Follow us by email

Thursday, July 31, 2014

You do not always know how profound your support can be for families in need


It was three years ago when the United Nations estimated that 50,000 people in Mynamar, a small country in Southeast Asia, were displaced due to conflict between the Kachin Independence Organisation (KIO) and the Myanmar government.

Ever since, HOPE international Development Agency has been working to provide life-saving support to internally displaced people living in an informal camp in Kachin state.

Recently, we met with one of our female staff that had just visited a camp of families displaced by conflict in Myanmar. With great emotion she tearfully recalled how dramatically our support has positively impacted these families. She described how when violence broke out between the Kachin Independence Organisation (KIO) and the Myanmar government, families did not know what to do or where to go to flee the violence. So they withdrew to the borderlands of Myanmar, literally a stone's throw from China.

Unfortunately, these families did not realize that by fleeing into KIO territory, larger international organizations that usually provide support in refugee camps were not able to access the area to provide any relief support. So for many, many months, families languished in the camps with no outside support. They had fled from their homes empty handed, and when they arrived at a place that felt safer than where they left, there was no help: no shelter, no food rations, no water.

It was a tragedy, and when we heard about the situation, we responded. We knew that our support was relatively small in comparison to the great need, but we also knew that we could not stand by as these displaced families suffered.

What we did not know at the time was that our support served as a catalyst for other international organizations to also move in and support these families. Since then, many other organizations saw that it was possible to access the area where these families are, and are now also providing life saving food, shelter, water, and latrines.

Listening to our colleague, we were reminded that we do not always know how profoundly our support will impact mothers and their children who have fled from violence. No matter how many emergencies that families are facing all around the world, we know that we will continue to provide whatever support we can. And when that support is able to somehow make it possible for others to help these families as well, we are profoundly humbled and moved knowing that somehow what we did helped reach more than we ever hoped or imagined.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

South Sudan is slipping towards famine - millions of people are at risk right now

A massive crisis is happening in South Sudan, yet it remains largely unnoticed as international news remains focused on the turmoil in Gaza and Ukraine.

South Sudan, Africa’s newest nation, is on the brink of famine, the likes of which has not been seen since the 1984 famine in Ethiopia which killed hundreds of thousands of people and left millions destitute.

A desperate situation
  • Nearly 1 million people on the move in search of food and safety
  • In total, nearly 5.3 million people are in crisis right now
  • Prices for food that can be found have soared by 135%
  • Nearly 1 in 3 children under the age of 5 are abnormally small
The Ibba region, where we’ve been helping families displaced by the crisis, remains a safe haven. But the food shortage is becoming more acute every day. We urgently need to increase our efforts to save lives.

You can save lives right now

An emergency gift from you today of just $65 will provide 1 person with food for three months, until the next harvest. A very generous gift of $390 will ensure an entire family survives.

Your gift today also helps provide seeds families can plant right away and harvest in December, ensuring that they will have enough to eat in December and into the New Year.

DONATE TODAY

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Growing hope, one garden at a time

The season of barbecues, bike riding, and farmer’s markets is upon us. As I peruse the bountiful selection of brilliantly coloured produce and take in the delicious aromas of freshly baked home-style breads and artisan cheeses, with which I will fill the basket on my treasured two-wheeled speedster for tonight’s family feast, I’m left with a deep sense of gratitude and wonder. How amazing it is to have all we need, and more, come straight from the earth that surrounds us. Here at home,, summer is truly a time to be thankful.

But for millions of farmers in communities far less fortunate than mine, the harvest season is full of apprehension. If you are a farming family, it’s the time of year that decides how well (or not) your family will live in the coming months. If you are a family without a vegetable garden or farm, the season has little to offer other than a continuation of the chronic hunger you live with all year long.

Unlike here at home, in many of the communities where HOPE International Development Agency works, the link between the harvest and life is unmistakable and unforgiving. A good harvest means a better tomorrow. A bad harvest means hunger, illness, or worse.

The world’s poorest subsistence farmers have no safety net - they have no access to credit or insurance that will protect them and their families if their fields flood, their crops spoil, or the harvest fails.

The earth is a wonderful resource, and with the proper skills and support, even the poorest of the poor can thrive off of the earth’s bounty.

In South Africa, for example, a group of grandmothers, many of whom have become the primary caregivers to their grandchildren as a result of the devastating impact of AIDS, are proving hope is never lost when you are given the opportunity to support yourself and the ones you love.

These grannies are successfully using the tools and the training provided by HOPE International Development Agency to start their own gardens and provide for their families. And, it’s not just their families that are thriving. Their communities are too as a result of abundance of fresh and healthy vegetables for sale in their small local markets. In South Africa, hope grows among the lettuce and the bell peppers.

So the next time you find yourself at your local market preparing for that  family barbecue, please take a moment to reflect on what those rows of carrots, tomatoes, and cucumbers mean to so many around the world. We are so fortunate and we have the ability to help others feel that way too – so why wouldn’t we?



Thursday, July 10, 2014

Youth are breaking the cycle of conflict in Sri Lanka

More than 25 years of violent conflict in Sri Lanka ended in 2009, yet the country remains traumatized.

Ethnic tension, between the Sinhalese majority and Tamil minority persists, and sometimes it seems as if nothing has been learned through the trauma of decades of civil war.

It’s been 5-years since the brutal civil war ended, yet there are still few opportunities for the two groups to interact and forge a true and lasting peace that would benefit everyone, especially families whose villages were ravaged by the conflict.

Reconciliation between ethnic groups has fallen to the wayside as the country tackles the extensive rebuilding process. Yet if tensions are not adequately addressed, reducing animosity between ethnic groups becomes less and less feasible.

Communities have been profoundly impacted, in a negative way, by the discord between the Sinhalese and Tamil populations. The events and violence of the decades-long conflict are not easily undone or reconciled, as evidenced by the fact that a culture of violence is still very present.

Learning is an effective way to overcome the legacy of violence.

In the midst of the enduring hostility, there is an opportunity to foster unity among youth.

In Nuiwara Eliya, east of Colombo and about half-way across the island, HOPE International Development Agency is working with students to eradicate hatred and animosity among their ethnic groups and families.

Youth from all ethnic groups are participating. Opportunities for open and respectful discussion between students regarding ethnicity are woven into the process of helping young people learn basic skills that increase their employability, including languages, math, and practical skills such as sewing. Over the course of their education, youth are learning from each other and are connecting on a new level, the results of which are peace and understanding rather than conflict.

Young people are beginning to see humanity in each other, where before there was only hostility regarding their ethnicity. Timely, positive direction, as well as education, is enabling youth to be engaged in promoting non-violence, learning to work together, educating each other, and resisting cultural discourses that promote violence.

In meeting people’s practical needs we’re also meeting an equally important need - peace. 

Rebuilding Sri Lanka's social fabric continues to be a challenge. HOPE International Development Agency is committed to addressing the challenge of ethnic reconciliation and peace in whatever way we can.

In the face of a legacy of violence, our efforts sometimes feel like the proverbial drop in the bucket, yet what is a bucket of water but a multitude of drops?

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Water is dangerous to get and drink in Pachalum, Guatemala



Gathering water is a stressful and dangerous endeavor in Antonia’s community of Pachalum, in Guatemala’s impoverished El Quiché region.

Antonia, a 40-year old mother of four young children, can attest to the danger, “I was carrying my full water barrel and slipped on a rock, breaking my leg and my barrel”.

Other mothers in Pachalum worry as well, and for good reason.

“My children drink contaminated water,” says 25-year old Rubidia, knowing that there’s literally nothing she can do about it or the skin infections caused by the water they gather.

Catarina, a 30-year old mother, experiences chronic back pain from carrying heavy water containers every morning, some of which can weigh as much as 10 to 20 kilograms when full. Her bigger concern, however, is that her children are constantly sick from drinking the contaminated water from their current water hole.

HOPE International Development Agency is helping Antonia, Rubidia, and Catrina gain access to safe drinking water.

When the water system is complete, the safe water will be piped right into Pachalum, saving mothers, and their children, a lot of time and stress.

Their new community water source will make it possible for mothers to cook without fear that they water they are using could harm their children. Their children will be able to drink the water without fear of getting sick. The children will also be able to bathe more than once a week, and never have to worry about getting skin infections, like the ones that scar their bodies now.

If you’d like to help Antonia, Rubidia, and Catarina, please donate what you can today.