HOPE International Development Agency

“The Thing With Feathers” — An Update From HOPE International by Art Zaratsyan

Remember “The Thing With Feathers”? This show-fundraiser, put together last May in support for the work of HOPE International Development Agency in Cambodia and Ethiopia, raised over $12,000—and it looks like it was put to good use. 

Here's a quick report from HOPE, verbatim, for all you good people. Thank you for your on-going support, and keep up the good work! 

 

The Thing with Feathers 2015 Update

All proceeds from The Thing With Feathers went towards HOPE International Development Agency’s work in Cambodia and Ethiopia.  Thanks to the kindness of all who took part, 12 families in Cambodia are now able to grow more rice year-round. In Ethiopia, 24 women have started small businesses and become more confident in their skills. 

Cambodia

In 2014, HOPE International Development Agency provided seeds, tools, training, and irrigation infrastructure to help 80 families in the villages of Bakan and Kab Krorlanh to start farming dry season rice, a rice variety that grows more quickly and requires less water to grow. Previously in these villages, over 70% of families were living in poverty, and were only able to harvest rice once per year. Families were fortunate if they were able to harvest enough to feed their families, and typically they would not have any extra rice to sell and provide income for the family, leaving them in a cycle of poverty. 

Through your support, families in Bakan and Kab Krorlanh have established community seed banks. The seed banks are a place for farmers to borrow seed and fertilizer to grow rice. After their harvests, families return the borrowed seed, which becomes available to others. Communities also received small water pumps to irrigate the rice during the dry season. In addition, farmers learned new sustainable agriculture techniques and how to manage their local seed banks.

These families initially planted 37.5 hectares of rice and harvested over 120 tons of rice paddy. In the next growing season, encouraged by the initial gains, farmers planted 106 hectares of rice with great success. 

In 2014, Kuoy Saren, and his wife, Chem Saroeurn received training, irrigation, seeds, and fertilizer to successfully begin growing dry season rice. They live in Bakan village, and have three children, as well as their parents, living with them. Before, Kuoy & Chem were only able to harvest about 2000-2500 kg once a year, which was only enough to feed their family for four months. For the remainder of the year, all of the family members were forced to earn income by harvesting rice for others. Kuoy & Chem also had to borrow money just to cover the cost of expensive chemical fertilizers. Now, after just one crop of dry season rice, they harvested 3500-4000 kg of rice, which means that the family has more than enough to eat, as well as extra to sell! This is in addition to the two additional crops they will now harvest each year. Kuoy, Chem, and their children no longer have to work harvesting rice for others, and the children are now able to attend school. Kuoy dreamt, “to have enough money for my children to study at city and have a good work to do in their life” and now, this dream is possible.   Photo: HOPE International Development Agency

In 2014, Kuoy Saren, and his wife, Chem Saroeurn received training, irrigation, seeds, and fertilizer to successfully begin growing dry season rice. They live in Bakan village, and have three children, as well as their parents, living with them. Before, Kuoy & Chem were only able to harvest about 2000-2500 kg once a year, which was only enough to feed their family for four months. For the remainder of the year, all of the family members were forced to earn income by harvesting rice for others. Kuoy & Chem also had to borrow money just to cover the cost of expensive chemical fertilizers. Now, after just one crop of dry season rice, they harvested 3500-4000 kg of rice, which means that the family has more than enough to eat, as well as extra to sell! This is in addition to the two additional crops they will now harvest each year. Kuoy, Chem, and their children no longer have to work harvesting rice for others, and the children are now able to attend school. Kuoy dreamt, “to have enough money for my children to study at city and have a good work to do in their life” and now, this dream is possible.

Photo: HOPE International Development Agency

Ethiopia

In many areas of rural Ethiopia, there are few opportunities for women to earn enough money to support their families. To increase opportunities for these capable women to care for themselves, HOPE International Development Agency is helping local women to organize themselves into small self-help groups, and then access resources, training, and support through these groups. By taking part, their financial capacity is greatly improved, they increase their ownership of property, and the overall conditions of their own lives and those of their families are greatly improved. Together, they are able to achieve far more than they would have be able to on their own.

In 2014, 120 extremely vulnerable women from Adami Gotu and Dembeli Keta, communities in the Oromia Region, participated in self-help groups. Capital, in the form of goats, other livestock, or funds were provided to the groups, as well as training on saving, animal care, life skills, and personal health. Many of these women, who have never had the opportunity to learn to read or write, also participated in literacy classes.  In addition, the majority of the spouses of the group members took part in training sessions to improve gender sensitivity. Afterwards, many women reported positive changes in their families.  Through these activities, these women are improving their own self-sufficiency, as well as their families’ self-reliance.

Now, these women are working together to manage savings and credit, start and manage small businesses, and resolve family and local issues collaboratively. Soon, the women will “graduate” and continue to thrive independent of HOPE International Development Agency’s involvement. Approximately 400 family & community members’ lives have also been dramatically improved as a result! 

Birhane Mulisa is one woman who has taken significant steps forward in 2014. That year, Birhane earned income by raising animals: she now has two goats and one calf. Each week, Birhane met with other vulnerable women in her community. Together with this group, Birhane received training and financial and social support she needed to become more confident, including learning how to read and write. A highlight for Birhane in 2014 was a five-day health and life skills training that covered a range of important family issues. Along with other women, Birhane had the opportunity to discuss health, family planning, HIV, leadership, conflict resolution, and problem solving. With the income she is earning, Birhane is able to take care of her family and home, and is even starting to save small amounts regularly. Her family is in good health and is filled with optimism that they will soon be able to provide for themselves. Birhane hopes to realize this dream of becoming completely self-reliant.    Photo: HOPE International Development Agency

Birhane Mulisa is one woman who has taken significant steps forward in 2014. That year, Birhane earned income by raising animals: she now has two goats and one calf. Each week, Birhane met with other vulnerable women in her community. Together with this group, Birhane received training and financial and social support she needed to become more confident, including learning how to read and write. A highlight for Birhane in 2014 was a five-day health and life skills training that covered a range of important family issues. Along with other women, Birhane had the opportunity to discuss health, family planning, HIV, leadership, conflict resolution, and problem solving. With the income she is earning, Birhane is able to take care of her family and home, and is even starting to save small amounts regularly. Her family is in good health and is filled with optimism that they will soon be able to provide for themselves. Birhane hopes to realize this dream of becoming completely self-reliant.

Photo: HOPE International Development Agency

Let Me Tell You About Koshale… by Art Zaratsyan

Let me tell you about Koshale…

To get there you need to leave Arba Minch early in the morning. Then you drive for five and a half hours, two of them on patchwork of gravel and asphalt till you reach Geresse, a sort of a district center. After Geresse it's just dirt, blasted rock, occasional stream crossings, and—sometimes—no roads at all. At around noon you're there, but you only have about two hours until you need leave—to make it back to Arba Minch by nightfall.

Koshale, pronounced koh-sháh-leh, is a village in the lowlands of the south of Ethiopia, not too far from Kenyan border. It's far, it's hot, it's dry, and it's the home of a few thousand Ethiopian families. First thing that comes to your mind when you arrive is "why would anyone want to live here?"

Ethiopia is Africa's second most populated country: the latest figure is 98 million people—half of them under 18. For me that translates to the following: anywhere you go, people live there. Pick any direction, drive for hours, you'll still run into a bunch of kids, who will pop from behind some tree or pop up on some rock, screaming "Faranji, faranji!"

The reason I took the long trip to Koshale (twice) is water. There isn't much of it in Ethiopia in general, even less here. For generations the people of the village have walked for hours a day to the nearest stream to bring water to their homes. But all that changed last December. 

With the help of HOPE International Development Agency the people of Koshale completed a big water project, laying over 15 km of pipeline to bring clean water from a capped source on the nearby mountain down to the village. The project is impressive in its scale. The community provided the labor: digging the trenches, laying the pipeline,  mining materials like sand and gravel. HOPE provided the pipes, the know-how, the cement and all the materials unavailable to the area. The result: clean water available to the whole village—right in the village. And me, photographing this modern day humanitarian miracle, wishing I could be there to document the project as it was being constructed…

See the "Water for Koshale" gallery in the "Stories" section for more photos.

Un-orphan'd by Art Zaratsyan

In Africa, millions die each year of AIDS. More than 2 million children have been left behind as orphans of AIDS in Ethiopia.

On Sunday, November 3, 2013, HOPE International Development Agency (www.hope-international.com) organized a fundraiser event entitled “{un•orphan’d}” at The Blarney Stone pub in Gastown, Vancouver, offering “[…] an opportunity to give and walk alongside an orphaned child as they redefine what their future holds” as stated the event invite.

Here are a few photographs highlighting this fun evening which featured an inspiring new film, African music and dance, and which raised over $37,000 for orphans in Ethiopia!