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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.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Markets an innovative approach to distribution of hygiene products

 Camp resident uses her voucher to shop at hygiene supply day at the Lisu Camp market. 

To support the health of internally displaced people (IDPs) living in camps in northern Myanmar HOPE International Development Agency provided hygiene products, including bathing soap, laundry soap, liquid soap, toothbrushes, toothpaste, shampoo, sanitary pads, towels, blankets, mosquito nets, and mats to over 13,500 people living in 42 IDP camps.

In order to promote dignity and choice for the people receiving the supplies, Metta, HOPE’s partner in Myanmar, adopted an innovative approach to distributing the supplies. Rather than handing out supplies directly to families, “hygiene supply markets” were organized. On market day, selected vendors set up booths to form a small market containing the hygiene supplies.

On the day of the market, camp residents are provided vouchers to use in lieu of cash as they shop in the market. After the market day, Metta paid vendors for the materials they had provided. This creative approach allowed beneficiaries to make choices and bargain for their hygiene supplies while supporting local small vendors and boosting their business.

Daw, a 49-year-old woman who received hygiene supplies through this hygiene market system, shared how she appreciated this way of receiving supplies, and the positive impact it had on her family.

“On the hygiene supplies market day, I felt like I was shopping, I felt very comfortable. Since personal hygiene materials have been provided to us regularly, our daily wages are better able to cover living costs.”

While having access to basic hygiene supplies is something easily taken for granted, for families in northern Myanmar who have been displaced by conflict, the provision of hygiene supplies is significant, allowing families to stay well and easing financial strain.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Restoring the health of internally displaced people living in camps in Myanmar

Daw, a hygiene promotor, shares health information with a group of women and children.

Health and hygiene can become a serious issue in crowded camps for internally displaced people (IDP).

Metta, HOPE International Development Agency’s partner in Myanmar, has adopted a peer-trainer approach to promote hygiene within the camps. The peer trainers, most of whom are women, are trained in reproductive health, HIV/AIDs prevention, health care, nutrition, personal hygiene, waste management, prevention of waterborne diseases, and environmental protection. Once trained, these peer trainers – known as “hygiene promoters” - both model and teach good hygiene practices to their fellow camp residents through information sessions, distribution of posters about health and hygiene, door-to-door visits, and facilitating regular camp cleaning days.

One such hygiene promoter is Daw, a 35-year-old woman who fled her home village with nine family members and currently lives in an IDP camp in northern Myanmar.

With a grade 10 education and an interest in business, Daw was an excellent candidate to become a hygiene promoter. With HOPE’s support, she participated in the training for hygiene promoters last year and has since been modeling and teaching good hygiene practices in her camp.

“At first I did not have the confidence to conduct hygiene awareness activities,” says Daw. “However, I have learned the importance of maintaining good health, the benefits of personal hygiene, and much more knowledge about health through the experience of serving as a hygiene promoter.”

With time, Daw gained confidence and became a respected member of the camp community because of her role as a hygiene promoter.

“Now I know how to plan hygiene activities, find out the needs of the camp, and conduct hygiene awareness sessions. As I gain trust from others, my confidence grows. I now realize that I have to observe what is going on in the camp environment to be a good hygiene promoter. I am very proud to be one of the hygiene promoters, as we play an important role,” says Daw.

Daw and her fellow hygiene promoters are making a positive difference, not only in their own lives, but equally importantly, in the lives of others.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Help families in Sri Lanka recover in the aftermath of a killer storm.

Sri Lankan flood victims rest by an evacuation camp. (AFP Photo)

Torrential rain, howling wind, raging rivers, and massive mudslides have affected more than 300,000 people living on the island nation of Sri Lanka in South Asia.

Some areas received more than 300 millimetres of rain in 24-hours, triggering the deadly flash floods and mudslides that have claimed 104 lives. The killer storm has forced more than 100,000 people to seek shelter in evacuation camps.

You can enable families to remain healthy and self-sufficient despite everything they have lost. In many cases, families lost all of their possessions, including their children’s school books and supplies.

A gift from you today will help provide dry ration food parcels, kitchen supplies, education materials, perinatal care packages, female health and sanitation kits, and first aid supplies for families in Sri Lanka.

Donate to provide emergency supplies today

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Restoring dignity and hope in Myanmar

For families living in camps for Internally Displaced People in northern Myanmar, every-day life is a struggle to survive, let alone feel dignified.

As a result of ongoing conflict between the Kachin Independence Army and the state, 100,000 people have fled their homes and now live in crowded camps. While they dream of returning home, the reality of landmines, destroyed infrastructure, and ongoing fighting in or near their villages prevents them from returning. In the meantime, they are faced with the reality of camp shelters falling into disrepair, a lack of resources to cover basic necessities such as personal hygiene supplies, and coping with insufficient or unsafe places to bath or use the washroom.

In response, HOPE International Development Agency has been working closely with a partner organization in Myanmar since 2011, providing practical support to meet these needs and restore dignity to families living in the camps.

The conflict in Myanmar is a protracted one. HOPE’s commitment to internally displaced families in the country is long-term.

Over the past few years, donors have supported health care, early childcare development, education, agriculture, and income-generation programs for families living in the camps.

This past year, donors provided support to build and repair shelters, construct latrines, and provide bathing spaces and hand-washing stations that are safe for women and children living in camps across northern Myanmar.

While a return home may still be in the distant future, families can live with dignity when they have secure shelters and the means to stay healthy and safe.

New shelters are helping displaced families in Myanmar regain their dignity.