On December 2nd at 12:00pm EST there will be a virtual Film Festival organized by Groundswell International which will feature the voices of Youth Storytellers from the three countries that World Neighbours supports through our partners. These films bring you examples of empowerment, transformation, and triumph.
Tickets are limited so sign up in advance. You can access tickets here. Tickets.
Together with APDC, our partner organization in Burkina Faso, World Neighbours Canada recently completed a 15 month experimental project with funding from FIT (Fund for Innovation and Transformation), an initiative based in Manitoba that is funded, in turn, by Global Affairs Canada.
Over the 15 month term, 110 women from our project villages participated in family based sheep fattening enterprises, in which the women were the leaders of their business, but were supported by other household members. One of the most interesting and innovative aspects of the project, was the women’s participation in the purchase and sale of the sheep.
Although APDC had supported women in the past in sheep-fattening, prior to this project the women had never been involved in the purchase or sale of the animals. In fact, through focus group discussions that were held midway through the project, a number of both women and men mentioned that women who participated in such activities were viewed quite negatively. One person remarked that, “A woman who does this (attends the cattle market) should be banished from the family, she is a rebellious, wicked, witchy, independent woman. She is a woman who has no respect for her husband, who has social difficulties.” On the other hand, some rare men positively appreciate a woman who sells and buys animals on her own and describe her as ‘courageous and a fighter’.”
However, with the extensive training that the women received from the veterinarian, these women felt they had the knowledge and skills to participate in the purchase and sale of their animals. Here is a sample of the women’s comments:
Kayaba: “I learned the process, I can’t pay alone but with my son I can. We were very, very tired, very, very tired. I know how expensive animals are, so I was very tired of walking around the market to find the right animals.”
Blandine – “It’s very very tiring, I even have headaches, it’s hard because the sun has hit us a lot, also the animals are very expensive. I chose my animals and negotiated the prices alone.”
Choosing good healthy animals is something the women are now confident with, but negotiating with marketers for a fair price continues to be challenging: “When customers see the women, they raise the price of the animals… When they see the women selling, they lower the prices too much, thinking that the women know nothing about animal prices” (woman from Gnianmanga). The women of Tambiga confirm this by suggesting that they get help from a man because “The traders at the market are thieves, swindlers. They lower the prices of the animals sold by the women too much.”
Despite these issues, men’s and women’s attitudes changed dramatically over the course of the project and by the end, the men were much more positive about their wives attending the cattle market, thanks in part to the gender sessions offered to the men, women and adolescents. “We appreciate all the women who are able to buy or sell their own animals because it is a proof that they are enlightened. This means that these women get along well with their husbands, these kinds of women are to be encouraged and congratulated because they will help their husbands a lot” (women from Tambiga village).
For the men, the support of APDC has been very beneficial. One man said, “Before, I could not consult my wife for decisions because she could not say anything good to me, but now we do everything together. The woman was like a slave in our families, but today everything has changed”. Another added that “I exchange with my wife before taking a decision. Today, we are aware that women have good ideas that can help in the family and even in the village.” According to the men, the situation has changed in favour of women partly because of their increased financial power. “If the woman has the financial means, her husband listens to her”.
The women have suggested further information sessions about how to conduct negotiations to buy and sell sheep. It is challenging for them, especially in light of the male-dominated process and the low literacy and numeracy skills of most women. Despite all the challenges, all of the 110 women who participated in the initiative continue to operate their sheep-fattening businesses.
After ten years, Vecinos Honduras will be leaving the Azabache region of Honduras at the end of 2023. World Neighbours has supported Vecinos Honduras’s work building capacity, teaching agroecological techniques, implementing water systems, and for six years, thanks to support from Global Affairs Canada, implementing a maternal child health project. Now that the communities are better equipped to organize and direct their own future it is time for Vecinos Honduras to shift to new regions. Before they leave, however, there is one last program that World Neighbours Canada will support.
One of the consequences of the holistic approach Vecinos Honduras takes with community development is that communities drive many of the activities. One activity that was very popular had to do with entrepreneurship. Migration is a major issue in Honduras with many of the young people leaving the country to look for work. This is particularly detrimental to smaller communities. In Azabache, community members wanted opportunities for their children so they would stay in the community.
Many workshops were conducted, and a number of cooperatives, and private businesses were created. Micro credit lending groups were also created to support local entrepreneurs. Many of the businesses were related to agriculture such as honey or egg production and snacks, yet others were skills based such as woodworking, and auto repairs. Vecinos Honduras provided guidance for establishing these businesses. Groundswell International also provided financial support to start the lending groups.
Now that Vecinos Honduras is leaving the area, they want to ensure that these businesses understand their legal and administrative responsibilities. World Neighbours Canada is supporting training sessions for these small credit groups to become official, legal entities that will continue to operate long after Vecinos Honduras leaves.
Workshops are also being held for groups and individuals in business administration such as bookkeeping, billing, receipts, loan management, and taxes. Vecinos Honduras wants to see these businesses succeed in order for these communities to retain their young people as well as to build resilience within the local community’s economy.
The following videos were created by Groundswell International and give a great glimpse into some of the participants and their businesses.
We have received some disconcerting news recently from our partner in Burkina Faso – APDC.
Last Saturday, in two separate locations, APDC staff encountered terrorists while travelling on local roads.
Diaboado, one of the APDC staff field workers was on his way to a training session with a consultant when they were stopped by a group of terrorists, likely armed. The two were not harmed, fortunately, but the terrorists took Diaboado’s motorcycle.
In another incident, while travelling to Bogande (to the north, another town where APDC has projects) the driver encountered another group of terrorists and was forced to give up the 4×4 he was driving – the only vehicle that APDc owns. Luckily he was not harmed either.
We have continued to hear of the growing number of terrorist attacks in Eastern Burkina Faso and according to Charles Tankoano, the Executive Director of APDC, these attacks have reduced the number and scope of community development organizations operating in the region. It seems that APDC is one of the few groups continuing with programming.
Despite these attacks, APDC is currently in the process of gathering data for the final report on the women’s sheep fattening enterprise project. Extra safety precautions are being put in place and extra days have been allotted for the data collection so that the interviewers can carefully plan when it is safe to visit the women.
We continue to receive communication on an almost daily basis and hope that the data gathering and other project activities will proceed without harm to those involved.
Charles’ final comment in his WhatsApp message, “There is no improvement in security in Burkina Faso. But, to date, they (the terrorists) have not done anything to our personnel. Only, our already insufficient means of travel are suddenly reduced. But we are grateful to God for having preserved our 2 colleagues”
“I will stop neglecting myself. I will work well to succeed in my sheep-fattening and have a lot of profit.” These goals were expressed by a woman from a village in rural Burkina Faso after she had participated in an innovative project set in motion by World Neighbours Canada and our local partner organization, APDC, with funding from the Fund for Innovation and Transformation (FIT). It is one of the many inspiring testimonies we have read as our FIT-funded project recently reached its halfway point! All FIT-funded projects test innovative solutions for advancing gender equality, and empowering women and girls. These projects also have the benefit of FIT’s ongoing support as they adapt to on-the-ground challenges.
The goal of our FIT-funded innovative project is to test a novel approach to strengthening rural women’s economic participation by helping them develop the ability to manage and maintain informal sheep-fattening businesses. Sheep-fattening is a relatively low risk way to earn income. It involves purchasing sheep, caring for them and feeding them to ensure they remain healthy and gain weight, and then later selling them for a higher price.
There are a series of barriers that prevent poor women in rural Burkina Faso from being able to manage and maintain a sheep-fattening business. For one, women often lack access to funds for purchasing sheep, and to the professional skills that are needed to organize their sheep-fattening activities as businesses that can generate profit in a sustainable way. They also struggle to balance competing household responsibilities with their sheep-fattening activities, and wonder how to go about enlisting their family’s support in that process. WNC’s FIT-funded project addresses all of these barriers. It provides rural women with the funds for the initial purchase of sheep, professional training sessions in topics like financial literacy and entrepreneurship, and the support women need to be able to go to the animal market.
Though our project has only reached its halfway point, we have already seen encouraging progress that points towards the success of the novel approach we are testing! Among the highlights of the project so far is the number of women who can identify the features of a healthy sheep to purchase, and who have the support of their household members in caring for their animals. This project has allowed many women to experience a number of firsts: for the first time in their lives thirty women were able to participate in the purchase of sheep at the local cattle market. Having never before observed this process they enjoyed learning how one negotiates the terms of a purchase, or identifies a desirable sheep.
Before our project began, few people in rural villages thought it was possible for women to improve their social status or to contribute to village development through their economic empowerment. But, at the midpoint of our project’s implementation, the majority of people now see both of these benefits –women’s improved social status, and women’s contribution to village development –as being tied to women’s economic empowerment! As we move towards the final stretch of our innovative project, we will continue to share the stories of rural women as they meet the challenges of learning and applying new professional skills and becoming active and insightful managers of small animal-fattening businesses.
To learn more about the Fund for Innovation and Transformation, please have a look at their website.
We have some very good news to share regarding new projects in Nepal. We have received a substantial grant from the Gay Lea Foundation, a foundation created by Gay Lea Foods (a leading Canadian co-operative owned by dairy farmers). The matching grant will enable us to undertake the building of 2-3 new piped water systems which will provide safe, accessible water to remote villages in Ramechhap district of Nepal.
We work in partnership with a local organization called Tamakoshi Sewa Samiti (TSS). When a village requests help from TSS in building a water system, the village is asked to form a committee and TSS requires that there be a minimum number of women on the committee. Planning and implementing of the work of bringing the water from a local spring into the village is done by this committee with help from TSS, which provides trained technicians to oversee the project.
Once in place, with a secure reservoir and taps within the village, the women and girls of the village (the traditional carriers of water) no longer have to carry water from some remote source. This makes a marked change in their health and well-being. There are other benefits stemming from the process of building their own system. Some of the younger villagers can learn skills such as mixing concrete, which can lead to employment. Women in the village have an increased say in the politics of the village and have more time to devote to other things such as gardening and marketing produce.
We would like to thank the Gay Lea Foundation for this opportunity to further our work. To find out more about the foundation go to https://www.gaylea.com/foundation
There have been dramatic political changes in Honduras and Burkina Faso. Honduras has elected its first woman president, Xiomara Castro with the centre-left Libre Party. In Burkina Faso, the elected president was forced out by the military last weekend. World Neighbours Canada supports rural development programs in both countries – we are watching closely to see how these changes could affect the people we work with.
Honduras is facing multiple crises, with one of the highest murder rates in the world and huge numbers of people attempting to migrate to the United States. Gangs associated with drugs are pervasive. According to news reports, the outgoing president is expected to be indicted by US prosecutors on drug trafficking conspiracy charges. Supporters hope that President Castro will lead positive changes in the country, including less crime, less poverty, and more rights for women. However, the challenges she faces are immense. Before her government was even in place, several newly elected members of Congress defected from Castro’s party and elected their own congressional leader.
The people of Burkina Faso have faced increased attacks from terrorist groups believed to be associated with al-Qaeda and ISIS, a spillover from a conflict that started in Mali more than ten years ago. Recently there have been public protests, expressing dissatisfaction with the government’s inability to restore security in the country. Then on 24 January 2022, the military forced the president to resign, citing the same concerns as expressed by protesters.
The local organizations that partner with World Neighbours Canada in Honduras and Burkina Faso are still functioning normally, and they are experienced in managing through crises, whether political turmoil or natural disasters. We are hoping that the changes in government in both countries will lead to better governance eventually, but at present there is much uncertainty.
In 2020 a “call for stories” was sent out to each partner organization with hopes that people would find the time to participate. This story project was initiated to switch the narrative from having the World Neighbours Canada volunteers tell the stories of those participating in or initiating programs, to having them tell their own stories with as much or as little detail. This is one of those stories. To read more visit Stories.
Juan Armando Méndez, Honduras
My name is Juan Armando Méndez, I am a bricklayer and agroecological producer, partner of the Caja de Ahorro y Crédito Rural “Nueva Generación”. I am married to Mrs. Lucila Idiáquez with an 11-year-old daughter. I live in the community of La Libertad, Azabache Danlí El Paraíso, Honduras.
Before Vecinos Honduras came to my community, I thought I “knew everything”, without having any idea of ”learning new things” this has motivated me more to continue learning; As a way of understanding more about the work of Vecinos Honduras, I always wondered what does it mean to Return to Earth (VH slogan)? Answering me today, “I realize that it is better to be on Earth producing, than to be with a different mind in other directions”. This new knowledge is part of the changes of a person, family and community.
I feel that my life has changed, I learned to respect nature and people, “I see them as my own person, love each other and share with others, the health of my family has changed” is also a process of unlearning some agricultural practices that were negatively affecting me emotionally and were polluting nature.
Together with my family I have a 1.4-hectare plot, diversified with local crops, its main crop is coffee. “I learned to see the plants with affection, applying organic products, taking care of the land,” and now I say, “that if there are no trees, there are no water and without water there is no life”. This philosophy is possible using organic products and stopping using chemical products. This change is not easy but not impossible, and “I have achieved it with the support of my family and Honduran neighbors”. It is already three years from beginning applying only organic products on my plot. At the beginning I lowered the agriculture production, however in this short time I increased by 1% the production from applying organic products, and I have also saved approximately $820.00 in purchase of chemical fertilizers. I feel happy with these changes for the health and economy of my family and community; “using chemicals now offends me.”
After experiencing the amino acid products (liquid) and the Bocachi fertilizer (solid) in my plot, I now share my experience, knowledge and organic product with other producers, so that they can experiment and will be convinced of the effectiveness of the product. Currently I have generated $1,200.00 from the sale of these products; next year I will invest them in expanding my growing area with 0.70 more hectares than I already have.
In addition, I am a member of a “New Generation” Rural Savings and Credit Fund. I feel motivated to be organized in my community, as “if we are not organizing it does nothing”. Being a part of this organization has given a space to market coffee production at a fair price. In the last harvest, I sold 272.15 kg of dry parchment coffee through the Rural Box, obtaining an additional profit of $168.00. “I feel happy because now I am selling the coffee well,” as before I joined this organization, I sold my product badly. Now, for every Kg I am generating an additional $1.61 because the quality of my product has improved and I am marketing through the organization, “I feel very motivated to be part of the organization.”
Together with my family we have a dream of having our coffee maca with the name “I am what I am, pure Azabache coffee”. We are already working to make it come true, it will be an option to improve and take advantage of our production, generating opportunities for families in my community.
Grateful to Vecinos Honduras and their cooperators for the support they have given us as a community, which has been used by most of the families in our community.
World Neighbours Canada is pleased to share some great news! We have been selected as one of 13 organizations in Canada to receive funding from the Fund for Innovation and Transformation (FIT) in its third round of projects.
Our project is in Burkina Faso, working with our longstanding partner organization in the eastern region. All FIT projects have a “testing” or research focus. In our case, we are testing a new approach to supporting women to be entrepreneurs in the fattening of sheep. This involves buying young sheep, raising them well with good care and feeding, and then selling them for a higher price. Compared to breeding and raising sheep, fattening entails lower risks and produces quicker income. Including other family members in the venture is a key part of the project.
The list of projects supported by FIT across Canada is interesting and impressive, and we are pleased to be part of this important initiative. See the full press release and complete list of funded projects here: FIT-Intake-3-Press-Release-.
Cases of COVID-19 are on the decline in the major cities across the country, but villages are becoming the new hotspots for the infection in the country. Villages in Ramechhap are also no exception.
COVID infection is spreading at an alarming rate in rural areas of the district. In most of the villages, testing is very slow and virus is spreading very fast, putting more lives at risk. To make matters worse, the infected people are also wandering freely in the villages. Ramechhap District Health Officer Bhuwan Thapa said that the number of infections has been increasing in rural areas. He said that COVID cases were increasing due to lack of awareness of health protocols.
Patients staying in home isolation, are dying at home as they fear to visit hospitals.
According to statistics with the health office, around 80 per cent of people have tested positive in the villages.
Chief at the District Health Office Jitendra Karna said that of the 115 people who underwent tests, 98 were found infected in Sunapati Rural Municipality.
Chairman Kaman Singh Moktan in Doramba Sailung Rural Municipality said that the infection rate in rural areas had increased due to social functions such as marriage and bratabanda. He said patients with COVID like symptoms were there in most of the houses in rural areas.
Vice-chair Gita Bista of Sunapati Rural Municipality said the rural municipality was at high risk of COVID infection.
CDO Gaulochan Sainju said public awareness programmes had been launched to stem the virus spread. As many as 1,581 people have been infected with the virus in the district so far. Currently, the district has 563 active cases of the virus.