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Friday, September 23, 2016

Transforming immediate solutions in times of disaster into a long-term vision.

When Typhoon Haiyan slammed into the Philippines in late 2013, it devastated much of the country and left lives in ruin.

HOPE International Development Agency’s partners in the Philippines used their expertise and vast knowledge of the country to plan an immediate response to help families in the areas worst affected and most often neglected. Equally importantly, the planning also included initiatives to address the need for people to restore their livelihoods, grow food, and increase their resiliency in the face of future disasters.

Friends of HOPE International Development Agency responded generously to the call for help and provided the funds needed to provide immediate help, including food, vegetable seeds, and materials to repair damaged infrastructures such as roofs on homes and schools.

While the immediate relief was vitally needed and well received, it could only address a small portion of the long-term needs of the people affected.

In the months and years after the storm of 2013, HOPE and its partners in the Philippines have continued to work with families and communities to create solutions to poverty, including solutions focused on making families and communities better prepared for future disasters and more resilient in the aftermath.

This work has included disaster risk reduction training, which helps government and community leaders plan for quick and effective action when future disasters occur, minimizing human suffering and expediting relief and recovery efforts. Some of the long-term responses have included providing rice seeds and fertilizer, training for farmers, fishing boats and fishing nets for families who had lost their livelihood.

Recently, Barugo, one of the communities that HOPE has worked with since the disaster was featured in a national newspaper in the Philippines.

According to a national ranking, Barugo has improved immensely on the indicators of economic dynamism, governance efficiency, and infrastructure.

Barugo’s ranking among similar municipalities jumped from 436th in the country to 56th in one year. In real terms, this increase means more people have access to economic opportunities, and more effective and supportive government agencies. Instead of just recovering and getting back to the way life was, the people of Barugo are looking at new investment opportunities and partnerships with new sources of income such as tourism. The building of resilience to future disasters also will ensure that the gains made will not be lost if another natural disaster wreaks havoc on the area.

While many factors have contributed to this success, the recognition for what has been accomplished is best directed at HOPE supporters who made it possible through their generosity and desire to create lasting change.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Resiliency in Sri Lanka

Resiliency is a bit of a buzzword these days as world leaders consider how to prepare for and address the increasing frequency and intensity of extreme weather events.

Resiliency is the ability to spring back into shape after being bent, stretched, or compressed; it is the capacity to withstand or recover quickly from challenging conditions.

Recently, we were humbled by the resiliency of families in Sri Lanka who survived a massive storm and lived through months of hardship and challenges.

Three months ago, Cyclone Raonu crashed into Sri Lanka. More than 300,000 people were affected by the massive storm. In the aftermath, 100 people were dead and 113 were missing.

The communities of Aranaya and Rambukkana were hit hard. During the storm, nearly 23 metres of mud came rushing down the nearby mountain, destroying both communities to the point where every family had to leave and find refuge nearby.

In the days and weeks that followed, friends of HOPE International Development Agency ensured that the families of Aranayaka and Rambukkana received shelter, food, clothing, and medical support, enabling them to remain healthy enough to begin rebuilding their lives.

On behalf of these very resilient families, thank you for your support.

A father receiving emergency supplies for his family in the aftermath of Cyclone Roanu

Friday, September 9, 2016

Everything changes when clean water is present

In many respects, Dalume Zalla is a typical small community in southern Ethiopia, with one very notable exception. The community has clean water!

Sinafikish Tolba, a 34-year old mother of six children remembers what it was like when clean water was not available. Sinafikish and her children, ranging from 6 months to 15-years old, would begin their day well before sunrise as they set off in search of water for the day.

On some days, the journey would take them as far as 4 kilometers away from their community. On each day, the water they did find was sure to make them sick because it was gathered from stagnant ponds frequented by animals.

Today, because of the support received, Sinafikish and her family, along with every other family in Dalume Zalla, gather clean water right in their village – less than 3 minutes away from their homes.

The incidence of water-borne disease has been dramatically reduced, if not eliminated. Children are able to spend more time in school and less time trekking through the arid hills in search of water. Parents are able to spend more time tending their small plots of white potatoes, sweet potatoes, barley, and sugarcane – generating much needed sources of income and food.

“The water we have is clean,” says Sinafikish. “We are so fortunate to see our children not getting sick anymore. And of top of this, I no longer worry about my children being late for school because they were out fetching water. To have water in our community is a sign we are moving forward. God bless you!”

Before the arrival of clean water, the people of Dalume Zalla felt neglected, undervalued, and hopeless. Today, the community feels affirmed and is ready to take on other initiatives that will further improve their quality of life.

When we invest in the value of others, like Sinafikish, the legacy is sure to continue for generations to come.

Friday, September 2, 2016

Overcoming challenges in rural Pakistan

People living in communities stuck in poverty find it a challenge to raise their voices and ask for even the most basic of services or opportunities when the basic needs of the day are constantly pressing in on them.

HOPE International Development Agency is working with people living in impoverished communities in Pakistan using a two-pronged approach to overcoming the challenge.

The first is to improve the economic independence of people who have been relegated to the margins of their communities.

The second is to help people learn how to lift their voices together to enact change in their communities.

Bottom up economic independence

Entrepreneurship training, creating groups with a common interest, and helping new entrepreneurs start income-earning businesses have proven very successful. To date, 350 people have been become entrepreneurs and are taking part in business ventures.

In five rural districts of Pakistan, these initiatives have led to new businesses in goat rearing, sewing, tailoring, and food processing (mostly through the creation of flour mills). The common interest groups of each of these business sectors decide how their businesses are run, and what resources will be combined in order to make them more efficient and profitable.

Creating change by speaking with one voice

Rural people now combine their voices to ensure that local leaders in their community are listening and acting on their concerns. This amazing transformation was accomplished by creating Community Action Groups, which work closely with other civil society organizations engaged in creating positive change that benefits the most marginalized.

The groups bring concerns forward and help their fellow community members resolve issues of shared importance, such as obtaining national identification and birth registration documents, school enrollment campaigns, community infrastructure such as roads and bridges, resolving community conflicts, and animal vaccination programs.

Speaking and acting together brings positive change

Some of the many successes Community Action Groups have achieved include the construction of a new road, relief and rehabilitation support for flood-affected families, medical camps to address health emergencies, and heightened awareness regarding the rights of farmers.

These initiatives in Pakistan have allowed people on the margins of society to gain economic independence and demand better from those in leadership positions.

The learning continues and so does the success

The 350 entrepreneurs recently visited other business leaders and others involved in local markets, learning more about the ins and outs of their trades, and sharing stories of their successes and failures.

The Community Action Groups enabled people to come together, share common challenges they face in their communities, and work together on solutions that were meaningful and sustainable.

The two-pronged approach of the work is creating new economic opportunities and enabling people to speak with one voice on issues that are important to their communities, as well as creating positive change today and improving prospects for the future.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Cash grants an effective way to help in the aftermath of a disaster

In early August 2015, Cyclone Komen triggered severe floods and landslides across 12 states and regions in Myanmar, affecting more than 300,000 people.

More than 1 million acres of farmland was submerged, resulting in food scarcity, loss of livelihoods, destroyed latrine facilities, and contaminated drinking water in affected communities.

In response to the devastation, HOPE International Development Agency (HOPE) collaborated with a long-term partner in Myanmar, Metta Development Organization (Metta), to meet some of the most urgent needs in communities affected by the floods.

In the aftermath of the floods, restoration of latrines was paramount. Without proper latrine facilities, disease spreads quickly, and with severe consequences, as water sources become contaminated.

With HOPE’s support, Metta was able to respond to urgent requests from community leaders in Tamu Township to help construct 142 latrines to replace the ones destroyed by the cyclone. The newly constructed latrines contributed to ensuring the good health and sanitation of 236 families and 2 schools within 4 villages of Tamu Township.

Helping people restore their means of earning a living was another top priority in the crisis response. To do this, HOPE offered small cash grants to families whose livelihoods had been taken by the cyclone. Cash grants are an effective means of support for people affected by natural disasters. The grants maintain dignity and choice for families, as well as support local economies.

With HOPE’s support, 314 families received cash grants ranging from $60 to $150 CAD, enabling them to move out of “survival mode” and take steps to restore their livelihoods. In Tamu Township, families used the grants to establish small businesses raising pigs, or selling fruit and vegetables.

In the agricultural communities of Yay Nan Chaung Township, located on the banks of the Ayeyarwaddy River, families were devastated by the destruction of property and loss of crops and seeds. The main livelihood activity in these communities is agriculture. Families used the cash grants to cover costs related to re-establishing agricultural activities, including rehabilitating soil damaged by flooding and preparing it for cultivation, obtaining seeds, and labour. Families who received grants are now successfully cultivating onions, watercress, chili, and mustard, among other crops.

A year after Cyclone Komen, families living in flood-affected areas are healthier, stronger and more able to care for their own needs, thanks to the joint effort between HOPE, our partner Metta, and the families themselves. With a restored means of earning a living, families are once again providing for themselves, and the new latrines are helping ensure families and their communities stay healthy.

Friday, August 19, 2016

A Big Challenge
Far too many Ethiopians are forced to drink water gathered from filthy ponds, stagnant streams, and contaminated hand-dug pits. Prolonged drought has made the situation even more challenging. HOPE International Development Agency is continuing to tackle the water crisis in Ethiopia and we need your help.

Meeting the Challenge
Have dinner with us and help thousands of Ethiopians drink their first cup of clean water.

Our Time Together
Join us for a wonderful meal, the company of friends, silent and live auctions, great music, a short feature film, and an important opportunity to transform lives in Ethiopia through your giving.

For more information and to reserve tickets for any of the Film Premiere & Dinner events listed below, please visit


Tuesday, November 1, 2016
6:30pm Reception & 7:00pm Dinner
Quality Hotel & Conference Centre Abbotsford
36035 North Parallel Road, Abbotsford, British Columbia

Saturday, October 29, 2016
6:30pm Reception & 7:00pm Dinner
The Laurel Packinghouse
1304 Ellis Street, Kelowna, British Columbia

Thursday, November 3, 2016
6:30pm Reception & 7:00pm Dinner
Northwest Community College
(House of Birch)
5331 McConnell Avenue, Terrace, British Columbia

Saturday, November 5, 2016
6:30pm Reception & 7:00pm Dinner
Delta Victoria Ocean Pointe Hotel Resort & Spa
100 Harbour Road, Victoria, British Columbia


Friday, October 28, 2016
6:30pm Reception & 7:00pm Dinner
Sheraton Eau Claire
255 Barclay Parade Southwest, Calgary, Alberta

Saturday, October 22, 2016
6:00pm Reception & 7:00pm Dinner
Shaw Conference Centre
9797 Jasper Avenue Northwest, Edmonton, Alberta

Fort McMurray
Tuesday, October 25, 2016
6:30pm Reception & 7:00pm Dinner
MacDonald Island Park
1 C.A. Knight Way, Fort McMurray, Alberta

Grande Prairie
Thursday, October 27, 2016
6:30pm Reception & 7:00pm Dinner
Pomeroy Hotel (Grande Prairie Inn)
11633 100 Street, Grande Prairie, Alberta

Friday, August 12, 2016

Complementing the hardware with software in rural Ethiopia

In southern Ethiopia, HOPE International Development Agency continues to work in a holistic manner by addressing the most basic needs of communities while at the same time ensuring that the people directly involved have every opportunity to lift themselves out of poverty.

Over the past 2-months, HOPE and the community of Kalebo Laka, in southern Ethiopia, have been collaborating on the construction of a gravity-fed water system that will provide clean water to the entire community.

In Kalebo Laka, working in a holistic manner means that in addition to capping three water springs, constructing two water tanks, laying 4.5 km of pipe, and installing 8 wash basins (or what we like to call “hardware”), other initiatives such as training in self-help groups, water management and hygiene (the “software”) are taking place.

With the construction of the water system, families no longer need to travel long distances to collect water. They now have more time to embark on other endeavors that can lift them out of poverty.

Rather than spending much of their day collecting water, women now have the opportunity to join HOPE-facilitated self-help groups (link to previous SHG post) that provide training in creating and running income-earning businesses, access to low-interest loans to support business start-ups, and savings programs.

Water management committees, established as part of a holistic approach, are gender-balanced and work with local leaders and community members to ensure that water taps and systems are maintained and used properly.

Hygiene awareness training ensures that households have the knowledge needed in order to improve hygiene practices and properly store and use the water.

In some communities, HOPE’s Ethiopian colleagues assess if local establishments, such as healthcare centres or schools, could also benefit from improved hygiene practices and facilities. If so, they work with the community to ensure that hygiene facilities are built. In a community near Kalebo Laka, this has meant that well functioning latrines have been built at a school and healthcare centre.

Communities participate in creating the positive changes they need by being part of the assessment, planning, and implementation of a water system. They give time, labour, and local materials in order to ensure the success of the water system. They also take a leading role in ensuring initiatives such as hygiene training are well attended.

In the next few months, the water system in Kalebo Laka will be formally handed over to the local community, along with the long-term responsibility for the use and maintenance of the system.

While the advantages of the “hardware” side (the water system) are often more evident initially as a direct benefit to the community, it must be complimented with the “software” side (self-help groups, hygiene training, and water management) in order to ensure the positive impact of clean water remains for generations to come.

Women participate in a training session in Kalebo Laka.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Rasma finds hope in a tiny seed

Rasma Simone lives in the coastal mountains of central Haiti, where she has been a member of the Chinchiron Farmer’s Cooperative since 1995.

Like the other members of the co-op, Rasma grows black beans and a variety of vegetables. The harvest of beans and other vegetables provides for Rasma and her five children.

Rasma is particularly pleased this year with her bountiful yield of beans. With the support of HOPE International Development Agency, Rasma and other co-op members tested a new strain of bean that proved to be exceptionally resistant to drought and disease.

The new seed, in combination with a particularly good growing season, resulted in the best harvest that Rasma and her fellow farmers have seen in over eight years. It has been a welcome relief after two trying seasons of drought.

Rasma’s hard work and a plentiful harvest paid off. Recently, she sold four bags of bean seeds back to the co-op. The beans will be stored in the co-op’s seed-bank until re-sold, at a profit, at the beginning of the next growing season.

With her earnings from the sale of seeds and later her share in the profits from sales, Rasma will be able to help her son with his upcoming wedding celebration and support a soon-to-be born grandchild.

The news of this new variety of bean has already traveled throughout the mountains of central Haiti. Other farmer’s co-ops are now requesting seed for the next planting season.

What an honor we have to walk alongside and work together with farmers like Rasma as they improve their lives and bring long-lasting change to their families and communities.

Rasma selling her bean seeds to Jean Josiel, a co-op member who is on the seed-buying committee.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Rajamma's journey out of poverty began with a self-help group

Mornings were always difficult for Rajamma, a mother and sole income earner for her family of five living in one of the poorest areas of rural India.

As the sun rose over Rajamma’s dilapidated little home each morning, so would her anxiety. How would she feed her family? Would she be able to hire herself out as a day labourer and earn a few rupees to buy food for her children?

Amongst all this uncertainty, one thing was certain; Rajamma and her family were trapped in poverty.

Like much of rural India, the area where Rajamma and her family live is incredibly poor. The majority of families struggle to eke out a living. Some live on as little as one or two dollars a day.

Over the past few decades, HOPE International Development Agency donors have helped thousands of families in rural India in their journey out of poverty.

Thankfully, we were also able to help Rajamma and her family.

Rajamma’s journey out of poverty began when she joined a self-help group in her community.

The group provides mutual support, including skills-training, instruction on how to start small businesses that generate a sustainable income, and small loans to build modest, but sturdy homes and support the creation of small businesses.

In addition to helping members transform their lives, the community also benefits from the presence of the group, through activities such as health-training, medical referrals, camps for schoolchildren, vocational skills-development, kitchen garden training, and meetings with local government officials to advocate for the needs of the community.

Today, Rajamma and her family are thriving rather than barely surviving.

Rajamma and her family live in a safe, sturdy home built with a loan from her self-help group. Her foot mat business, established with training she received and a small loan, is thriving and generating the sustainable income her family needs to continue lifting themselves out of poverty. She is meeting her goal of having her family be self-reliant and free from poverty.

Rajamma feels blessed by what has happened to her family and we celebrate with her. At the same time, we recognize that thousands of families have not yet received the opportunity to transform their lives.

You can give a gift today that will help ensure that another family will get the help they so desperately need in order to start their journey out of poverty.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Good news from Africa's youngest nation

SOUTH SUDAN - Decades of sustained conflict in the region, along with continued conflict and neglect in the years after the forming of South Sudan in 2011, have resulted in water becoming an even more precious resource, often leading to tension and conflict between communities.

Beyond being scarce, the water families do gather and drink is unsafe, as evidenced by the fact that one-third of children under the age of five regularly suffer from diarrhea, a potentially deadly ailment in this region of the world.

Communities, like Ganagara-Osumani and Nanzongozogo, suffered because the water they drank made them sick, especially the children. Finding water consumed a good portion of the day. Mothers, with children in tow, walked for hours each day to gather water from wherever they could. The situation was even worse in the summer when the streams and ponds dried up.

This past month everything changed for the more than 5,000 people living in Ganagara-Osumani and Nanzongozogo because of the support they received from friends of HOPE International Development Agency. After much effort and persistence, clean water has arrived in the two communities.

“People in this area have spent too many years without clean drinking water and many people have died because of what we had to drink,” says Chief Marona Sako. “We thank God, because today marks the end of this challenge.”

Giving these two communities access to water will help reduce water-borne illness and have a profoundly positive impact in how people care for their health and well-being.

Children will now be able to go to school rather than spending their days gathering water with their mothers. Most of these children have never had the opportunity to attend school. The education they receive will transform their lives, and even their communities, as these young children grow up and become leaders in their community.

Today we celebrate with the families of Ganagara-Osumani and Nanzongozogo as they begin to experience the life changing power of clean water. We also take a moment to say thank you for your support in helping HOPE transform lives in South Sudan since the country was formed in 2011.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

HOPE International Development Agency welcomes Dale W. Bowler as Executive Director & CEO

HOPE International Development Agency ("HOPE") is pleased to announce it has engaged Dale W. Bowler as Executive Director & CEO effective as of July 1, 2016.

Dale is no stranger to HOPE having served as a member of its Board of Directors for most of the past twenty years and, for the two years ending April, 2016, as Chairman of the Board. As a result of this service, Dale has an in-depth knowledge of the operations, projects and practices of HOPE and has had an opportunity to meet and get to know a majority of the staff and personnel associated with the organization.

Dale comes from an extensive and successful business background, including twenty-two years as principal of his own company. The experience he gained in project administration and budgetary controls in these activities will serve him well in this new role as that is the framework under which HOPE operates.

While serving with HOPE in the past, Dale has taken the opportunity on a number of occasions to visit some of the projects with which HOPE has been involved to see first-hand the implementation of the programs, and to meet the staff of the agencies HOPE partners with overseas to achieve effective project administration. All this experience will be most useful to Dale as he takes on the leadership of HOPE.

The members of the Board have enjoyed and appreciated working with Dale in the past, with his affable personality and quick wit, and look forward to Dale taking the leadership of the HOPE team and the new dynamic and energy he will bring to the organization.

The Board wishes to express its sincere thanks to Brian Cannon for his dedication to HOPE and service as Interim Executive Director and to the HOPE team (all our staff) for their maintaining the performance of HOPE through this period of transition in leadership.

The Board confirms that David McKenzie will continue his involvement with HOPE as International President, responsible for liaising with HOPE's international affiliates and advising the Board and management from time to time on foreign and domestic matters.

We covet God's blessing on HOPE and seek His wisdom and guidance for the Board, Dale and the HOPE team as we move forward to face the challenge of our mission to help the neediest of the needy in the world.

Thank you for your faithfulness and continued support.

Douglas Eacrett
Chair, Board of Directors
HOPE International Development Agency

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Clean water enables families in southern Ethiopia to focus on improving their lives

HOPE International Development Agency’s relationship with the people of Ethiopia spans nearly four decades. Early in the relationship, it was clear that a long-term commitment would be needed if the country’s poorest people were to become permanently free from poverty.

Whether it be the development of clean water resources, education, care for children orphaned by HIV/AIDS, emergency relief in times of disaster, skills training, microcredit, support for women through self help groups, or health and hygiene training, helping the poorest of the poor lift themselves out of poverty is the goal.

From the beginning, clean water has been central to the work. When clean water is available in communities, families are able to focus on improving their lives rather than simply trying to survive from day to day. Derashe, a remote, mountainous region in southern Ethiopia, is an example of the type of commitment it takes to bring lasting change. It took a decade, but today, more than 90% of the 200,000 people in Derashe have clean water.

Currently, we are working in Bonke, another rugged region of southern Ethiopia. The goal is to ensure that more than 90% of the 195,000 people living in the region gain access to clean water within the next few years.

Help a person gain access to clean water today.