Page 1

A publication of the Alberta Council for Global Cooperation


When Are 17 Partners More Than 41? Partners don’t want to be always dependent on foreign funding – they want to be in control of their own future.

Partnerships: Navigating Relationships with Industry and International Partners

2 3 4

Making change in West Africa, Sinkunia | The Shed, Keiskamma It Takes Work to Find Work, SCERDO

Building the Capability of Partners, CAWST Engaging with Industry, EWB | Game Changers Podcast, ACGC

Change Your World Tour, ACGC AGM Preview, ACGC

Cover photo: Bright eyes, bright smiles: These children may never know the fear of avoidable blindness, thanks to Operation Eyesight and its partners. Photo by Peter Carrette

Suite 205, 10816A - 82 Avenue Edmonton, AB T6E 2B3

Every five seconds, one person in the world goes blind. A child goes blind every minute. Yet for three out of four of these people, blindness was completely preventable. Operation Eyesight is an international development organization working to eliminate avoidable blindness with the help of private donations and public support. Based in Calgary, this organization has brought sight-restoration and blindness-prevention treatment to millions of people since its founding in 1963. Today, its work is focused on India, Ghana, Kenya and Zambia – places where blindness can be deadly, especially to those who are very young, old or poor. Only eight years ago, Operation Eyesight had 41 hospital partners in India. Today, there are 17 – and they are more than doubling the impact of the original group, while also taking decisive steps on the road to operational sustainability. What’s behind this remarkable result? A shared commitment to quality and patient service. This sustainability is a key accomplishment. These 17 hospitals demonstrate how effectively Operation Eyesight can maximize donors’ money to help hospitals in poor areas. Now they can deliver high-quality outcomes and achieve financial sustainability – both of which are critical to eliminate avoidable blindness. While previously the focus was on surgeries for people with cataracts (still the primary objective of some eye health NGOs today), Operation Eyesight strives to build strong links with the community and to build medical infrastructure that will enable eye problems to be prevented and treated before they cause blindness. Eighty percent of avoidable blindness can be eliminated through a basic primary eye care system and by making sure people have access to care. Operation Eyesight collaborates with local partners to ensure professionals and staff are appropriately trained and hospitals and clinics are well-designed, built and equipped. Better cost control, effective systems and high-functioning facilities – and most importantly, high-quality outcomes – are the result. Delivering quality is essential to attract patients who pay for services. This revenue, combined with income from in-hospital optical shops, enables hospitals to provide free care to those in need. The strategy is successful, which allows Operation Eyesight to start reallocating funds to help other partners. Operation Eyesight knows partners don’t want to be always dependent on foreign funding – they want to be in control of their own future. Using this development approach will help that day come much sooner.

By Lynne Dulaney, Operation Eyesight

Making Change in West Africa

My visit to the Community School in Ghana Photo by Agnes Somuah

Sinkunia supports local farmers with crop seeds and start-up farm animals

What can partnerships make possible? Clean water, a litter of piglets, mentorship, and more. Sinkunia Community Development Organization is a community-based nonprofit based in Alberta, with a dual mandate that includes the successful settlement and integration of African immigrant families in Edmonton. This purpose is accomplished through academic and social recreation programs, cultural and mentorship programs, counseling and family mediation. The organization also supports community development initiatives in West Africa (Sierra Leone, Ghana, Guinea, and Ghana). For the past five years the organization has helped pay school fees for five children, provided scholarship for deserving children, sunk two wells to provide clean source of water, as well as supported local farmers with crop seeds and start-up farm animals in Sierra Leone’s Sinkunia chiefdom. In 2011 the organization extended its development to Ghana, where a school with a student population of 120 has been built in Ntronang, a small farming community. At the

moment, Sinkunia helps to pay for the feeding of the children and the salaries of five teachers who are working in the school. The organization has also started a piggery project geared at supporting the community with start-up piglets for individual families. In Edmonton, the organization has worked in partnership with the Edmonton Mennonite Centre and Action for Healthy Communities to provide more than 30 children with academic support, mentorship and cultural activities. The organization’s main sources of income have been grants from the government of Alberta and the City of Edmonton, as well as fund-raising from donations, selling books, and selling T-shirts. Now, we are looking for partners and supporters to enable us continue with our scholarship program for children in Sinkunia chiefdom, sink more wells and also expand our farms which at the moment provide crop seeds for families. We are also looking forward to provide a proper classroom building in Ghana for the school children as the number keeps growing and also provide them with a van that can transport them from the various cocoa settlements to the school premises. Sinkunia looks forward to working with partners and supporters to help achieve these short and long term goals. by Agnes Somuah, Sinkunia Community Development Organization

The Shed

Photo by Marilyn Scott

Patience, adaptability, partnership shift disappointment into a source of pride

What do you do when you provide money for a project and the project goes sideways? There will always be situations where best intentions are not enough. In 2011, while volunteering with Keiskamma Trust in South Africa, a group of volunteers met with a village education council and asked what they needed most. They said they needed a storage shed for cooking and gardening equipment that was sharing space with an R (kindergarten) class. Seeing 15 children squeezed between rakes, hoes and a propane tank for cooking, we felt a storage shed was definitely a priority. Keiskamma Canada agreed to provide funding to have a shed built; we priced a prefab shed and returned to Canada thinking everything would be fine. However, the school principal had something different in mind. He designed his own shed to include three small rooms: one for cooking, one for gardening supplies and one for a tiny, longed for, library. Things do not move quickly in rural South Africa but by

the time my husband and I both returned in 2013, the shed had been built – sort of. The principal was terribly embarrassed to show us the “shack.” Unfortunately the person who was hired to build the shed not only lacked experience and training but left before it was completed. The corrugated tin building was ramshackle, with not a single right angle, and so unstable it was in danger of blowing away in the first big winter storm. We could have been angry that money had been wasted and the shed we paid for had not been built, but it would have served no purpose. Instead, my husband hired a village man and went about fixing the shed. The local man was delighted to increase his own skills and learn how to measure, saw, drill and insulate. He took great pride in what was happening. Villagers came by each day to see what had been accomplished. Although it took my husband a week to find the right people in order to borrow the needed tools and we used money supplied by friends and family for additional supplies, the results were satisfying. The cooks could hardly wait to get in. The smile on the principal’s face and the dancing the school children did to thank us was worth it all. With patience, adaptability and partnership we helped shift a disappointment into a source of pride. by Marilyn Scott, Keiskamma Canada

It Takes Work to Find Work

Guest speaker from the Edmonton Police Service (2013)


Helping young people in our communities find careers is a big job, and SCERDO approaches this task armin-arm with other community groups. The Group Based Employability Skills project is designed to help youth in Edmonton to prepare for future work and/or career decisions by assisting them with preparing, seeking, obtaining, and maintaining employment. The project’s main objective is to train and prepare youths from Edmonton for future employment and academic placement at the high school, college or university levels. With the help and partnership of local and international agencies, the broad purpose of SCERDO is to promote the educational needs for all Somalis and Canadians locally and

around the world. SCERDO advocates the needs of rural Somalia and Canada including economic development, community enhancement, environmental protection, and effective use of available resources. Youth in SCERDO’s programs benefit from access to the diverse skills of our community partners. Other related activities during the current Group Based Employability Skills Project include Canada Day Barbeque volunteering, an OMNI TV Guided Tour, Edmonton Food Bank volunteering, Edmonton Diabetes Association Workshop, Edmonton Police Services Workshop and Global Youth Assembly Conference. Each program is concluded with a graduation that is intended to inspire, motivate and encourage participants for an optimistic future. by SCERDO

Building the Capability of Partners Since 2008, CAWST (The Centre The goal of the for Affordable Water and Sanitation partnership is for Technology) has been partnering with WET Centres to organizations in Zambia, Afghanistan, Cambodia, Haiti, Lao PDR, Nepal and gain the capacity Ethiopia to establish Water Expertise to independently and Training (WET) Centres. The goal and effectively of the partnership is for WET Centres to provide services gain the capacity to independently and effectively provide water and sanitation education and training services locally and independently of CAWST. They adapt and improve their services according to the local context and support organizations, governments and communities to provide safe drinking water and sanitation to those in need. One of the first challenges of a WET Centre partnership is ensuring there is an aligned vision. CAWST has learnt that, for a WET Centre to develop effectively, its end goals must be very clear and ultimately aligned with both parties’ organizational values. This alignment must not only happen at the program level but from top management down to the front line-staff executing the program. Additionally, CAWST’s WET Centre partners are faced with the challenge of needing to be organizationally flexible and adaptable to a new program. Specifically, larger organizations with preexisting management structures may find it difficult to adjust to new staff or to new methods of carrying out tasks in this new partnership. To overcome this challenge, CAWST has encouraged adaptability with its partner organizations by

building upon existing skills, integrating existing staff and by forging strong personal relationships. Transformation occurs throughout the organization, with positive outcomes beyond the scope of the program. Furthermore, effective partnerships take time and should be mapped out beyond the limitations of specific funding agreements and timelines. Despite the challenges, one of the most notable outcomes of the WET Centre partnerships is the capacity of the partner organizations in being able to run, improve and expand the program themselves. CAWST places the priority on building the capabilities of the partner and its staff (versus being solely driven by outputs and reports). This builds the foundation for local ownership of the program and ultimately a more effective and sustainable initiative. The key components to building successful partnerships are the development of a unanimous understanding of the end goal and the strong commitment from both sides to build supportive relationships to reach that goal.

One of CAWST’s WET Centres Learning Exchanges Photo courtesy of: CAWST


Engaging with Industry Engineers Without Borders Canada (EWB) has a mandate to work on systemic approaches to alleviate extreme poverty in the developing world. EWB requires human and financial resources in which to operate. It is inevitable that a significant fraction of these resources will come from the industries in Canada in which engineers are employed, including mining and petroleum. Many companies in Canada take seriously the concept of Corporate Social Responsibility and the requirement that they need a social license to operate. There are still companies that have a mixed track record and approach to being socially, ethically and environmentally sustainable either in-Canada or in their overseas operations. At the same time, it is undesirable to be accepting revenue and forming partnerships with specific companies whose values and motivations are contradictory to our own. EWB is currently assembling a comprehensive set of corporate engagement guidelines whereby a candidate company will undergo a screening before we agree to accept revenue from them. An additional issue with which we are faced is how do we interact with such companies that we’ve identified as having questionable track records, particularly in the developing world. Some organizations with a more activist bent take the ‘naming and shaming’ approach by dragging bad behaviour into the spotlight and bringing public pressure to bear. While there are those within EWB who would like to adopt this approach, it is recognized that for an organization where

many of us are employed in these industries, we’re not well suited to play this specific role. Instead, we take the approach of using our contacts and connections within these industries to identify and develop partnerships with specific companies who are authentically interested in being good corporate citizens. We are in the middle of a five-year partnership with TransCanada. In addition to their providing set annual funding to the EWB, TransCanada is provided the opportunity to send two of its employees overseas every year with EWB to work directly on our projects. EWB benefits through receiving financial and human resources; TransCanada has unique program available to its employees that isn’t (yet) matched by its competitors. In addition, these employees upon their return have developed a much stronger connection to Africa and have a better understanding of what impact our actions and decisions here in Canada have in the developing world. by Kevin Hanson, Engineers Without Borders Canada

Photo credit: TransCanada Employee

Employees have a better understanding of the impact Canadian actions and decisions have in the developing world

Turn Up the Volume, Turn Down the Heat Looking for a little inspiration while you’re washing the dishes or driving to work? ACGC has a new podcast series available called Game Changers, exploring how climate change is shifting the way we think about international development. In the first episode, we take you to the Nunavut hamlet of Pangnirtung, where melting permafrost is convincing some young Canadians to consider whether their talents are needed abroad or at home in Northern and Aboriginal communities. Download the new series – and the complete Istanbul Principles series – at


ACGC Partnership – Change Your World Tour

CYW participants Stephen Cho and Matthew Pettifer help fetch water in the village of San Andres. Photo by Joëlle Badman

In July 2013, ACGC executed its third successful Change Your World Alberta Youth Leadership Tour (CYW). The CYW project is a partnership between ACGC and a member organization acting as the host for the tour. In 2010, ACGC partnered with Canadian Humanitarian for the Ethiopia tour, in 2012 with Sombrilla International Development Society for the Peru tour, and most recently with Change for Children Association for the Nicaragua tour. This innovative model for promoting global citizenship and fostering an understanding of international development through collaboration between organizations has been a huge success. Each year, ACGC selects five Alberta youth to visit projects by the host organization, as well as other ACGC members working in the region. Because of the incredible diversity within the ACGC membership, the partnership model enables the selected participants to become very familiar with the projects of the host organization, while also being exposed to projects by other members who perhaps tackle issues and work with communities in a different, but equally impactful way. To date, we have exposed 15 youth from across Alberta to the work of 7 ACGC member organizations in three countries,

through 20 different international development projects and North/South partnerships. The impact is widespread. According to Heather McPherson, Executive Director of ACGC, “The CYW Tour gives ACGC member organizations an opportunity to share the excellent work they are doing with their partners overseas; not just with the 5 students that visit the projects, but with thousands of Albertans who learn about the projects through community and school presentations. With the CYW project, ACGC helps its members tell their positive stories to all of Alberta.” CYW Nicaragua 2013 participant Stephen Cho (16) came away from the tour with a greater understanding of the meaning of global cooperation, and the importance of the work of ACGC members. Says Cho, “When we can put faces and personal stories to international issues, it empowers us, as change makers, to realize there is no ‘us’ and ‘them’, but rather that we all need to take action against the same universal struggle.” ACGC plans to continue offering Change Your World tours in the coming years. If your organization is interested in hosting a tour, please contact ACGC for more details and timelines.

The CYW Tour gives organizations the opportunity to share their work with thousands of Albertans

by Joëlle Badman, ACGC Staff

AGM Preview

The past year has seen dramatic shifts in partnership opportunities

The past year has seen some dramatic shifts in the partnership opportunities available in Canada’s international development sector. The most dramatic changes have been the merger of CIDA with the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, and the Federal Government’s encouragement of the private sector as a more prominent development partner. Most of Alberta’s non-profits have experience promoting small private enterprise overseas through microfinance, and partnering with corporate donors in Canada. More than ever though, the government is promoting coordination of development programs with the activity of Canada’s corporations overseas. These changes will be explored through ACGC’s 2013 AGM and Public Forum this September, co-hosted by the University of Calgary. On September 13, members of ACGC,

ACGC Connect is published by the Alberta Council for Global Cooperation with the financial assistance of the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA). The views expressed by the publication are not necessarily those of ACGC or its member groups. ACGC is a coalition of NGOs working in Alberta and committed to advocating harmonious relations among nations and to promoting equitable community development within nations which is people-centred, democratic, just, sustainable, inclusive and respectful of indigenous cultures. ACGC can be contacted at: Suite 205, 10816A - 82 Avenue Edmonton, AB T6E 2B3 Tel: 780.988.0200 | Fax: 780.988.0211 Email: | Twitter: @ACGCNow Visit our website at: E-NEWSLETTER If you would prefer to receive an electronic copy of the newsletter in the future instead of a printed copy, please contact or 780.988.0200. Thank you. Canadian International Development Agency


Agence canadienne de développement international

the public, and the campus community are invited to join “Hard Choices: A Public Forum on Industry and International Development.” Speakers from NGOs, government and industry will discuss one resolution: Be it resolved that partnerships with industry, including natural resource extraction, can make development work more effective in reducing poverty. The following day, youth under 30 and all ACGC members are invited to participate in one of our most important events of the year: our Annual General Meeting, entitled “Hard Choices: Navigating New Relationships with Industry, Government and International Partners.” The business meetings and capacity-building opportunities will take place September 14 at the University of Calgary’s Rosza Centre. Travel and accommodation subsidies are available. Register through Eventbrite by September 5. by Chris Chang-Yen Phillips, ACGC Staff

ACGC Current Membership AUGUST 2013 Action International Ministries • Ainembabazi Children’s Project • Alberta Public Interest Research Group • Alberta Teachers’ Association • Altamas for Peace and Development Association • Awaso Canadian Academy Foundation • Bridges of Hope International Network of Dev Agencies Inc. • Calgary Board of Education Global Learning Program • Canada World Youth • Canadian Association for Participatory Development • Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace • Canadian Department of Peace Initiative • Canadian Humanitarian • Canadian Moravian Mission Society • Canadian Peacemakers International • Canadian Women for Women in Afghanistan • Caro-Canadians Reaching Out to the World’s Children Foundation • CAUSE Canada • CEIBA Association • Centre for Affordable Water and Sanitation Technology • Centre for Global Citizenship Education and Research • Change for Children Association • CHF • Covenant International Ministry • Cuso International • Engineers Without Borders - Canada • Four Worlds Centre for Development Learning • Global Environmental and Outdoor Education Council • Ghost River Rediscovery • Global Education Program, University of Alberta International • Global Forum Foundation • HIV Edmonton • Human Development Foundation • ICChange • John Humphrey Centre for Peace and Human Rights • Keiskamma Canada Foundation • Kleos Microfinance Group • Light Up the World • Maharashtra Seva Samiti Organization • Marda Loop Justice Film Festival • Mennonite Central Committee Alberta • Micah Centre (Kings University College) • One Child’s Village • One! International Poverty Relief • Operation Eyesight Canada • Optometry Giving Sight • Oxfam Canada • Project Shelter Wakadogo • Rainbow for the Future • Rainbow of Hope for Children • RESULTS • Sahakarini Inter-World Education & Development Association • Samaritan’s Purse Canada • Shastri Indo-Canadian Institute • Sinkunia Community Development Organization • SomaliCanadian Education & Rural Development Organization • Sombrilla International Development Society • STOP TB Canada • The Leprosy Mission of Canada • Tools for Schools Africa • Trickster Theatre • True Vision Ghana • Unisphere Global Research Centre • United Nations Association in Canada • Women’s Empowerment International Foundation • World Fit For Children - Alberta Chapter • World University Services of Canada

ACGC Connect - Autumn 2013  

In the latest issue of the ACGC Connect newsletter, read how NGOs are using partnerships to improve eyesight, help youth find employment, an...

ACGC Connect - Autumn 2013  

In the latest issue of the ACGC Connect newsletter, read how NGOs are using partnerships to improve eyesight, help youth find employment, an...