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Thursday, April 17, 2014

@runforwater visits Ethiopia

This past month, a group of eight teachers, one student and 2 society members of the Run for Water embarked on a journey to Ethiopia to visit some of our projects that they support. We could not be more grateful for all that they to do bring clean water to families in Ethiopia. It’s exciting for them to have the opportunity to visit the families they’ve touched.

The team visited three communities: one that had a completed water system, one with a project that is set to be complete in the next few weeks, and one that is going to be underway shortly.

The Run for Water team have spent years raising funds so that families in Ethiopia can have access to clean water and the opportunity to transform their lives.

The pipeline they’ve funded that’s soon to be completed will provide clean water for more than 2,000 people. They were able to see just how close it is to reaching the village, and the excitement of everyone involved as the pipe stretches further each day.

(L) Original, unprotected water source  (R) New, disease-free water source

Later on this year, the village of Yella will also be getting a pipeline starting from this fresh water source that will be come down from an altitude of 9,000ft.

This clean water will mean an enormous difference in the lives of thousands of people – such a simple thing as clean water can absolutely transform lives. It will free up hours everyday currently spent fetching water and it will improve overall health as it’s a clean source, free of bacteria.

That means an opportunity to focus on making more income. It means children going to school. It means families that are strong and independent.

The team had an amazing experience and they return to Canada more inspired and motivated than ever to keep fighting for families that need clean water. Again, thank you to Run for Water for being a part of this incredible work and for their ongoing fight to bring clean water to families in Ethiopia.

Learn more about Run For Water and upcoming events.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Back to self-reliance in the mountains of Honduras

After decades of suffering and struggle, indigenous Lenca families in rural Honduras are returning self-reliance with the help of an initiative that provides the resources and training families need in order to transform their lives.

Becoming self-reliant in rural Honduras, the second poorest country in Central America, is a major challenge, especially if you're a Lenca family forced to the margins of society. Most Lenca families live, if you can call it that, on less than $2 a day. Malnutrition is a major problem and children under the age of five are especially at risk.

The initiative provides training that enables Lenca families to grow enough food to sustain themselves as well as set up small businesses raising and selling fish, pigs, and chickens. Families also learn how to feed their fish, pigs, and chickens in a manner that doesn’t damage the local environment.

Visit to learn more about the initiative and how you can help.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Meet Kokota Marie and her husband

Kokota Marie and her husband live in Gbatikombo, a rural village in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. They have four children and are incredibly happy together, through thick and thin.

In 2012, Kokota Marie and her husband harvested just 3 sacks of corn on their tiny farm. Some they kept for themselves and the rest they sold for $10. Imagine sustaining a family of 6 on just $10, or for that matter, even $50 or $100. It’s difficult to fathom how any family could survive on such a meager amount of income.

Sadly, their situation is not unique. Millions of families wake up to face the same problem every day – too few resources and too little income.

Thankfully, their situation has changed for the better. Kokota Marie and her husband are part of growing number of families who are transforming their lives through our “Farmers to Markets” initiative in their area.

Last year, their participation in our initiative resulted in a bountiful harvest of 34 huge sacks of corn, 25 of which were transported to the big market in Kinshasa where they fetched $50 per sack, earning a total of $1,250 in income! 

Prior to participating in our “Farmers to Markets” initiative, Kokota Marie and her husband would have never considered selling their harvests in Kinshasa - it’s too challenging, too far, and too expensive. Yet each of these barriers has been removed through their participation in our cooperative-based initiative. Selling harvests in Kinshasa is now a regular practice for everyone involved in the cooperative, as is earning significantly more income.

It took agricultural training, micro-loans for tools and seed, and a group of farmers to come together to support one another in making positive change. It also took you and the support you provide through your giving. Thank you for making all this possible.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

It’s people who drive lasting change

Every week we read in the news about new inventions that promise to drastically change the quality of life for the poor. Many of them raise millions of dollars in support because they’re innovative and exciting, yet they often fall short of ever reaching the very people they aim to help.

Sadly, those dollars could have been used to alleviate poverty through simple, effective methods that create lasting change. At HOPE International Development Agency, we focus our work on:
Conscientious, People-Driven Solutions.

Does that mean that we never use new technology? No. It means that every solution we develop is tailored first for the people that we’re partnering with – the people who we’ve committed our lives to working with.

The end result is that rather than simply running projects, we end up developing lasting relationships with the communities who we partner with. We don’t just show up, dig a well and leave – we know the people and we’re invested in them creating lives free from poverty.
When our solutions are people-driven, we cannot afford to fail.

Failure couldn't have been an option when we first met 9 year old Lidiya in Ethiopia, or Baagan Bibi and her family in Pakistan, or Ana in Guatemala. If we had, it would have meant losing the people who had now become a part of our lives. Each person we partner with touches our hearts and becomes another reason that we keep fighting to alleviate poverty in the developing world.

At the end of the day, we’re about people. There are many different tools and methods involved in each of the projects that we run, but at the center of it all are the people that we work alongside. Without them, nothing is possible.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Visiting families in Bangalore, India

Rainbow is one of our colleagues, but more importantly, she is a friend of the poor. Recently she decided that she needed to visit our friends in India and get an update on the work being done. These are some of her thoughts while on the ground:

"I arrived at the village we were working in to red-carpet fanfare. Better than red carpets, actually. More like, ornate hand-strung garlands of flowers around my neck (I think I collected about 10 of them when all was said and done), handfuls of fresh flower petals being showered on me with each step, women and children grabbing me by the hand and leading me through their village, ‘come and see!!’, a score of drummers enthusiastically banging out, ‘WELCOME TO OUR HOME!’ in roaring, thunderous rhythm. 

And while a whole village looks on, I am handed scissors to cut the ribbon of newly constructed homes…and given a coconut to smash on the front step, as is tradition, before everyone erupts in cheers and celebration again. 

I was only in India for a week. I met with dozens of women and their families in only a few days.

My encounters with each person I met were pretty brief. But in some ways, the time with each person didn’t need to be long, to know that we are in it together, declaring their worth, celebrating their dignity. To know that, with tears, fears, and the sweat of both our brows together, we’ve been moving together out of destitution, poverty, and binding debt, into something more beautiful and flourishing. They were not strangers. I’ve been working “with” them, each of them, for the last four years, advocating on their behalf, receiving their photos and stories of progress, packaging them into appeals and updates for supporters, transferring support to new families as others reach self-sufficiency. Meanwhile they've been doing the real work: stepping out into risk and vulnerability into the unknown; joining community “self-help” support groups; tearing down the only homes they have ever known, and with their own hands and labour, building new, sturdy ones in their place; taking small loans, learning new skills, and creating new, sustaining livelihoods for themselves.

And as I walk away, I don’t. Together, we look forward to the journey ahead and know that yet more good things are in store for each family and I will, over the next few years, journey with each of these families in seeking the resources to help that happen, following & sharing their progress with those committed to walking alongside."

Monday, March 17, 2014

Join us for an evening of hope!

Join us this April and May for our annual spring Film Premiere & Dinner events in select cities across Canada.

A wonderful meal, a beautiful film shot on location in Bangladesh, great music, the company of friends, and an important opportunity to transform lives through giving await you at each of our events.

View our event schedule.

Friday, March 14, 2014

The miracle of clean water in Shara, Ethiopia

Meet Lidiya Andenet. Last year, at 9 years old, Lidiya experienced running water for the first time in her life.

Two years before, Lidiya and her mother would walk for hours to get water from dirty ponds, muddy rivers, and unprotected springs – the risk of disease was enormous. In Shara, people were often ill with waterborne diseases and, without access to health care, they would struggle to fully recover.

The biggest issue by far was the death rate among young children, most of the households in the village having lost at least one child to an illness that could have been prevented with access to clean water.

Today, life is very different. The community came together to partner with HOPE International Development Agency and built  a sustainable clean water system.

Clean water is an extraordinary gift to the Shara community; you can see the impact when you look at Lidiya, or any of the other children experiencing clean water, from a tap, for the first time. A daily trip for water that once took hours and caused illness, now takes minutes and builds stronger families.

Every time we witness the miracle of water, it drives us to keep doing more. Our clean water work continues in the Bonke District of Ethiopia. If you’d like to be a part of more stories like Lidiya’s, please give today.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Sri Lanka and the art of beekeeping


In Sri Lanka, many of the families we partner with are being trained in the art of beekeeping. If that sounds strange, it shouldn’t. Beekeeping is a very low-cost way of generating sustainable sources of food and income.

Participants in the program are given training and provided with a low-interest loan to purchase the necessary equipment.

The project is still in its early stages, but families are already seeing positive results. Of the 80 participants, many are earning a monthly income of $20-30CAD from selling the honey they’ve harvested – a considerable amount for many of them.

We’re really excited about our work in Sri Lanka. Stay tuned throughout the year for more updates on how the project is going.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Microfinance: Is it an effective way to help the poor?

In 1976 Muhammad Yunus, an economics professor at Chittagong University in Bangladesh, visited the poverty-stricken village of Jobra. While there he met a few women who were struggling to grow their businesses. He decided to lend them $27, with zero interest, and was surprised to have the loan repaid, in full, in a short period of time – this $27 no interest loan started the movement towards microfinance in the developing world.

Microfinance is the act of giving small, low-interest loans, to people in developing countries who wouldn’t otherwise be able to get one. These loans are often used to build small businesses and create sustainable sources of income.

In recent years, however, the effectiveness of many microfinance programs has come into question. This is largely due to creditors who behave like profiteers, charging high interest rates and having no interaction with the people receiving loans beyond meeting with them when the loan was provided.

It’s no surprise that many of these programs are ineffective when the organizations running them don’t have the borrower’s best intention at heart.

Microfinancing works when the focus is on helping the people you’re partnering with.

At HOPE International Development Agency, we embed ourselves into the communities that we’re supporting by offering training and advice, and we don’t charge exorbitant interest because our intention is not to profit from the people we’re partnering with. The modest amounts of interest that may be generated by loans is always invested in the community, helping them build up a local pool of money that can be used to help community members lift themselves out of poverty.

We work with community groups, cooperatives, and individuals, supporting them in using the loans to build sustainable income and savings. This means, for example, that women are able to successfully launch their own businesses, and families can buy livestock to raise and sell at the market to generate income.

Families participating in our community-owned microfinance programs consistently see positive results because we are invested in the success of each of community group, cooperative, and individual.

Microfinance is one of the many ways your support enables families to own their success and their future.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Giving safe drinking water to children in Bonke, Ethiopia

Chosa, in southern Ethiopia’s Bonke region, is one of the deadliest places on earth for children.

Located well off the beaten path, the small village has suffered in silence for decades. An extraordinary number of children have lost their lives because of the unsafe water they are forced to drink.

In Chosa, and so many other villages just like it, one child in every household is sick at least once per week.

Even more troubling is the fact that one in every five children in this region die before the age of five.

The fact that we’ve been able to provide safe drinking water to 70,000 of the 160,000 people who live in Bonke is of little comfort to parents in villages like Chosa where help has not yet arrived.

The safe water is there, in underground springs that flow right beneath the surface in the hills just beyond the village; in fact, our Ethiopian water specialists know exactly where it is.

What isn’t there, at the moment, is the help that only you can provide to build a water system that will carry the safe water down from the hills and into the village of Chosa. The same is true in other villages in Bonke, just like Chosa, that we’ve not yet been able to help.

A gift of just $40 will ensure that a child has safe water to drink. Please help today.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Celebrating friendships

A wonderful evening together is one of the hallmarks of a great friendship, and as a friend of HOPE International Development Agency and the hundreds of thousands of families you enable us to help each year, you’re invited to join us at one of our 2014 Film Premiere & Dinner events in select cities across Canada.

A wonderful meal, the company of friends, live music, the premiere of our latest film, and an important opportunity to do something very special for families in Bangladesh await you this April and May.

A film worth seeing
This year’s short feature film, shot on location in Bangladesh by an award-winning film crew who graciously volunteer their time and talent, gives you an intimate glimpse into the struggles and triumphs families experience as they work to lift themselves out of poverty.

Become part of the story
Our evening together celebrates what the world’s poorest families can achieve in their lives and we become part of their success story when we hear their voices, see their faces, and respond to their needs.

More than memories of a wondering evening
Participate in our Silent Auction and take home a special memento made by skilled craftspeople from Africa, Asia, and Central America.

Join us at one of our spring 2014 Film Premiere & Dinner events
View our spring 2014 film premiere and dinner event schedule and join us for what promises to be a very memorable evening.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

In a world of hope, one plus one equals much more than two!

Baagan Bibi and her family live on a small parcel of land outside the rural village of Akbarwala, near the border between Pakistan and northwestern India.

A widow and sole provider for her family, Baagan’s home is a modest one-room house with no amenities.

Baagan and her family can cope having no amenities, but the struggle to put food on the table every day can be a much bigger challenge.

Recently, Baagan shared her story with us and today, we want to share it with you, including the amazing transformation her family as gone through.

It’s always been difficult for Baagan to grow enough vegetables on her small parcel of land, much less buy them in the village of Akbarwala, a number of kilometers away.

“We live far from village”, says Baagan.  Even when I could make the trip in to the village, I often could not buy vegetables due to lack of money.

One day, I was sitting with women who live in Akbarwala and I shared my problems with them and asked if they had some solutions.

It turns out that one of the women had been part of a group of women that received training on kitchen gardening, so I asked her about the training.

Later on, I approached the group who did the training and then participated in training sessions and my basic skills regarding kitchen gardening improved.

In addition, I received seeds of different vegetables, along with gardening tools. I then cultivated my vegetables with the confidence and trust that this season I would not have to purchase vegetables from the market.

Believe me, I not only had enough vegetables to feed my family, but also sold extra vegetables and earned Rs. 10,000 (CAD $105) in the season.

I’m happy and thank HOPE International Development Agency for rebuilding my confidence.

I also promise that I will encourage other women to start kitchen gardening themselves and gain what I have gained through this activity.”

Baagan, like nearly every other person we’re privileged to work with is proof that the people you help through your donations not only improve their own lives, but the lives of others as well!

In a world of hope, one plus one does equal much more than two. In can, in fact, equal an entire village as people, like Baagan pass on the skills that transformed their lives.