In Azabache, we met with the Empresa Campesino Union and Esfuerzo Collective. This micro credit organization was created in order for the
members to be able to receive small loans. As individual farmers it is almost impossible to receive a loan from a bank. Most of the loans that are needed are actually quite small. They are often in order to buy food to help the families get through the dry season when their supplies run out. Sometimes those loans are for home improvements, farm upgrades or business needs.
As an organization they were able to receive an interest free loan from Vecinos Honduras (with the support of Groundswell International). Members could then borrow from that amount. Men pay 2% interest and women pay 1%. The more money they borrow and pay back the greater their share of the profits. Profits stay in the organization. So far, they have paid back their original loan and now have enough money in the bank to fulfill future loans.
This organization was created informally about 5-6 years ago as part of VH’s holistic approach to community development. In the last year and a half, they have become a legal entity, which is a complicated and bureaucratic process that requires ongoing administration and oversight. This was done to ensure the future of the initiative. World Neighbours Canada has been supporting the training of the local
volunteers to ensure it satisfies its legal requirements.
It was noted that many of the women present had been involved in other Vecinos Honduras initiatives over the past twelve years. One woman expressed that while they would like to keep working with Vecinos Honduras and would like them to stay in the community, they also know that they have the skills and dedication to carry one, not just for themselves but for the entire community.
This February, World Neighbours Canada (WNC) board members Gabriel Newman and Judy Gray along with WNC volunteer Peter Gray visited Honduras to see the work that was being done by our partners there, Vecinos Honduras. They will be sharing stories and information that they have gathered over the next few months. Write up by Gabriel Newman. Photos by Judy Gray.
An American international development organization called Groundswell International (with which we have many connections) has produced an inspiring set of films produced by youth in Burkina Faso, Honduras, Nepal and Ecuador. The films are modest and genuine, not slick and professional. They provide insights into the lives of rural people in each country, and what they are doing to grow more food. It is impressive that the films were made by amateur youth filmmakers.
Please take some time to watch these films. Seldom do we hear stories that come so directly from people in developing countries, without adornment.
Note that the films do not cover programs supported by World Neighbours Canada, but they do reflect the reality and experiences of the people we work with in Burkina Faso, Honduras and Nepal.
We are excited to share the recording of Field to Film: Youth Storyteller Film Festival. It was a truly uplifting event, and we wanted to offer you another chance to watch and to share with others.
Young people shared their stories, through their videos, about how they and their communities are creating healthy farming, food systems, and futures from the ground up. Odette (Burkina Faso), Gelder (Honduras), Champha (Nepal), and Lenin (Ecuador) joined to share perspectives on their work and what being a Youth Storyteller means to them.
We were thrilled (and a bit surprised) that we were able to overcome technical, language interpretation, and time zone constraints to create this space for young people’s voices.
Please donate today so that we can continue supporting young people to create and share ground up solutions to feed the world and regenerate land and communities.
Recently WNC published a new addition to the website that focuses on the personal experience of those involved with WNC and our partner organizations. We received both written stories and images, as well as a video submission from Nepal! If you are looking to read more about our partners and the work that is being enacted in Honduras, Nepal and Burkina Faso from another angle, you can find the link to these stories here: https://worldneighbours.ca/stories/
Here is the first story that we will be sharing about Woba from Burkina Faso:
“It has been 6 years since APDC helped me get involved in the animal fattening activity (l’embouche). So APDC supported me with a loan of 30,000 francs and I paid for a sheep. I paid 25,000 for the sheep and I raised it for a year. After that, I sold the sheep for 50,000; I took the 50,000cfa and I bought two sheep. So I raised them for two years. And then I sold the two sheep for 150,000. And I removed 100,000cfa and I paid for a calf (a baby cow). So the money that was left, I helped to pay the school fees for my children and also I bought clothes for my family. Clothes to clothe them. This year I embarked in sheep fattening, and now also beef fattening boivine. So now, now I am raising and fattening steers. So, I want to say thank you to APDC and the partners who have supported me because they have helped me a lot”
For those of you wanting to read these stories but not all at the same time, they will be shared on our social media sites over the coming months.
Although most people reflected on 2020 on New Year’s Eve, we would like to use today’s post to do a small reflection and summary.
This year has been hard for most. It has forced people to change their lifestyles, their ways of thinking, interacting, and connecting. For us, we believe that although 2020 was a year of hardship, it has made us and many others more grateful for the things we have, the things we have accomplished, the people in our lives and the connections, both through online mediums, but especially in person. It has made us more present and appreciative of those who are in front of us and the special moments that are created with others.
This year we had the privilege of hosting Edwin Escoto from Vecinos Honduras for two weeks in March. This year we all experienced a global pandemic and had our lives flipped upside down. This year we were able to work with BCCIC in their outreach project surrounding COVID response. This year Burkina Faso experienced increased terrorism within their country, including an attack on an animal market close to where our partner organization APDC works. This year saw Hurricanes Eta and Iota rip through Honduras and create extensive damage to farms and other infrastructure. This year saw a strict lockdown in Nepal in response to COVID-19, causing the deferral of village water system construction until early 2021.
Overall, 2020 has been quite the year. However, with all of these events, we have been able to learn from them and as a result are grateful for a number of things. We were grateful this year to welcome Edwin to Canada and to do a tour around British Columbia. We were grateful to reach out and find new people to join the World Neighbours Canada community, whether through volunteering, donating, or following the activities of our partners. We were grateful that online mediums made it possible for us to continue to connect with our partners throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, whether about projects or the health and safety of the communities where they work. Although this switch to communicating more frequently online was necessary during the pandemic, it has made us even more excited to connect again in person with our partners and those within our community.
Covid had shaken up the Honduran way of life and the work of Vecinos Honduras. While the effort has shifted away from capacity building, education, and agriculture to health care prevention, it is clear that the capacities that have been built up in the preceding years to give the community the confidence to take action themselves. Here is a list of some of the unexpected effects of the pandemic. Some are good and some are not. It is taken from the Covid-19 Emergency Response Report for April 8-June30th.
A group of young people and farmers are working collectively to create a strategic grain reserve. Three (3) groups of farmers (from Claveles #1, Boneton and Buena Esperanza) are sowing 10.2 acres of bean using seed that was given to them and the Saving and Credit Group. In El Progreso 1.7 acres of corn are being planted.
A group of young people (Alianza Juvenil) created a plan for vegetable planting, because there were no vegetables in the convenient stores.
Health volunteers from the project’s influential communities are carrying out disease prevention actions mainly for COVID-19 and Dengue. They have also coordinated with other communities in neighbouring villages.
Conflicts between people have increased, due to resistance to compliance by some people who are not aware of the existence of the pandemic.
A Case of Dengue was presented in the community of Casas Nuevas, which is why the community health committee has strengthened hygiene actions in the community, developing clean-up campaigns and raising awareness among families in the proper management of garbage.
Many activities unfortunately were not carried out in the field (workshops, meetings, monitoring and evaluation of the program) due to the pandemic and the provisions implemented by the SINAGER National Risk Management System.
If you are wondering how to honour your mother or grandmother this Mother’s Day, why not consider making a donation in her name to World Neighbours Canada and have your money go directly to support mothers not as fortunate as yours.
All our projects support some of the poorest women in areas of Nepal, Honduras and Burkina Faso and provide opportunities for women, and often mothers, to learn skills that will allow them to earn a little money of their own, improve their health and better care for their children. This is especially true right now, as we all attempt to deal with the life-changing effects of COVID-19.
Should you wish to have a card sent to your mother as a memento of your gift, please send an email to the following address: ( firstname.lastname@example.org ), along with your name and the name and address of the recipient and a card will be mailed shortly.
I recently came across two articles which describe the current situation in Burkina Faso as it teeters on the verge of a major crisis. During these strange and unusual times when COVID-19 is at the forefront of everyone’s mind, one would expect the virus to be the number one concern in Burkina Faso also and it is certainly mentioned regularly. However, in the Eastern region where our project villages are, there is an even greater worry right now – the daily fear of jihadist terrorists entering a village and harming individuals. Charles Tankoano, coordinator of our local partner organization, keeps us updated on these difficulties but also reports that his staff continue to support people as much as they can. We are actively discussing with Charles if and how the program needs to change to meet people’s needs and keep staff safe.
The following excerpt from an article published in a journal, The Intercept, describes the situation in the country:
Burkina Faso has seen more than its share of hardships: poverty, drought, hunger, coups. But the coronavirus poses a new kind of threat to a country wracked by a war that has displaced around 700,000 Burkinabe in the last year. Many of those people now find themselves under great physical and emotional strain, lacking proper shelter, food, and the other necessities — all of which makes them more vulnerable to the pandemic. Experts fear that Covid-19 could decimate entire settlements of Burkina Faso’s displaced. The number of IDPs (Internally Displaced Persons), will soon reach 1 million. [Though the number of IDPs is much lower in the Eastern region where our project villages are located, the same situation is occurring as families flee their villages to avoid living with the fear of terrorists, according to Charles Tankoano in his recent semi-annual report].
While Burkina Faso has recently adopted a Covid-19 response plan that takes IDPs into account, it doesn’t change the fact that 135 health centers in the country have closed due to violence, 140 have reduced their services, and 1.5 million Burkinabe now depend on humanitarian health assistance. Covid-19 will exacerbate an already dire situation.
Survivors of a recent attack on Rofenega (northern region, close to Mali) recounted a story that is increasingly common among farmers and cattle herders in rural Burkina Faso. Armed men on motorbikes roared into villages just before dusk and began shooting. “They shot our men at the gates of our homes,” Dialla Seybata, a 50-year-old survivor of the massacre, also stranded in Kaya, told The Intercept. [To date, there have been no deaths in the project villages supported by World Neighbours Canada, but the unannounced arrival of terrorists is occurring more and more frequently. According to Mr. Tankoano, the terrorists are preventing information sessions from taking place and even preventing the planned agricultural improvements from getting underway].
Another article, published by the UN News, paints a similar picture about the current critical situation in Burkina Faso:
The number of food-insecure people in Burkina Faso is expected to triple in the next lean season…Humanitarians have repeatedly warned that chronic insecurity linked to successive drought and violent extremists who exploit the lack of a strong State presence have created an unavoidable crisis, which WFP said has now extended to the coastal countries of Sierra Leone and Liberia. Forecasts indicate that Burkina Faso will see food insecurity more than triple, to more than 2.1 million people in June, up from at least 680,000 at the same time last year.
“This is a crisis layered on top of a crisis, and the situation risks getting out of hand,” said Chris Nikoi, the World Food Programmes’s Regional Director for West Africa. “People are on the brink – we must step up now to save lives – we are the only hope for millions.”
Here are the links to these two articles in their entirety:’
The evolving COVID-19 crisis has reached the countries where World Neighbours Canada provides support. More than any previous disaster, this crisis reminds us that we are all “world neighbours” and our fortunes and misfortune are linked together. One of our partner organizations in the U.S., Groundswell International, stated it aptly – we are one human family and community. Our partner organizations in Burkina Faso, Honduras and Nepal are facing a great deal of uncertainty because the health systems in their countries are not at all prepared for an epidemic on this scale. Nonetheless, the organizations and the communities they serve have faced disaster before – whether hurricanes or flooding or earthquakes or insurgencies – and pulled together in solidarity. We stand with them and hope that the communities will recover quickly.
Burkina Faso had the misfortune to experience the first COVID-19 death in Africa. As of today, there are 207 confirmed cases and 11 deaths. Our partner organization, APDC, is still operating but they are not optimistic about the course of the disease: “All the members of APDC and their families are doing well. We are currently spared from the Coronavirus. But everyone is afraid because our health system cannot provide care. Our state is far from being able to afford to effectively cope with this epidemic if it gains momentum.” As if the virus were not enough, attacks by terrorists continue to plague the East Region of the country where APDC operates (the North has faced even more violence).
Honduras reports 110 confirmed cases and two deaths so far. The government has imposed strict controls on the population (a lockdown, as in many countries). Our partner organization, Vecinos Honduras notes that, “poor families do not have enough food and water in their homes, and I do not think they can bear this situation.” Vecinos Honduras is not able to continue their work in villages. Staff are largely confined to their homes, but the organization is carrying on with whatever work they are able to do through remote communication and virtual meetings.
Nepal reports only five confirmed cases so far. The government decided to lockdown the entire nation for at least one week starting on March 24th. And they have cancelled all tourist visas for the entire climbing season. The mobility of people and vehicles (except for emergencies) is halted. Our partner organization, Tamakoshi Sewa Samiti, runs a small hospital in the district (Ramechhap) – it remains open and they have prepared an isolation ward. An engineer from Kathmandu is visiting Ramechhap as a part of final evaluation of the current drinking water program. He is now stranded in Ramechhap until the lockdown is lifted. We had planned to send two World Neighbours Canada directors and a Rotarian from Oliver to do a final monitoring tour of the current project supported by Global Affairs Canada, but the trip was cancelled.
Everyone associated with World Neighbours Canada feels a bond with the communities that we support, and we are very concerned as the coronavirus threatens lives and livelihoods. Over the next weeks and months, we will keep in touch with our partner organizations and stand ready to support them as much as we are able.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I’m grateful that Excel spreadsheet is still an acceptable form for accountants and government officials for tracking donations and expenses.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I am grateful for those who read the articles (print or online), and click on the social media posts.
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.
I am grateful for groups like Rotary in Oliver, Kamloops and Aldergrove who have been supportive and generous for many years.
I am grateful for my wife who lets me go traipsing through the mountains of Nepal on bad roads and in suspect vehicles.
I am grateful to know that the future can include positive change and I look to the upcoming year with hope.