Honduras Free Trade Agreement Alert

Canada signed a free trade agreement with Honduras on 5 November. The agreement has had little coverage by Canadian media, despite the violence that is pervasive in Honduras. Our partner organization in the country reports that violence is a serious impediment to rural development. Note also that elections are scheduled in Honduras on 24 November. We urge Canadians to learn about the situation in Honduras and the implications of a free trade agreement with Canada. For more information please check out the following links.

Announcement from Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada:

Editorial by the Americas Policy Group of the Canadian Council for International Cooperation:

Articles on the free trade agreement and the Honduras election by the American-Canadian organization Rights Action:

Motorcycles and machetes make a big difference – Burkina Faso

Though we at World Neighbours Canada are only able to contribute what some might think a minuscule amount to support the local NGO (APDC ) in the Fada province of Burkina Faso, the reports we receive from this group let us know that that drop in the bucket is able to provide tangible support for them.

The 15000$ Canadian dollars we sent in allotments over the past year has helped to purchase, after much discussion and thought, TWO motorcycles. This has allowed two local permanent employees to more easily reach distant villages that are part of the program more often and to provide support and re-training of women and community leaders in those villages when it is needed. Prior to this, the existing motorcycle was declared unsafe and irreparable and reaching those villages on foot often meant that visits were not made when requested.

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Chorti update

Indigenous women’s project on track despite ‘state of siege’ involving mining companies

It’s been almost a year since the launch of the Chorti Project, on the border between Guatemala and Honduras, and things are on track despite a few early setbacks, said Bruce Petch, President of World Neighbours Canada.

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A 2013 Visit to Nepal

In April, 2013, I had the good fortune to visit Nepal to view the work of a Nepalese NGO, Tamakoshi Sewa Samiti (TSS).  I travelled with Dale Dodge of World Neighbours Canada (WNC) and Jack Nicholson of the Rotary Club of Aldergrove – together with the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), we work with TSS to support water systems, sanitary latrines and smokeless ovens in Nepal.

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Kamloops Network Hosts WNC Guest

The Kamloops Global Awareness Network will be hosting an event called Empowering Communities in Nepal, as the third international guest speaker presentation of the Global Speaker Series, at 7 p.m. on Thursday, March 14, at Desert Gardens Community Centre.

The presentation will be delivered by Suresh Shrestha, executive director of Tamakoshi Sewa Samiti (TSS) and World Neighbours Canada partner NGO in Nepal.

For more information about the event, please see the article on Kamloops Global Awareness Network.


World Neighbours Associate appointed Minister of Agriculture in Guatemala 

Representatives of the Oliver-based World Neighbours Canada (WNC) organization are celebrating a recent announcement that a long-time friend and colleague, Elmer Lopez Rodriguez, has been appointed as Guatemala’s Minister of Agriculture.

On Jan. 14, Guatemala President Otto Perez Molina announced the appointment of Lopez Rodrigez, who had been serving as the Secretary for Rural Affairs.

World Neighbours Canada President Bruce Petch said Elmer was formerly the representative for World Neighbors (U.S). in Central America, and had been a key partner for World Neighbours Canada until he was appointed to the government.

“He is a brilliant and compassionate rural development practitioner and agronomist,” Petch said, adding Elmer worked closely with the group in setting up the La Esperanza program in Honduras.

The La Esperanza Development Program is a long-term program in Honduras, being implemented by Vecinos Honduras, World Neighbours Canada’s major partner in the region. The program’s objectives are to experiment, adapt and spread sustainable agriculture technologies; to strengthen local leadership and management capacity; to promote community and family health practices and to replicate the program in other communities.

What is development looking like in Canada these days?

Last year, in April of 2011, the Canadian International Development Association (CIDA) asked for call for proposals from Non Governmental Organizations (NGO’s) in Canada. This was the traditional way that CIDA decided where to put a sizeable percentage of its foreign aid funds for the past few decades. An NGO, like WNCanada, with a partner, like TSS in Nepal, would canvass people in their working area, find out what type of project would positively affect their quality of life, and then work out a plan to bring the project to fruition. The project plan would be presented to CIDA and if it satisfied the requirements for CIDA funding then CIDA would match our funding by as much as three to one.

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Honduras political 2012

I read of the prison fire that killed 350 prisoners in Comayagua on the morning I flew out of Honduras last February. I wasn’t shocked; it fit into a pattern I had been seeing for the past three weeks of my tour of Central America. As a volunteer with World Neighbours Canada, I was pursuing my decades’ long interest in village development by visiting five long-term projects among the most marginalized people of Honduras and Guatemala.

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Nav Gill reports on Nepal

When change makers spark their mind with a global vision they want to see implemented, the rest of the world witnesses the beginning of something indescribable. Change begins to show itself instead of being locked in our thoughts. Change makers have the motivation and determination to start a movement by collaborating with likeminded individuals. They show us that when we work together we achieve our goals quicker and more efficiently.

navA well known NGO located in Ramechhap, Nepal falls right into that description. Founded by Mr. Jagdish Ghimire & Mrs. Durga Ghimire, Tamakoshi Sewa Samiti (TSS) was the first NGO to start developmental work in one of the least developed districts in Nepal. For 27 years TSS has been helping develop rural villages that are isolated on hill tops through heath programs, drinking water programs, micro irrigation programs, community hygiene and toilet construction programs, smokeless stove programs, and much much more.  The amount of Nepali citizens TSS has helped is beyond imaginable.

With the help of Brita Park from Oliver and Suresh Shrestha from Nepal, I was able to organize a trip into the unique district of Ramechhap to take part in a life changing experience. Nestled within the mountain top just half an hour from Manthali, the capital of Ramechhap, is World Neighbour Canada’s biggest and newest funded water system through TSS.

The village of Tekanpur has been blessed by a water system that reaches out to 105 families and 665 people all together.  The water source is 7.5 km away from the reservoir that holds a capacity of 16,000 litres of water along with another that holds slightly less.  Of course 7.5 km doesn’t sound far, but when your standing on top of a mountain, you realize just how far that is. Throughout the covered area there are 11 public taps with 1 located at a public school.

Citizens of Tekanpur take pride in the system that has been created just for them. On the way up to the reservoir we stopped at 5 taps and every time we approached one a citizen would do the honours of turning it on just to show us they were working. Members of the community are proud to be reaching out to all castes as they took the initiative to inform me that water is also available to the Dalit (untouchable) community.  This truly showed me that gaining a simple living necessity allows us to share our joy and break all bearers that may have separated us.

Throughout WNC and TSS’s work, women’s lives are also improving in rural areas. Before this water system project was implemented women were responsible for walking the hour route just to get one trip of water that had to be carried back. Water was retrieved from natural sources. In the dry season the natural sources would also dry leaving citizens waterless. This water development site now means they have continuous water no matter what season it is.

When driving up to Tekanpur, you wouldn’t imagine there being civilization at such a high elevation and so far from basic accessibility to society in general. My jaw dropped when I saw how many people were actually living here and not just here but on the other mountains that were visible. Imagining their life without these water taps is just not bearable it is unimaginable. I couldn’t believe they walked up and down hill for hours just to fetch a small amount of water. But then you realize that there are still so many forgotten villages on mountain tops that are still waiting for their miracle to arrive.

Having clean and continuous water may not seem as something that would bring an individual happiness as that is an aspect of life even the poorest have access to in Canada. But standing amongst those who had to walk at least an hour just to get 1 trip of water, you take a moment to realize how we take the smallest things for granted.

WNC and TSS aren’t just bringing water to these rural areas, but they are developing lives of women, of castes, and are spreading the pure bliss of smiles and happiness.

World Neighbours Canada has been operating for over 20 years and continues to do an amazing job changing lives in Nepal, Honduras, and Burkina Faso. WNC is indeed a very unique organization as all members work out of their homes to lower admin costs so 100% of donations are sent right to field programs. Not only that, but all donations are matched by the Canadian International Development Agency(CIDA).

Being a citizen of a developed country, it sometimes seems unrealistic as to what our spare change or ten dollar bill we hand to that student who’s walking door to door can do. When participating in SOSS World Neighbours Club’s 24 hour fasts we knew the money we raised was helping someone, but I don’t think we realized just how much it was changing lives. After visiting Ramechhap I will never forget that we can only change the world one step at a time. With your Loonie we may not overcome poverty all together, but just remember that someone’s life will become that much easier and we as a global family become that much closer to our ultimate goal of eradicating poverty.

Thank you World Neighbours Canada for showcasing what a true organization can do when only thinking of the benefit of others. You all are amazing volunteers that we are proud to have within our Okanagan communities.

A huge thank you to TSS in Ramechhap especially  Suresh Shrestha for being such a kind host and taking the time to welcome us into your organization and community.