Nepal Project Partners tour British Columbia

By Dale Dodge

One of the terms of the Global Affairs Canada (GAC) project that WNC is working through presently is that we have to visit the project sites during the project term, and the project partners have also to come to visit Canada.  The purpose of the visit to Canada is to get our partners to talk to Canadians about global issues, rural development issues, gender equity issues and project issues.  The most recent visit by representatives of our partner, Tamakoshi Sewa Sameti (TSS) did that in spades!

Suresh Shrestha, Executive Director of TSS, and Govinda Ghimire, Director on the TSS Board, spent 10 days in Canada and spoke to many different Canadians in many different places.  Let me list the groups:

  • Rotary Clubs – in Aldergrove, Oliver and Kamloops – all supporters of our GAC project
  •  Community groups – in Aldergrove, Cawsten, Oliver, Vernon, Kamloops and Vancouver twice – all ‘town hall’ type meetings with 20 – 30 people each time
  •  Schools – in Kamloops – all others were closed for Spring Break
  • Universities – in Penticton – to builders at the Centre of Excellence in OUC who were interested in the water project and in the earthquake ‘proof’ buildings being built in the past 4 years since the major earthquakes of 2015,
    • and in Kamloops, at TRU, to 60 nursing students studying International Health issues, and were most interested in water, sanitation and health issues
  • Oliver Sikh Temple – thanking them for the very generous donation the Temple gave to our one time Earthquake Appeal in 2015.

It was a very busy 10 days, but these two fellows never stopped smiling and were wonderful ambassadors for WNC, for TSS and for Nepal.

Meet the Team From Nepal: March 2019 Visits

“We work with Tamakoshi Sewa Samiti because it is a pioneer social organization in the region that is committed to social work, working closely with rural populations. We have a good team spirit and are working from the ground up.”

Suresh Shrestha (TSS Project Officer) and Govinda Ghimire (TSS Director) have been working with TSS for over 25 years.

By Nav Gill

Tamakoshi Sewa Samiti, our partner organization in Nepal, is run by dedicated and committed staff members who continue to pave the way forward for rural community development. This  team includes senior staff members Suresh Shrestha (TSS Project Officer) and Govinda Ghimire (TSS Director), who have been with the organization for over 25 years. They’ve both seen the organization grow from a small one room site to what is now an integrated health system of a cooperative credit union, 25-bed co-operative hospital, ambulance, dentistry unit, and rural community development initiatives. In their time, they have worked with various communities to implement over 250 water systems and close to 20,000 latrines!

A typical day for Suresh and Govinda starts at 5:30am. They both start off the day with a 30 minute walk and catch up the news over a cup of tea. The team enjoys breakfast together with other TSS staff members before heading to the office around 9:30 am. On days when the team is working in the field with community members, their days extend to twelve hours. Otherwise, Suresh can often be spotted in the office working on program development, evaluation, monitoring, public engagement and outreach, and reporting elements of the project.

In March 2019, Suresh Shrestha and Govinda will visit various communities in British Columbia to share updates on the current maternal and child health initiatives, funded by the Government of Canada in partnership with World Neighbours Canada. Join us at a public event near you to hear first hand the impact of water and sanitation on community health:

  • Cawston BC March 24, 2019, 1:00pm-2:30pm @ Cawston Community Hall
  • Oliver BC March 25, 2019 7:00pm-8:30pm @ Christ the King Church
  • Vernon BC March 27, 2019 7:00pm-8:30 pm @ Heritage Hall Okanagan Science Centre
  • Vancouver BC March 30, 2019 12:30-pm-2:30pm @ HiVE Vancouver
  • Coquitlam BC March 30, 2019 4:00pm-4:45pm @ Coquitlam City Centre Library

Visit us on Facebook for more information on the upcoming events and our work!

Water and Sanitation for All: Updates from Nepal

Residence of Gagal Bhadaure worked with TSS to install a water system in their community in March 2017. The time to fetch water reduced from approximately 6-8 hours to 5 minutes.

By Nav Gill

Tamakoshi Sewa Samiti (TSS), our partner organization in Nepal, is working tirelessly to ensure that community members have access to potable drinking water and technology to reduce open defecation. The ultimate goal is to ensure individuals can live healthy lives. In 2015, TSS and WNC committed to working on a Global Affairs Canada funded project (2015-2020) to increase child and maternal mortality by engaging communities to build 4,200 latrines and 21 water systems, benefiting over 26,000 individuals.

Over the last 4 years, TSS has worked with communities to install 4,000 latrines and 3 gravity-fed water system across the region and will continue to work on the implement the remaining systems until 2020. TSS has also worked closely with the National Open Defecation Free Zone campaign in Nepal and are proud to announce that Ramechhap is an ODF zone!

The success of TSS’s work is largely due to their unique community development model, where community members are partners in the planning, implementation, and follow-up of the infrastructure development. Community members lead all elements of the program and TSS provides the facilitation and support to do so. Of course, like all development projects the team also faces unique challenges that include geographical barriers, natural disasters, poverty, and human resources. Since TSS team members are from the Ramechhap district, solutions are driven by local culture and understandings.

It’s no surprise that over the last 30 years, TSS has successfully constructed over 200 water systems in the Ramechhap District, ensuring that access to water and sanitation are for the entire community!

TSS is visiting BC in March 2019! Join us at a public event near you to hear first hand the impact of water and sanitation on community health:

  • Cawston BC March 24, 2019, 1:00pm-2:30pm @ Cawston Community Hall
  • Oliver BC March 25, 2019 7:00pm-8:30pm @ Christ the King Church
  • Vernon BC March 27, 2019 7:00pm-8:30 pm @ Heritage Hall Okanagan Science Centre
  • Vancouver BC March 30, 2019 12:30-pm-2:30pm @ HiVE Vancouver
  • Coquitlam BC March 30, 2019 4:00pm-4:45pm @ Coquitlam City Centre Library

Visit us on Facebook for more information on the upcoming events and our work!

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.

The Current Reality of Honduras

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.

Household plumbing.

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.

Vecino Honduras teaches families how to diversify their crops to not only grow coffee but also more food for their family.

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).

A well ordered farm.

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?

Based on skills learned at a Vecinos Honduras workshop she started her own business selling plantain chips and can now feed her family and afford to send her children to school.

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. “

Vecinos Honduras trains local Health Monitors to do regular health check-ups on the community’s children under the age of 5.

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.

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.

 

Kamloops West Rotary Club raises $1000 for World Neighbours with “Fox Hunt”

World Neighbours directors Bruce Petch, Judy Gray and Libby Denbigh, along with family and friends taking part in the Fox Hunt. This photo was titled “Top of the World” and needed to be “A creative photo of the team taken from a rooftop parking lot.”

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.

Big Bad Biker – the team posing beside a Harley Davidson motorcycle … luckily one was found in Riverside Park.

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.

A Reason to Celebrate!

Mr. Govinda from TSS accepts the plaque thanking them for their contribution.

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.

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!

Burkina Faso Update – APDC members safe

The APDC Staff

We are relieved to hear that our APDC affiliates and their families are safe after the terrorist attack in Ouagadougou, the capital of Burkina Faso, March 2nd.

Yesterday, a Mali-based al Qaeda affiliate, Jama’a Nusrat ul-Islam wa al-Muslimin (JNIM), claimed responsibility for the attacks.

Obviously, tensions are high in Burkina Faso and we, in Canada, must wait to see how things play out.

Burkina Faso is one of the twentieth poorest countries in the world. Life expectancy for men is 59 years and women 61. There are large gold deposits in the country but the majority of the population is engaged in agriculture. It is in these subsistence communities that APDC does their work.

For more information on the claims by JNIM see https://www.reuters.com/article/us-burkina-security/al-qaeda-affiliate-claims-responsibility-for-burkina-faso-attacks-idUSKCN1GF0GS

For a brief summary of Burkina Faso see http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-13072774