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Friday, May 30, 2014

New beginnings for farm families in Haiti

Historically, Haiti is a country rich in agriculture, but in recent years, natural disasters, soil erosion, droughts, and flooding have made life for farmers extremely difficult.

In just 15 years, Haiti has become one of the most food-insecure countries in the world.

Mother and farmer Jeannette Exarin knows what it means to live with chronic food shortages.

Jeannette and her four children live on a small piece of land she inherited from her grandparents. Of her four children, Jeanette can only afford to send one of her daughters to school. The other children stay home and work alongside their mother, trying to coax crops from the soil. Despite their best efforts, hardly anything grows.

In May of last year, however, life changed for Jeannette and her children when they joined a HOPE International Development Agency cooperative of more than 100 farming families.

The goal of the cooperative is to increase access to food, create sustainable and improved incomes for farmers, and provide ongoing access to quality, drought-resistant seeds.

Jeannette received seeds to grow nutritious vegetables such as carrots, Swiss chard, spinach, sweet corn, and beans. The seeds are drought resistant and have a much greater chance of surviving from planting to harvest. She also received agricultural training and tools for rehabilitating her land, making it much more fertile.

As a result, this season Jeannette and her children grew a bountiful harvest of vegetables and also earned more than $80 selling extra harvest at the market - money that she used to send her children to school, and buy 4 hens that now have 8 chicks each.

Jeanette and her family are an example of the transformation that happens when people come together around a common goal.

The farmers cooperatives, which range in size from 100 to 500 farmers not only provide physical support, they create a community where positive change takes place. They also enable farmers to exchange valuable information quickly, and provide a collective voice, rallying government for more investment in agriculture.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

What does it look like to have hope?

Last week we looked at what life would be if you lived like some of the world’s poorest people.

But how would life change if you had hope? This week, we take a glimpse at some of the things that would change.

One - your children would be able to get an education. Education means access to better work opportunities in the future.

Two - your family would have access to the health care that they desperately need to fight off the illness and disease that threaten them every day.

Three - your children would never have to drink water that was contaminated with bacteria. They would have clean water that wouldn’t take hours to fetch.

Four - your family would have a chance at a new life. A life free from poverty. A life filled with hope.

All of this is made possible by generous people like you and we thank you for over 39 years of bringing hope to people all over the world!

Thursday, May 15, 2014

What would you do if you lived like 80% of the world’s population who manage to survive on less than $10 a day?

If you lived like the world’s poorest people, what would be your biggest struggles? How would you fare? Here is a brief glimpse into what your world would look like.

You wake up every morning as part of the 80% of humanity who somehow survive on less than $10 a day. More likely than not, you will earn a mere $2 for an entire day’s labor.

Living in abject poverty, literally at the bottom of it all, can have deadly consequences for your children - most of whom would likely be among the 27% of children in the developing world who grow up underweight. It is entirely possible that at least one of your children will be among the 22,000 children worldwide who perish every day due to poverty. There are 31 countries in the developing world where 10 percent of children do not reach the age of 5.

Would your children be educated? If you could, by chance, afford to send your kids to school, they may not feel well enough to go because of the bacteria infested water they drink every day. And yes, this is the same water that you walk hours to fetch - unclean water is better than no water at all.

When evening comes, you go to bed feeling unwell and ill at ease, mostly because you mourn for your family.

You desperately want to provide for your children. You want them to grow up strong and healthy. You want them to be successful. You want them to have dreams. You want them to live.

Having had a glimpse of what life would be like if you were among the poorest of the poor, you can see how the life you have today is so important to the poor. It is the fact that you are not among the poorest of the poor that makes it possible for the poor to get the help they so desperately need.

Our mission is to help families replace this image of poverty with an image of hope and self-reliance. We partner with them and help them live strong and healthy lives, be successful, and dreams again.

We do this by providing families with access to clean water, training in sustainable agriculture, micro-financing to fund small business start ups, and cooperatives that strengthen families and their communities. It is your giving that enables people and communities to come together to fight poverty and create amazing new lives for themselves.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Meet Siriyawathie: mother, farmer, and community leader

Siriyawathie is a 40 year old mother of two hardworking children, a son and a daughter. She lives in Pettagamwela, Sri Lanka with her husband, a carpenter. The majority of his monthly wages goes to buying food and paying tuition fees for his son, studying technology in grade 13, and daughter, studying in grade 11.

Siriyawathie has always been a leader in her community: she was a founding member of a small group of villagers from her area who have worked together for several years. However, with training and support provided by HOPE International Development Agency, Siriyawathie has been able to take even greater strides forward. She received training in bookkeeping and conservation farming, as well as a small loan of around $65. With this, she set up a small organic farm where she daily puts into practice the composting, soil conservation, and other techniques she learned about.

Her success has been tremendous.

At various times of the year, Siriyawathie and her family grow tomatoes, bitter gourd, capsicum, cowpea, lentils, and beans. She understands what crops can be planted at drier times and still do well, so she grows crops year-round.

Siriyawathie sells her surplus fruits and vegetables, all chemical-free, earning about $50 per month. There is a strong demand for her produce as it is all chemical-free and widely known to be so in the area. Her own family eats the produce, contributing to continued good health and higher savings since they used to have to buy vegetables.

Her children’s tuition is always paid, and Siriyawathie has proved her continued commitment to her neighbours: she shares her seed with other farmers in her village so that they do not need to buy expensive imported seed which cannot be reused in subsequent planting seasons.

Siriyawathie values most the opportunity she has now to work collectively with her peers in the community, in small self-help groups.

She says all this has been achieved with the greatest possible support from her family – her husband and two children – and from HOPE International Development Agency.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Water brings new life to the Philippine community of Calibran

In 2012 we introduced some of the work being done in Calibran, a small community in the Philippines that needed clean water. 

At the time, families had no choice but to walk long distances to fetch their drinking water, most of which was contaminated with oil and waste. The water, completely unsafe to drink, took the lives of many young children in the community - their immune systems couldn’t cope with the contaminants.

Today, Calibran has a much different story to tell. The community, and its neighbour, Malagalad, now have 6 communal water points that provide clean water to 66 families. The children grow up healthy and happy and are able to attend school rather than spend their days in search of water.

Clean water means life for the communities of Calibran and Malagalad. It means stronger families, and it also means families can dream again and create ways of further improving their communities.

It’s hard to imagine life without it, and yet the community of Calibran struggled without clean water for decades. Thank you for being a part of helping them begin their new story.

See the entire story here by watching HOPE In The Philippines.