May 2021
Hello ICO friends and journal readers!

We are pleased to present the fourth issue of the ICO World Journal! Along with the publication of this issue, we are also celebrating the one year anniversary of the ICO World Journal. We would like to thank everyone for your support, contributions, and articles during the past year. 

We know ICO founder and mentor, John Mitchell, was very excited to see an ICO newsletter and an update from leadership re-ignited last summer and we are happy to be keeping the journal alive and strong. This issue includes a message from the Leadership Team, outstanding information from ICO initiatives, an interesting addition to the ICO website and a summary of a discussion on Decolonization that provided some interesting insights.

We hope you enjoy our updates and thank you again for your continued support.

Yours in Friendship,

The ICO World Team


Table of Contents :

  • Leadership Message & Annual General Meeting
  • ICO Continues Strong Support during COVID
  • The ICO Interactive Map
  • Regional Updates
  • Exploring Decolonization
  • “Why I Donate to ICO Vietnam Education Initiative” Testimonial Video


Table of Contents :


Message from the Leadership

It has been over a year since the World Health Organization declared a global pandemic and countries around the world have felt the impact in different ways.  Supportive leadership, an understanding of the science of the pandemic, and public healthcare have allowed many in the developed world to focus on the minimization of transmission and the vaccination of citizens.  In other areas of the world, the situation is much more dire. Many are still suffering and for others, the worst is yet to come.  Our hope is that we will band together to support the elimination of COVID-19, and all its variants, with proper distribution of vaccines and global support.

At this time, we know that restrictions around gathering will not be lifted in the short term, so we will be holding our Annual General Meeting remotely.  There will be additional communications circulated to all team members however, we would like to let you know that it will be held on Saturday, June 12th via Google Meet. We would love to see you there!  

As you know, ICO values friendships and connections. While it is not immediately possible to gather, we will continue to watch the guidance of the Health Authorities and determine if we are able to get together for a social gathering this summer.

We would like to encourage everyone to take care of themselves as well as others in their lives.  This is a tough time for most people and some are really struggling.  Your friends at ICO are thinking of you.

ICO Continues Strong Support during COVID

2020 was a trying time for many charities and in some ways ICO was no different. However we are thrilled to report that ICO’s dedicated and amazing donors showed incredible generosity, so much so that ICO experienced an increase in donated funds of 20% in 2020, amounting to $442,807. COVID-19 affected many of our ICO communities including many communities that were forced into lockdown. This resulted in job loss, food insecurity and devastation of livelihoods that were already vulnerable as a result of extreme poverty.

Despite all the stresses of COVID, our well-established community relationships and Initiatives allowed us to continue to provide support to those with the greatest need. As a result we were able to respond to the needs and requests of our dedicated Field Leads, with many Initiatives receiving support in 2020. $330,892 was transferred directly to the field in 2020. Five initiatives were able to quickly pivot during COVID to provide direct food support to communities ravaged by unemployment and to support families who lost loved ones due to COVID. Although many schools were shut down at various times due to the numerous COVID outbreaks, ICO was still able to send $186,000 to fund school improvements, scholarships and teacher’s salaries.

ICO is committed and will continue to partner with communities around the world in 2021 to make the world a better place.  We are in awe and extremely grateful for work done by our volunteers and for the generosity of our donors. 


 ICO Interactive Map

ICO is thrilled to announce the creation of the ICO Interactive Map. Catalina Roberts, our Lead – Communities Group, has developed this map which showcases ICO’s global footprint.  The link is located on our website under Communities & Initiatives and can be accessed by clicking on “Our ICO Communities and Map”.  

The new map is designed to provide a geographic overview of ICO and our interconnectedness.  It highlights individuals who aspire to similar goals and philosophies and we hope that it will encourage a feeling of connectedness and the sharing of ourselves in a more global context.  

You are able to utilize the map to answer questions such as: 

  • Is there an initiative in a specific country? (We also provide hyperlinks to Initiative pages for further details and the opportunity to donate.)
  • Are there community members, like ambassadors and representatives, in a specific area?
  • What are the responsibilities of our members?

Colour coding has been added and explained to further enhance your search abilities. For example, Yellow is for initiatives, Red is for representatives, Blue is for ambassadors and Green is for support coordinators. 

For confidentiality reasons, community member and team member email addresses are not included on the interactive map.  However, you are welcome to contact and we would be happy to arrange a connection. 

If you have any questions regarding the map or ICO Communities, please email the Lead of ICO Communities Group at 

Photo courtesy of: East Africa Permaculture

Photo courtesy of: Nepal Kaski Education


Photo courtesy of: San Antonio Education and Community

Exploring Decolonization

Written by: Susan Gage, Initiative Lead – Guatemala

How do we Canadian volunteers – most of us white westerners – decolonize our own thinking? None of us thinks we’re racist, but are we sensitive to the privilege and power we bear when we come into our partner communities with promises of money and support for community projects? And how well do we communicate with our community partners, whose values and ways of communicating may be different from ours? 

On May 15, a group of ICO Initiative Leads and others came together on Zoom to wrestle with these issues. We broke into breakout rooms, and discussed 3 video clips: 

Each of these clips had a message designed to shake us up a bit and examine our own assumptions. 

Then we moved on to consider situations of culture-clash, in which we found ourselves a) wanting to be sensitive to community priorities and values, but b) also wanting to be responsive to our own values and those of donors.

Again, we hit the breakout rooms, and then came back for a group debrief. Lots of ideas emerged. Here are some of the main themes:

  • Many of the people we work with come from high-context cultures, where communication is more based on context and relationship, and is less direct than the communication style we’re used to. So take time to listen. Develop relationships.
  • Curiosity and questioning – see the Importance of suspending judgement, looking for the nugget, being curious, keeping ears open and mouth shut.
  • Shared responsibility/resources in projects – the community should contribute as well.
  • There is so much wisdom in ICO to be shared. This is an important journey. We should do more of this and consider how to share what we’ve learned with each other and others outside ICO.


Why I donate to the ICO Vietnam Education Initiative

Check out this video on ICO World Youtube from ICO Community Representative Harry Seemann and see why he donates to the ICO Vietnam Education Initiative. We love receiving and sharing testimonials like these – if you would like to share why you donate to an ICO initiative, send your testimonial (video or written) to



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