APDC staff and families safe

posted by Judy Gray with information from APDC staff in Burkina Faso

Yesterday I received emails from the APDC coordinators, Charles Tankoano and David Lankoandé, letting us know that all the staff of our partner NGO, and their families were safe and not harmed in the horrific attack which took place in the capital, Ouagadougou, on Sunday evening. Lydia Tapsoba, the gender consultant for the project who lives in the capital, was also unharmed but  unfortunately one of her co-workers was killed during the attack. Here are some of the words they have used to describe the attack:

“C’est trop pour ce petit pays qui souffre déjà … c’est très triste.” (Lydia)  “C’est malheureux ce qui arrive … mais la vie continue.” (David)

It is clear that the citizens of this very poor country, who in my experience are such a warm-hearted, tolerant and hardworking people, continue to suffer at the hands of a few religious extremists. But, as always, they pick themselves up and carry on, refusing to let the actions of terrorists harm their philosophy and the love of their country. I came across this article on the BBC News website which provides some insight into the recent attacks: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-39279050

There are a number of articles that discuss the attack and its ramifications and we will update the website with information over the next few days.

 

Learning more about terrorist threats in West Africa

posted by Judy Gray, WNC director,  with information from an article in The Straits Times 

During a recent perusing of news items from a variety of media sources, an article in the Singapore Straits Times, about terrorist activity in West Africa caught my husband’s eye. After our recent, and extremely rewarding trips to Burkina Faso, any article that mentions Burkina is of especial interest to us. Though security in the country is not a paramount issue at this time, we certainly hear our partner NGO (APDC) staff mention the threat that exists if one were to travel to border areas – especially anywhere near the border with Mali. Fortunately, our project work seems to be in a safe part of the country. Nevertheless, the following article reminds us of the concern that the Burkinabe people face with respect to terrorists who may infiltrate their country wishing to disturb the peace and religious tolerance of the citizens and certainly an atmosphere that we have experienced. Read on, to learn more ….     “Before Ibrahim Malam Dicko became Burkina Faso’s first-ever Islamist militant leader, his sermons were so popular that listeners thronged to the radio station that broadcast them to obtain the recordings.

Today, the mosque in northern Djibo province where the slight, unimposing man used to preach is closed, and the mud-brick walls of his village’s school are riddled with bullet holes. Hundreds of people have fled as soldiers hunt the West African nation’s most-wanted man, who is known as Malam, or teacher.

Dicko’s transformation from popular preacher to an advocate of Islamist violence has dented Burkina Faso’s reputation for religious tolerance and mirrors a wider trend in West Africa.”

To read the entire article, click on the link:  http://www.straitstimes.com/world/africa/west-african-nations-take-action-as-extremism-worsens

 

Nepal Prime Minister Prachanda resigns

After a nine-month period, Nepal Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal “Prachanca” has resigned.

WNC partner Suresh Shrestha explains:

“Yes, our Prime Minister has resigned,” said Suresh. “The current government is a coalition government between the Maoist and Nepali Congress.”

He said that 10 months ago, it was agreed between these two parties that the first nine months will be led by Moist and another nine months will be led by Nepali Congress.

As per this agreement, the prime minister resigned after the first phase of local body election, as per the deal with Nepali Congress. For the formation of next government, there is also basic process. The president will first urge to form

“For the formation of next government, there is also basic process. The president will first urge to form all-party government, if fails then request for majority government. The next government will be likely to led by Nepali Congress.”

More news about this can be found here: Nepal Prime Minister Prachanda resigns

Introducing another Vecinos Honduras volunteer

information from Balvina Amador – project coordinator for Vecinos Honduras; posted by Judy Gray

We are happy to have received information from Balvina Amador, project coordinator with Vecinos Honduras, our partner NGO in Honduras. She has provided us with photos and key information about the individuals who are working at the grassroots level to model and support villagers who wish to improve their lives. Without these local leaders, implementation of new technologies and ideas would be difficult to achieve. Our project partners are also benefitting from the financial support provided by Global Affairs Canada through our Maternal Child Health grant. Here is our second bio:

Teodora lives in the community of Matasano, San Antonio de las Guarumas. She is 46 years old, and has participated in trainings in the  Vecinos Integral Development programme of Las Guarumas since 2011. She is also a homemaker who is dedicated to caring for her family and the community. Teodora has served as a health volunteer in her community for many years and in 2015 she trained to be a Health Monitor which included training in AIN-C and early stimulation. She has had direct coordination with Vecinos Honduras and the Maternal and Infant Health Project. Teodora also serves on the health committee and is a Water Administrator for her community. She attended school through 3rd grade.

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.

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.

 

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.

Introducing a Vecinos Honduras’ volunteer …

information from Balvina Amador – project coordinator for Vecinos Honduras; posted by Judy Gray

ROMELIA CÁRDENAS, Guide Mother with Vecinos Honduras

We are happy to have received information from Balvina Amador, project coordinator with Vecinos Honduras, our partner NGO in Honduras. He has provided us with photos and key information about the individuals who are working at the grassroots level to model and support villagers who wish to improve their lives. Without these local leaders, implementation of new technologies and ideas would be difficult to achieve. Our project partners are also benefitting from the financial support provided by Global Affairs Canada through our Maternal Child Health grant.

Here is our first bio:

Romelia is a 54 year old mother and community leader living in San Jose where she is dedicated to running her home. From 2010-2014 she worked in community development with the support of World Vision. In 2014 she met a staff member of Vecinos Honduras and in 2015 she began receiving training in basic sanitation, food preparation, healthy eating, stove improvements, child nutrition and livestock management. In 2016 she integrated herself as a volunteer Guide Mother in her community and since then has been ensuring that the children in her community are growing and developing adequately. Romelia attended school until 6th grade and what she enjoys most is to care for the children of her friends and neighbours. She has worked in directive positions for groups such as the Society of Family Parents.

Exploring the Historical Roots in Nepal: Celebrating 28 Years of Partnership

by Navjot Gill, WNC director

As the youngest member on the WNC Board of Directors, I had the unique opportunity to explore the historical roots of our community partnership in Ramechhap, Nepal during a short visit to the country in early January 2017.

Mrs. Durga Ghimire and I sharing 28 years of partnership between WNC and TSS.

This year, we are celebrating 28 years of partnership with Tamakoshi Sewa Samiti (TSS is our partner organization in Nepal). TSS was established in 1984 by the late Mr. Jagadish Ghimire and Mrs. Durga Ghimire. Throughout the years, I have had the pleasure of reflecting back on the early days of the organization through stories that were shared by individuals who have been part of the movement since the 1980s, such as Suresh Shrestha (current program coordinator) and Dr. Suman Karmacharya (current physician at TSS hospital). I remember sitting in the TSS courtyard and following the descriptive narrative of what the buildings and facilities looked like 10, 15, and 20 years ago. Often, I have had the honour of hearing about the Ghimire family, the family’s vision and commitment that inspired the creation of TSS and how their roots in social justice created a community-based foundation for everyone to build from.

This visit, I had the honour of meeting with Mrs. Durga Ghimire and her son, Himal Ghimire. It was truly a unique experience to learn about their journey with social justice, literature, and advocacy in regards to Ramechhap and also at the national level. Mrs. Ghimire is a renowned activist for women’s rights, safe migration and human trafficking. She founded Agroforestry, Basic health and Cooperative Nepal (ABC Nepal), which is an organization that is grounded in advocating for the rights of women and dismantling human trafficking practices. Further, the late Mr. Jagadish Ghimire is remembered by the nation for his great contributions to Nepal’s literature, his lifelong commitment to activism and grassroots planning, and his political contributions. On this occasion, we sat, reflecting back on TSS, sharing a meal together, and fostering a relationship that started 28 years ago by folks at World Neighbours Canada, some who we are still honoured to have on our Board, and others whom we miss dearly.