PW Illustration via Getty Images
It made an impact on me to witness the eagerness of these savvy young people to build their savings -- I wish I'd learned such a valuable lesson at their age. The students showed pride in the youth savings program and seemed to feel empowered by it.
So often in the world of international development evaluation, the voices of the people the project is targeting -- the people who are really the most important in terms of determining the impact of the project -- are absent.
According to the International Energy Agency, nearly 1.3 billion people lack access to electricity, and over 95 per cent of these live in Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. Though it's a few years old, the map below illustrates that statistic quite well.
Tezana Kassa was once afraid of bees. Strange, I thought, for someone whose livelihood is now so wrapped up in a co-operative honey bee apiary he and 25 other youth began just weeks ago here in the parched Amhara region of northern Ethiopia.
Nicaragua is a land of extremes: a deeply scarred paradise with placid lakes and active volcanoes; warm, welcoming people, divided by class and polarized by politics. Yet, in this divisive environment, Canadian-assisted co-ops are a unifying force, bringing people together to work for the common good.
It may be difficult for Canadians to imagine what it is like to be a woman manager of a financial institution in a developing country. I met 45 of these women, who shared their challenges and triumphs...
This really is a special time in my life and my career. While after seven weeks I haven't made many friends here, found anywhere to go dancing or taken any solo adventures outside the capital city of Lilongwe, I'm enjoying Malawian culture. If you'd like to pretend you're living here as a CCA volunteer, try this routine:
Co-operatives have long been an effective way for impoverished and struggling communities to come together to lift themselves up and achieve greater prosperity. Today that same co-operative model is being put to use in countries throughout the developing world. Uganda is just one such example.
The Canadian Co-operative Association is not, and has never been, a humanitarian relief effort. You won't often find us in the middle of a major humanitarian crisis or a shooting war -- in Afghanistan...
In 2013 Moh Moh was the first woman ever from Myanmar to participate in the Canadian Co-operative Association's Women's Mentorship Program, a specialized training program for women credit union professionals from around the world. Her participation is all the more striking when one considers Myanmar's recent history.
Baina Omugisa means "the lucky ones," but the members of BOMIDO Co-operative Society in the Masindi district of Western Uganda are making their own luck by working hard and sharing the knowledge they have gained through IFAPI to grow their farms and increase the amount they earn from their produce.
In my experience, the people who are most involved with international development are also very much involved in their communities, working for social justice wherever they are needed. I suppose it also has to do with the fact that, in my mind, the notion of global citizenship is inclusive. We are working against global poverty.
Have you ever watched a TV commercial for international aid and wondered how people's donations work in developing countries? Before I travelled to northern Uganda as part of a team of volunteers with the Canadian Co-operative Association (CCA), I did. But on that trip I met many Ugandans whose lives are being improved with the help of generous Canadians, and my outlook was forever changed.
It may seem like an oxymoron, but co-operatives are profoundly local organizations, with worldwide reach and connections. Over the years co-operatives all around the world have linked to create economies of scale and support each other. That's what we do through the Canadian Co-operative Association.