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ICO WORLD Issue 1 April 2010

WELCOME Issue 1 April 2010

Hello from John Mitchell, Chair of the Board: We get things done ICO style The Communications Centre has been working very hard over the last few months to re-focus and energize our communications 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 enable us to become more capable. In less than five years we have grown from two active people to over 650 Friends and close to 100 volunteer Team Members with operations in five countries. We are the first in the World, as far as we know of, publishing our account balances live; we guarantee that 100% of donations go to the local peoples that we have the privilege of sharing 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 650 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

Welcome to the ICO Friends Centre! ICO has 650 Friends of the Foundation, of which 100 are 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 networking; they contribute financially to 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. ICO also has a Friends Centre, which provides support services to our ICO Friends. Those services included: 1. Welcoming new people into ICO, providing the information and connections to our networks and services. 2. World Desks that connects ICO Friends and Operations 24/7 around the World. Some of those tools include social media— to build and enhance relationships— Skype, Facebook, Google Chat, and the ICO VideoConferencing 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, Menno 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.

BETWEEN FRIENDS Above all we are friends...

News from the Victoria Coordinator, Thanks to everyone who attended our firstever Victoria Community Meeting! We met at Moxie’s Restaurant in downtown Victoria to mingle with friends, and chat about what it means to be an ICO team member and foundation friend. We focused on the important of all getting to know each other in the ICO family, and starting to build up our Friends Centre. The very best way to accomplish both these goals? Come out to the Victoria gatherings, which will be the first Thursday of every month. And invite like-minded new friends to come along and join the fold. I want to encourage you to also share your ideas: if you have an thought, put it out there. I envision a calendar jam-packed with exciting gatherings, organized and attended by positive, energetic people like you and me! If you want to play a friendly game of soccer (or football if you’re not from North American), drop me a line or give me a shout 250-514-7075. And remember, “above all we are friends working together”! I look forward to meeting all of you, Dusty Jamieson

Keep Your Eyes Peeled! The Community Initiatives Centre is organizing a workshop later in May for all ICO team members involved in community initiatives, to help create an information-sharing network, to develop clarity about effective teamwork within the ICO structure, and to participate in a fundraising workshop. Date and location TBA! Have anything to share? An event? A fundraiser? A free couch? A photograph? Email

ICO RWANDA Updates from the ground

Welcome to ICO’s Rwanda initiative! 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 empoverished 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 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, a blanket and cooking pot 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 equiping homes with fuel-efficient stoves, and helping students create seed nurseries. The Rwanda initiative is an outstanding exmple of the power of friendship and teamwork!

ICO UGANDA Updates from the ground

Welcome to ICO’s Uganda initiative! In Uganda, ICO is focused on finding innovative ways to engage children and youth in educational opportunities, encorporating music, dance, and art. The initative targets mainly marginalized groups-- children of HIV and AIDS parents, and orpahns. 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 yoth to practice traditional Ugandan dance, breakdance, Capoeira, and yoga. Some of the dance classes are instructed by professional groups like the Ndere Dance Troupe adn 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 traingin. 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.

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, education, and offering general support to those in need. Traditionally, Mayans cook over unventilated open hearths (indoors), which cause burns, 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-freem 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, improving literacy and more.  In Santa Catarina Palopó, ICO has installed ONIL Stoves, and provided water filters to those at risk of catching water-bourn diseases; such as pregnant women and diabetics. 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.  

Letters from Susan Gage of the Guatemala initiative:

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 legalistic 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 Canadian and receive $5,000-worth of medicines. (cont. next pg)

ICO GUATEMALA Updates from the ground

So here we had $15,000 worth of medicines (which, to tell you the truth, isn’t quite as much as you would think) to give to Dr. Mayron from San Pedro, to be distributed to 6 health clinics around the lake. The health team arrived at the hotel and 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, so excited by the sight of all these boxes and bottles of coveted medicines. It turned out that these medicines were all that 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 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 of San Antonio’s schools, is paid to work the morning shift, but there’s no money forthcoming for the afternoon shift which he works anyway. Vicente, the principal of the other school, has begged 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.

ICO COLOMBIA Updates from the ground

Welcome to ICO’s Colombia initiative! Opportunities Colombia- Helping People Help Themselves Opportunities Colombia is a non- governmental, not for profit organization, based out of Victoria BC. The organization is currently engaged in a humanitarian project in Colombia, South America, in cooperation with Rotary International, Victoria’s local Harbourside Rotary Club, the Honda Rotary Club, and Innovative Communities. Org. Presently our main project is a Bakery in Honda, which currently employs eight extremely hardworking people—four single mothers, two bakers, one delivery salesman, and a very dedicated Englishspeaking manager. The Bakery is in its second year of operation and has recently been relocated to a larger premise, 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 organization is the dream of five dedicated Victorians, who provided the manpower and money to make the vision a reality; however we’re asking for other interested, dedicated volunteers to help us help Colombians.

We have a number of new projects, with which we are looking for assistance: 1. A daycare centre, for which a building has been made available. 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. 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. 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 to help with this undertaking. Contact: Doug Webb

ICO World Magazine Issue 1  

A quarterly magazine detailing current events within the ICO Friends Community.

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