Welcome to World Neighbours Canada

World Neighbours Canada Society was founded in Oliver, B.C. in 1989. Programs are currently active in three program areas: Nepal in Asia, Burkina Faso in Africa and Honduras, in Central America.

Visiting Ramechhap

by Dale Dodge

Rough!!! If there was a word to describe my latest trip to Ramechhap and to the communities where TSS and WNC have facilitated the installation of gravity fed water systems, ‘rough’ would be the word. Perhaps I am getting older and don’t remember how bad the roads were 3 years ago, but I am not likely to forget how bad they were this time.               There has been a concerted effort by the government over the past 10 – 15 years to push in roads to many of the isolated communities in the mountainous regions of Ramechhap, and they have been successful in doing so. The roads are typically single lane cat tracks which zig zag up the mountain, back down the other side, and then up the next mountain. The roads are used to bring people (busses) and freight (large farm tractors with large trailers behind) back and forth. They are all unpaved. None seem to be repaired or maintained unless there is a wash out or cave in. And for small vehicles like I was in, they are all incredibly rough. Vehicles that try to go a little faster are strewn along the way with broken tie rods, broken axles, and flat tires. To go 25 kilometres typically takes at least 2 ½ – 3 hours.

Jyambirebote Reservoir plaque. The second of the GAC funded systems to be installed.

Luckily, the reception at the end of the road (before we have to turn around and go back out the same track…) is worth the trip. All the villagers know is that the Canadians are coming, and the Canadians were the ones who supplied the funding to purchase the pipe, the cement and the fixtures for their water system. I stress that it is ‘their’ water system, because they have done all the organizing, all the planning, all the construction, all the digging of a 1 metre deep ditch, all the setting up of a repair and maintenance fund, and all the establishing of the rules of operation.

Dale Dodge, Jean Carnes, and Gordon Carnes being welcomed.

But when the Canadians arrive in town, it is as if we were solely responsible for it all. We are greeted with flower leis, with speeches of thanks, with tea, with food, and with a tour of their system, which they are invariably very proud of. In Bhandaritol, the community with the most recently completed water system, I had so many leis around my neck that you could only see my eyes. And there was dancing and singing and wonderful drumming. And on the 9 member Water User Committee, of which 3 are mandated to be women, there were actually 5 women!

The Water User Committee in Bhandaripol.

I was accompanied on this visit by Gordon Carnes of the Aldergrove Rotary Club, and his wife and official photographer, Jean Carnes. I have been to Nepal a few times now, and start to take for granted the lovely people, the terraced hills, the colourful dress of the ladies, the good looking kids, the rice and lentils – but for Jean and Gord, it was all a first. I think they were blown away, and cannot wait to return. It was a tough, but very fun trip, and I thank them for being such good travel companions.

I was able to see 2 of the three water systems installed with the current Global Affairs Canada funding, and all of the systems put in over the past few years with WNC funding alone, and the one system put in exclusively by Rotary International working through Aldergrove Rotary Club. All are working well, and although the welcomes were not as effervescent as the one in Bhandaritol, they were all very warm, made by people very appreciative and thankful of the work we do. The one GAC funded system that we could not get too because of extremely muddy and dangerous roads was in Lahachhewar. We had to travel 8 hours by road, and then walk for 5 hours to get to this village. After 6 hours and some very slippery slopes, we decided to turn back – 12 hours of driving to no avail. Luckily, we have photos taken by Suresh, and we will try again on the next visit.

Suresh, Govinder and Mahesh of TSS continue to amaze me with their commitment to the people of Ramechhap, and the results they are able to achieve. I come home once again enthused by the success of the concept of World Neighbours Canada – motivating and teaching people to plan, make and manage their own change, one community at a time.


BCCIC Workshop facilitated by Nav Gill

posted by Judy Gray with information from Nav Gill

Nav had the opportunity to co-facilitate a workshop with Laura Lee entitled “Participatory Approaches to Working in Partnership with Communities.” The workshop was delivered to the BC Council for International Cooperation (BCCIC). The three hour hands-on workshop explored how organizations can apply participatory approaches and methodologies to their project’s program planning, monitoring and evaluation activities. The workshop acknowledged that the process of capacity-building and empowerment are critical and aimed to share engaging tools, including arts-based and performative methods, to bring community voices to the project cycle. More information on the workshop and the facilitators can be found here: http://bccic.ca/calendar/event-registration/?action=evrplusegister&event_id=234 

If anyone is interested in learning more about participatory approaches, please feel free to contact Nav (navjot.j.gill@gmail.com) 

Celebrating International Women’s Day in Fada

by Judy Gray, director of World Neighbours Canada

Though we hear International Women’s Day, March 8, mentioned on the news in our country, it is not celebrated at the same level as in many countries of the world, especially within Africa. In Burkina Faso, le 8 mars, is a National public holiday and permits the nation to focus on women and their status and role in Burkinabé society. My husband and I were very lucky to be in Fada on that day and able to participate in the festivities. This year, the day was celebrated in the village of Gnianmanga, one of the original project villages of APDC. Just getting to the village, for many of these women, is no mean feat, as there are no cars in the area and even the number of motorcycles to transport people is limited. Therefore, participating along with 200 village women, and a total gathering of nearly 400, was a unique experience. The highlight of the celebration was the parade of groups of women, representing each of the villages who are part of the project. Dancing, drumming and eating are also part of the day, providing an opportunity for women to socialize and exchange ideas, and share common concerns as they so rarely get together in one location. An employee of the State Social Services Department spoke about the many ways that women face “exclusion” in their society and reminded them that this day, le 8 mars, is not only a time for festivities but also a time to reflect on women’s roles and a time to exercise one’s right as a partner within the household. As a director of World Neighbours Canada, AND as a woman, it was a thrill to be part of these festivities and celebrate this crucial day with women who are taking steps, albeit small, to assert themselves and develop their independence. It is, in part,  thanks to the current WNC grant with Global Affairs Canada that APDC is able to provide ongoing information sessions for villagers, both women and men, about women’s rights. 

The toilet or the house … the perspective from Nepal

by Libby Denbigh, with information from Suresh Shrestha

“The best-laid plans, or, what comes first, the toilet or the house?”

In Nepal, for example, the government has decided to push ahead with a plan to ensure that every village household is equipped with a toilet. The goal is to do away with the centuries-old practice of open defecation in the rural areas. To Western minds, this seems a worthy ambition. But to some Nepali families, those who have lost their houses in the earthquake of 2015, this edict can seem nothing short of ridiculous. Since the quake, many people are still waiting to qualify for government assistance to rebuild their homes. Why, they ask, while camping atop a pile of rubbish that used to be their cozy cottage, why should we build a latrine when what we really need to be doing is putting a roof over our heads?

For Tamakoshi Sewa Samiti, or TSS, our partner NGO in Nepal, and by extension, for World Neighbours Canada, this poses a dilemma. Because of our mandate, our funds from Canadian donations have been earmarked to build toilets in some of these same villages. But there can be resistance from villagers who see this as just a way of putting the proverbial “cart before the
horse”. For some of them, the only way they can see to hold the government accountable for their lack of housing is to say “no” to the construction of toilets. No house, no toilet.

Understandably, TSS is reluctant to be caught in the middle of such a dispute. Luckily most villages which are working with TSS do understand the difference and are still willing to go ahead and install latrines with donations from World Neighbours Canada and the involvement of Global Affairs Canada.

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