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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.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Telling the story that matters

The story of HOPE International Development Agency began when a few people here in Canada came together to find ways to help the world’s poorest families lift themselves out of poverty.

The idea was simple. Rather than just giving people what they needed to survive, why not also provide the knowledge, tools, training, and support needed to create their own solutions to poverty.

Our story, however, is not ours at all. It belongs to the poorest of the poor.

The poorest of the poor are the authors of our story, and a new chapter is written every time a person or family becomes free from the soul-crushing poverty that has held them captive for generations. In addition to the poorest of the poor, compassionate people here at home are also the authors our story.

The generosity and faithfulness of people here at home has enabled HOPE International Development Agency to help 20 million of the world’s poorest people transform their lives over the past 40 years.

The support for the poorest of the poor provided by friends of HOPE is best expressed by the outcome of their giving in 2014 – more than 820,000 people finding their way out of poverty!

Learn more by viewing our most recent annual report.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Approaching monsoon season threatens to worsen the situation for survivors of the double disaster in Nepal

It has been a race against time since the first massive earthquake struck Nepal on April 25, killing more than 8,000 people, injuring 17,000, and leaving 600,000 displaced from their homes. The pace quickened even further in the aftermath of a second earthquake that struck the country on May 12.

Now, the monsoon season is just a week away, and it's arrival will make life even more challenging for survivors.

HOPE International Development Agency is working to help survivors recover as quickly as possible.

The need in Nepal, one of the poorest nations in the world, is staggering.

Estimates put the damage at $10 billion dollars – nearly half of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP). Rebuilding roads, bridges, and homes damaged or destroyed by the two earthquakes could cost up to $5 billion dollars.

Help is the best remedy for broken hearts and lives

The need for hope amidst all of the devastation - especially when you consider that 600,000 people have been displaced from their homes and thousands have been killed or injured - is equally staggering.

The emotional toll that accompanies this level of destruction can only be remedied by providing as much help as quickly as we can.

Keeping pace with the need is challenging as survivors remain in a race against time to recover and rebuild their lives.

The Government of Canada, in an effort to increase the impact donors can have in the aftermath of this double disaster, is continuing to match all eligible donations, dollar-for-dollar, but this opportunity will ends on Monday, May 25, 2015.


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

(Learn more about the Government of Canada's donation match).

Thursday, May 14, 2015


A second massive earthquake struck Nepal this week and survivors, already reeling from the first killer earthquake just weeks ago, are fearful and hurting.

More donations are urgently needed to help survivors of the two massive earthquakes.

Work continues in an effort to save lives in the aftermath of the first 7.8 magnitude earthquake that devastated the nation and a second one that struck this week. Sadly, the death toll has climbed to 8,000 people. More than 17,000 are injured, and 600,000 people have been displaced from their homes.

A donation of $50, $75, $100 or even more if you are able, given the growing need in the aftermath of the most recent earthquake this week, will ensure that devastated families can begin rebuilding their lives as soon as possible. The Government of Canada, recognizing the enormous need, is matching all eligible donations dollar-for-dollar up until May 25, 2015 (Learn more about the Government of Canada's donation match.).

Please give what you can so we can help as many survivors as possible in the aftermath of these two terrible tragedies.


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

Thursday, May 7, 2015

In San Jose de Ocoa, health care is as important as clean water

 Dr. Castillo, a colleague of Dr. Arias, with some of the donated medical supplies.

Decades have passed since HOPE International Development Agency began helping impoverished families in the mountainous region of San Jose de Ocoa in the Dominican Republic.

Much has been done over the years to improve the lives of thousands upon thousands of families through education, training, and infrastructure work such as rural roads, schools, community centers, latrines, clean water, and simple irrigation systems that increase food production.

Yet the benefits of all this work, including freedom from poverty, can depreciate rapidly if families become sick or injured and medical treatment is not available or unsafe.

Time away from the farm field or classroom, due to sickness or injury, can quickly turn a family’s situation of gradual improvement into one of desperation.

In essence, health care is as important as clean water, food, education, and income.

Helping families in San Jose de Ocoa stay healthy is crucial if they are to become, and remain, free from poverty. HOPE International Development Agency supports the health of families by providing medicines and medical supplies that enable doctors and health workers to diagnose and treat ailments in safe and sanitary manner.

Juana Arias, a doctor working at the region’s main hospital that serves hundreds of patients each day, is one of the medical professionals that is able to provide services safely and effectively because of the medicines and medical supplies received through HOPE International Development Agency.

Every day, Dr. Arias helps mothers deliver their babies safely, whether naturally or by caesarian section. In one day alone, Dr. Arias performed three cesarean operations, including one for Elisa, a teacher and proud mother of newborn Fredalisa. Without the drapes, gloves, needles, and other basic medical supplies provided by HOPE International Development Agency for the maternity ward, Dr. Arias would not be able to perform these procedures as safely, because the hospital does not always receive enough supplies from the government.

The government of the Dominican Republic is committed to providing health care in rural and remote areas. However, it is a struggle to keep the clinics and hospitals stocked with basic medicines and supplies. This means that good health care is not always available to families. If there are no examination gloves or other supplies and medicines, patients are often required to purchase these items and bring them to the clinic in order to receive treatment. Unfortunately, the patients most in need cannot always afford the supplies or medicines and their injury or illness goes untreated.

HOPE International Development Agency is continuing to partner with communities to help maintain and improve health. By supporting the health care system in a key way, other efforts, such as education, food production, and improving incomes will continue to flourish.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

NEPAL EARTHQUAKE - Helping survivors recover and rebuild their lives as soon as possible

Donations are urgently needed to help survivors of the killer earthquake in Nepal.

Efforts are underway to save lives in Nepal in the aftermath of a 7.8 magnitude earthquake that has devastated the nation. So far, the death toll has climbed to more than 5,000 people. Thousands more are injured, and nearly 450,000 people have been displaced from their homes.

The long-term implications of this tragic disaster are frightening in this impoverished nation.

We are asking for your help today so that we can begin helping families recover and rebuild their lives, even as disaster relief efforts continue.

A donation of $50, $75, $100 or even more if you are able, given the enormous need, will ensure that families devastated by the earthquake can begin rebuilding their lives as soon as possible. The Government of Canada, recognizing the enormous need, is matching all eligible donations dollar-for-dollar up until May 25, 2015 (Learn more about the Government of Canada's donation match.).

Please give what you can so we can help as many survivors as possible in the aftermath of this terrible tragedy.


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

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Alem's Journey

Alem Alazar, a dear friend of HOPE and former Commissioner of Ethiopia's Water Resources Commission, shares his personal journey in this poem, "On The Move".

On The Move

Childhood Journey

My first journey that I recall,
Happened before I was aged four,
A joyful trip for mom and me,
Eager as I was my father to see,
Leaving his native village in the north,
We moved to his new home far in the south,
To live happily in one house,
A family united for ever at last,
Forgetting the hard days of the past,
A child’s wish came true,
A move that brought me a break thru,
Under God’s wing and in his guidance,
Healthy I grew in lasting sustenance.

Moving Thru Maturity
Learning to succeed aspiring for better,
Went to study more and moved on further,
Into the south country deep to its center,
Commenced a future of cherishing water,
Precious and essential for life so ever,
A divine gift requiring our care,
A scarce commodity in many dry regions,
Where drought and famine regularly happen,
Resulting disaster for millions that suffer,
Thousands perishing in saddening manner,
Desiring to assist in lessening the pains,
Determined and committed for community gains,
Acquired the skills and lead several teams,
Searched for water, got it near and clean for users,
Managed it well and taught about it to several others,
For three decades provided service,
Until hard times of no peace no justice,
When one must depart for personal safety,
And move on forward looking for security.

From Nairobi to Vancouver & Beyond
Stateless refuge unsure of the coming,
Transit by Kenya to a new beginning,
In western Canada beautiful Vancouver,
Happily resettled hopeful of the future,
My family intact all of us together,
But I still remain mindful of water,
A dear commodity to the poor near or far,
Everyone and everywhere mutually belonging,
Prepared and willing in generous giving,
What one knows and cares for the good of passing,
To fulfill my duty and purpose in life,
Even in hard situations continued to strive,
In dry or wet regions fittingly doing,
What is good and worthy so real in meaning,
A two-decade mission carried out from here,
Completing works in regions that are poor,
Closing the finals of the field work motions,
But remain active in community functions,
Benefiting my being in leisure-most actions,
Still will keep on rolling in the water-rich BC,
Respecting habitat in all its lands and seas,
Enjoying the beauty and cherishing the essence,
Of the province blessed in natural presence,
Glory and honor to the utmost enabler,
Who made it possible for me to reach so far.

Friday, April 10, 2015

2015 HOPE Film Premiere & Dinner in Vancouver is just one week away!

A new chapter will be written in the life of HOPE International Development Agency and the lives of impoverished families in Cambodia one week from today when friends of HOPE gather in Vancouver for our 40th Anniversary Celebration 2015 Film Premiere & Dinner at the Vancouver Convention Centre.

You’re invited to join us and 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, gives 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.

HOPE International Development Agency
2015 Film Premiere & Dinner

Friday Evening, April 17, 2015
5:30pm Reception & 6:45pm Dinner
Vancouver Convention Centre (West Building)
1055 Canada Place, Vancouver, British Columbia

For more information, and to reserve your tickets, please call us at 1-604-525-5481. Ask for Jet Takaoka (ext. 19) or John King (ext. 11).

Not in Vancouver? 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.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

The community of Midh Ranjah works together to reduce suffering and vulnerability in the wake of flooding

In September 2014, the Chennab River in the Sargodha district of Punjab, Pakistan, wreaked havoc on hundreds of villages. The river overflowed its banks and flooded hundreds of acres of farmland.

Farmers watched in horror as the murky water flooded their crops and destroyed their main source of livelihood. The flood pushed the already poor families further into extreme poverty as they lost everything they had, including their homes.

Farming families were devastated. And in the midst of all this suffering, support from the government was insufficient to compensate the families for their losses.

Finding hope

Thanks to the generosity of Canadians, HOPE International Development Agency was able to partner with a community in Midh Ranjha and provide them with emergency help and supplies.

In response to the offer of help, the community formed a relief committee made up of community leaders, farmers, religious leaders, laborers, and government workers to determine the best way to distribute the emergency support and relief to community members, especially those most in need.

The committee identified the most vulnerable members of their community, such as women that are widows or have very small land holdings, and women with large families but only one income source. These families were truly the most vulnerable, uncertain as to where they would find their next meal in the wake of the flood. The community worked together to assemble and distribute ration packages of ghee, sugar, flour, rice, tea, onion, lentils, matches, salt, and chilies to these families.

The community had found a way to help the most vulnerable among them. And the recipients of this help were both overjoyed and amazed. None of them had ever been given this type of support.

The support provided not only met the immediate needs of the most vulnerable but also started the community on its journey of recovery. Equally importantly, especially for the women in the community, the support showed them that someone cared enough to give this support, and their own community cared enough to make sure the women received the help they so urgently needed.