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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.