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Monday, January 21, 2013

The Dominican Republic: 50 Years of Friendship with the Poor

Last year some of our best friends celebrated their 50th anniversary.

We do what we do (help the poor to become self-reliant) through a network of friendships. This is how we’ve always done it. This is what works. We can’t sit at a desk in Canada and order poor communities around from thousands of miles away. We’ve always found local people and grassroots organizations who are integrated with the communities we want to help, and these local people are our hands and voices overseas, implementing the strategies that we all design together with the poor.

You could think of this arrangement as a three-legged stool: HOPE International Development Agency, grassroots/local organization, and community in need. All three ‘actors’ need to be working together in order to accomplish something lasting and appropriate.

One of our oldest friendships is with the organization ADESJO in the Dominican Republic. These extremely fine people have been working with the poorest of the poor in neglected villages in the Ocoa province for 50 years now!

We came alongside them in the early 80s and we’ve been working together with the Ocoan poor quite happily and successfully since then. Clean water, literacy, roads connecting poor farmers to markets, reforested hillsides: there is much to look back on with gratitude.

Father Lou Quinn, the great soul who directed ADESJO for decades, was a friend among friends. He is still greatly missed by us. He passed away in 2007 (see this Toronto Star article about the great man. We wish he had been here to celebrate the 50-year milestone with us.