ICO World - November 2013
Welcome to ICOWorld!
ICO is founded on the premise that friends working together can harness the power of innovative ideas: Through the common goals of communities and volunteers around the world, ICO develops processes and community-led initiatives to advance education and alleviate poverty.
A Message from The Chairman
President and Chair
I would like to wish you a very warm welcome to the latest edition of ICO World. This is a new format which fits devices from computers to tablets and smartphones. This also enables us to keep you informed of the latest news in a really timely manner and is much easier to produce and also eventually publish in Mandarin, Swahili, Hindi, French, Spanish and English.
As I write this message I see from our Online Accounts that we have raised over a $1,000,000 CDN for our Worldwide Initiatives in a few short years. Every dollar went to the people in the community we serve, not a penny was deducted for overhead or corporate salaries. All those resources came from volunteers working together, no fundraising costs were deducted, ICO even paid the cost of the credit cards and bank charges. Our overhead costs come from our investment portfolio, not from donations.
If you donated $100 then that $100 went to the intended recipients and you can see live in the accounts transparently 24/7 where that donation went - to the people that need it and not to professional fund raisers etc. The people are our message, people are our communities, we believe in friendship, friendships that work together and friendships that can change the World. Over the next few months we are going to focus on community, what does that really mean? What is an ICO Community? Why are we named InnovativeCommunities.Org Foundation and not InnovativeInitiatives.Org Foundation?
That $1 million plus mark, yes that is correct... 1 million dollars to the people of the Developing World to assist them with education, infrastructure and the tools to build a better life for themselves, their families and their communities. We also have a major Initiative in Canada which supports 22 people with persistent mental illness at risk of homelessness with safe housing and professional nursing. In addition we also enabled a 24 small apartment complex for people with multiple issues of homelessness, addiction and mental health. This apparently was the first in Canada and the second in North America.
Some of the stories in this issue just show some of the many 40+ Initiatives in 13 countries and only show part of the over 10,000 people we have been honoured to serve and assist as Friends. We also will be highlighting the Run-For-Tomorrow (R4T) which is designed to support and encourage better health and involvement around the World.
Without our dedicated pro-bono Team Members volunteering their time, their passion and humanity, their skills and resources, none of this would have been possible. I want to pay tribute to you, I want to thank you for the endless work you have undertaken, in difficult situations, without detailed corporate plans, with caring and with friendship, you made it happen and you were not paid! Many thanks to all those partners and donors who have so selflessly supported our people, again with kindness, consideration and commitment.
With my grateful thanks and in friendship
ICO COMMUNITY NEWS
RWANDA AND KENYA TEAM UP
Pottery makers in the Kenyan town of Bondo lamented to the ICO facilitator there that they needed a new, unique product to increase the collective’s earnings.
“I know of a fuel-efficient, smoke-free stove made from clay by our ICO team in Rwanda,” Mark Dull told them. “Are you interested”?
After seeing pictures of the stove and hearing about its benefits, the Bondo team sent an invitation through Mark to Rwandan stove team’s trainer, Musafiri, to come and train them. Musafiri, brimming with 4 years experience refining the design and production system of the “Rwandan Boot” stove immediately confirmed his agreement. Several months later, he and Pascal, his lead designer, were on a series of buses for the 48 hour trip through Rwanda, Uganda, around Lake Victoria to Bondo, Kenya. They spent 2 weeks there helping to create a supply chain and marketing strategy as well as delivering a hands-on training for the $5 eco-stove.
Rwandan boot stove pictured above
The professionalism of the Rwandans’ knowledge transfer was matched by their personal engagement with the 30 rural Kenyans who, much like them, eagerly grasp any possibility to increase their learning and their earning. And they did it all in their 3rd language, Swahili.
It was a demonstration of ICO capacity to facilitate our African partners to function at their best, fostering not only economic benefit but confidence in themselves and in cross-border friendships. In the months that followed, the Kenyan team shared with their Rwandan partners through email production problems around the bonding strength of the clay. They found Musa and Pascal quick to take on the problem, research it and suggest different additives for the clay and new drying procedures. New business ventures always launch amidst challenges but the Bondo team had experienced mentors with whom to push through them.
For Musa and Pascal, this was their first trip outside Rwanda but it wont be their last. Encouraged by success, they returned home to provide several trainings to groups in Rwanda and are now negotiating one or more training programs in Uganda.
When ICO offers a step up, we need to stand back. Our partners may make it a big one.
ICO TEAM MEMBER PROFILE
Team Leader and ICO Chief Operating Officer
ICO Operations Group
Travelling through new countries, meeting people and sharing experiences has long been a part of Jennifer's life. It all started with the year she spent during University living and working in Australia and
New Zealand and travelling throughout Southeast Asia. Since then, Nepal has become her favourite.
Jennifer and her husband Brad have been committed to development work in the village of Lahachowk Nepal for over 10 years, with Jennifer having visited 8 times. They work closely with their friends and partners Navin and Pawan who in turn, collaborate with local villagers to identify projects and partner with village committees to share and prioritize support required. This successful partnership has resulted in several school scholarships and 179 school children in a remote school being outfitted with their own backpacks containing school supplies and basic health essentials. A computer institute has also recently been opened; fully equipped with desks, chairs, 6 computers a printer and teacher.
All of these benefits followed the first and ongoing initiative which was improving crop irrigation. Almost 2 km of the main canal is complete, supplying several thousand villagers with improve water supply during rice plantation, resulting in increased crop productivity for some by up to 50%. As a means to support the initiatives, Jennifer loves to introduce and share the beauty of Nepal with others. Jennifer and Brad have organized and escorted over 100 volunteers to visit and work in Lahachowk. The hands-on experience provided to the volunteers is life changing; working or sharing tea alongside the villagers, or singing with the children. Jennifer is proud to help enable this wonderful experience firsthand.
Jennifer joined ICO in October 2011 drawn in by the philosophy of an entirely volunteer organization with 100% of donated funds being contributed to initiatives. Jennifer brings to ICO a dedication to give back through volunteering time, sharing skills and a keen interest in meeting and collaborating with people, understanding how working together can improve success for all involved. Over the past 2 years Jennifer has increased her involvement with ICO becoming the Leader of Operations. Connecting with compassionate like-minded people is a fantastic learning experience. Jennifer had contributed to the implementation of several systems and process improvement strategies, as well as keeping a focus on ICO volunteer’s safety while in the field. Jennifer is looking forward to planning and organizing regular information sharing sessions where Initiative Team Leads can hear fund raising, sustainability and other innovative ideas from their fellow Team Leaders. Jenifer is also working on a resource guide to help ICO volunteers and team members stay current on the ‘what and how’ ICO operates so that together we can meet our goals. Jennifer has a desire to contribute to ICO’s “premise that friends working together can harness the power of innovative ideas: Through the common goals of communities and volunteers around the world, ICO can develop processes and community-led initiatives to advance education and alleviate poverty.”
RUN FOR TOMORROW
R4T MINI RUN HAS LAUNCHED!
On October 27th, the Run for Tomorrow (R4T) team will lead a non-stop marathon relay from Ottawa to New York City. This six-day relay - which will continue all day and night - is in anticipation of the larger R4T event, itself a record-breaking marathon relay that spans the globe and is expected to take 200 days. Unlike other charitable runs, R4T is not a fundraiser, seeking only to promote physical activity as a vital part of mental, physical and emotional health.
“We just want to lace up our shoes and run around the world,” says R4T Founder and Executive Director Malcolm Anderson. “We want to inspire people to be active, enjoy it, and encourage others. And we’re leading by example. It’s that simple.”
While awaiting their next turn to pick up the baton, R4T runners on both the ‘mini-run’ and the larger R4T event will visit schools and community organizations enroute to share the benefits of being active and to inspire children and adults to get moving for a better tomorrow.
R4T is an initiative of InnovativeCommunities.ORG (ICO), a Victoria-based international foundation that seeks to advance education and eliminate poverty. “Daily physical activity is so key to our wellbeing as individuals and communities,” says ICO intern Samantha Walrafen, “if there is one topic in health education that will give us the biggest bang for our buck, this is it.”
Run for Tomorrow is a non-stop relay run around the world by a team of experienced marathon runners which will start on April 27th 2014. A team member runs a marathon distance (26.2 miles/ 42.2 km) and then passes the baton to the next runner. Through more than 32 countries and for 200 days, the baton never stops moving. All day and night we will be building the global spirit of R4T!
Please visit our website at www.r4t.org for more information.
ICO INITIATIVE NEWS
THE LIGHTING MEKANISA INITIATIVE (ETHIOPIA)
Mekanisa is an urban district located in the capital city of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The neighbourhood is mixed in ethnicity and socio-economics. Ethiopia is home to many diverse challenges, however with regards to this project proposal the changes in climate and existing environmental stress are of great concern. People in this area regularly face water and electrical shortages and outages - despite it being urban and connected to the national network. There are rolling blackouts of electricity throughout the country. The aim of this initiative is to build more resilient communities by fostering ideas and technologies that will enable people to adopt alternative solutions that are both sustainable and improve livelihoods. Mekanisa is a pilot area, but this Initiative has a great deal of expanding potential.
This is the project of ICO member Logan Cochrane, who is Canadian but has lived and worked in Ethiopia for a number of years. Logan's MA thesis delved into the issues relating to climate change in urban Ethiopia and the ability of people to adapt to those changes. One of his team's proposed projects is a pilot project for solar power utilization. This would include holding a workshop regarding solar power technologies and distributing solar power lighting technologies to communities.
"We have three main aims: (1) To raise awareness of alternative technologies that will address the needs of people and that are better for the environment, (2) to demonstrate how beneficial those technologies can be, and (3) if the project is successful we want to expand it to additional communities" (Logan Cochrane).
For 60 home-based simple solar powered lighting units the cost is approximately 19,996.8 ETB ($1,145 CAN).
The proposal is to offer a workshop for 60 households in Mekanisa in order to address the wider issues of caring for the environment, water conservation and electrical consumption along with instructions on how to best use the solar power technologies being distributed. Each home will be followed up three times by a local representative to measure the effectiveness of the project and the benefit brought by the project. It will also allow for further dialogue to continue and facilitate a time for additional follow-up questions to be asked.
The hope is that this initiative will address that immediate challenge or regular electrical blackouts in the community, but also it will also facilitate a process of community learning whereby the community are exposed to new ideas about consumption, sustainability and the environment - with practical and realistic solutions that are both more sustainable and life changing.
COMMUNITY VIDEO INITIATIVE (UGANDA)
In traditional Africa, storytelling is a very effective way of sensitization and storytelling with pictures and sound is an even far more fascinating communication tool/experience. To this realization, the Ugandan Community Video Initiative was established mainly to help those remote communities without access to power supply. Its main objective is to produce educational community videos to showcase “success stories” to inspire rural populations. The videos will feature examples of best practices which are within the means of the targeted populations. Using simple languages, entertainment and didactic tools, this Initiative intends to excite community participation and initiate debate. These videos will then be projected to such villages through open-air screenings. The initiative will work together with local leaders to mobilize the peasants for screenings in the evenings and at the end of every screening dialogues are held between these leaders and peasants for synergies.
The first project, entitled “Abandoned Treasure”, will target particularly the youth in view of redirecting them to the land to fight absolute poverty and promote food security. Future projects will address such issues as poverty, food security, health, domestic violence, education, water and sanitation.
“ABANDONED TREASURE” PROJECT
In Uganda today, there are a few people who have given good examples on how returning to the land can overturn misfortunes, and these will be featured in the “Abandoned Treasure” documentary:
Bwaziba Small Scale Pineapple Growers: Bwaziba village situated in Kikyusa sub-county Luwero District is where over 40 Youth formed an Association named above. These Youth decided to stay in their villages and started small scale commercial Agriculture specializing in pineapple growing. Over the years, their example has been emulated by neighbouring villages and this area has become a business centre for Exporters. The standard of life in this area is far better than many parts of Uganda.
Mr. Walusimbi Godfrey: Land owner of Nakaseke District, through his personal efforts has helped over 20 youths by providing them with seeds and three acres of land each to start off agricultural activities through planting beans, ground nuts and sweet potatoes for domestic consumption and sale.
Ms Nakawunde of Masaka: peasant farmer in central Uganda, a widow successfully educated her 5 children from carefully using her 5 acres of land by doing integrated Agriculture, and zero grazing of heifers, poultry farm and a piggery and planting enough food for domestic use.
James Luutu: Local council leader: He realized that poverty is an attitude. He believes that there is something that leadership alone does not provide to people; proper advice and to restore work ethics among the people. Through his 6 acre demonstration farm in Busunju village, Luutu teaches young people best land use practices using available means within their localities. Here they learn how to sustainably use land through simple income generating activities.
The “Abandoned Treasure” Project of the Ugandan Community Video Initiative will use the above four enterprising Ugandans who set up good examples of revamping small scale Agriculture in a view of fighting poverty and food security.
MOSHI FOOTBALL INITIATIVE
The Ismaili Youth Soccer Camp (IYSC) began as a non-profit, grass roots camp in July 2002 by it's founder Amyn Bhulji who yearned to create and leave behind a soccer legacy since his days of playing semi-professional soccer in the 1970s in Tanzania.
With the help of IYSC co-founder, Abeed Hirji, IYSC got its start. All those on board that assisted with the organization and implementation of the camp were volunteers, from the Directors to the Coaches to the snack committee. IYSC is what it is today because of the tireless effort and dedication of more than a hundred volunteers over the years.
Generous donors have continued to step forward year after year, donating items such as soccer apparel, nutritious food and beverages for kids’ snacks and other donations in kind.
IYSC is a big proponent of giving too, like the uniforms and soccer boots donations to Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania and Zanzibar. Thanks to the generous donations received by a multitude of IYSC sponsors, it has been able to cater to kids from low-income households that cannot afford to pay the camp registration fees.
As this continues to be a non-profit camp run by volunteers, IYSC registration fees are kept minimal and are used to cover the cost of running the soccer camp. It is open to all youths, regardless of race, ethnicity, faith, gender, athletic ability, special needs and socio-economic status.
It is an all-inclusive camp that boasts an average attendance of 180 kids annually. They aim to have kids actively participate in sport while developing core, life-long skills such as leadership, team building, fair play and good health.
Today, IYSC continues to be self-sufficient and 100% volunteer operated. It has branched out from its humble beginnings in Vancouver, BC to Calgary and Edmonton, Alberta.
We (IYSC) are proud to be partnering with ICO, through the efforts of Sabrina Meherally, the Canadian ICO Lead and Jenna Hussein, the Tanzania Football Initiative Lead the two respective ICO members.
Our motto: Give HOPE where there is despair.
SERVING ORPHANS AND WIDOWS IN RWANDA
The care of widows and orphans is a defining standard of humanity in every culture or faith. In 2008, ICO member John Jordan of Victoria, found a connection to the widows of Rwanda and began exploring ways to lift them from subsistence to sustainable living. In 5 years, the ICO community he formed has combined Western technology and resources together with Rwandan determination and integrity to create that path for many hundreds, probably thousands.
When an assembly of 85 widows - almost all of whom were raising children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, orphans – was asked what they needed most, almost all answered: repair my house. A survey of their adobe houses showed wet dirt floors, leaking leaf roofs, smoking 3-stone fires, stick beds and practically no stored food. The solution which evolved was the rehabilitation of a widow’s house as a secure haven that would preserve her time, energy and health. With those to support her, the Rwandan widow has capacity to lift herself and her kids to a better level.
This year again our “builder team” will rehabilitate 90 – 100 houses with metal roof, water catchment system, veggie garden, smoke free stove, breeding animals, health insurance, blanket, pot and hoe. Now she saves 8 – 10 hrs/wk of hauling wood and water, lives in a dry, smoke free house and has access to Rwanda’s good clinic network. When 10 widows band together we lease for them a half-acre field to cultivate together for 2 harvest a year. With this foundation, she has confidence, time and enough energy to hire out as a cultivator. Sometimes, she even sits for a moment of modest comfort. All that for $180.
Our Rwandan team sponsors 72 orphan kids in secondary school, mentors them in vocational skills and provides micro-loans for business ideas. 72 teenagers is a lot of energy but they apply themselves well and are very productive. The most dynamic train/work experience is in one of the 3 eco-stove “factories” we have established that sell 2000 stoves a year. The stoves bring huge benefit in that they require 60% less wood and virtually eliminate debilitating burns and smoke. Bought and installed for $5, they are the poor man’s modern range.
As I prepare to return to Rwanda in Jan, ’14, supporters are researching the design of 2 technologies the Rwandan team is asking for: eco-toilets and biomass briquettes. Toilets will provide privacy, practicality and fertilizer. The briquettes will create fuel from discarded crop waste. When the technologies are simplified and standardized, they will provide new industries for any community where they are replicated.
There’s a lot of productivity at the bottom of the pyramid. ICO Rwanda is making it sustainable.
DONATE TO ICO INITIATIVES
Your generosity is greatly appreciated. 100% of your donation goes to the ICO Initiative, no money is deducted for overhead or administration. We even pay the cost of the donations service, so you are assured that all of your donation goes to those in need.
1.) You may donate Online immediately. CanadaHelps.Org processes our Credit Card and PayPal donations. You may also pay monthly by credit card. You will receive an immediate Canadian Tax Receipt via email; the process also invites you to receive one Canadian Tax Receipt at the end of the year. ICO covers all processing costs, so you are guaranteed that all of your donation goes to the ICO Initiative you select.
2.) If you prefer, you may also mail us a cheque. We ask that you assist us by completing our very brief form which will cut down on volunteer input time. You have the choice of receiving a Canadian Tax Receipt.
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