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Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Gifts of Hope Christmas Catalogue brings joy to the giver and hope to the receiver!




HOPE International Development Agency’s Gifts of Hope Christmas giving catalogue is full of gifts that will lift people out of poverty.

Each gift in this year's catalogue will bring hope to people in great need and joy to you as you give.

Give as many gifts as you wish. You can even give gifts on behalf of loved ones, friends, or co-workers. We'll send them a personal note, telling them about the gift and the give

Browse this year's Gifts of Hope giving catalogue.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

From arms to farms in Kauswagan, Philippines


  Creating a harvest of hope, one family at a time.
People living in places like Kauswagan, on the Philippine island of Mindanao, have suffered for decades.

Conflict, economic disparity and social strife, rather than peace and productivity, have been the defining features of the area which has a wide range of religions, cultures, and value systems.

Despite efforts to build peace in the area, conflict prevailed. When HOPE International Development Agency first asked how we could help, the common response was, “We can’t eat peace training”. A completely understandable response when you consider that nearly 80% of the people in the area lived in poverty and were constantly hungry because of conflict and instability.

To have peace basic needs have to be met

In 2010, HOPE International Development Agency began supporting peace through an integrated program that addresses the basic needs of families through a partnership focused on providing them with access to clean water and agricultural training while working with communities to understand and address the roots of conflict.

  Laying water pipe that will carry clean water to the community.

  Tilling the soil and growing food rather than participating in conflict.



Laying down weapons and picking up farm tools

At the same time, and as part of its transformation from conflict to peace, Kauswagan implemented an “arms to farms” program that provided opportunities for people involved in armed conflict to participate in a new way of life centered on farming rather than fighting.

The local government committed itself to creating and implementing initiatives relevant to the needs of everyone in the area, including those involved in conflict.

As a result, and over a period of time, nine rebel commanders and more than 100 of their men laid down their weapons, picked up farm tools, and embraced organic farming.

Finding a way to trust and prosper together

Years of distrust and skepticism were slowly set aside and today, former rebels are busy planting crops, raising livestock, and managing fish ponds that produce fish for the area.

The increase in the number of farmers in Kauswagan and the corresponding reduction in conflict, has helped reduce the poverty rate in the area from nearly 80 per cent to just below 48 per cent. A remarkable transformation!

Peace is well worth the effort

Bringing peace to areas like Kauswagan, where poverty and conflict have caused decades of suffering, is not easy to achieve. Addressing basic needs can be an important part of increasing trust and cooperation and decreasing conflict.

The effort and long-term commitment are well worth it when the result is peace and a significant reduction in poverty.

In fact, the results are so profound that Kauswagan is often visited by officials from other areas who want to discover how to bring peace and promote development in their areas.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Being thankful is a way of life for Sujon and his family

Family, friendship, and thankfulness, that’s what Canadians had an opportunity to experience this past Thanksgiving weekend.

Here at home, being thankful is most often reserved for days like Thanksgiving, but for Sujon and his family, being thankful is a daily occurrence in their home in southern Bangladesh.

Sujon was just 4-years-old when his mother left him, his two brothers, and father. Living in a constant state of extreme poverty was simply too much for Sujon’s mother.

In the years that followed, Sujon and his family continued to languish in poverty.

Despite his best efforts, Sujon’s father, a 3-wheel cart puller, struggled to earn enough income to keep his family fed and housed. The situation became so desperate that Sujon and his two brothers had to quit school and become day labourers.

One day, when Sujon was looking for daily labour work, he heard about HOPE International Development Agency and a program that provides small, ultra-low interest loans to help families, like his, improve their lives.

Within minutes of hearing of the exciting news Sujon ran off to find his father to tell him about the loan program. A short while later Sujon’s father applied for a small loan, and with the money he received he was able to buy a 3-wheel cart of his own and also begin cultivating rice.

Years have passed since Sujon’s father received the first small loan that began to transform his family from poor to self-reliant.

Today, Sujon is 17-years-old and much has changed. His father’s business continues to thrive, as it has for years. Sujon recently passed his high school exam and is preparing to continue his education at the next level and his brothers have achieved as well.

“My family is thankful for the support we received from HOPE International Development Agency. It made it possible for us to start a new life,” says Sujon, who hopes that other families can get the same kind of help that his family received so many years ago.

Nearly 40 Thanksgiving Days have passed since HOPE International Development Agency began helping the world’s poorest families, like Sujon’s, transform their lives, and we are thankful every day for each person who has received the help they needed.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Koshale is now a place of hope because of clean water

Our 6-part series about clean water in Koshale, Ethiopia, concludes with Werkinshe’s story.

Before clean water was available in the community of Koshale, women, including pregnant women like Werkinshe, who was 9-months pregnant at the time of this story, trekked up to 5-hours a day in search of water.

A dangerous journey
Their journey took them through dusty valleys and up incredibly steep paths best described as rock-strewn goat trails. The footing on the hillside trails was treacherous at best, especially in the rainy season.

Women, including expectant mothers, have been injured when they lost their footing in the muck and slippery rock that cover the trails during the seasonal rains. If a pregnant woman fell down the hillside there could be dire consequences for her unborn child.

A potentially tragic outcome
For expectant mothers, surviving the daily trek in search of clean water was only half of the battle. Giving birth in a community without enough water, let alone clean water, could be deadly for mother and child.

Clean water protects and nurtures life
The arrival of clean water in Koshale, via pipes that bring the water from a protected spring in the hills surrounding the community, means that women, including expectant mothers, can gather water from community taps, mere minutes from their homes.

The treacherous trek through the hills is no longer necessary. Women, especially expectant mothers, no longer worry about being injured or dying during the trek. Mother and baby survival rates have increased dramatically in Koshale as a result of clean water being readily available right in the community.



Werkinshe (shown above) and her baby will be among the first to benefit from having clean water near her home in Koshale. She will not have to worry that her baby will be infected with parasites when born because the community health worker will have plenty of clean, safe water on hand. And if more is needed, it’s just minutes away.

A new focus for Koshale
Having clean water available in Koshale is enabling families to transform their lives. Diseases that used to be brought to the community by contaminated water gathered from filthy ponds and streambeds in the hills, is no longer a threat.

Time, formerly spent gathering water, is now invested in growing more food, educating children, and improving life in the community. The worry, caused by not having clean water readily available, is gone and has been replaced by hope.

A child from Koshale summed it up best when she said, “We have no more sickness from water. Clean water is new life to us!”

What a rich reward to see these children healthy and happy. While this ends our series on Koshale, we know it is just the beginning for families in the community.

Read previous posts in this series:
Proper sanitation ensures that gains made in Koshale are not lost
Securing more than just a future with clean water
Being in one place makes all the difference
A place to call home
Changing lives in Koshale

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Typhoon Haiyan is long gone, but the devastation remains for millions of people in the Philippines



When Typhoon Haiyan departed the Philippines 11 months ago it left 16 million people devastated and 6,000 dead.

Today, the effects of Haiyan are still very present. Millions of Filipinos continue to struggle as they attempt to rebuild their lives after losing everything.

People like Nancy (shown above) and her husband Efren, parents of two young children, are among the families we are helping.

Nancy remembers the killer storm all too well.

“Our house just flew away,” recalls Nancy. “We were clinging to each other and praying that the storm would subside soon! It was like being inside a washing machine,” says Nancy, remembering the terror of having no way to escape the vicious storm.

Winds, gusting as high as 300 kilometers per hour, combined with torrential rain, and flash floods choked with debris, destroyed everything in storm’s path.

“At first we panicked. Then fear set in when we realized that nothing remained but the soaked, torn clothes on our backs. Within hours our children were hungry and this continued for days. We ate anything we could scavenge,” recalls Nancy.

The task is massive. Families, like Nancy and Efren’s, need to rebuild the homes, food supply, and livelihoods taken by the storm.

What’s Been Done
We began helping survivors the moment the storm left the Philippines. More than 58 tonnes of rice, 90,000 cans of sardines, tonnes of clean water, and emergency shelter kits have been provided, helping care for nearly 10,000 people in the months following the disaster.

What’s Happening Now
Our help continues today and will do so until as many families as possible have rebuilt their lives. In the coming months alone, we will be helping more than 6,000 families rebuild their homes, food supply, and livelihoods.

HOPE International Development Agency is providing housing repair kits that will enable families to repair their modest homes or, where needed, build new, sturdy homes.

Seeds, tools, and the training needed to create family vegetable gardens that will help families regain their food self-sufficiency are also being provided.

In addition, small, seaworthy fishing boats that will be shared by 3 families are being provided in order to help families rebuild their livelihoods.

During the killer storm Nancy and Efren prayed that they would survive.

Today, they, and other families not yet helped, are praying that a compassionate person will help them rebuild their lives and become self-reliant again.

Help a family in the Philippines as they struggle to recover from Typhoon Haiyan.