in sub-Saharan Africa, for example, are over 16 times more likely to die before the age of five than children in developed countries.

For the estimated 6.6 million[1] children under the age of five who perished last year, more than half died from causes that were completely preventable and treatable.

On the surface, the demise of these children may have been the result of pneumonia or diarrhea, but it was poverty, or more accurately, the inequality that breeds poverty, that all but ensured their fate moments after they took their first breath.

Wherever poverty is present, inequality likely arrived on the scene first.

Addressing poverty, compels us to look beneath the surface - past the symptoms, no matter how devastating and dramatic - to address the root cause.

On the surface, it appears that poverty is to blame for the torment and suffering families in the developing world endure every day. But upon closer inspection, poverty becomes merely a symptom of the root cause - inequality.

Every HOPE International Development Agency initiative, whether it’s clean water, disease prevention, education, skills training or increasing food production in a sustainable manner, gets to the root cause of the matter, addressing the inequality that allows poverty to persist.

As people, we’re at our best when equality is in our hearts and on our minds and inequality is viewed as an abomination. We’re at our worst, and most at risk of losing a dignity far more important than our perceived economic birthright, when we don’t act to reduce or eliminate the inequity that fuels poverty.

Addressing the root cause of poverty, not just the symptoms, is why HOPE International Development Agency exists and holds fast to the belief that the poorest of the poor can transform their lives, with a little help from you.

[1] World Health Organization, September 2013

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Resilience amid the ruin in the Philippines

Life amid the ruin offers the possibility of hope when help arrives.

It’s been five weeks since Typhoon Haiyan slammed into the homes and lives of families in the central Philippines.

For survivors, today is an especially difficult day amid five long weeks of difficult days. This morning, the official death toll among their fellow citizens climbed above 6,000. Equally troubling is the fact that as many as 1,800 people remain missing. At this point families fear that these people have likely perished.

Yet amid the suffering and ruin, the 43,000 survivors that HOPE International Development Agency donors are helping sustain right now are proving incredibly resilient as they literally pick up the pieces of their lives.

They’re using the food, water, shelter materials, tools, medicine, soap, blankets, and other items we’ve been able to provide through the generous financial contributions of donors, to do much more than survive. They’re using this help to fuel a resilient attitude, that when combined with a additional, long-term support from us, will take them to a place where they are thriving, not merely surviving.

For survivors living in the 20 municipalities of Leyte province we’re working in right now, the immediate help we’re providing is also giving hope; something that’s in short supply in the aftermath of a massive disaster like Typhoon Haiyan.

The importance of hope cannot be understated among families in Leyte, a province that took a direct hit from the storm. As a survivor, you can have food in your belly, shelter, albeit temporary, from the elements, and blankets to keep you warm through the long nights, but still feel hopeless.

The support HOPE International Development Agency donors have provided and continue to provide ensures that families don’t feel hopeless in the aftermath of such a massive disaster. It ensures that hope is present and a strong factor in helping people rebuild their lives.

The families we’re helping know that life is not likely to return to “normal” any time soon, a sentiment that is understandable given the scale of the disaster and loss of life, but they also know, through your giving, that hope is present and that their lives can be built back better than the old “normal” – an important distinction when you consider that “normal” for the families we’re helping in the Philippines was a life of abject poverty even before Typhoon Haiyan entered their lives.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Remembering the other stories of courage in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds


Even as we continue our emergency relief work in the Philippines - distributing tons of urgently needed food, water, shelter materials, tools, and other emergency supplies to tens of thousands of Typhoon Haiyan survivors - we think of all of the other stories of equal courage in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds that motivate our work worldwide.

In Ethiopia, there are orphaned children who need to be rescued and educated if they are to have any hope of transforming their lives.

In Cambodia there are children who find it hard to learn because they don’t have the tools they need; things as simple as pencils, note books, and rulers.

In the Philippines, there are young people whose education and ability to create positive change in their indigenous communities is about to come to a grinding halt because they and their parents lack the relatively little money it costs for a post-secondary education.

In Sri Lanka, Cambodia, and the Democratic republic of Congo, families are hungry because they lack the basic knowledge, tools, and resources needed to grow enough food.

In India and Africa, there are families drinking water that we here at home would not even wash our hands in; but they have no choice because they lack the resources and knowledge needed to create their own sustainable supplies of water.

This Christmas, please remember their stories as well. Give a gift from our 2013 Gifts of Hope Christmas Catalogue.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Congolese Farmer Earns 27 Times More Income

Farmers shipping bags of corn to market.

It is extremely difficult for rural farmers in the Democratic Republic of Congo to get a fair price for their crops.

John Degbalese, a farmer from the Equateur Province, used to make less than $10 per month selling corn – not enough to keep his family from a life of poverty. Sadly, if he could afford to take his crops to sell at the market in Kinshasa, the capital city, he could earn considerably more income.

For John, the trip to Kinshasa is more than a 10-day journey that requires a boat to move down the Congo River; it is much too expensive for a farmer who is struggling to survive.

He doesn’t worry about survival anymore though.

Last year he became a participant in HOPE International Development Agency’s program that brings together other farmers just like him. As a cooperative, they work together to ensure that their hard work earns them a fair price – something they’ve never received before.
John used to earn $100 per year, this year he earned $2,700!

These incredible results happened because John received proper agricultural training, access to the right tools, and the support he needed to bring his corn to Kinshasa. His life is now drastically changed. He is able to provide for his family, send his children to school, and repay the money loaned to him at the beginning of the program.

Now, John is self-reliant. He doesn’t need our help anymore; he can provide for himself and can pass this knowledge down to others.

For farmers like John, the opportunity to earn more income is freedom. It means they can finally begin to dream about the future, rather than worry about it. 

Friday, November 22, 2013

A Long Road To Recovery

After a natural disaster, like the typhoon that struck the Philippines, the initial aid that pours in is only the first step in a very long and arduous journey towards recovery. It can take years for a country to get back to where it once was.

Some areas of the Philippines are expected to be without electricity for more than a year. Homes and local infrastructure could take up to 4 years to rebuild. Reestablishing agriculture could take up to 7 years. It is estimated to take close to $12 billion to enable communities to recover to where they were before the typhoon.

Initially, the most important thing is getting food, water, medicine, and shelter to those in need – HOPE International Development Agency is working hard to help as many people as we can.

For the people of the Philippines, receiving emergency supplies is just the beginning of the journey.

Right now we’re focused on the initial relief efforts.

Once families have shelter, for example, communities need to be rebuilt; this includes schools, water systems, and agriculture.

Clean water, currently non-existent, will mean families don’t have to worry about disease and illness in these difficult times. Education, the very thing that will help children grow up free from poverty, needs to be re-established quickly. And agriculture, completely destroyed by the disaster, will feed the families and provide much needed income.

We will help the families rebuild their lives today, and into the future. We will do whatever it takes to support them in this time of need; we will not stop until they are back on their feet and living free from the restraints they now find themselves under.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

The storm is gone but the suffering remains


Survivors of Typhoon Haiyan, a massive storm that tore through nine regions of the Philippines last Friday, continue to struggle.

The death toll has risen to more than 3,600 people and fears remain that thousands more, in areas where the devastation has not yet been fully documented, could have perished.

The number of injured has climbed above 12,000. In all, more than 9 million people are affected, and nearly 1.9 million have been displaced.

First-hand reports, from a HOPE International Development Agency colleague who was on the ground in the Cebu and Bohol this week, speak of the terrible destruction and personal devastation, especially in some of the more isolated communities throughout Cebu.

In parts of northern Cebu, the destruction defies imagination - in some of the areas visited, nearly 95% of the homes have been obliterated.

In Bohol, an area where we are helping thousands of families recover from a massive earthquake just 3 weeks ago, Typhoon Haiyan struck with high winds and torrential rains that caused additional damage and suffering - thousands of families remain in a state of shock and disbelief.

Along one 50km section of battered road, survivors stood by the roadside, holding up makeshift signs, pleading for help.

One Philippine official stated that “this is not devastation, it is obliteration,” when speaking with our colleague.

HOPE International Development Agency is continuing with its efforts to provide food, water, shelter and other urgently needed items to survivors as they struggle in the aftermath of the super storm.

You can help us increase the amount of help we can provide by giving today.

Donate Today.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

The aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan

HOPE International Development Agency is on the ground in the storm-affected areas of the Philippines, continuing to assess the need and providing much needed support.

Travelling through northern Cebu is heartbreaking. The devastation is hard to fathom. In some areas visited, nearly 95% of the homes in the area have been destroyed by the typhoon.

In Bohol, an area hit by a large earthquake 3 weeks prior to the arrival of the killer typhoon, the loss of life and devastation is significant. The vast majority of buildings, roads, communications infrastructure, and homes have been obliterated by the storm.

People need food, water, and shelter - we are doing our best to help!

The Government of Canada will match donations from Canadians up until December 8, 2013.

Donate Today.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Families need help in the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines

Photograph: Dennis Sabangan/EPA
The Government of Canada will match every dollar you give!
Millions of people are affected and as many as 10,000 people are feared dead in one area alone and the death toll is expected to rise as more communities are reached.

Typhoon Haiyan, a massive storm, slammed into the Philippines on Friday, leaving trail of devastation and destruction.

The storm forced more than 750,000 people to flee their homes, including thousands of families that we have been helping recover after a massive earthquake rocked the area three weeks ago.

Already working in the area, assisting earthquake survivors, HOPE International Development Agency is responding immediately to this new crisis by providing urgently needed emergency items such as food, water, medicine, shelter, and other non-food items.

You can help the survivors of Typhoon Haiyan receive the emergency assistance they so urgently need right now.

It costs just $60 to provide emergency assistance to 3 families and $120 will help 6 families in the aftermath of this devastating event.

Donate Today.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Even after an earthquake, there is always hope

The Philippines:

No matter where in the world, when an earthquake strikes, the aftermath is heartbreaking. We must never give up hope though.

Two weeks ago, an earthquake in the Bohol province of the Philippines displaced more than 380,000 people – it was among the deadliest in the country’s history. Numerous aftershocks caused even more destruction, leaving over 45,000 homes damaged and destroyed, and countless families without food, water, or shelter.

To add to the urgency of the situation, extensive damage to roads and bridges made it even more challenging to reach the people affected by this tragedy.

HOPE International Development Agency is working hard with our partners in the Philippines to help these families. Emergency food, water, shelter, and medical care have been sent to help over 30,000 people – we are reaching out to as many people as we can in these difficult times.

The people of the Philippines continue to need support.

It is hard to imagine being uprooted from your life in a split second, everything you hold dear destroyed.

These families have lost everything – there are no savings accounts to dip into. Afraid that there might be more aftershocks, they huddle together in open spaces, uncertain of what will come next.

Amidst the daily uncertainty, we, however, are certain of one thing – we will continue to help survivors rebuild their lives.

It will be a long road ahead, but HOPE International Development Agency is committed to helping the people of the Bohol province to overcome this tragedy and feel hope that their lives can continue and even become better.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Gifts of Hope Christmas catalogue brings joy to the giver and receiver!

Selecting gifts from HOPE International Development Agency’s annual Gifts of Hope giving catalogue brings joy to both the giver and the receiver.

The gifts in this year’s gift catalogue do not fade, wear out, fall out of fashion, or lose their value. Each gift has the power to transform lives and free people from poverty.

You can change a child’s life by giving them an education. You can make it possible for families to become self-reliant by giving them the tools, training, and other resources needed to generate income. You can give medical supplies that will save lives that would otherwise be lost. You can give families safe water to drink, and much more!

You can give hope and joy this Christmas!

Give as many gifts as you wish. You can even give gifts on behalf of loved ones, friends, or co-workers. We'll send them a personal note, telling them about the gift and the giver.

Browse this year's Gifts of Hope giving catalogue.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Building resilience around the world

There’s a global movement of resilience happening, but it’s far from complete.

Since 1990, the rate of hunger in the world has fallen by 33%, according to the Global Hunger Index (GHI).

In all, 23 countries have managed to reduce their GHI scores by 50%; a laudable accomplishment!

Bangladesh, Cambodia, and Ethiopia – places where HOPE International Development Agency has worked for decades – rank among the “Ten Most Improved Countries”.

Other countries, such as Burundi, in Africa, have not yet been able to make substantive gains in reducing hunger - Burundi is ranked among 19 countries that have “alarming” or “extremely alarming” rates of hunger. HOPE International Development Agency has recently begun working in Burundi, helping families gain access to clean water.

Despite significant improvements, more than 870 million people are still going hungry worldwide.

These are the men, women, and children who wake up hungry every day. They don’t know if there will be food or not. These are the women who walk miles to fetch unclean drinking water that destroys their health and that of their children. These are the men who labor until their hands are raw – all for wages so meager, they can’t even buy the most basic of items.

To overcome this, we focus on building resilience within communities. This means understanding the root issues, and working hard to bring people together to fight poverty as a group rather than alone. 

A resilient community doesn’t crumble when drought occurs or when there’s a food shortage. It overcomes these shocks, and keeps itself out of poverty. This is what HOPE International Development Agency’s focus is when we work with communities.

We are committed to building resilience around the world.

Building resilience among people enables them to pull themselves out of poverty and remain out of poverty. And being resilient means that a community works together to overcome poverty.

When people come together in this way, they shine and come alive. They begin creating positive changes in their communities such as creating co-ops, constructing water systems that provide ample supplies of clean water, learning skills that result in more income, and sending their children to school.

We are so privileged to be a part of this transformation. Communities whose futures once felt hopeless are now bright and resilient. Families are excited about the possibilities that lay ahead, and they feel whole once again.

We are committed to always being a part of this change.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Pakistan: Education unlocks the potential for lasting change

Just over a year ago, a teenage girl in Pakistan was shot in the head by the Taliban because she dared to believe – and to give loud, enthusiastic voice to that belief – that girls in her country should be allowed to go to school.

Today, Malala Yousafzai has recovered from the attempt on her life and continues to be a vocal advocate for girls. More than 43% of Pakistani girls do not go to primary school, and the situation is not much better for Pakistani boys.

In a country with over 60 million school-aged children, this represents an astounding 13 million girls who have never set foot in a classroom and never will unless things change substantially. Things are worse in rural, poor, isolated communities.

Malala is a vivid symbol of a deep-rooted problem that exists not only in Pakistan and did not begin when extremists picked up guns. The struggle to educate all children, and especially girls, is ongoing in many countries where we work.

It is a vital struggle. We have seen over and over again that education is the key to unlocking the potential for lasting change. Children who never have the chance to learn are more likely to stay poor and remain unable to educate their own children. And so the cycle continues.

But it can be broken. In Pakistan, HOPE International Development Agency is working with women and men in communities to break the barriers that prevent girls from going to school. By encouraging mothers and fathers to examine the beliefs and other factors that keep their daughters and sons at home, and offering ideological and practical alternatives, we have started to see encouraging changes.

In one very rural, traditional community, 57 girls started kindergarten this September. These are the first girls to ever attend school in their community.

It does not seem like a lot: 57 girls against 13 million. But for these girls, their sisters, future daughters, and their neighbors, a whole other world has opened up in which they too will be able to give voice to their beliefs – and so a new cycle has begun.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Building a secure future; tomorrow and in the years to come in Burma/Myanmar

It is hard not to be overwhelmed by the steady stream of updates about innocent civilians losing their lives around the world as they are caught up in various conflicts. Before we even feel we can get a handle on the complexity of the news from one country, yet another event in another country grabs our attention.

Burma/Myanmar is one example where HOPE International Development Agency has worked for over a decade.

In past years Burma/Myanmar has received a lot of positive attention from the international community for perceived political progress, culminating with the United States restoring full diplomatic relations.

At the same time, the country still faces many challenges and ongoing fighting happening that we do not hear about. While recent headlines focused on talks in Syria and Iran, news about fighting escalating in Kachin state between the Kachin Independence Organization and Burmese Army never reached our ears.

In Kachin and Northern Shan States, for example, there are thousands of families displaced by conflict that have fled their villages in search of safety.

It is estimated that over 100,000 women, men, and children are living in temporary camps where HOPE International Development Agency is working.

The families are very vulnerable as most have lost everything they owned and many are separated from other family members.

Every day is a challenge to find food, water, and shelter and sanitation facilities are not adequate to meet the needs of so many people. Many people arriving in the camps are sick, injured, or traumatized, including a large number of children. Those in greatest need include women-headed households, unaccompanied children (girls in particular), pregnant women, and women with young children.

HOPE International Development Agency is committed to supporting a peaceful transition in the country for the long term, and is also concentrating its efforts on saving lives and providing basic services to these families that have lost so much already.

Right now, this means providing things like clothing and shelter, access to latrines and a nearby source of clean water, and building schools so that education of children is not interrupted.

While we partner with communities striving for peaceful, long-term solutions, there are still many immediate needs that we are also meeting so that the children and youth especially can have a secure future, both tomorrow and in years to come.

(L) Displaced families participate in community work 
to install a water system that will bring clean water 
to thousands of families living in the temporary camp.

(R) Community members connect water 

pipes that will bring clean water to the camp.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Responding in the aftermath of two killer earthquakes in Pakistan

Within minutes of the massive earthquake, a large area of southwestern Pakistan’s Balochistan region lay in ruin.

Unbelievably, four days later another earthquake, nearly as massive as the first, demolished what little remained of people’s lives. Officials estimate that as many as 300,000 people are affected by the two killer earthquakes.

The people of Balochistan are bracing for more heartache.  The death toll, already estimated at over 800 already, is expected to rise sharply as more bodies are recovered from the rubble that used to be people’s homes.

Already working in the region, we responded immediately...

Within hours of the first earthquake, we began transporting large quantities of urgently needed medical supplies and equipment – enough to fill a massive ocean-going shipping container – to the areas hardest hit and reachable. Additional medical supplies have been sent to hospitals in Quetta, Balochistan’s capital city, where many of the most severely injured survivors are being treated.

An emergency gift today will help us continue to ensure that survivors don’t become victims in the aftermath of these two killer earthquakes...

The destruction is massive. Communities, like Nokjo for example, have been nearly completely flattened. Nokjo’s entire population of 15,000 people now have nothing but what they can scavenge from the ruins of their community. 

Having survived the earthquakes is no guarantee of continued survival.

As we expand our emergency work one of our biggest concerns is for the 2,000 pregnant women we’ve identified so far. They are in desperate need of the medical supplies and equipment you can help us provide.

An emergency gift of $50, or as much as you can given the massive need, will enable us to provide more medical supplies and equipment, as well as other urgently needed help that will ensure that survivors, already severely traumatized, do not become victims in the coming days and weeks.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Clean water begins the journey out of poverty in Burundi, Africa

Batwa children living in the villages of Matara and Bubanza in Burundi, East Africa, know the risks that come with drinking unsafe water.

The evidence is all around them; sick brothers and sisters, frail parents, and young friends that are no longer alive.

Yet despite all the suffering and death, children continue to drink unsafe water - they have no choice, nor do their parents for that matter. Safe water is not available in or near their villages.

As a result, children and their families drink water from wherever they can find it, including filthy tire ruts carved into the muddy dirt road that passes through their villages.

We’re helping the families of Matara and Bubanza construct a water system that will provide an abundance of clean water right in their villages.

Families in Matara have found a water spring 3kms up the mountain from their village. In Bubanza, families found a spring on a hilltop about 4kms away from their village.

The challenge, in both cases, is bringing the clean water to the villages. At the moment, the water is simply too far away and inaccessible.

We are helping the families of Matara and Bubanza, a water system that will bring clean water from the mountains right into their villages.

When completed, the two water systems will bring an abundance of clean, life-sustaining water to nearly 4,000 people.  The water will also be used to irrigate family vegetable gardens and fields, enabling families to grow enough food to ensure they never go hungry again. Excess harvest will be sold at the local market and will create a reliable source of income.
Batwa families are the poorest of the poor in Burundi, a country ranked among the ten poorest countries in the world. As indigenous people, they exist on the far margins of society.