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World Accord Update
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World Accord Update
by Lorna Webster
WA said goodbye to Nelson who was married this fall, is living in London, & unable to continue at WA. He is greatly missed by all, & our best wishes go to him for his new life.
The new program ccordinator is Farrah Ali-Khan who has over ten years of experience working on environmental programs/initiatives, complemented by a deep commitment to environmental sustainability and social justice within Canada and abroad. She brings experience in relationship building/project coordination and knowledge of international development issues - Farrah has provided this summary of her WA experiences.
"It's been an interesting journey & I feel like half a year has gone by rather than just three months since I moved to Kitchener, & started work at World Accord. I have traveled to Central America where we "did" 3 countries in 3 1/2 weeks, then was off to Independence where I presented our funding proposal to our largest donor, World Hunger Fund. It's been an absolute whirlwind, many times stressful, sometimes amusing, but overall, extraordinarily enriching.
World Accord, an international development non-profit, supports projects implemented by our partners in Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Haiti and Asia. They do this so people can meet their basic needs but have a long-term commitment to ensure communities are walked with & supported through their journey. What I really love about World Accord's approach is its deference and advocacy for local development, which is why we work through local partners who have been around for decades and are close to the communities with whom they work. Visiting Central America reaffirmed my decision to work with World Accord. Even though it felt like we were trying to see all the projects and partners at breakneck speed, the incredible value and significance of their work deeply resonated with me. Amazing work done by such few resources and iron-steel commitment re-invigorated my faith in humanity.
Stories of all kinds were told: in El Salvador, our partner provides micro-credit funds/ongoing follow-up to poor women so they can start up various small businesses, feeling empowered in the process. One participant told us about how she had gone from being a destitute mother of 4, suffering a brutal divorce & cancer, earning $5/day at a factory to becoming a business-lady, selling health/wellness products out of her home - earning enough to put extensions on her home and send all her children to school. She is an incredible person of strength and fortitude & gave me the sense that anything is possible.
In Honduras, one of our partners for over 30 years, works with farmers who often earn only $0.25/day doing back-breaking labour. They encourage these farmers to form groups & then provide micro-loans so they can purchase their own land. They also provide technical advice so these farmers can experiment and develop a local seed variety that is best-suited to their micro-climate. These farmers go from being historical "underdogs" of an unjust system, suffering months of hunger, to producers of their own food/researchers. It's an amazing story of true emancipation and food sovereignty. One of the farmers groups was musically inclined & had formed a band & written songs about their work. One afternoon in the mountains, as the sun was setting, we had the opportunity to hear them play their songs about the seed varieties they had developed & environmental values that flow through their work. This brought tears to my eyes. Seriously.
In Guatemala, one of our oldest partners "Women in Action" primarily works in the Guatemalan highlands. Among the many initiatives they advance they advocate/teach sustainable agricultural practices to women. One of these includes using a specific kind of compost, enriched through a special bacteria only harvested from virgin forests. They have developed the compost production using this bacteria to a fine art & have a 5-year plan to ensure that this becomes a feasible business where they can sell it as an organic product to the national market. This compost is pretty amazing, because it has been proven to restore soil depleted after generations of chemical use - within months. When I asked a lady if she was afraid that someone would come along & patent this process, she simply replied that it would be ok, because all they want is the restoration of the soil, not profit. I was absolutely touched by that response - not a business lady, but a humanist and environmentalist to boot!
Anyways, the learning and fun don`t stop. David and I are off to Haiti in mid-December to see one of our partner's projects down there - supporting the establishment of agricultural cooperatives and seed cultivation and distribution in Haiti. - Farrah
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~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Merry Christmas