ICO WORLD Issue 1 August 2010
Registered Canadian Charity BN/Registration Number: 871126249RR0001
BETWEEN FRIENDS Above all we are friends...
Issue 1 August 2010
Hello from John Mitchell, Chair of the Board The Communications Centre has worked hard over the last few months to re-focus and energize our communication capabilities. The ICO World Magazine team has worked with a very steep learning curve to understand the operations of ICO to produce our first edition. Sometimes every day appears to be a historic day for us in ICO, as the pace of our growth and development enables us to become more capable. In less than five years we have grown from two active people to over 750 Friends and over 100 volunteer Team Members with operations in five countries. We are the first in the world, as far as we know, to publish our account balances live; we guarantee that 100% of donations go to the local people we have the privilege of befriending and serving. Not a penny from donations goes to overhead or administration. Over the last year, more than 60 new volunteer Team Members have joined us. Some weeks 5-7 people apply to volunteer, not to fold envelopes, but to undertake-- with passion and commitment-- a specialist, professional, or “managerial” role. I want to thank the 750 Friends of ICO for your incredible work, whether it is supporting us, sending a cheque, working behind the scenes in accounts and admin, writing an article, making sure our building is maintained to the highest standards, or working with our Friends in the field in Guatemala, Colombia, Uganda and Rwanda--all the countless activities that make ICO what it is today. Thank You! John
Peter Lukwiya and John Mitchell ICO has 750 Friends of the Foundation, over 100 of whom are also volunteer Team Members. So what do ICO Friends do and who are they? Friends support the Foundation in three ways: they support the ICO objectives and are the foundation of our network; they contribute financially to ICO Initiatives in Guatemala, Colombia, Uganda, Rwanda and Canada; and they share their passion and time as Team Members in areas such as administration, field support, development, communications, human resources, research and property management etc. ICO Friends Centre support services include: 1. Welcoming new people into ICO, providing the information and connections to our networks and services. 2. Connecting Friends and Operations around the World 24/7 via ICO World Desk, and building and enhancing relationship through Social Media tools such as Facebook, Google Chat, and the ICO Video-Conferencing System. 3. The Friends Centre is also working on a preferred partnerships program, which will enable all ICO Friends to receive discounts or enhanced services from Accent Inns, Enterprise Rent-A-Car, Vision 2000 Travel and Desjardins Travel Insurance when they use their ICO Friends Card. Additional partners will be added and the ICO Friends Card will be distributed over the next few months.
Whether you’ve been a Friend of the Foundation for a short time or a long time, we are grateful to have you sharing your time, energy and thoughts with us. As ICO is growing daily, with new people and communities, we are developing more and more opportunities for our ICO Friends, like you. We’d love to have you, your family and your friends join our family and be a part of our thriving community! So, don’t delay! Join ICO today, and be part of an amazing organization that is focused to making a significant difference in our world, while also developing awesome friendships and having fun. Membership is free and easy to do; just follow the link below, click “Join ICO” on the top menu bar, fill in some easy info, and you’re all set! http://InnovativeCommunities.Org/ As Facilitator of Operations for the Friends Centre, I am always available to answer questions or listen to any suggestions you may have, with regard to ICO initiatives or events, or improvement in our services, so please feel free to contact me via email at Friends@InnovativeCommunities.org. In friendship, Jeff Vos Facilitator Operations Friends Centre
Community News The Community Initiatives Centre organized a workshop in May for all ICO team members involved in community initiatives, to create an information-sharing network to develop clarity about effective teamwork within the ICO structure. They also held a fundraising workshop. Have anything to share? An event? A fundraiser? A free couch? A photograph? Email Communications@InnovativeCommunities. Org.
Updates from the ground
Updates from the ground
Welcome to ICO’s Uganda initiative!
Welcome to ICO’s Rwanda Initiatives! The project in Rwanda is the brainchild of BC resident John Jordan, who was inspired by a local newspaper article about a Canadian grad student from Montreal. The student was a native of Rwanda-- a nation where hundreds of widows and orphans struggle daily to attain the basic necessities of life. Captivated by the desperate circumstances detailed in the narrative, John decided to visit the impoverished nation. In April of 2009, he packed his bags and headed to the village Kibogora, in Western Rwanda. Now, just a year later, John and his team have two initiatives in Rwanda. The first ICO program provides educational support to the community’s unstable education system, giving orphans the opportunity to attend school. The Initiative provides children with access to quality education, school supplies, and safe homes. Advancing education in Rwanda is integral, as it encourages growth and gives children the opportunity to achieve their dreams. It also takes orphans off the streets and helps them become highfunctioning members of their community. The second Rwanda Initiative focuses on rural women who have been widowed and are left with no support system to help raise their children, and no way to make money for life’s necessities. ICO’s Sustainable Household System provides these women with necessities such as: methods of collecting drinkable water, a secure tarp for their home, anti-malarial bed netting, blankets, cooking pots, and more. John’s initiative is also working on constructing over 100 sustainable homes. This project teaches children lifelong construction skills and educates them about sustainability.
John returned from Rwanda last month, and we are proud to announce the team has created 38 sustainable homes thus far. During his recent visit to Rwanda, John documented the team’s sustainable household development, student training and community development projects. John’s accomplishments in Rwanda are eye-opening. He is also establishing a rabbit breeding facility. The revenue from the project allows students to pay for their school fees. John has also been equipping homes with fuel-efficient stoves, and helping students create seed nurseries. The Rwanda initiative is an outstanding example of the power of friendship and teamwork! 100% of Donations go to Initiatives. Accounts are 100% Transparent. Donate now at www.InnovativeCommunities.org.
In Uganda, ICO is focused on finding innovative ways to engage children and youth in educational opportunities incorporating music, dance and art. The Initiative targets mainly marginalized groups-- children of HIV and AIDS parents, and orphans. An example of how ICO engages these children and youth is through the Niteo Resource Centre, a dance and arts facility. Surrounded by mirrors, and equiped with 16 yoga mats, a CD player and speakers, the Niteo Centre is a safe place for youth to practice traditional Ugandan dance, breakdance, Capoeira and yoga. Some of the dance classes are instructed by professional groups like the Ndere Dance Troupe and the Breakdance Project Uganda. Each Saturday, youth from Uganda’s biggest slum, Kisenyi, come together with youth living around the Niteo Resource Centre for a full day of traditional dancing and music training. Here, they are trained by a local group known as the Bitone Children’s Home and Troupe. Vocal training is also provided by Uganda’s top recording studio, Dreamstudio. The youth from the streets of the Kisenyi slums stay in transition homes, where they’re invited to free dance lessons at the Niteo Resource Centre.
100% of Donations go to Initiatives. Accounts are 100% Transparent. Donate now at www.InnovativeCommunities.org.
ICO GUATEMALA Updates from the ground
Welcome to ICO’s Guatemala initiative! ICO has been working with three communities from the Lake Atitlán area in the Guatemalan highlands. The initiative uses a simple grassroots approach, meeting with locals (families, teachers, health clinic workers), and structuring projects encompassing their feedback. ICO’s work focuses mainly on improving health and education, and offering general support to those in need. Traditionally, Mayans cook over unventilated open hearths (indoors), which can cause burns, as well as respiratory and eye problems. Since 2007, ICO has been busy installing “The ONIL Stove” in the San Antonio Palopó community. Developed in Guatemala, this stove is vented, smoke-free and uses 70% less wood. Locals’ health has improved dramatically since the arrival of the ONIL. Other ICO initiatives in San Antonio provide computers for schools, medical equipment, nutritional supplements, water purification systems, support programs for widows, environmental training, programs to improve literacy and more. In Santa Catarina Palopó, ICO has installed ONIL Stoves and provided water filters to many, including pregnant women and diabetics, who are particularly at risk of catching water-borne diseases. We’ve also been providing school supplies to families and schools. ICO started working with the San Pedro la Laguna community recently. So far, we’ve provided school supplies for children and paid school fees for those who cannot afford them.
ICO GUATEMALA Updates from the ground
dian and receive $15,000-worth of medicines. Here we had $15,000-worth of medicine (which, to tell you the truth, isn’t quite as much as you would think) to give to Dr. Mayron from San Pedro, which would then be distributed to 6 health clinics around the lake. Once the Health Team arrived at the hotel, we opened up one of the boxes so that they could leave half of its contents with our nurse in San Antonio. The team was so very excited by the sight of all these boxes and bottles of coveted medicines. It turned out that these medicines were all they expected to receive during the entire year … not nearly enough for the 310,000 people in the region. Next year, we will try to bring twice as much.
Guatemalan Education System
Letters from Susan Gage, Team Leader of ICO Atitlan (Guatemala) Initiatives: ICO Community Initiatives Centre.
Medicines arrive in San Antonio
How can I describe to you the jubilation on the day Doctor Myron and his 3 nurses, plus Elva – the nurse from San Antonio – arrive to take possession of the 3 medical kits that Jacqueline has managed to bring down from Canada? This whole process was a tremendous tour-de-force on the part of Jacqueline, who had to send off notarized letters to the First Lady of Guatemala and jump through all sorts of legal hoops, and then carry 3 huge boxes of supplies onto the airplane. It’s a program of Health Partners International, through which we can pay $575 Cana-
In Guatemala, educators work in difficult circumstances. Schooling, like most social services, is chronically underfunded here. The school supplies promised by the government don’t arrive, and nobody is surprised. School is ready to start, and many teachers have no contract, not having received the pay-raise they were promised last year. Odilio, the principal of one San Antonio school, is paid to work the morning shift, but there is no money forthcoming for the afternoon shift, which he works anyway. Vicente, the principal of the other school, has begged for roofing material from a Swiss friend, and when we arrive is supervising construction; the government has no money to repair leaky roofs. Both men ask us for help in constructing additional classrooms; the schools are filled to bursting. We ask for detailed budgets, and in the meantime, work with both principals to draw up a list of essential school supplies. Kathy and I spend a hectic day in the nearby town of Panajachel ordering
school supplies to deliver to both of San Antonio’s schools -- supplies that will ensure that every child arriving at school will have pencils or pens, a notebook, paper and crayons. 100% of Donations go to ICO Initiatives.
Updates from the ground
Updates from the ground
Welcome to ICO’s Colombia initiative!
2. A food-fish breeding facility, to provide fingerlings to a farm-based growing operation. Infrastructure, including a number of ponds, is mostly in place to make this a great success.
ICO’s Mission and Objectives are undertaken in Colombia on behalf of ICO by Opportunities Colombia. ICO’s Community Initiative Centre, a component of ICO Operations is responsible for the overall management of ICO Initiatives in Colombia.
3. An ornamental fish-rearing facility to breed Koi and other in-demand fish. Victoria’s West Coast Koi, a respected supplier of quality Koi, is providing the breeding stock. The first shipment of Koi has already arrived at stores in Bogota and was well-received.
Opportunities Colombia- Helping People Help Themselves Opportunities Colombia is non-governmental and non-profit, based out of Victoria, BC, and is currently engaged in approved ICO Initiatives in Colombia, in cooperation with Rotary International, Victoria’s local Harbourside Rotary Club and the Honda Rotary Club in Colombia. Presently, our main ICO Initiative is a Bakery in Honda, which currently employs eight extremely hardworking people—four single mothers, two bakers, one delivery salesman and a very dedicated English-speaking manager. The Bakery is in its second year of operation and has recently been relocated to larger premises, to meet a growing demand. The new location has been donated by the Honda Rotary Club and is located in a very poor section of the city. Our most immediate need is funding for mixing machines, extractor fans, more effective light fixtures, display cases, shelving and other equipment for the Bakery. Our objective is to train driven, dedicated individuals, and then to provide financing for them to start and operate successful, sustainable businesses—businesses that will allow them to provide for their families.
Our philosophy is to provide the opportunity for very poor families to work to improve their life in a part of the world that is emerging from a very desperate period. We help people help themselves. We would like to hear from anyone interested in helping with this undertaking. ICO is delighted to have reached an agency agreement with Opportunities Colombia, which consists at this time of five dedicated Victorians with a incredible dream and provided the human resources and money to make the vision a reality; ICO is now asking for other interested, dedicated volunteers to help us help Colombians and build on this dream. ICO COLOMBIA Updates from the ground: We have a number of proposed Initiatives, with which we are looking for assistance: 1. A daycare centre, for which a building has been made available.
Contact: Doug Webb Team Leader - ICO Colombia Initiatives Community Initiatives Centre Doug@InnovativeCommunities.Org
100% of Donations go to Initiatives. Accounts are 100% Transparent. Donate now at www.InnovativeCommunities.Org.
ICO “Prosperity for All” The Vision of Peter Lukwiya
“Prosperity for all in the peace we desire.” The vision of Peter Lukwiya Submitted by: Julie I. Warren Peter Lukwiya, Executive Director and cofounder of the Uganda Peace Foundation, was in Victoria, British Columbia in May of this year to attend a series of meetings with Innovative Communities.Org (ICO) in his role as the Chairman of the Council of ICO Communities. During his stay, Peter was also elected to the Board of Directors of the Foundation. Peter also acts as Representive for ICO Uganda Communities liaising between impoverished communities in Uganda and ICO. This was a significant moment in ICO’s history as the Foundation moves toward building intercultural relationships with people in countries beset by poverty, war and economic injustice. Born and raised in Kitgum district of northern Uganda, Peter has experienced firsthand the devastating effects of civil conflict. Coming from a family of three brothers and three sisters, Peter lost two of his brothers and his grandfather during the 23-year war that has laid waste to Uganda and displaced an estimated 869,000 citizens. As a young boy, he witnessed the atrocities committed by armed gangs and lived in fear of rebels, who routinely abducted boys to serve as the infamous child soldiers in the war against the government. More than once, Peter and his classmates were panicked into hiding when rebels swarmed into a school or village enclave searching for children and women they could kidnap. In spite of these hardships, Peter somehow found the strength to continue with his education and earned several undergraduate and graduate
degrees in Public Administration, Education and Environmental Science from Mbarara University in Uganda and Gent University in Belgium. During these years, he was involved with UNESCO and was, as he says, “completely absorbed by UNESCO ideals”. One year, on a vacation from university, he travelled back to northern Uganda to talk with students about conflict resolution and how to obtain peaceful solutions to conflict, believing that if “someone does you wrong, you should not pay them back with wrong”. This would have been an astounding concept to his audience, who had, most likely, witnessed the same brutal realities of war as had Peter. The visit to northern Uganda reinforced a growing desire within Peter to concentrate his future work in the areas of peace, conflict resolution and sustainable development. Among his many accomplishments, Peter cofounded the Uganda Peace Foundation (UPF) in 2005, located in Kitgum district. The Foundation is a community-based organization that seeks to foster reconciliation by bringing together communities that have been affected by the conflicts to help them resolve their differences without violence. The
ICO “Prosperity for All” The Vision of Peter Lukwiya
UPF also has another important mandate - to find ways to support the reintegration of former child soldiers and other children who were abused and orphaned during the years of conflict. In 2007, Peter came up with an idea he was convinced could help women in rural communities recover from the devastation of the wars. Peter explains that in Africa, women stay at home and are responsible for the production of food and for feeding their families. They have little access to jobs, which are monopolized by men, and they often lack education. In Uganda, widowhood is very common due to the ongoing conflict. These women, much like his own mother, face huge obstacles in trying to support their families. They try to survive by selling home-based products such as home-made beer or garden vegetables. Peter’s idea was to create a product that they could manufacture at home, didn’t require a lot of capital investment or years of training and was sustainable over time. He came up with two ideas: raising goats and bee-keeping. After consulting with the women in the first community that agreed to ‘buy-in’ to his proposal, the women chose bee-keeping. With a grant of seed money from the Orskov Foundation in Scotland, Peter launched the beekeeping initiative, where women could acquire hives, raise bees and sell the honey. He used the grant money to buy the apiaries and other equipment and donated them to the group. It wasn’t an easy process. There was a lot of resistance to overcome within the test community, primarily because this would not be an overnight solution to economic problems. However, by offering on-going resources, training and support from experienced bee-keepers, the test project
gained traction. When the community saw that the participating women were actually making money from their apiaries, it became a lot easier for Peter to recruit members for new groups. The test group, which consisted of 25 women in 2007 has, in 2010, expanded to seven groups, each with 27 members. In a twist of irony, today there is more demand for access to bee-keeping projects than can be accommodated in Kitgum. Peter is also looking at ways to incorporate men into future community projects. Any type of agricultural industry is subject to the whims of Mother Nature. Peter’s next challenge was to come up with a way to help offset any downturns in honey production that the groups might experience. He decided on the idea of a revolving loan fund. This fund would operate more or less like micro-finance in that it would be a small loan with a very low interest rate. In Peter’s scenario, a small loan is earmarked for several
ICO “Prosperity for All” The Vision of Peter Lukwiya
groups on the understanding they would share it. The money is loaned to members within one group and after a relatively short period of time, usually several months, the borrowers have to re-pay it with interest. As the money keeps growing, the money from the first group can be used to finance a second group’s project. Each group was responsible for setting up a credit committee to do their own book-keeping, monitor the re-payments and more importantly, recruit new members for the group. In this way, a small pool of money is re-used many times to fund multiple bee-keeping initiatives. As members keep borrowing and re-paying, the interest grows along with the available capital, which remains invested at the village level. The Ugandan government has facilitated the development of village banks within rural areas, so the bee-keepers’ capital is not siphoned off to feed a corporate parent. Interest rates are kept as low as possible to ensure that poorer community members can participate in raising bees for their livelihood. The bee-keeping initiative meets what Peter calls the ‘bottom-up’ approach in sustainable development. This approach involves the community in indentifying their own economic problems, supports them in devel-
oping solutions that are viable and appropriate and gives the community the responsibility of managing and sustaining the economic initiatives they have chosen. Peter sees this as more effective than the traditional development model where an NGO (nongovernment organization) identifies the need and then builds a solution to fit that need. Because ICO shares this same vision of working from the bottom up, Peter is confident that in the years ahead, they will share a meaningful working partnership. ICO can organize and provide resources to community-initiated projects in countries like Uganda, creating a sustainable and long-lasting improvement to their standard of living. “Prosperity for all” is Peter Lukwiya’s vision for the future of relationships between the industrialized nations and those countries who are struggling out of the shadow of poverty and war. In his life and work, Peter has embraced his favorite words by Ghandi: “that if you want a change to happen in the world, you have to be part of the change.”
ICO GOVERNANCE Recent Changes in ICO Governance
Team Member Changes at ICO Operational Changes: Mitzi Dean is taking a leave of absence as President of ICO World Communities in order to spend time with her new baby, Pandora Jane. Mitzi will be taking time off from both her volunteer and business interests, but will be able to help ICO by providing support to our International Board of Advisors. Santiago Mascaro has been appointed as President of ICO Operations (previously called ICO World Communities), moving from a role of Operations Facilitator, Centre for Peace and Justice and the “oversight” of various ICO Centres in the Development Chaord. Santiago recently moved to Victoria from Argentina and has worked in Real Estate and also Translation. Board of Directors: We are pleased to have the following additions to our Board: Wally Eamer has 20 years of experience within governments on sustainability, environment and protected area issues in Western Canada. He has dealt largely with indigenous peoples and has been involved with ICO for a number of years. John Espley is currently the Business Development Manager of Accent Inns and has worked with the company since 1988 in a variety of positions. John has committed time and energy to a number of volunteer initiatives around Victoria, and Accent Inns is a business partner of ICO. Peter Phillips Lukwiya is the Director of the Uganda Peace Foundation and Kitgum BeeKeeping Initiative and is based in Uganda. Peter has a lot of experience with sustainability and environmental issues on a local and international
level. Peter speaks four languages and is also Chair of the Council of ICO Communities, where he represents the worldwide Friends of ICO on the Board of the Foundation. For more information, check out: http://InnovativeCommunities.Org.
Other Announcements Special Thanks to ICO Partners: Pemberton Holmes, Accent Inns, Enterprise and Dejardins Travel Insurance. Congratulations Mitzi and Alan and a Wonderful Warm ICO Welcome with many many hugs to newborn baby Pandora Jane. 100% of Donations to Initiatives. 100% Transparent Online Accounts Donate now at www.InnovativeCommunities.org. Registered Canadian Charity BN/Registration Number: 871126249RR0001