This page is dedicated to those who have been involved with World Neighbours Canada in past years as well as our partner organizations in Burkina Faso (Association d’Appui à la Promotion du Développement Durable des Communautés), Nepal (Tamakoshi Sewa Samiti), and Honduras (Vecinos Honduras).
In 2020 a “call for stories” was sent out to each partner organization with hopes that people would find the time to participate. This story project was initiated to switch the narrative from having the World Neighbours Canada volunteers tell the stories of those participating in or initiating programs, to having them tell their own stories with as much or as little detail.
After sending out the call, to our happiness we received a variety of submissions. Some took the time to write about themselves, others were compiled into a video initiated by one of our partner organizations, and some were collected through interview.
We hope that in reading these stories that we can create a personal connection to those who have taken the time to tell their story, and that the distance between the World Neighbours Canada network feels a little bit smaller.
Woba Bluntille, 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.
Antoinette Tombiano, Burkina Faso
My name is Tombiano Antoinette. APDC supported me with a steer. So APDC loaned me 125,000. I have received support from APDC up to 125,000cfa and I took 105,000 francs and paid for a steer. And that steer I have sold for 320,000cfa. So, I removed 150,000 francs and gave it to my husband who bought another steer. Then I removed 75,000 francs, and gave it to my husband to buy articles so I could begin a commercial endeavour (selling needed items within the village). And usually I removed 20,000cfa, and gave it to my husband to pay for the children’s school fees. Finally, the rest I took to buy clothes for my husband and my children. I will add that I have a child who is in college and another who goes to primary school. And this is the occasion for me to say thank you to APDC and the partners who have supported me so I can effectively work in that way. And today I still have a beef I am fattening. Today, if I wanted to sell the animal, I could get up to 320,000 francs.
Antoinette added that she can now feed her family (food security during all 12 months) because her commercial endeavour works well. The trade …. she sells items such as sweets, biscuits, salt, condiments, rice, oil … like a little shop in the village.
Martine Davidine, Burkina Faso
The first year I received 10,000 francs. So I went to a buy female sheep. Today I have nine sheep. After that again, we have begun a credit and savings group and I am the leader of the group. From my sheep, I removed two to sell them. I sold one for 15,000cfa and the other I sold for 20,000. And when I sold my sheep it was to solve problems of clothing for my children and myself. And I want to say thank you to APDC and its partners for the support and help and that we have been able to learn a new strategy. From this instruction, too, it actually allowed me to use my money, and take my money back, and re-invest my money and now I can say I have had a positive change in my life.
Maurice, Burkina Faso
I want to start by saying thank you to APDC; thank you to the sponsors who supported us. Today, I am really full of joy. It’s like my mouth is filled with flour, and if I try to open my mouth, all that flour will come tumbling out!
“If the mouth is full of flour, we cannot talk, because we may stain the face of one who listens.” This proverb translates to express great joy.
It’s been 6 years since I received support to better lay out and prepare my fields. Before, the fields I cultivated were no longer fertile. I want to say thank you because since I prepared the « cordons pierreux » in my fields, there where the water flowed away …. when it rains is the only time when the water flowed … the fields dried up very quickly. It was very dry there … like a drought. Today the field is very well drained and when it rains the soil stays damp longer and the corn really grows well there. In the dry season, the trees lose their leaves and the wind carries them away When that dry season with the wind comes to the fields, because of the stone barriers, it prevents the soil from being carried away. And now everything remains in the fields, all the compost, all the leaves, everything helps to fertilize the field. Before I put manure on, before I prepared the field …. Before that, I could get 6-7 bags per hectare. Since I developed the field, there was a year when I got 14 100 kilo bags. And the year that followed, there was only a little rain, but I still got 12 sacks. When the rains come, 14 bags are guaranteed. That’s why I want to thank APDC, and especially the financial partners who supported us …. if we did not have that, the production would still be a problem, 6-7 bags.
Can you please talk about your training?….
I had the training, and the training it was 5 days. And the person who came was an agricultural agent called Eden (from a Neighbouring village). The training was practical and theoretical. Practical training was in the field, and the person showed how the furrows and troughs must be dug and prepared in the fields. Before, I had no training, and I often saw people who came, they dug badly .. the wrong way, and when the water came … the water ran in and away. But with training, I was showed how to place the stones so that when the water comes, it will not infiltrate. Anyway, now I can train others in this technique. In the village, people ask me how to improve the field. Currently, there are 34 people who use the technique of cordons pierreux (WFP also supported the village, and helped train 30 people). Now I have enough food for 12 months and can also sell some corn.
Tambiano Boyéma, Burkina Faso
When they (APDC) came to us offering support, we received 30,000 cfa ($60) to buy a sheep to fatten. I took 25,000 francs and I paid for two. And I have kept 5,000cfa to care for and feed the sheep I bought. After the end of the year, I sold the two sheep for 90,000 cfa ($180). So I sold each sheep for 45,000, and for the two, I had 90,000. I removed 45,000 franc and paid for a donkey, a female donkey And that donkey is pregnant and almost ready to give birth. So, from the other 45,000 I took 25000 and bought two sheep. And I kept 20,000cfa to pay for my needs and for the needs of my children. So the year that followed, I sold the two sheep for 85 000cfa. I have a child who is in college in Fada – I removed 60,000 francs to pay for his school fees in Fada. So then, there remained about 30,000 francs, and I bought a male sheep and a female sheep. I also have a child here in elementary school – I removed 2000cfa ($4) and paid the cost of his school fees for one year.
Before …. before there was help available (from APDC), … I was in trouble. Even to collect wood, I had to put the wood on my head to carry it, and to get water was the same. But since I got into marketing and bought a donkey … today to get the wood, it is with the cart. To fetch water, it is the same …. with the cart.
Jorge Rafael Umanzor Cruz, Honduras
I am Jorge Umanzor, originally from Nacaome, Valle Honduras, I lived my childhood in the rural area, at the age of 15 I emigrated to the city with the purpose of continuing my studies at the secondary and university level, the decision was not easy because I liked life in the country to collaborate with my parents on agricultural activities, I decided to take the opportunity to continue with my academic training.
I characterize myself as a person with a vocation to serve others, committed to the common good. I admire and value good cultural patterns, I respect nature as our source of life, I have experienced that changes begin with our training that must go along with social awareness. I have always believed that social organization is the key to making the dreams of families and communities come true.
Since 2008 I started working with World Neighbors. Beginning in the “La Esperanza” Program I became part of a great work team led by my friend Victorino Rivera (QDDG) who was one of my teachers in work and personal matters, serving as a facilitator for the Strengthening of Local Capacities component. For three years I was in this position until the closure of the operations of World Neighbors in Honduras for this program. In 2009 I was part of the initiative of the Vecinos Honduras foundation, I was elected as Secretary of the first Board of Directors, holding the position for two years. This phase has marked a life that merges with my dreams of working for the well-being of families and communities.
In 2011 to 2014 I was promoted to coordinator of programs and projects, with great joy I assumed the responsibility of directing the Rural Development Program of the San Antonio Las Guarumas Village and a Risk Management project in communities of Nacaome Valle.
I have been a participant in the changes of 45 Community Development Boards that have been Organized in Board Associations, Rural Savings and Credit Banks and Cooperatives that only had their legal status. This program now brings together more people who have the opportunity for credit at low rates of interest and investing in his plot, with more harvested products, which he consumes and shares. Young people now have access and control of economic resources with a whole process that they develop together with other colleagues in the Everlasting Tool and youth entrepreneurship.
From 2015 to 2019 I was given the opportunity to be responsible for tracking and monitoring projects. It was a great challenge given that this position did not exist within Vecinos Honduras. For this reason we were creating the necessary conditions for the operations of the project teams, since at the institutional level we felt it as a great void, we are still on this path of strengthening it based on the capitalized experiences, thanks to the cooperators who have been a fundamental pillar in our training.
My greatest satisfaction is knowing that what I do is a complement to what people know, and in practice results in a true sense of community. Seeing that they return to good practices of their ancestors, producing healthy food, appropriating production practices, using their seeds, it is impressive to see that they recover their hope even in adversity.
Currently (2020) I have been promoted to Project Manager, a new challenge focused on strategic and also operational issues, linked to our institutional communication strategy, I see the challenges as an opportunity to help those who need it the most.
These 12 years of experience in World Neighbors and Neighbors Honduras has been of much learning and teaching, learning from people, organizations, cooperating institutions, from my co-workers, we are a great team, committed and dedication to continue growing, supporting the communities in coordination with institutions and cooperators, we see them as friends who have met on this path with a common purpose.
I feel happy with what I do, my greatest joy is to see and listen to the people who, thanks to the training, have improved their living conditions; the young people with a hope of training and improvement; the community organizations working for health, food, education improving homes, water sources, schools, food production etc … this inspires and motivates me to continue working, I feel honored to be part of Vecinos Honduras.
Juan Armando Méndez, Honduras
My name is Juan Armando Méndez, I am a bricklayer and agroecological producer, partner of the Caja de Ahorro y Crédito Rural “Nueva Generación”. I am married to Mrs. Lucila Idiáquez with an 11-year-old daughter. I live in the community of La Libertad, Azabache Danlí El Paraíso, Honduras.
Before Vecinos Honduras came to my community, I thought I “knew everything”, without having any idea of ”learning new things” this has motivated me more to continue learning; As a way of understanding more about the work of Vecinos Honduras, I always wondered what does it mean to Return to Earth (VH slogan)? Answering me today, “I realize that it is better to be on Earth producing, than to be with a different mind in other directions”. This new knowledge is part of the changes of a person, family and community.
I feel that my life has changed, I learned to respect nature and people, “I see them as my own person, love each other and share with others, the health of my family has changed” is also a process of unlearning some agricultural practices that were negatively affecting me emotionally and were polluting nature.
Together with my family I have a 1.4-hectare plot, diversified with local crops, its main crop is coffee. “I learned to see the plants with affection, applying organic products, taking care of the land,” and now I say, “that if there are no trees, there are no water and without water there is no life”. This philosophy is possible using organic products and stopping using chemical products. This change is not easy but not impossible, and “I have achieved it with the support of my family and Honduran neighbors”. It is already three years from beginning applying only organic products on my plot. At the beginning I lowered the agriculture production, however in this short time I increased by 1% the production from applying organic products, and I have also saved approximately $820.00 in purchase of chemical fertilizers. I feel happy with these changes for the health and economy of my family and community; “using chemicals now offends me.”
After experiencing the amino acid products (liquid) and the Bocachi fertilizer (solid) in my plot, I now share my experience, knowledge and organic product with other producers, so that they can experiment and will be convinced of the effectiveness of the product. Currently I have generated $1,200.00 from the sale of these products; next year I will invest them in expanding my growing area with 0.70 more hectares than I already have.
In addition, I am a member of a “New Generation” Rural Savings and Credit Fund. I feel motivated to be organized in my community, as “if we are not organizing it does nothing”. Being a part of this organization has given a space to market coffee production at a fair price. In the last harvest, I sold 272.15 kg of dry parchment coffee through the Rural Box, obtaining an additional profit of $168.00. “I feel happy because now I am selling the coffee well,” as before I joined this organization, I sold my product badly. Now, for every Kg I am generating an additional $1.61 because the quality of my product has improved and I am marketing through the organization, “I feel very motivated to be part of the organization.”
Together with my family we have a dream of having our coffee maca with the name “I am what I am, pure Azabache coffee”. We are already working to make it come true, it will be an option to improve and take advantage of our production, generating opportunities for families in my community.
Grateful to Vecinos Honduras and their cooperators for the support they have given us as a community, which has been used by most of the families in our community.
Tamakoshi Sewa Samiti put together a video over the past few months which can be found by clicking the link below:
Libby Denbigh, Canada
In 2006, our beautiful daughter Rachel passed away from colon cancer at the young age of thirty. She had been a world traveler before settling down to marry and have two children. One of her favourite places in the world was Nepal and she saw the great need in the rural areas of the country. When it was obvious that her illness was not getting better she stated that a sum of her money should go to a project to help villagers in Nepal. We agreed and after her death we were charged with the responsibility of finding a suitable organization to put her money to good use. This proved to be a long task and almost a year went by. Then by chance we were invited to an evening of slides and a talk by two friends who had recently made the journey to Nepal and had visited some of the water projects being done by TSS with financial help from World Neighbours Canada. I remember saying to my husband as we ate goodies and drank coffee at the break, “This is the one. This is what we have been looking for.” And so, soon after that, we made our first contribution to World Neighbours and funded an entire water system for a village in the Ramechapp district. It was not long after that that my husband, David, joined the board of World Neighbours and we both went to Nepal and to Ramechapp to visit our village. We have since taken our children and grandchildren there and have been actively contributing ever since. I lost my dear husband in 2015 so I have taken his place on the board and I hope to continue the work that we do through this wonderful little organization.
Should you find yourself reading this and have a connection to WNC or one of our partners and want to submit your own story, please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org
Please note that all of the written submissions have been translated from their original version.