World Neighbours Canada and the Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations

By Bruce Petch,

World Neighbours Canada takes a practical approach – we want to help people achieve tangible improvements in their lives. Nonetheless it is useful to keep track of trends in international development from a wider perspective. Over the last few years, there has been a lot of attention paid to the “Sustainable Development Goals”. These goals were adopted by all United Nations member states in 2015. There are 17 goals. Goal 1 is no poverty, Goal 2 is zero hunger, Goal 10 is reduced inequality and Goal 13 is climate action, to name a few. They are intended to apply to all countries, not just developing countries. And a key part of the concept is that all the goals are interconnected. The goals (often referred to as the “SDGs”) seem to be mentioned in just about every meeting and document that touches on international development. The high profile of the sustainable development goals has helped to draw attention to the struggles faced by people around the world who are trying to grow enough food for their needs, find enough water, and survive drought and other natural disasters.

Community gardens help improve the health of the community and provide additional funds.

World Neighbours Canada supports the goals, especially the ones central to our mission like no poverty, zero hunger, gender equality and climate action. But we look at the goals from a “results on the ground” perspective. If our programs can be stronger by taking a more integrated approach – for example, the gender equality implications of increasing food crop production – we embrace the concept of the “SDGs.” Our partner organizations have a deep understanding of the connections between the different goals. For example, in Nepal our partner organization has been focusing on goal 6 – clean water and sanitation – but the outcomes they are aiming for are goals 3 (good health and well-being) and 6 (gender equality; women and girls do most of the water-carrying). In Burkina Faso, food security and child malnutrition are critical issues. Our partner organization works in an integrated way towards zero hunger, good health and well-being, gender equality and no poverty. In Honduras, our partner is embarking on a new initiative to provide entrepreneurial training and support for young people in rural areas, touching on goal 8 (decent work and economic growth) and goal 4 (quality education). In every country, we have a long history of ecological approaches to agriculture, which fits with the environmental goal called life on land (number 15).

The Sustainable Development Goals provide a useful framework for a coordinated approach to the alleviation of poverty and better management of finite resources. World Neighbours Canada is inspired by these goals to support our partners in ensuring that people’s lives are impacted in meaningful ways, rather than focusing narrowly on specific outcomes.

20 reasons for gratitude to start 2020

We at World Neighbours Canada feel blessed and this New Years we wanted to share 20 reasons we feel so lucky. These are the reasons as submitted by our board members and volunteers.

  1. I am grateful to all the people in Canada who support World Neighbours Canada year after year. Every donation, large and small, is appreciated and the moral support means as much to us as the financial support.
  2. I am grateful to the staff and volunteers associated with our partner organizations in Nepal, Honduras and Burkina Faso for their tireless dedication to the alleviation of poverty. They are remarkable people who deeply understand the communities where they work and know how to help villagers achieve self-reliance and avoid dependency.
  3. I’m grateful that the staff of our partner organization in Burkina Faso, (Association d’Appui à la Promotion du Développement durable des Communautés – APDC) AND those of our project villages have, to date, escaped being targeted by the Islamist insurgents in the Eastern region of the country. This is a huge concern for all living there and demonstrates the commitment of staff and villagers to implement changes that will improve their lives. 

  4. When our younger daughter died in 2006 she had said that she wanted some of her money to go to Nepal. We were thankful at that time and still are thankful to find World Neighbours. We knew right away we had found the right place to donate Rachel’s money. Water systems seemed so basic and the idea that all the money went to the people and the projects was very satisfying for us. It gave us a purpose and made us see some good coming out of the death of someone in the prime of her life.
  5. I’m grateful for the opportunities my husband and I have had in the past to visit the Fada region of Burkina Faso to see firsthand the work this small local NGO is doing, teaching new skills to the villagers and sharing new ideas so that the beneficiaries are able to become more independent and improve the quality of their lives.
  6. I’m grateful to be a part of World Neighbours Canada as I truly believe that the philosophy of “neighbour helping neighbour”, “a hand up not a hand out” is how lasting change can be achieved.
  7. I’m grateful that World Neighbours Canada’s philosophy includes the notion that change occurs slowly, over generations, and as such we are committed to support our partner NGOs for the long haul.
  8. I’m grateful for the friendships I’ve developed with the staff of APDC and admire and respect the commitment they all demonstrate in continuing to support the villagers during these turbulent and difficult times.
  9. I’m grateful for the support I receive from the other directors of WNC, as this support enables me to complete the necessary reports that need to be submitted.
  10. I’m grateful that Excel spreadsheet is still an acceptable form for accountants and government officials for tracking donations and expenses.
  11. It is wonderful to have different directors responsible for each country project to liaise with and to solve any money transfer issues within their assigned country.
  12. I am grateful I got to visit the projects in Honduras and meet the staff of Vecinos Honduras, who my father had worked with, admired, and told me so much about over the years.
  13. I am grateful for the many service groups, and schools who have allowed us to come in and talk about our organization and the work of our partners.
  14. I am grateful Suresh Shrestha, Executive Director of TSS, and Govinda Ghimire, Director on the TSS Board, were able to visit BC in 2019 and give presentations.
  15. I am grateful for our member organization BCCIC (BC Council of International Cooperation) for the training sessions and other educational opportunities they offer. I have learned a lot.
  16. I am grateful for those who read the articles (print or online), and click on the social media posts.
  17. I am grateful for a federal government that understands that small NGO’s are some of the most effective groups in the world to affect positive change in the world, and continues to fund us.  As with all funding, it could be greater and it could come with a little less paper work, but I am very grateful for what we get.
  18. I am grateful for groups like Rotary in Oliver, Kamloops and Aldergrove who have been supportive and generous for many years.
  19. I am grateful for my wife who lets me go traipsing through the mountains of Nepal on bad roads and in suspect vehicles.
  20. I am grateful to know that the future can include positive change and I look to the upcoming year with hope.

 

Give the gift of potential

The holiday season has begun and if you are looking for a gift that will make both you and the receiver feel joy, please consider making a donation to World Neighbours Canada in their name.

Just click HERE to donate.

With a donation to us you know that 100% of your donations will go to our projects run by our partners in Nepal, Honduras or Burkina Faso as we have no paid Canadian staff and our limited overhead is covered by the directors and GAC. Also , we will send out a personalized hand made card to the person of your choice!

The Canadian dollar goes  a long way in our program areas. So, for the price of some chocolates you help someone build a smokeless stove. It is important to note that we do not just give items, our partners teach communities how to build and repair their own stoves and water systems as well as work to build capacity, gender equality, micro-lending opportunities, and improve maternal and child health.

An example of Material Costs:

$10 – Stovepipe for a smokeless stove (Honduras)

$25 – Materials for a family toilet (Nepal)

$50 – Treatment for one severely malnourished child (Burkina Faso)

$100 – Materials for one community market garden (Burkina Faso)

$100- One community faucet (Nepal)

$100 – Screening children in one village for malnutrition (Burkina Faso)

$300 – Training for a volunteer health monitor or mother guide (Honduras)

Thank you and have a wonderful holiday season!

A busy year in Burkina Faso

By Judy Gray, World Neighbours Canada director,

Despite the insecurity in Burkina Faso a great deal was accomplished by our partner organization APDC and the communities they work with. At a glance, here are just some of the activities and sessions that have taken place during the past year:

Stone bunds are a simple way to retain the limited water available to these farmers
  • The development (adding stone bunds to undeveloped land) and planting of 186 hectares of land by 72 people including 16 women and 56 men. In this activity, women’s participation has increased significantly compared to previous years.
  • The development and planting of 3 hectares of lowland terrain with rice, in the village of Kpentouangou. 74 people including 67 women participated in this activity.
  • This result of the above is a big step forward in terms of access to resources (land) by women and a significant improvement in the gender equality domain.
Community gardens help improve the health of the community and provide additional funds.
  • The functioning of 6 vegetable gardens, including 2 new ones, which produced fresh vegetables, allowing for improved nutrition of children aged 6-59 months and pregnant and nursing women in those villages. Furthermore, the women have increased and diversified their income through the sale of excess vegetables grown.
  • 23 women’s groups planted sweet potato and moringa cuttings in order to minimize malnutrition. Both of these plants are rich in vitamins and grow well in the Sahel, with limited water supply.
Micro lending has proven helpful and profitable for participating women.
  • The dynamisation and functioning of 27 savings and credit groups which include 702 women. This enabled these women to mobilize a total of 5,436,850 West African francs (about $12,000 or approximately $17 per participant) to grant small loans to those in need and provide a means for the women to solve problems. (This seemingly small amount of money is critical to giving a woman some independence and the opportunity to solve a problem herself without needing her husband’s aid or permission.)
  • 33 outdoor video projection sessions on gender and rights, gender and nutrition, gender and family planning strengthened the knowledge of 3,741 people in the 18 villages covered by the project. This will undoubtedly contribute to increased gender equity in the villages.
Regular community training sessions are at the heart of APDC’s work.
  • The training and retraining of 75 leaders (40 women and 35 men) on gender and women’s rights in 14 villages to continue to strengthen and improve gender equity.

Work continues in Burkina Faso despite insecurity

Work continues by APDC and villagers to transform their gardens and lives.

by Judy Gray, World Neighbours Canada director

The security situation in Eastern Burkina Faso has deteriorated since the beginning of 2019. APDC, our partner organization reports that, “In relation to the implementation of activities, we can say that the issue of insecurity has not improved. There was even an attempt to prevent producers from returning to farming activities by executing 2 peasants in the Kompienga (Pama) area who were working in their fields. But in the area of ​​Fada, not having known this case, the producers continued to engage in their work in fields to procure the productions necessary for the survival of their households.”

APDC director Charles Tankoano had also noted earlier in the year that “terrorist attacks have reduced the pace of activities and everyone lives in fear. Terrorists in the project area sometimes ask the villagers what the purpose of a meeting is. Also, information sessions and debates held at night have been suspended. Due to this insecurity, no major events such as the commemoration of 8 March 2019 (International Women’s Day) could be held in the project area. ”

One might assume that given the issues with insurgents and jihadist groups that the villagers and APDC staff might be ready to consider cancelling planned sessions and activities. Yet, this is not what we hear: “In this, the 4th year of our grant from Global Affairs Canada, the Burkina team continues to implement and expand project activities.” Tankoano explains that one of the most important positive factors is the availability and reliability of the funding and that is due to the support World Neighbours Canada currently receives from Global Affairs Canada.

The unrest has made from World Neighbours Canada impossible. The travel advisories published by the Canadian Government have continued to place a growing number of provinces in Burkina Faso in the “Red Zone” – in other words all travel is suspended. It has now been two years since a WNC director visited. It is clear that any such visit would put the staff of APDC and the villagers at tremendous risk, as well as the directors themselves.

While it saddens me that I can’t visit this country I have come to love and re-connect with staff whom I consider to be friends, I am so impressed by the work this small team continues to implement to allow the villagers to make positive changes to their lives in the face of extreme challenges. One can only hope that the situation improves in the coming year.

Stay tuned as we will publish an article outlining all that has been accomplished this year in Burkina Faso.

If you wish to read a more complete summary of the Annual Report, please look at the Program Areas page.

How Does Gender Equity Work? World Neighbours Canada Localizes the Big Question

The following is an article written by Gurleen Grewal for the British Columbia Council for International Cooperation (BCCIC), featuring the work done by World Neighbours partners. This article and many others can be accessed on their website at https://www.bccic.ca/how-does-gender-equity-work-world-neighbours-canada-localizes-the-big-question/#

By: Gurleen Grewal 

The drive to work towards gender equity propels transformative action in communities all around the world. Taking a look at three places where gender equity has been introduced in initiatives dealing with water and sanitation systems, nutrition and food security, and maternal and child health, we want to talk about how this concept is relevant across a variety of contexts. The three examples that follow each share how the nuts and bolts of gender equity come together, and how transformative change begins with tangible steps.

Where are the Women? Connecting Gender Equity to Water and Sanitation Systems

In Nepal’s eastern Ramechhap District, the organization, Tamakoshi Sewa Samiti (TSS), provides materials and technical training to villagers who plan, build, and maintain water systems in their remote communities. Many villagers decide to extend the benefits of the water systems into sanitation, installing sealed toilets. The combined effect of water and sanitation systems is that villagers can easily access water that is safe to drink, and significantly lower the occurrence of gastrointestinal disease.

After committing to deepening their understanding of how gender impacts development work, TSS noted that women were often underrepresented in the committees that planned for water systems. To address this issue, a few years ago TSS introduced quotas to integrate women into decision-making spaces, supporting their participation in water-user committees that operate at the village level. Following this act, they later organized a training session to develop a more nuanced take on how gender relates to health, and conducted an analysis of how gender impacts the lived experiences of those in the eastern regions of Nepal. In the upcoming year, TSS plans to offer diversity and inclusion training within water-user committees. They hope to use the conversations this process brings about to explore gendered divisions of labour, getting down to the fine points of which tasks are important for an individual on a daily basis according to their gender. While expanding their focus on gender equity, TSS has kept pace with capacity building, anticipating future moments of potential and setting the stage to enact the solutions that emerged from their gendered analysis of the field of water and sanitation.

One of the outcomes of bringing women to the table in water-user committees at TSS was having the gendered impacts of water systems, their links to women’s reproductive and menstrual health, come to light. For instance, the installation of water systems in remote villages reduces the time women spend travelling to collect water by up to two-to-eight hours. This translates to an improvement in the physical and psychological health of women and girls, as they are tasked with collecting water. The positive health effects of water systems further support women during their pregnancy and postnatal periods, and lower child mortality. With water and sanitation systems it also becomes easier to maintain menstrual hygiene, an important consideration in communities where the stigma around menstruation is high. Recognizing that enabling women to be active agents in their communities is a fraught and ongoing endeavour that requires negotiating social practices, household resources, and other local barriers, TSS has still managed to make headway in integrating gender equity into their programs. In return, they have seen the positive effects of gender equity within their organization, and of course, across villages in Nepal.

“The Whole Family Wins”: Unpacking Gendered Divisions of Labour

The Association d’Appui à la Promotion du Développement Durable des Communautés (APDC) operates across eighteen villages in Fada, an eastern part of Burkina Faso. Their program encourages the prevention and treatment of childhood diseases, attends to family planning, improves food security, and boosts the participation of women in leadership roles in community organizations. By combining educational and practical activities, APDC fosters inter-generational growth that translates to positive outcomes in nutrition and health, but also in gender equity.

In the push to strengthen women’s social and economic positions, APDC looks at the links between gender equity and related issues like child nutrition and food security, by offering training sessions that teach women how to raise poultry and fatten sheep. According to Charles Tankoano, the Executive Director of APDC, the women who participate in these training sessions become like “business manager[s].” They take responsibility for overseeing the daily tasks of tending to the animals, manage all the expenses related to these tasks, and decide how to spend the financial resources that come from the animals. Tankoano shares that many men agree to help their wives succeed in these training sessions by collecting and storing fodder to feed the animals, constructing workshops for fattening, and selling the animals then returning the money to the women. By tying women to processes of food production and income-generation this activity elevates their social and economic positions. Some of the men who take part in these sessions come to see women more as co-partners, with the ability and authority to make decisions within the family and the village.

In addition to offering training sessions on food production methods, APDC invites men and women to attend gender sensitization sessions. Here, they explain what gender equity is and why it matters, develop communication skills between men and women, and look at human rights and reproductive health. These sessions make the abstract ideas of gender, and of gender equity, both personal and accessible. This is a key step in coordinating efforts for women’s empowerment and ensuring that men are on board. Across the eighteen villages that APDC works with, many of the men who took part in gender sensitization sessions shared their stories. Some men had started helping women with household chores that had been considered “exclusively” gendered forms of labour, such as childcare. Before, it was said that if a man “touches the spatula used to make le to (a Burkinabe dish), he becomes impotent.” But, the prejudices associated with gendered divisions of labour have been weakened by building awareness around the communal and financial benefits of gender equity. For instance, more men now realize that if they contribute to household work their wives will be able to participate in income-generating activities so that “the whole family wins.”

While APDC has worked in the Fada region of Burkina Faso since 2008, they still face a number of challenges in advocating for gender equity. As they work to bring about transformative changes that contradict the patriarchal power structures organizing entire households and villages, APDC has to think long-term. They think on the level of generations, looking to the future and the past as they strategize on how to address the local issues that call upon them today. They celebrate the small victories of men who understand the importance of validating their wives’ work, while acknowledging the struggles of altering deeply embedded social and cultural practices.

Tools for Trust: Building Community Capacity Through Gender Equity

Vecinos Honduras (VH) has a complementary approach to development. They work in the departments of Valle and El Paraíso, which are in the southern and eastern parts of Honduras. They tend to stay in an area between six to eight years. Initially, they integrate into communities by hosting educational initiatives on child nutrition or optimizing crop production. VH then slowly becomes involved in training local leaders so that they can organize these kinds of initiatives, learn the ins and outs of project-planning, and manage funds. For VH, the eventual goal is to cultivate communities with the capacity to take development projects from imagination to implementation.

Equipped with a toolkit of activities addressing topics such as water and agriculture, labour divisions, household relationships, and other parts of community capacity-building, VH embraces a holistic view of development. Under this umbrella, every time VH layers in a focus on gender equity, its effects amplify across the different components of community that they address. Attuned to the order in which conversations occur, they are careful to first introduce activities that cement trust with communities and only later implement programs that explore issues more guarded by social norms, such as gendered divisions of labour. VH pays attention to local contexts, adapting their communications to suit the specific needs of those they seek to work with, rather than using a top-down, one-size-fits-all approach. This strategy is crucial to nurturing connections with, and staying in communities long-term.

Similar to APDC in Burkina Faso, VH also tends to maternal and child health. They focus on lowering mortality and morbidity among mothers and infants using evidence-based initiatives such as weighing sessions. Here, mothers bring infants and young children in to be weighed, and community volunteers monitor body weight to gauge health and nutrition. Gathering together, the mothers create a space where they exchange stories on child-rearing, and learn how to harness available resources to best nourish their children. Within these spaces, community volunteers often facilitate discussion on methods of child-care that mothers can add to their toolkits. During a visit to Honduras, VH’s Canadian partner organization, World Neighbours Canada (WNC), noticed that men were not often present at weighing sessions. WNC wondered whether this was an impediment to gender equity. But, through the local insight of VH, they found that the social environment women fostered in the weighing sessions was vital to their identification as a collective. It was a space for them to connect with each other, and themselves, as they puzzled their way through the complexities of motherhood. Bringing men in to this space would disrupt that dynamic. So, as WNC realized the question of gender equity cannot always be reduced to a number, like the number of men and women in a room. Instead, it is equally important to take into account what the purpose of a space is, what happens there and for whom. Besides, one of the motivating markers for the men joining the agricultural training sessions VH does is the idea that diversifying crops will help serve their children’s nutritional needs. Thus, fathers care deeply for the wellbeing of their children, even if they do not come to weighing sessions.

Each of the three organizations we look at here works across three very different localities, and makes gender equity relevant to their needs through the seemingly unrelated notes of water and sanitations, food production, and child nutrition. The factor that unites TSS in Nepal, APDC in Burkina Faso, and VH in Honduras is World Neighbours Canada. WNC works with these three partner organizations to provide support with training local leaders and implementing grassroots programs. They work with the goal of promoting self-reliance by empowering TSS, APDC, and VH to identify and hone local resources to solve problems. In each of their encounters with partner organizations they are careful to listen to the needs of local communities, trusting their expertise in understanding the nuances around development. Establishing this trust is essential in working towards gender equity: a goal that extends across generations. If making transformative change means preparing the resources necessary to support that change, then WNC and its partners chart a promising course for the future as they look at what exists now and imagine what can be, empowering local people to size up the challenges they face and plan how to respond.

Burkina Faso suffers from terrorist attacks

By Judy Gray

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.

The APDC Staff

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.

Reflecting on progress in Maternal-Child Health

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.

 

The Strength of World Neighbours Canada – Enduring Partnerships and Mutual Respect

Mother and her children at health education session. Honduras

By Bruce Petch

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.

Community Meeting – Nepal

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.

Local NGO APDC leading workshop in Burkina Faso

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.

Finished Tap No. 6. – Nepal

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.

Community members are taught how to test and treat for malnutrition.

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.

This plantain harvest will help feed the family.

Au Revoir Charles!

World Neighbours Canada hosted Charles Tankoano, Executive Director of the NGO APDC (Association d’Appui à la Promotion du Développement durable des Communautés) – our partner NGO in Burkina Faso, from March 8-17. In that time he traveled with one of our Directors, Judy Gray and her husband Peter, from Kamloops to Osoyoos, and then on to Vancouver. During this time he gave 17 presentations, to roughly 450 people, in 8 days. He spoke to elementary, secondary and university students (some in English and some in French) as well as several presentations to the public.

He was able to conduct a video conference with GAC staff in Ottawa (thanks to facilities and support provided by the BC Council for International Cooperation). Furthermore, BCCIC staff conducted an in-depth interview with Charles and an article about him and the work of APDC will appear soon in the BCCIC newsletter.

We feel that the tour was hugely successful. Charles was deeply honoured to be invited to come to Canada and share the activities of APDC. Conversely, all the groups that Charles presented to were surprised by the number of activities APDC is undertaking and felt they learned a considerable amount through the presentations about the work that GAC and WNC are supporting in a little known and extremely poor country in West Africa, namely Burkina Faso.

A special thank you goes to Judy and Peter who not only played host but helped with the presentations. Judy acted as translator, as Charles only speaks French, for many of the presentations and interviews, and Peter ran the technical side of the presentation making sure the projector and slide shows worked to compliment the talk.

Despite the exhausting pace, and that there was little time to recover from jetlag, we hope that Charles enjoyed his visit to Canada. Despite thinking it was very cold here he did have fantastic sunny days for traveling and a short tour around Stanley Park. He even had a bit of time for a little shopping!

Charles Tankoano’s recent visit was made possible through a World Neighbours Canada Society grant from Global Affairs Canada under the Maternal Newborn Child Health initiative.

Merci!