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Thursday, March 27, 2014

It’s people who drive lasting change

Every week we read in the news about new inventions that promise to drastically change the quality of life for the poor. Many of them raise millions of dollars in support because they’re innovative and exciting, yet they often fall short of ever reaching the very people they aim to help.

Sadly, those dollars could have been used to alleviate poverty through simple, effective methods that create lasting change. At HOPE International Development Agency, we focus our work on:
Conscientious, People-Driven Solutions.

Does that mean that we never use new technology? No. It means that every solution we develop is tailored first for the people that we’re partnering with – the people who we’ve committed our lives to working with.

The end result is that rather than simply running projects, we end up developing lasting relationships with the communities who we partner with. We don’t just show up, dig a well and leave – we know the people and we’re invested in them creating lives free from poverty.
When our solutions are people-driven, we cannot afford to fail.

Failure couldn't have been an option when we first met 9 year old Lidiya in Ethiopia, or Baagan Bibi and her family in Pakistan, or Ana in Guatemala. If we had, it would have meant losing the people who had now become a part of our lives. Each person we partner with touches our hearts and becomes another reason that we keep fighting to alleviate poverty in the developing world.

At the end of the day, we’re about people. There are many different tools and methods involved in each of the projects that we run, but at the center of it all are the people that we work alongside. Without them, nothing is possible.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Visiting families in Bangalore, India

Rainbow is one of our colleagues, but more importantly, she is a friend of the poor. Recently she decided that she needed to visit our friends in India and get an update on the work being done. These are some of her thoughts while on the ground:

"I arrived at the village we were working in to red-carpet fanfare. Better than red carpets, actually. More like, ornate hand-strung garlands of flowers around my neck (I think I collected about 10 of them when all was said and done), handfuls of fresh flower petals being showered on me with each step, women and children grabbing me by the hand and leading me through their village, ‘come and see!!’, a score of drummers enthusiastically banging out, ‘WELCOME TO OUR HOME!’ in roaring, thunderous rhythm. 

And while a whole village looks on, I am handed scissors to cut the ribbon of newly constructed homes…and given a coconut to smash on the front step, as is tradition, before everyone erupts in cheers and celebration again. 

I was only in India for a week. I met with dozens of women and their families in only a few days.

My encounters with each person I met were pretty brief. But in some ways, the time with each person didn’t need to be long, to know that we are in it together, declaring their worth, celebrating their dignity. To know that, with tears, fears, and the sweat of both our brows together, we’ve been moving together out of destitution, poverty, and binding debt, into something more beautiful and flourishing. They were not strangers. I’ve been working “with” them, each of them, for the last four years, advocating on their behalf, receiving their photos and stories of progress, packaging them into appeals and updates for supporters, transferring support to new families as others reach self-sufficiency. Meanwhile they've been doing the real work: stepping out into risk and vulnerability into the unknown; joining community “self-help” support groups; tearing down the only homes they have ever known, and with their own hands and labour, building new, sturdy ones in their place; taking small loans, learning new skills, and creating new, sustaining livelihoods for themselves.

And as I walk away, I don’t. Together, we look forward to the journey ahead and know that yet more good things are in store for each family and I will, over the next few years, journey with each of these families in seeking the resources to help that happen, following & sharing their progress with those committed to walking alongside."

Monday, March 17, 2014

Join us for an evening of hope!

Join us this April and May for our annual spring Film Premiere & Dinner events in select cities across Canada.

A wonderful meal, a beautiful film shot on location in Bangladesh, great music, the company of friends, and an important opportunity to transform lives through giving await you at each of our events.

View our event schedule.

Friday, March 14, 2014

The miracle of clean water in Shara, Ethiopia

Meet Lidiya Andenet. Last year, at 9 years old, Lidiya experienced running water for the first time in her life.

Two years before, Lidiya and her mother would walk for hours to get water from dirty ponds, muddy rivers, and unprotected springs – the risk of disease was enormous. In Shara, people were often ill with waterborne diseases and, without access to health care, they would struggle to fully recover.

The biggest issue by far was the death rate among young children, most of the households in the village having lost at least one child to an illness that could have been prevented with access to clean water.

Today, life is very different. The community came together to partner with HOPE International Development Agency and built  a sustainable clean water system.

Clean water is an extraordinary gift to the Shara community; you can see the impact when you look at Lidiya, or any of the other children experiencing clean water, from a tap, for the first time. A daily trip for water that once took hours and caused illness, now takes minutes and builds stronger families.

Every time we witness the miracle of water, it drives us to keep doing more. Our clean water work continues in the Bonke District of Ethiopia. If you’d like to be a part of more stories like Lidiya’s, please give today.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Sri Lanka and the art of beekeeping

In Sri Lanka, many of the families we partner with are being trained in the art of beekeeping. If that sounds strange, it shouldn’t. Beekeeping is a very low-cost way of generating sustainable sources of food and income.

Participants in the program are given training and provided with a low-interest loan to purchase the necessary equipment.

The project is still in its early stages, but families are already seeing positive results. Of the 80 participants, many are earning a monthly income of $20-30CAD from selling the honey they’ve harvested – a considerable amount for many of them.

We’re really excited about our work in Sri Lanka. Stay tuned throughout the year for more updates on how the project is going.