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Friday, August 21, 2015

New crisis emerging in Myanmar

Myanmar - August 21, 2015

A new crisis is emerging in the aftermath of Typhoon Komen, the huge storm that swept through Myanmar earlier this month.

The storm affected 1 million people and current estimates show that more than 700,000 acres of the 1.2 million acres of farmland flooded by the storm are damaged.

This is a big blow for farming families who rely on their crops for food and income. The next rice harvest is in jeopardy if they cannot restore their way of life and farm fields in the coming weeks.

HOPE International Development Agency is helping families in the aftermath of Typhoon Komen and we urgently need additional funds to meet to the enormous need.

Families need our help in order to avoid becoming unnecessarily dependent on food aid for months to come and taking on unaffordable debt in order to meet their basis household needs - both of which will draw them deeper into poverty.


Donate by phone at (toll-free) 1-866-525-HOPE(4673).

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Number of people affected by flooding in Myanmar rises to 1 million

Myanmar Update - 1 million people are now affected by widespread flooding in Myanmar and more help is urgently needed.

Concerns for the long-term food supply of families affected by the flooding and destruction continue to deepen as another 200,000 acres of farmland are now flooded.

In all, 1.2 million acres of farmland are currently under water, with 450,000 acres completely destroyed. The flooding is massive and has impacted all but 2 of the country’s 14 states.

One aid official in Myanmar says that people who are able to return to their homes are returning to nothing.

HOPE International Development Agency is continuing to help families affected by this terrible disaster by providing urgently needed items such as food, clean water, sanitation, hygiene, shelter, fodder for farm animals, and support for farms.

The number of people affected by the flooding has increased greatly and additional help is needed in order to help as many families as possible.


Donate by phone at (toll-free) 1-866-525-HOPE(4673).

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Survivors of Cyclone Komen need help right away

A woman with all that remains of her belongings.

Families in Myanmar were already coping with weeks of heavy rain when Cyclone Komen stormed into their lives earlier this week.

In addition to high winds, flash floods, and destruction on a massive scale, Cyclone Komen has also brought misery and suffering to the people of Myanmar, 70 percent of whom live on 2 dollars a day or less.

More than 300,000 people are affected. Nearly 1 million acres of farmland are submerged. Food and clean water are scarce to non-existent. Shelter is equally hard to find. Roads have vanished and rivers, normally used for transportation, continue to rage and remain choked with tons of debris.

“Flash flooding submerged my seven metre high, two-story home,” says one father whose family survived the torrent of water that tore through much of Myanmar earlier this week.

HOPE International Development Agency is raising funds to help families recover in the aftermath of the huge storm.

It costs $100 to help provide one family with what they need in order to recover from this terrible disaster. Your gift of $50, $75, $100, or more would be a blessing as it helps provide a family with urgently needed items such as food, clean water, sanitation, hygiene, shelter, fodder for their farm animals, and support for their farms.


Donate by phone at (toll-free) 1-866-525-HOPE(4673).

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Fall 2015 HOPE Film Premiere & Dinner events - join us as we celebrate 40 years and 20 million lives changed

Our story began 40 years ago when a few people in Canada came together to find ways to help the world’s poorest families lift themselves out of poverty.

This year, as we celebrate 40 years and 20 million lives changed, we invite you to join us at one of our Fall 2015 HOPE International Development Agency Film Premiere & Dinner events in British Columbia and Alberta this fall.

You will enjoy a wonderful meal, the company of friends, live music, silent and live auctions, and have an important opportunity to transform lives in Cambodia through your giving.

This year’s film, shot on location in Cambodia earlier in 2015, gives you an intimate glimpse into the lives of families living in rural Cambodia. You will also see the amazing work that is being done by these families to lift themselves out of poverty.

Please join us this fall for what promises to be a memorable evening, for you and the families we are helping in Cambodia.

Look for a HOPE Film Premiere & Dinner event in your area.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Hope overcomes uncertainty

Lahtaw standing in her vegetable garden, the source of her family's self-sufficiency.

Life reaches a new level of difficulty when the uncertainty associated with leaving everything behind seems less daunting than staying where you are.

Such is the case for families in Myanmar’s conflict-ridden northern Shan and Kachin states. The two states are embroiled in an ongoing conflict between ethnic groups and the government-led military of Myanmar.

Lahtaw and her family of nine were forced to leave everything behind as they fled the conflict in their area. Their journey, fraught with uncertainty, concluded when they arrived at the Hpum Lum Yang camp for displaced persons.

“When we arrived in Hpum Lum Yang, we had nothing. No land, no money, and no food,” says Lahtaw, recalling what it was like when she and her family first set foot in the camp three years ago.

Soon after, however, things began to change for Lahtaw and her family as they received help and starting building a new life within the relative safety of the camp.

“We were provided with a piece of land, seeds, and tools to start a backyard vegetable garden,” says Lahtaw. “We planted dill, mustard, long bean, tomato, parsley, eggplant cucumber, cabbage, and cauliflower, and had a good harvest!”

Lahtaw and her family also learned how to make organic fertilizer and natural insecticides for their garden, eliminating the need for chemical fertilizers and insecticides, while at the same time, improving the quality of the soil and saving money.

“Since we started gardening, we have produced enough food to meet our needs. Our family is healthy and we are saving money too because we no longer buy vegetables from the market,” says Lahtaw.

Lahtaw and her family, now self-sufficient, won’t be returning to their original home any time soon given that the conflict that forced them to leave shows no signs of subsiding. But with the help they have received thus far, they are a building a new life in the camp. A life that is full of hope and significantly less uncertainty.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Creating resilience among farming families in Muzaffargarh, Pakistan

When the floodwater receded, both the land and its people were scarred.

It was early September of 2014. The monsoon rains had arrived in Pakistan and were unusually heavy. In the region of Muzaffargarh, small creeks transformed into rushing torrents. Rivers and canals, swollen well beyond anything anyone had seen in a long while, overflowed their banks, enveloping everything in their path.

The destruction was on a scale approaching the unimaginable. Entire fields of rice, maize, vegetables, and sugar cane vanished, buried under water and mud – and just days before the harvest! Planting the next crop, a type of wheat popular in the region, was impossible. The torrent had ensured that nothing could be planted for weeks to come. Many homes, animal sheds, and seed storage buildings fell victim to brute force of the floodwater.
Meeting with flood-affected families to assess the damage.

Restoration for families and their farmland

HOPE International Development Agency sought out the poorest of the poor affected by the devastation in Muzaffargarh. The generosity of HOPE supporters made it possible for flood-affected families to rehabilitate their land and replant crops as soon as possible. It also restored a sense of hope and normalcy amidst the upheaval.

At the time, Noreen Mai, a mother struggling in the aftermath of the flood said, “The flood destroyed all of our stored food and my family is facing serious problems. But due to this support, my family will overcome this situation.”

Improving the long-term outlook for farming families

Beyond the work of meeting the needs of flood-affected families in the weeks and months following the disaster, HOPE has been helping families learn new skills and pool their resources. Both of these initiatives make the families, and their communities, more resilient – a crucial aspect of life in a region frequented by natural disasters.

HOPE has also helped form, train, and support community groups in Muzaffargarh and four other neighboring districts. The work with the community groups continues, helping them further increase their skills, knowledge, and ability to work together and with local government in order to access additional resources. In addition, the poorest of the poor among farmers are being supported in their efforts to start new farm-based income enterprises, including village-based food processing.

Natural disasters, like flooding, will strike again and threaten to undermine the courage and tenacity of farmers in Pakistan. But through the support of generous friends of HOPE, farmers in Muzaffargarh are using this respite from disaster to strengthen their resiliency, overcome the challenges they face, and prepare for future challenges.

A new crop and new hope for families who lost everything during the flooding of 2014.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Clean water is on the horizon for the people of Muyange, Burundi

There are two obstacles standing between the 3,400 people in Muyange village and a life-long supply of clean water; 7 kilometres of rugged terrain, and the funds needed to complete the work.

Muyange is located in Bubanza, a rugged region of Burundi, an impoverished country in the northwest of Africa.

The people of Bubanza are among the poorest people in Burundi and suffer greatly because they don’t have clean water. High rates of disease and death, especially among children, are evidence that clean water is crucial.

HOPE International Development Agency has been helping people in the Bubanza region gain access to clean water. So far, 2,700 people in three villages have clean water.

The challenge today is to raise the funds needed to pipe clean water to Muyange, a village 7 kilometers away from the main water spring that supplies the other three villages.

Supplies, like water pipe, connectors, and other materials used in the construction of water tap basins in the village need to be sent to Muyange so that the water system can be completed. In addition, people also need to learn how to care for their new water system and their health.

Having an abundant supply of clean water, right in their village, will ensure that the 3,400 people in Muyange, especially the women and children, will not be forced to trek 10 kilometres every day in search of water, nearly all of which is teeming with life-threatening diseases.

Ndazina, a village chief from Muyange knows the incredible impact clean water will have on his village and he shared his heartfelt thoughts with us recently, “We told you of our needs, and thank God that you listened”.

If you'd like to help ensure that supplies, like water pipe, connectors, and other materials used in the construction of water tap basins in the village, are sent to Muyange so that the water system can be completed, you can give online today.

Everyone is excited about completing the water system - even the children are helping out!

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Nepal Earthquake Update

HOPE International Development Agency continues to work among survivors of two massive earthquakes that struck Nepal in late April and mid-May 2015.

Finding the most vulnerable
As with all HOPE International Development Agency efforts to help people in need, we seek out the most vulnerable. In Nepal, we are working in the villages of Sipapokhare and Sunkhani, both of which are located in remote, mountainous regions that are difficult to access. Most of the people in Sipapokhare and Sunkhani are considered outcasts by other societies in the region and were highly marginalized before the two earthquakes shattered their lives.

Ensuring the most vulnerable survive
Realizing that people in Sipapokhare and Sunkhani would struggle to survive in the aftermath, HOPE established earthquake relief camps to provide temporary shelter materials, food, and non-food essentials. So far, more than a 1,000 people have received items such as heavy-duty tarpaulins, emergency food rations, clothing, and hygiene products.

Helping people rebuild
In addition to supplying people with important essentials needed in the aftermath of the two major disasters, HOPE is also helping the most vulnerable rebuild homes that were damaged or destroyed by the earthquakes. The new homes are being constructed with locally available materials, and people in the villages are participating in the clearing of earthquake debris as well as the construction process - giving them a sense of ownership and hope amidst all the destruction and loss.

You are changing lives!
Thank you for helping families in Sipapokhare and Sunkhani restore what was taken by the two earthquakes. There is much more to do given the size of the disasters.

If you would like to help further, you can donate here.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Restoring hope and dignity for families in Mynamar

It will soon be five years since families in Mynamar’s conflict-ridden North Shan and Kachin states fled their homes in search of safety. The camps families currently inhabit were never meant to be permanent, but rather, a safe respite from the violence that plagues the region.

Life in the camps is tough on children and parents alike. A high proportion of people in the camps are farming families who are used to being self-reliant rather than dependent. And while the families recognize they need aid in order to survive, what they really want is to be self-reliant again and regain the dignity stolen from them by the conflict that surrounds them.

It is hard to maintain a sense of dignity while being dependent on outside support for food, shelter, and other aspects of life. Mothers and fathers do whatever they can to make themselves available for any type of odd job that comes their way, but odd jobs are in short supply and not always available, leaving parents and their families vulnerable.

HOPE International Development Agency is helping ensure that children living in the camps can continue their education are not be lost to poverty because of the conflict (see recent post).

We are also working with parents who are having a very difficult time providing for their families. Skills training and assistance are being provided to help parents enhance their camp-based livelihoods. These initiatives reduce dependency, enhance dignity, and build up the capabilities of families.

In camps where agricultural land is available, communal farming tool sets, including rakes, hoes, watering cans, have been provided in order to give families what they need in order to till the soil and grow their own food. Families also collect local seeds, including dill, mustard, long bean, tomato, parsley, eggplant, and cucumber, and share them amongst themselves so that seeds do not have to be purchased. Aside from saving money, using local seeds enables families to collect and save their own seeds for subsequent crop plantings.

In camps where agriculture is not possible due to space constraints, we are helping families establish savings and loans groups.

Local staff work with group members to develop viable business plans, provide financial management training, and create group rules to manage savings and loans. Each group receives a cash grant to provide low-interest short-term loans to their group members. Small businesses created so far include small vegetable shops and grocery stores, pig raising, noodle shops, and handicraft enterprises.

To date, 100% of the small loans given to group members have been paid back to their groups, enabling the funds provided through this initiative to be used many times over to help even more families attain self-sufficiency.

Income earned through new businesses is helping parents send their children to school, buy nutritious food, and make repairs to their modest dwellings.

Families living in the camps are regaining their dignity and a sense of hope, as well as skills for the future when they return to their home villages.

A savings and loan group member tends her small grocery stall.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Seeing past the statistic to the person

You would think that a United Nations (UN) statistic as troubling as 4,500 children dying every day because of water related diseases would catch everyone’s attention. Certainly it has not, as a worldwide water crisis continues. Perhaps it would, however, if more focus was placed on the stories of the children hidden in the statistic rather than the statistic itself.

While the UN statistic speaks to the scale of the problem, it is the stories of the children, hidden in the statistic, that speak to the humanity of the problem.

Children in La China, a rural community located in the rugged hills of the Dominican Republic, used to be numbered among those hidden in the grim UN statistic. It was their story, not just a statistic, which caught our attention at HOPE International Development Agency and brought them into our work and lives.

To help the children of La China, the entire community needed to be helped. HOPE International Development Agency worked in partnership with the people of La China, helping them gain access to clean water, right in their community. The abundant supply of clean water that will flow into the community at the conclusion of water system’s construction next month will not only provide safe water for drinking, but also a reliable source of water that will be used to irrigate vegetable garden plots and small crop fields.

The clean water, and all the benefits it brings - not the least of which is eliminating the loss of life among children - will enable families to restore and maintain their health.

Much can be accomplished in the lives of the poor when we focus on their story, rather than just a statistic which, by nature, can overshadow and obscure what really matters – the people who need our help.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Ensuring that children in Myanmar are not lost to poverty because of conflict

In Myanmar, newly constructed classrooms are helping children lead a normal life, despite everything around them having been turned upside down.

Children and their parents have spent the last four years avoiding the violence of a reignited conflict in North Shan and Kachin States between ethnic minorities and the government-led military of Myanmar. The conflict has forced families to leave their homes and flee to the relative calm of temporary camps.

The camps were never intended to be permanent, but with each passing day their permanence becomes more likely given that the conflict shows no signs of subsiding soon and there is nowhere else families can go. While the camps do offer respite from the conflict and a measure of safety, they are very challenging places to live.

Families, many of whom are young and headed by women, struggle to find ways to earn the modest amount of income required to meet their daily needs. In some of the camps, children have not been able to go to school for years because there are no educational facilities, school supplies, or teachers.

Conflict has stolen homes, communities, education, and stability from children. And while HOPE International Development Agency is addressing, in other ways, the needs of families affected by the armed conflict raging throughout the countryside, we are also working to restore the lives of children by providing educational facilities, materials, teachers, and teacher training right in the camps.

Education cannot wait for more stable times. If children do not receive an education in their early years, then they, among their generation, will be lost to poverty.

HOPE International Development Agency donors have helped construct four more early childhood education centres. In addition, teaching materials and supplies have been provided to 13 existing schools and centres. Teachers have also received training, an especially important aspect of the work considering that many of the people doing the teaching do not have formal training.

Putting pencils in the hands of children, supplies in their school bags, and teachers in their classrooms does not solve the conflict that continues to rage outside the camp. But for children who are growing up in the relative safety inside the camps, education is helping give them a sense of normalcy, stability, structure, and hope for the future.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Standing alongside families in South Sudan

When the fourth anniversary of South Sudan’s independence arrives in a few weeks, it will not be easy to find something to celebrate.

In the years since its founding in July 2011, South Sudan has managed to fall back into old habits that plague much of this region of Africa: ethnic conflict, corruption, and willful brutality against anyone who merely tries to live their life and not pick a side in conflicts driven by the aforementioned.

On its fourth birthday, the fledgling African nation will be home to 3.7 million people without enough to eat on a daily basis, 50,000 chronically malnourished children, and nearly 1 million people living in limbo, having fled their homes for fear of being killed or maimed in the crossfire between warring ethnic groups.

During all of this conflict and chaos, HOPE International Development Agency donors have stood alongside families forced to live in limbo. They have given generously to ensure that families displaced or affected by conflict have clean water to drink. They have supported education programs for children, ensuring that precious childhood learning years are not lost to conflict. And, they have helped families with food support, and more importantly, enabled them to grow their own food, despite being displaced from their homes and lands.

So, when the fourth anniversary of the world’s youngest nation arrives in a few weeks, we will celebrate thousands of lives saved and changed, while at the same time, being very mindful that a lot more needs to be done because thousands of people have yet to be helped.