Making a Difference at Home and Around the World

Making a Difference at Home and Around the World

HOPE for the Holidays

December 23, 2019

Our family foundation is pleased announce a continued partnership with one of the leaders in international humanitarian work – Hope International Development Agency. We recently sat down with HOPE’s director, David McKenzie for a little Q&A to help us tell the world what it is they do, how they do it, and why YOU should know about Hope International! 

1. What does Hope International do? 

HOPE International Development Agency exists to improve the supply of basic human necessities for people in developing countries through self-help activities, and to challenge, educate, and involve North Americans regarding development issues. In short, HOPE acts to connect compassionate and generous people with people in need throughout the world to provide the tools needed to lift themselves out of the cycle of poverty.

HOPE works in 16 different countries in a variety of ways to help address many of the different factors that trap families, communities and generations in poverty. In many places, this begins with access to clean water and continues with agricultural support, income generating activities, education, healthcare and other local programs.

2. How/when was it started?

HOPE began in 1975, when a group of concerned and caring people in New Westminster, BC saw the difficult situations that people were facing across the globe and decided they wanted to find a way to make a difference in people’s lives. HOPE began as a group of compassionate people who were motivated by their Christian faith, and continues to exist as a diverse group of people from many different walks of life. Relationships with people across the world have been the cornerstone of HOPE’s work; with strong connections to each community, vulnerable people trust that when they say what they need, HOPE will listen. This trust is built upon years of HOPE walking alongside communities, responding to their needs with commitment, generosity, and a sense of urgency. 

3. Who are the key players, managers, etc?

The key players of HOPE are the incredible people in the communities around the world where HOPE is working, the staff who work with these communities directly, as well and the kind and generous people who make this work possible. HOPE’s international president is David McKenzie, and the executive director is Kim Savage. There is a small staff of 15 people at the head office in New Westminster, BC; for a complete listing of staff, please visit HOPE’s website. HOPE has a board of directors from across Canada, and fundraising activities in, Hong Kong, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, the United Kingdom, and the USA.

4. Where has the organization come from, and where is it going?

HOPE first began 45 years ago, working in only a handful of countries. Now, in 2020, transformational change has been realized in the lives of 25 million people and works in 16 different countries around the world.

HOPE grew out of the deep-seeded belief that all people are valuable & steadfast relationships are at the centre of HOPE’s work. What began as a small group of caring people who wanted to make a change, remains still an organization committed to connecting people throughout the world to transform the lives of individuals, families and communities. 

In the beginning, HOPE’s work was responding to people facing a crisis. HOPE still responds to communities in crisis but quickly began work to help communities develop long term solutions to address the many unique barriers they face.  Many times, working with communities begins with clean water but expands by forming self-help groups, providing agricultural support & hygiene education, making sure that there are schools for children to attend, building roads so communities can transport crops to market and access healthcare, as well addressing other specific needs. There is no boundary to the people HOPE works with or limit to where HOPE will work, because there is no boundary to poverty and who is affected by it. As HOPE goes forward, they  will continue to go into new areas where others may not be going as long as there are people in need in those places. Just as 45 years ago HOPE began as a small group of people simply trying to show humanity to people all around the world, we are still today. 

5. What makes it unique in the international humanitarian sector?

What underlines & differentiates how HOPE operates at every level are relationships. HOPE’s greatest strength is its long term, close relationships with partners around the world that are based on trust & respect. HOPE is always guided by listening to our local staff who understand and clearly communicate the complex needs of communities because they themselves are deeply connected to the families with which we work. HOPE is committed to seeing through the development of a community; this ensures that change is lasting and sustainable. 

These relationships inform the holistic work HOPE is able to do. Through good relationships, we can listen to communities, and by listening to communities express their unique needs we can  work with them to address these in many different ways. For HOPE, development is not simply providing a water system, it is assisting a community to organize and build a water system, and then continuing to work with the community to ensure that the impact of clean water is absolutely transformational. Hygiene training is provided so people can use that water to keep their hands clean, to keep their children healthy. HOPE provides agricultural support so that families can use their clean water to better feed themselves and have the necessary income needed to continue moving forward. Clean water means children can attend school, schools that HOPE helps to build and furnish, staff and equip. Women will no longer need to collect water, or care for their children when they fall ill from diarrhea, and HOPE is dedicated to ensuring that these women can now participate in the local economy by participating in a women’s self help group. Taps of clean running water mean so much more than simply quenching a thirst, and HOPE’s commitment to communities is much greater than providing the taps. 

Though long term change is the focus of HOPE’s work, HOPE is dedicated to protecting that progress, which means being able to quickly respond when disasters strike. Through these local relationships & staff, HOPE is well placed to respond quickly in areas that are hard to access for other organizations and to effectively meet needs. The closeness of the partnerships allows HOPE to flexibly respond to needs in a very direct, people-oriented way.

HOPE does not exist to grow as an organization, HOPE exists to grow impact. At the core of HOPE is one simple metric, and that is transformation; transformation of suffering into joy, poverty into potential and survival into success. 

6. What has the support from the Stober Family Foundation meant to Hope International? 

The Support of the Stober Family Foundation has meant that the lives of thousands of Cambodian families have been forever changed. Together with the support of the Unger Family Foundation, families in rural Cambodian villages now have clean drinking water, are growing more food to eat and sell, have improved hygiene and sanitation knowledge and practices, have formed self-help groups to start small businesses, and some have received farm animals. These changes have been truly transformative.  You have played an integral role in supporting these families journey towards self-reliance, health, and a very real hope for a secure future.

Over the past 5 years, the support of the Stober & Unger Family foundations has meant that 1000 families now benefit from access to nearby safe water for drinking, cooking, home gardening, and watering livestock. HOPE’s Cambodia Director, Ly, spoke about the quickest change that you see once families have clean water: “Their children are clean. They are no longer dirty or smelly. In the first weeks after the well is installed, you can see them smiling even though they are still skinny and poor.” 

Along with wells, these families have received training and support in establishing home gardens, and many have already expanded their gardens to increase their food production. The change has been noticeable: dry and empty land is now full of life and colour – green, red, purple – as the families grow a variety of crops including eggplant, red chili, cucumber, water melon, gourds, zucchini, cabbage, lemon grace, amaranth, mint, morning glory, and a wide variety of fruits. The fresh, healthy produce families are producing has had a positive impact on family nutrition and health, while any extra fruits and vegetables they grow can be sold for added income. 

Latrines ensure that water sources remain clean and uncontaminated, while also ensuring better sanitation and privacy for family members, especially women and children. Along with the latrines, families were trained in hygiene and sanitation, resulting in the adoption of numerous health-promoting practices including maintaining clean yards, washing hands and food, and removing standing water from their neighbourhoods to reduce the risk of mosquito-borne illnesses.

The buffalo that some families have received help to expand their farming capabilities, freeing them from the stress of paying for rented animals. These families are also benefiting from training in the use of manure mixed with other organic material in order to create composted fertilizer for their home gardens. In the self-help groups formed, members now meet monthly and use the self-help groups both to grow their own personal savings and to take out loans for expanding their small businesses. 

Through the schoolrooms that have been built with your support, children who previously would have spent all day at home are now attending school and opening up a new world of opportunities for their futures. 

Over 25km of road has been constructed with your support. This road significantly improves the lives of families by allowing them to travel with ease to the commune centre, the community market, and to the school. The roads also allow families to bring their crops to market and to reach the health centre and hospital.

None of these changes would have been possible without the support of the Stober Family Foundation. This invaluable support has made it possible for families to not only dream of, but plan for and work towards a future in which they can experience self-sufficiency, health, education and hope for themselves and future generations. 

7. How can people find out more about HOPE, where can they find you, and how can they get involved in this movement? 

Anyone and everyone are welcome to visit out website;

From there, we have social channels that people can follow to see our progress and upcoming projects, along with updated news and events. We are looking to grow our impact and that can come in many ways from a variety of support or volunteering. Please, check our site and follow us on our journey!