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Thursday, December 11, 2014

A greater challenge begins to emerge in the aftermath of Typhoon Hagupit

Dec 11, 2014 - Meeting the immediate needs of families in the aftermath of Typhoon Hagupit, a massive storm that slammed into the Philippines this past weekend, is challenging.

An equal or perhaps even greater challenge, however, will be helping families rebuild their lives as the recovery process begins in earnest this week and in the coming weeks.

Nearly a million people are returning to their homes, uncertain of what they will find.

Many families had their homes damaged and livelihood activities severely disrupted and need to get back to earning income as quickly as possible.

In addition, families who were in the process of harvesting crops may have lost a portion or all of their harvest because of the disaster.

Families who were beginning to plant crops need to repair their fields and get back to planting their next harvest.

HOPE International Development Agency is helping storm-affected families get back on their feet and we need your help – because recovery, for families who endured the storm, begins with your donation.

Donate Today

Monday, December 8, 2014

The Philippines - Recovery efforts need to begin immediately as nearly 1 million people return to their homes after Typhoon Hagupit

Dec 8, 2014 - The situation in battered communities throughout the Philippines this week remains uncertain in the aftermath of Typhoon Hagupit, a massive storm that lashed the country on the weekend.

Amidst the uncertainty, one thing, however, is certain - families who braved the storm’s 180 kilometer per hour wind gusts and 600 millimeters of rain need our help as soon as possible. Our colleagues are on the ground in the storm-affected areas and are already assessing the damage and offering assistance.

Recovery efforts need to begin right away. Homes have been damaged or destroyed and many families have lost their food supply for the coming weeks.

Donations to HOPE International Development Agency will provide direct support for families in the aftermath of the storm, helping them recover as quickly as possible.

The storm, the equivalent of a category 3 hurricane here at home, has dealt a cruel blow to families in its path, especially those who were still struggling to recover from last year’s killer storm, Typhoon Haiyan.

Still traumatized by the destruction and loss of life caused by Typhoon Haiyan last year, nearly 1 million people fled their homes, seeking shelter and safe places.

The 1 million people making their way home this week do not know what awaits them – this is especially sad as Christmas approaches.

We are working to ensure that hope awaits their return and help is readily available.

Recovery, for families affected by the storm, begins with your gift.

Donate Today

Thursday, December 4, 2014

No electronic gizmos or big screen TVs - just gifts that transform lives in the poorest places on earth

None of the latest electronic gadgets or large flat screen TVs appear in this catalogue – just huge opportunities to transform lives.

Every gift inside this year’s HOPE International Development Agency GIFTS OF HOPE Christmas Catalogue has the power to help lift people out of poverty.

As little as $60 gives shelter, food, clothing, and much more, including an education, to a child in Ethiopia orphaned by HIV/AIDS.

Education kits give children everything they need to be successful in learning.

Desks, for rural classrooms, give children a place to do their schoolwork.

Chickens, pigs, and sheep give families a way of becoming self-sufficient and healthy.

Training, tools, and seeds provide a way for families to become self-reliant.

Clean water reduces disease and enables families to focus on improving their lives rather than constantly searching for water.

You'll find all of this, plus more, in HOPE International Development Agency’s 2014 Gifts of Hope Christmas giving catalogue.

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, November 27, 2014

"Hidden hunger" a major problem in developing countries despite gains made in reducing hunger

Great strides have been made in reducing hunger in the developing world over the past 2 decades, according to the 2014 Global Hunger Index (GHI).

The state of hunger in developing countries, as a group, has fallen by 39 percent since 1990. Yet despite this progress, 805 million people are still chronically undernourished because they don’t get enough to eat.

Equally important, but harder to measure because it goes beyond simply counting calories, is the fact that a staggering 2 billion people within the 120 developing countries measured in the GHI consume so few essential vitamins and minerals from the food they eat that they are undernourished, even though they consume enough calories per day to be considered free from hunger.

This type of undernourishment, referred to as “hidden hunger”, is an aspect of hunger often overlooked. The impact of hidden hunger on the poor is devastating. It weakens the immune system, impedes physical and intellectual growth, and often leads to death.

Eating the right food is as important as having enough to eat

In the developing countries where HOPE International Development Agency partners with families and communities, both hunger and hidden hunger must be addressed if families are to have any hope of moving beyond poverty.

Helping families and communities grow more food is just one part of the solution. Helping them grow the right kind of food - those rich in the essential vitamins and minerals people need in order to avoid chronic undernourishment - is equally important. One without the other simply leads to full stomachs but chronically undernourished bodies.

Ensuring families are free from hunger and undernourishment

Eliminating hunger and undernourishment is part of every effort made to help families lift themselves out of poverty.

For example, when working with communities to provide reliable sources of clean water, health education is also provided, ensuring that families, particularly mothers, know the kinds of foods that provide a high level of nutrition.

In addition to health education, families are provided with the training and resources needed to grow nutritious food in their home gardens made possible by having access to water, rather than just calorie-rich, nutrient-poor foods.

Helping the 805 million and the hidden 2 billion

Regardless of the initiative, every HOPE International Development Agency partnership with communities and families in the developing world works to address hunger, both the obvious kind and the hidden kind, in an effort to help families become self-sufficient and healthy.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Hardship leads to harder choices in Cambodia

Huot (second from right) with her youngest son (right), her two daughters (immediate left and center), and two nieces (left) who came to help prepare the family garden. Missing: Huot’s husband and 2 sons.

For more than 20 years, HOPE International Development Agency has been working with families in Cambodia, enabling them to lift themselves out of poverty and become self-reliant.

In a previous post, “A Field of Possibilities”, we shared the story of Nara and Chek and their journey to freedom from poverty.

Today, we bring you Huot’s story as we continue a series focused on how poverty impacts families around the world.

Huot’s story demonstrates how poverty defines people’s choices, and that no choice, small or big, is ever easy when you are trapped in poverty.

Looking at the recent photo of Huot and her family (shown above) you would never know that poverty had once nearly tore them apart.

Today, thanks to friends of HOPE International Development Agency, Huot, her husband, and their five children are thriving. They have a well that provides them with clean water every day, and a lush vegetable garden that supplies them with nutrient-rich food to eat. They also earn additional income by selling surplus vegetables from their garden at the local market.

Yet just a year ago, life was completely different for Huot and her family. Poverty had them in its grasp.

Huot’s family. Due to a family debt, their eldest son (far left) worked for another family as a domestic helper.

Shortly before this photo was taken, Huot’s husband had fallen gravely ill. As a result, the family was forced to take out a loan to pay for his medical treatment.

At the time, Huot’s husband was supporting the entire family on his meagre wages as a day labourer. The income he earned was simply not enough to cover the debt, but nonetheless, the debt had to be paid.

Huot and her husband were left with a choice no parent would ever want to face.

As the eldest child, Huot’s son (shown on the far left in the above photo) would have to leave home to live with another family in another community, as a domestic helper to repay the family debt. In doing so, he was unable to attend school or see his family or friends. Huot’s family tried visiting her son when they could, but they were only allowed to see him sporadically and the trip was costly and difficult for everyone.

Thankfully, because of the support Huot and her family received from friends of HOPE International Development Agency, they no longer live in this devastating situation. Huot’s son has since returned home and the family has successfully paid off all of its debt.

Sadly, the situation Huot and her family found themselves in is not only heartbreaking, but far too common in the developing world. Families living in poverty are often torn apart.

When deeply impoverished families like Huot’s are faced with crisis – whether it be health-related like a sudden illness, accident, or death or environmental like a natural disaster, fire, or crop failure – choices are limited and painful. The savings or credit needed for families to manage unexpected events or emergencies simply do not exist because of the depths of poverty they face.

Situations of utter desperation, like the one Huot and her family faced, force many families into extortionate financial arrangements that leave them with insurmountable debt and unthinkable choices.

With the gift of clean water and agricultural training, Huot and her family received, they are now much healthier and happier. Huot’s son and his siblings are able to regularly attend school with their friends and are eager to learn so that they have a chance at a better future.

Most importantly, Huot’s family is self-sufficient and able to save some of the income they earn through their gardening activities so that they are better prepared should they ever be faced with another family emergency.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Poverty affects the mind as much as the body

New research from the International Food Policy Research Institute shows that people’s aspirations are closely tied to their present well-being. We need look no further than our own lives to know that this is true.

Our aspirations, or lack there of, influence the decisions we make on a daily basis, as well as those that shape our future.

If we constantly face extreme challenges, such as those faced by people who live in poverty, poor health, and uncertainty, it can be difficult to make good decisions, let alone seek out help or support, even if it is readily available.

The most vulnerable in our world – women, rural families, and those living in areas of instability caused by conflict or climate change – live in extremely challenging situations, and as a result, often believe that they have little control their own well-being.

In essence, poverty victimizes people not only in their daily lives, but in their minds as well, as it crushes any aspirations for a better life. Poverty is perpetuated when people lose hope.

Families, for example, often need help and encouragement in order to see the opportunities available to them. They need help with nurturing their hopes, dreams, and aspirations for a better future.

It is not that these families do not aspire to a better life, it just that after so many years of disappointment and hardship it can be hard to look beyond trying to find the next meal.

In Cambodia, HOPE International Development Agency seeks out families living on the margins of society, literally at the edge of the jungle, visiting them week after week in an effort to convince them that a better life is possible.

In Ethiopia, part of our work is to show families and community leaders that we are committed to them, and will help them envision a better life and then make it happen, together.

Helping families and communities aspire to be free from poverty is as important as the work of helping them gain access to clean water, grow more food, receive an education, improve their health, and generate a sustainable income.

The goal is to free people from poverty, both in their everyday lives and in their minds. A body free from poverty is a healthy body. A mind free from poverty is a mind that can aspire to a way of life that remains free from poverty.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Poverty forces people to make unthinkable choices

The impact of poverty throughout the developing world is devastating.

Families in countries like Bangladesh endure chronic hunger, illness, and homelessness, to name just a few of the obvious challenges people live with every day. And without the ability to break the cycle of poverty, generations of families have few options and even less hope as each year passes.

Over the next several weeks a new series of stories will explore a few of the less obvious, but equally devastating challenges faced by the families living in poverty. Many of whom are forced to make unthinkable choices they would never otherwise consider – all because of poverty.

We begin the series with Sujon. In a recent story, we learned how Sujon and his family became hopeful and optimistic about their future thanks to the support they received from friends of HOPE International Development Agency. The road that led them to this point, however, was not without its challenges and heartbreak.

Sujon’s heartbreak came on a sunny afternoon when he was 4-years old.

Today, 13-years later, Sujon still vividly remembers his mother saying to him, “Babu, I am going to buy apples for you.” At the time, he had no idea that these words were the last he would hear from his mother. She never returned – it was the last time he saw her.

The level of poverty and deprivation Sujon and his family lived in was simply too overwhelming for his mother and forced her to make an unthinkable decision – a decision she would never otherwise consider had it not been for poverty. Sujon’s mother felt that in order to survive she would have to leave her children and husband behind.

The impact of poverty is often obvious. But as you can see, what it does to a person’s heart and mind can be less obvious, yet equally devastating, as was the case with Sujon’s mother.

The entire situation was and is tragic. And although what happened to Sujon is rare, many families around the world lose a parent to the destructive forces of poverty.

When families live in extreme poverty, life is difficult beyond anything we can imagine. This is why HOPE International Development Agency works to enable families throughout the developing world to gain access to life-changing things like clean water, livelihood training, medical care, and education.

Having clean water, income, medical care, and an education make it possible for families facing unthinkable choices to make much better decisions than they would if poverty was not overwhelming their lives. They are able to make different decisions, together, with much better outcomes.

It is not possible to replace what Sujon and his family lost because of poverty, but it is possible to enable them to create a much better life for themselves – a life that is free from poverty and the unthinkable choices it forces.

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.