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Thursday, February 26, 2015

40 years of helping the world's poorest families

“What is past is prologue.”
William Shakespeare, The Tempest

As we reflect on the past 40 years and what has been accomplished through the commitment of so many supporters of HOPE International Development Agency, we also reflect on who we are as an organization.

An obvious focus of our organization revolves around the attribute of hope - it’s in our name, after all.

Dr. Gordon Livingston, a psychiatrist who has studied human happiness for more than 30 years, says there are three things that make people happy: meaningful work, meaningful relationships, and a sense of hope for the future.

While the first two points seem relatively straightforward, we reflect the third. How do we find hope for the future?

Dr. Livingston points out that we must reflect on the past objectively, and not romanticize it with too much nostalgia. Nostalgia is the enemy of hope, tricking us to believe that our best days are gone. If we have a realistic perspective of history, recognizing both the triumphs and challenges, we open up possibility for change. We look forward to our best days being ahead, not behind.

What a poignant reminder for us as supporters, volunteers, and staff of HOPE International Development Agency. We do not forget what is behind. We value the lessons we have learned over the past 40 years.

No period in our history is superior to another. Each period of time unfolds with its own merits, as we struggle to help the poor in different unique contexts. We wrestle with the world we live in. And at the same time, we grow in our understanding of what helping the poor means as we continue to strive forward, looking to the possibilities of change for so many disadvantaged communities around the world and to the changes we experience ourselves as history unfolds.

What is past is prologue. Our past forms who we are today as the next story of extending compassion to the neglected poor unfolds.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

A little encouragement and help goes a long way!

Farming families in the Ubangi region of Africa’s Democratic Republic of Congo have been through a lot lately.

A difficult growing season, and fear caused by Ebola as it spread across West Africa, made life very difficult this past year. Yet despite the difficulties, the families thrived - growing nearly five times more corn than usual because of the training, tools, seeds, and other support they’ve received.

A recent event, however, has shaken their confidence. A catastrophic barge accident, caused by a massive windstorm, sent one-third of their hard-earned corn harvest to the bottom of the Congo River. Had the corn reached its destination it would have earned the families four times more than if sold locally.

You can help these families recover from their loss, increase the amount of corn they plant and harvest, and significantly increase their income this year.

A portion of your gift helps provide low interest loans, immediately after harvest, to cover the cost of transporting some of the corn to the big markets where it fetches four times as much money as it does at local markets. The corn that isn’t transported to the big markets is sold in local markets or kept for personal consumption, ensuring that the community and families benefit locally as well.

Growing and selling more corn, at a fair but higher price, is crucial to the success of families in Ubangi as they work their way out of poverty.



Thursday, February 12, 2015

Grannies and Gardens: Taking steps to improve resiliency for victims of HIV/AIDS in South Africa

Today, approximately 35 million people are currently living with HIV worldwide. Since the 1980s, the fight against the HIV/AIDS pandemic in Africa has been at the heart of global development efforts.

Although prevalence rates have remained relatively stable since the early 2000s, at nearly 18%, South Africa has one of the highest prevalence rates in the world. What’s more, in the province of KwaZulu Natal, where HOPE International Development Agency has worked since 1981, the prevalence rate is dramatically higher. The most recent available data has assessed KwaZulu Natal’s HIV prevalence rate at 39% – double the national average.

The crisis in KwaZulu Natal is exacerbated by the fact that roughly half of the province’s 10.2 million inhabitants live in poverty. Lack of access to proper nutrition and healthcare increase the likelihood that those who are afflicted with HIV/AIDS will fall victim to complications associated with the disease.

Sadly, many who die leave children behind. These children are usually cared for by relatives, often elderly, who are themselves deeply impoverished and struggle to meet the children’s nutritional needs.

Over the past four years, our work in the province has taken the form of providing direct food aid for 40 vulnerable families headed by elderly women (“grannies”) with no other means to support the 120 orphaned children they care for.

In 2014, we helped these 40 grannies establish gardens in two communities in the township of Pietermaritzburg to significantly increase the fresh and nutritious food available to them and the orphaned children under their care.

Fresh spinach is now readily available and cabbage is a staple
With the support of their communities, grannies like Ma Thembi have begun gardening activities that are not only improving general health and nutrition, they are also increasing individual self-sufficiency and reducing community reliance on direct food aid.

Ma Thembi showing the successful lettuce harvest
Even the children are excited to help Ma Thembi in the garden
Through sustainable gardening activities, entire communities are now working alongside the needy, helping to reduce existing stigmas associated with poverty and HIV/AIDS.

In Pietermaritzburg, South Africa, communities are coming together to address both the physical and social needs of those most affected by the HIV/AIDS pandemic.

Over the long-term, these important activities will lay a foundation for the empowerment, education, and transformation of these communities by increasing their independence and enhancing their resiliency against future hardships.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

40 years is cause for celebration!


We’re celebrating 40 years and 20 million lives changed and you’re invited!

Join us at one of our spring 2015 HOPE International Development Agency 40th Year Celebration Film Premiere & Dinner events in British Columbia, Manitoba, Ontario, and Nova Scotia.

You’ll enjoy a wonderful meal, the company of friends, live music, and an opportunity to transform lives in Cambodia through your giving.

This year’s film, shot on location in Cambodia, will give you an intimate glimpse into the lives of families living in rural Cambodia. You’ll also see the amazing work that's being done by Cambodia’s poorest families as they lift themselves out of poverty.

Look for events in your province this April and May and plan to join us as we celebrate 40 years and 20 million lives changed.