A mango nursery in the community of El Trapiche, Honduras. Mango plants serve two purposes. They help reforest the hills and they provide fruit for eating. The southern area is perfect for this species and the villagers love the fruit, especially the children. The fruit also provide many vitamins and much needed nutrition.
Despite the increasing unrest in Burkina Faso, our partners on the APDC team (local rural development organization) continue to work tirelessly to support those in our project villages who are eager to improve their food security and lives in general.
This is the latest message from Charles Tankoano, APDC coordinator: “The information you have (about the possible kidnapping) is true. But everyone continues to work in the country. Moreover, the attacks are targeted and we are not very afraid to go to the project area to work. At the moment we are all well and we still do not feel enough fear to prevent us from going to the project area. Thank you very much; we understand your concerns. But we trust God.”
World Neighbours Canada has been greatly saddened by the growing insecurity in Burkina Faso due to terrorist attacks. The most recent incident involves Canadian Edith Blais, who, along with her Italian companion, has not been heard from since mid-December (they were travelling in a relatively safe part of the country). The Canadian government is attempting to learn more of the pair’s whereabouts but, to date no information has emerged (see BBC and CBC News articles for more details).
In addition to this possible kidnapping, there have been many attacks by suspected jihadists, especially in the north and east part of the country. It is evident that the attacks are not limited to Westerners, and in fact Burkinabé citizens are being targeted in greater numbers. Namoungou, one of the villages that APDC is working with, sustained an attack in December. Charles told us “The village was attacked. The jihadists hit several people and one child died. But we continue the activities because the calm has returned. Also security forces stormed the area killing 6 attackers. We cannot give up work because this is happening everywhere and the people of Burkina Faso cannot give up their activities because of this. “
According to GardaWorld, “Terrorism has become an increasingly severe security threat in Burkina Faso since 2015. Educational institutions, local government officials, and security forces are specifically targeted. Initially concentrated in the Sahel region, attacks have spread to other regions, including eastern Burkina Faso (Est region) which is also known for high crime rates. Attacks are usually attributed to Ansarul Islam and other groups affiliated with Al-Qa’ida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM). According to an official account released in mid-September, jihadist attacks have killed at least 118 people since 2015; at least 22 attacks were recorded in the Est region since February 2018.” ( for full article see: https://www.garda.com/crisis24/news-alerts/181746/burkina-faso-attack-against-security-patrol-in-est-region-dec-3)
We, of World Neighbours Canada, are hoping that the political climate in Burkina Faso improves and stabilizes so that we will again be able to visit our project villages and communicate directly with APDC staff.
“I volunteer because it gives me an opportunity to travel in order to learn and understand the lives of people, and make change.”
Shanti Timalsina is an ayurvedic practitioner from Banepa, Nepal. She completed her studies in 2018 and currently works at Dwarikas Resort in Dhulikhel, Nepal.
Since April 2018, Shanti has worked closely with WNC director, Navjot Gill, on a comprehensive mid-term evaluation of the current project in Ramechhap, Nepal. During the months of April and May, Navjot, Shanti, and the team at TSS (our partner organization in Nepal), conducted interviews with approximately 40 community members from 4 different villages, along with interviews with key experts, community health workers, and physicians to understand how access to water systems and toilets impacts community health and wellbeing. Shanti brought expertise in facilitation and interviewing to the evaluation team.
When asked what she enjoyed the most about the evaluation process, she said, “my favourite part of the experience was the participatory workshop, where the team member were self evaluating the work done in the field. It was a very interesting way to learn what the participants and staff members at TSS thought about the project and both the challenges and strengths.” Further she shared, “one of the most memorable moments was speaking to an elderly woman who was surprised when we asked for her name instead of her husband’s name, which is a common practice.”
Shanti looks forward to her continued work with WNC in sharing the evaluation results with the board and to all of WNC supporters through upcoming blog posts.
Editor’s note: The following comes from a mid-term evaluation of our Infant-Maternal Health Project in Honduras. I was struck by the chapter that contextualized the situation in Honduras presently and thought it worthwhile to share with our members. This has been Google translated from Spanish so please keep that in mind.
The work of Vecinos Honduras (VH) is in rural zones of Honduras, in poor populations, marginal and excluded, who have to settle in remote hill areas, because they do not have another option to keep their families; who had to build with tenacity and sacrifice a social coexisting system with many limitations: they do not have public services, lack worthy income; high deterioration of the natural resources, low production and productivity; suffer contamination due to agro-chemicals and garbage; bad infrastructure. The majority of the families do not have potable water; more or less half of them lack electricity, and in the majority of the cases the houses need to be improved.
This scenario of shortages contributes to the precarious life conditions of the population. They basically depend of subsistence agriculture, mainly for consumption. The only factors that contribute to local economy and alleviate a little the crisis of family subsistence, are the remittances in the south and coffee in the eastern part of the country.
There is a very deficient education service: pre-school and elementary school with many limitations, and a poor public health service oriented to curing illnesses.
In research made by the World Health Organization to measure the performance, quality and coverage of the health services, Honduras occupies the 131 place of 191 countries.
The greatest potential for development in Honduras is agriculture. However, investing in this sector implicates a very high risk with respect to the return of capital. It is for this reason that neither the private companies, nor the financial system or the government support this sector, which could easily generate one million jobs at the national level (study from ANAFAE).
Support is oriented towards large enterprises and crops for exporting such as: Coffee, Bananas, Cantaloupe, Seafood and Tilapia, among others. The families, who live on the hills in a subsistence limbo, in which institutions with a sustainable development approach, such as Vecinos Honduras, play a very important role in their lives are in many ways lucky because, these type of development institutions are few, and those who would assume challenges in this context, are even less.
According to estimates from the government, for each ten Hondurans seven are poor, and of these seven almost five live in extreme poverty. This has been this way for at least 100 years; which puts in evidence the erratic public policies applied, which base their dysfunctional neoliberal approaches that had and still have the economy of some developed countries in crisis; the last ones Spain, Greece and currently Argentina.
Neoliberalism does not even work for great powers who have been their promoters; and now USA embraces protectionism, that has generated a commercial war between the USA and the rest of the world, mainly with China and Russia. Moreover, Honduras continues betting on the recipes of the IMF, when it has been proven that these only seek the mobility of resources to the great powers.
Honduras is known in the world as the country of extreme: the most violent, the most corrupt, the poorest, the most inequitable and more recently, the one with more massive immigrations to the USA. Complete unemployment and sub-employment has a direct relation with poverty, is because the people do not have access to economic income and are poor. The development plans of the public sector are subject to national and foreign investment, which never arrives. The problem is that the families have to eat today, they cannot continue waiting until investment arrives, and in the meantime, how do they feed their families?
Because of the political instability characterized by disrespect to the judicial framework, disrespect of popular will, election frauds, corruption and impunity, as well as fiscal insecurity as the rules change as it is appropriate to the politician in turn, investors don’t know what to expect and prefer to invest their capitals in other countries.
The debt of Honduras is 12 billion Canadian dollars (SEFIM). The Gross Domestic Product (PIB), is approximately 22 billion dollars. The general budget of the republic is 11 billion dollars for the year 2018 (less than the debt), of this budget, and each year 2 billion dollars are used to pay the debt (capital plus interests). In the last 6 years, 9 billion dollars has been paid; and the worst part is that Hondurans do not know why we have this debt; how it is used; and if there is evidence of it reaching the country.
“The Honduran health system is deficient in: Doctors, nurses, equipment, supplies, medicines, health centers, beds and budget. It also suffers from corruption and lack of social sensibility from the staff; therefore, it is considered to be in crisis. All of the above is summarized in that the State provides the Hondurans a health service which is of a very bad quality. The greater impact is suffered by the poor, and among these, we find the families who live on hills of the rural areas. “
However, what we do see is that because of its payment, investment is reduced in social aspects such as: health, education, housing, community rural infrastructure, etc. Instead of increasing the health and education budgets, increases go to the police and the army for weapons, equipment and war practices, in a country in which one third of the population is considered homeless. If this spending negatively impacts the living conditions of the urban populations, where there is more employment and more is invested in infrastructure; it affects the rural populations where there is no employment and investment is minimum even more. It is in this context, and with these families, that Vecinos Honduras works.
When Cristina Margarita Alvarez was a child she wanted to become a teacher. Unfortunately, because of a lack financial resources, she only attended primary school before leaving her community of La Batea, Honduras. She found work as domestic worker in the city of Danli in order to support her first daughter Berenice. She was sixteen at the time.
She lived in Danli for four years when she met Félix Donaldo Martínez. They got married and decided to settle in the community of Flores #2 where Felix had grown coffee for 22 years.
They had three children; Darwin Donaldo, Josué Fernando and Josías Enoc. The first two have moved out and created their own homes and Josias studies at the Luis Landa Basic Education Center in the community of La Libertad.
Once settled in Las Flores # 2, she began to attend the Catholic Church, which motivated her to teach catechism to girls and children between 7 to 12 years of age. In a way, her dream of being a teacher of primary education was fulfilled with this task.
When Vecinos Honduras began to support her community, she became interested in participating, especially in activities related to community health, drawing attention to the topic of food preparation based on local products. When the health monitors in her community were selected, she voluntarily offered to work with the children in Comprehensive Childhood Care in the Community and Early Stimulation. She mentioned that at the beginning of the AIN-C program she had not participated because her one-year-old granddaughter Tifany Mikeyla Salinas Martínez was in her care, which prevented her from attending the trainings. However, in the next phase of training for health monitors she managed to train and currently serves 15 girls and boys from the Las Uvas neighborhood.
“My wish is for children to be smarter so I treat them with all my love and affection. Now that I teach what I learned with mothers I feel good because I do not keep the knowledge, but I share it, taking into account that everyday I learn more.”
It is important to mention Cristina Margarita has the support of her husband and children, since they all share domestic chores, have common dreams and make efforts to improve their life situation. An evidence of the family effort is that based on their collective work they have managed to acquire other lands where they currently cultivate 15 acres of coffee, a space in which the whole family works collectively.
Cristina Margarita is a worthy example of struggle, perseverance and dedication to her family; her volunteer work and her desire to serve others is a permanent source of inspiration.
Prepared by: Michael Newman program facilitator team
The Board of Directors of World Neighbours Canada met recently in West Kelowna for their Annual General Meeting. Board members responsible for communication with each of our partner NGOs – in Honduras, Burkina Faso and Nepal – provided an update on what has been achieved during the past twelve months. Highlighted here is only ONE of the achievements of the past year for each country. During the coming weeks, we will publish more in-depth articles about the activities that have taken place in each country.
Our matching grant from Global Affairs Canada is allowing us to provide much more monetary support to these grassroots organizations. Without our donors, it would not be possible for World Neighbours Canada to apply for such grants. The directors of WNC and our partner NGOs – Vecinos Honduras, TSS (Nepal) and APDC (Burkina Faso) extend a heartfelt thank you for the on-going support. Please remember our projects and our relationships are long-term and support locally appropriate initiatives. It is truly a model of participatory development.
Burkina Faso – During the past year, close to 5000 villagers have attended sensitization and/or information sessions on family planning, malnutrition, the importance of vaccinations, nutrition (how to prepare healthier, more balanced meals with local produce ) and gender equality.
Nepal – Over the past two years, TSS has supported villagers with the installation of 4012 toilets in homes in villages in Ramechhap District. This has been linked to a nation-wide campaign to encourage everyone to use proper toilets.
Honduras – The health initiative of monitoring young children for growth by measuring body weight has continued and expanded over the past year and positive results are being observed. Mothers are given advice and support in raising healthy, well-nourished children.
Raising money for international projects can be fun, and nobody demonstrates that better than the Kamloops West Rotary Club! They raised $1000 for World Neighbours projects in Nepal with their fundraising “Fox Hunt” this past weekend.
The fundraising activity was a Fox Hunt – a 90 minute adventure game that combined a scavenger hunt with “amazing race” style challenges. Teams of 4 to 8 people raced to complete as many of the 74 challenges as possible within a 90 minute time period by capturing photo & video evidence.
World Neighbours Canada directors Bruce Petch, Judy Gray and Libby Denbigh, along with family and friends entered a team in this unique activity, spending a laughter filled time completing crazy tasks around the Riverside Park area of Kamloops. Though the WNC team did not garner a medal, we all enjoyed ourselves and have included a few pictures of the team “in action”.
The money will go towards rural water systems built by villagers with support from Tamakoshi Sewa Samiti, the Nepali partner organization of World Neighbours Canada.
Many thanks are extended to Kamloops West Rotary for the support, and to Global Affairs Canada for providing matching funding for all the work we do in Nepal.
This a photograph of a typical community medicine kit. There are now twenty-six communities that Vecinos Honduras works with that have these kits. Community Monitors (Volunteers) received training in how to administer medication as local health units are short on medication and only are open Tuesday-Friday.
The kits are well equipped; they contain medicines to treat anemia, diarrhea, dehydration, conjunctivitis, fever, fungus, parasites, stomatitis, and scabies, among others. They also aim to prevent severe episodes of pediatric bronchitis or pneumonia.
According to what the volunteers report, 165 women and 54 men, 148 girls and 156 boys have been treated in the last six months, the most prevalent diseases in the communities are fever, headache, respiratory infections, diarrhea, parasites, pediculosis, and stomatitis in few cases.
We are celebrating at World Neighbours because our partner organization, TSS (Tamakoshi Sewa Samiti) in Nepal, was recently honoured for their work to help make the Ramechhap District declared an Open Defecation Free (ODF) Zone.
This was a multiyear process which involved the commitment of the community as a whole, individuals, TSS, and the local government. The progress was interrupted by politics and earthquakes but the end result spells a healthier future for the community.
Our TSS contact Suresh Shrestha reported:
“TSS was especially recognized & appreciated for the initiative and incredible contribution in toilet program. On behalf of TSS, Mr. Govinda received the appreciation frame. The appreciation frame was handed over by the Chief Guest, the Member of Parliament of Province No. 3, who was elected from Ramechhap.”
We too applaud and thank TSS for their hard work in helping the community of Ramechhap improve their own situation.
TSS is one of the oldest and most respected non-government organizations in Nepal. It works in Ramechhap District (in the eastern part of the country) to alleviate poverty and help rural communities become more self-reliant. TSS helps village groups to organize themselves, manage finances, hold effective meetings, and undertake improvement projects. Their initial strategy is to establish and mobilize villagers to plan, organize, build and maintain water systems. When the water systems are installed, villagers often then choose to install sealed, sanitary toilet systems, which TSS and WNC also help them with. The combination of easily accessible potable water and greatly improved sanitation systems has greatly reduced the incidence of gastrointestinal disease in Ramechhap.
World Neighbours Canada, since 1989, has had the privilege of providing and facilitating financial support for the village water systems and the sealed, hygienic toilets that are all installed and maintained by local people. TSS provides only technical guidance and training, and the people themselves provide all local materials and all of the labour needed. Non local materials such as pipe, valves, cement, toilet pans and re bar, are purchased by TSS as needed, and are carried by men, women and children, from the end of the road to their remote villages.
Because the villagers take ownership of the projects from the earliest stages of planning and design, and because they are in charge of long term maintenance and repair, the projects have proven to be very successful.
At World Neighbours Canada we are sometimes asked what makes us unique. There are many charities that support people in developing countries; what does World Neighbours Canada do differently?
The answer is multi-faceted. There are many aspects of our organization that inspire loyalty among our donors – we are run by volunteers, have very low overhead, and use modest fundraising approaches. The attribute of World Neighbours Canada that we hold closest to our hearts is enduring partnerships. These partnerships occur at multiple levels – between the local organizations we support and the rural people they serve; between us and the local organizations; and between World Neighbours Canada donors and its board and volunteers.
The emphasis on partnerships is rooted deep. When World Neighbors was founded in the U.S. in the 1950s, it was ahead of its time in recognizing that poor people in developing countries deserved respect. World Neighbors founders embraced the United Nations statement acknowledging the “inherent dignity” of all people.
World Neighbors evolved into an unusual organization, focusing on long-term partnerships and outcomes when many organizations worked with only a one- or two-year project term in mind. Their minimal expatriate staff – called Area Representatives – often held their positions for more than ten years, sometimes more than twenty, which was remarkable in a field where terms of more than two years were uncommon. The essence of their work was building long-term partnerships with local organizations and communities, growing leadership capacity and fostering knowledge-based development.
The founders of World Neighbours Canada were inspired by the commitment and effectiveness of the World Neighbors family of organizations, and created a Canadian group to support the international network. Since its inception, World Neighbours Canada has worked to establish enduring partnerships with local organizations. We have supported Tamakoshi Sewa Samiti in Nepal and Vecinos Honduras (and its predecessors) since 1989, and APDC in Burkina Faso since 2006.
Each of these organizations takes a different approach in working with local communities. Tamakoshi Sewa Samiti is committed to improving the lives of people in the district of Ramechhap. They support the building of water systems and latrines in different villages each year, and provide technical back-up for as long as is needed (nearly all of the water systems installed with TSS support continue to operate; in one or two locations, the water source has become intermittent). Vecinos Honduras takes a holistic approach to community development, gradually building local capacity for continuous improvement in agriculture and health. Typically, after 5-6 years they phase out intensive support, and instead provide advice to local committees or cooperatives. APDC similarly engages in a wide range of activities with villages, and shifts emphasis as local leadership takes on more responsibility.
Coupled with the theme of enduring partnerships is mutual respect. We respect the abilities and insights of our local partner organizations. They are led by some of the brightest and most committed people in their respective countries. Furthermore, we recognize that people who are materially poor are not bereft of ideas and ingenuity. We have the greatest respect for their ability to survive under extraordinarily difficult conditions, and to improve the lives of their families when given the opportunity and the knowledge to harness clean water, grow more crops, and raise healthier children.