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How Are You Making a Difference?

I am making a difference! - Send us your story

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How You Are Making a Difference? Tell Us!
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Courtesy of © Developing World Connections

Have you ever been involved in an international development project that made a difference in a developing country or that changed someone's life for the better? We want to know your story and what you helped achieve! Send us you story.

We are looking for stories from volunteers, interns, development professionals, humanitarian workers, project managers and people in the developing world whose lives have improved as a result of Canadian assistance.

Here are a few selected responses:

This section will provide you with some key links and resources. We do not necessarily endorse the activities and opinions you will find in these external links; and these links should not be viewed as official endorsements or changes in our policies and programs.

Shelley DeCoste

Feature Story:
Clean Water for Remote Community in El Salvador

Shelley DeCoste from Calgary, Alberta

Shelley travelled to the rural village of Hoja de Sal in El Salvador to construct, install and monitor water filters.

Shelley's Canadian team from Samaritan's Purse Canada, along with the local Aqua Vive team, constructed and installed approximately 100 filters and monitored another 200. While working to install the filters, she had the opportunity to visit families and children, and to see their difficult living conditions. To thank the leader of the community and their host families for their hospitality, Shelley came up with the idea to paint the local community centre during their visit, so that it would be enjoyed by the community for many years to come.

More information:
Samaritan's Purse Canada
DFATD's work in El Salvador

Map (alternate version)

You can read the stories by clicking on the map bellow. They are also available lower on the page.

Brett Hanley

Working in remote locations to reach the most vulnerable people

Brett Hanley from New Glasgow, Nova Scotia

Brett began her humanitarian assistance career in Tajikistan as a CIDA intern under the International Youth Internship Programme. After that she completed her master’s in International Humanitarian Action before joining the Word Food Programme (WFP).

Until recently, she was delivering WFP food assistance programs in Ethiopia to help about 44,000 vulnerable people and 38,000 refugees from neighbouring South Sudan. She is now working for the WFP in Lebanon in response to the Syrian refugee crisis.

More information:
World Food Program
DFATD's work in Syria

Mathieu Roy

Improving organic vegetable production in Haiti

Mathieu Roy from Montreal, Quebec

Agronomy adviser Mathieu Roy spent nearly one year in Haiti and trained a team consisting of an agronomist-coordinator and six Haitian agricultural technicians. He developed nine training gardens to teach them new techniques for producing organic vegetables and improving overall productivity (composting, fertilization, size, crop rotation, etc.). The Haitian team is now responsible for managing these gardens, in cooperation with representatives from the Marigot commune's nine farmers' associations, which provided the plots of land needed for this project..

More information:
SUCO (in French)
Facebook: Projet relance agricole et nutrition pour la sécurité alimentaire des familles paysannes de la commune de Marigot
International Development Project Browser
DFATD's work in Haiti

Diane Baik

Local "model families" leading the way to better nutrition

Diane Baik from Waterloo, Ontario

Nutritionist, Diane Baik, trains facilitators in Zambia on the implementation of a nutrition program based on the premise that in every community, despite the challenges of poverty, there are some families who are raising well-nourished children. Trained facilitators share with the community what these "model" families are doing differently and help them create nutritious meals. The program leads to sustained improvements in child nutrition and healthier families.

More information:
Video: Nutrition Workshop in Zambia
Learning together to raise well-nourished children
World Vision
DFATD's work in Zambia

Vasile Klaassen

Inland valley swamp rehabilitation for food production

Vasile Klaassen from Calgary, Alberta

Vasile worked in Sierra Leone in 11 communities as a CUSO volunteer where she helped improve rice and vegetable production in the Kenema District. Vasile trained 22 local youth to improve sustainable agricultural practices by building water management structures for better use of cropping systems throughout the year. These practices have since been adopted country-wide, and today, more food is being produced and more families are able to pay their school fees as a result of being able to sell surplus production.

More information:
DFATD's work in Sierra Leone

Sylvie Harrison

Providing climate change knowledge to farmers with quality radio programs

Sylvie Harrison from Ottawa, Ontario

Sylvie, who specializes in broadcasting, worked on the Climate Change Adaptation in Northern Ghana Enhanced project in partnership with four radio stations in three regions in Ghana. The objective of the project was to develop more informative and higher quality radio programs by using vox pops and short dramas to help capture the interest of listeners. These programs helped provide farmers with knowledge of climate change and climate-friendly agricultural technologies. With these new techniques, both women and men farmers are able to make informed choices about sustainable agricultural practices.

More information:
Farm Radio International
Farm Radio International on Facebook
DFATD's work in Ghana

Rhoda Lee

Helping children live a normal healthy life in Africa

Rhoda Lee from Edmonton, Alberta

Rhoda Lee volunteered on two occasions to work as a nurse for Mercy Ships, the world's largest charity hospital ship delivering free transformational health care. She delivered medical care and assisted with patients of all ages, including Kadiatu, who lost the middle of her face to noma, an infectious disease predominantly affecting children. Though preventable and treatable, most of those afflicted with this flesh-eating disease have no access to the health care needed and thousands die from the condition each year. With the support of Rhoda, Kadiatu received appropriate treatments and now have a chance to live a normal, healthy life.

More information:
Mercy Ships

Megan Doherty

Working to improve the treatment of children's cancer in Bangladesh

Megan Doherty from Ottawa, Ontario

Many physicians in Bangladesh have no specific training to treat pain or to prescribe pain medications for patients afflict by cancer. By developing simple training materials and providing clinical mentorship to staff, Dr. Megan Doherty is working to change this. She has also developed a play therapy program for children who require inpatient treatment for cancer, recognizing that play is instrumental in helping children cope psychologically with severe illness and stress.

More information:
World Child Cancer
DFATD's work in Bangladesh

Jean-François Labadie

Training health managers to improve health care in Haiti

Jean-François Labadie from Montreal, Quebec

Jean-François Labadie took part in a project by Université de Montréal that enabled 275 Haitians to complete their university studies in health and human resources management. Some graduates were involved in developing a national midwifery training program to meet international standards. Others helped to put an information system in place to manage staff attendance and expertise. These new management practices are helping to improve health care provided throughout Haiti, especially maternal and child care.

More information:
Project profile: Health Management Capacity Building Support
Unité de santé internationale
Jean-François' Blog (in French)

Kaitlin Atkinson

Better health for children and remote communities in Kenya

Kaitlin Atkinson from Penticton, British Columbia

Kaitlin took part in a pilot project aimed at destroying parasites and controlling worms in children under five. The project has since been taken over by the Government of Kenya and is now available at nine public primary schools.

Kaitlin also managed the implementation of two mobile health clinics to provide health care and prevention workshops to residents of two rural communities far removed from major cities. As a result, some 452 people were able to consult a health professional, most of them for the first time in their lives.

More information:
Students for international developmnet
Kaitlin's Blog
DFATD's work in Kenya

Avneet Dhillon

Educating youth about reproductive health in Belize

Avneet Dhillon from Oakville, Ontario

Avneet worked with the Belize Family Life Association to help implement training of peer educators in five local high schools. She taught more than 2,000 students aged 12 to 20 about sexual and reproductive health. She organized 12 community outreach activities such as health fairs, weekly radio and television shows, World AIDS Day youth rallies, and school visits to increase awareness about sexual health issues. As a result, the community became more educated about safe sex practices and common myths and misconceptions were clarified.

More information:
Interagency Coalition on AIDS and Development
DFATD's work in Belize

Paul Manning

Nova Scotia intern promotes international development involvement

Paul Manning from Bible Hill, Nova Scotia

In 2010, Paul travelled to Ethiopia to work on an international development project with the Dalhousie University, to increase the quantity of food available for the local population.

Upon returning in Nova Scotia, Paul presented about 20 conferences to share his experience and invite the participants to engage in international development. Paul is now studying in the United Kingdom and remains actively involved in international development initiatives.

More information:
Active-8 - Paul Manning
A Journey in Jimma
International Development Project Browser: Dalhousie University - International Internships 2010-2013
DFATD's work in Ethiopia

Pierre Rivard

An engineer solves technical problems and helps to improve the health of children and the entire population

Pierre Rivard from Nominingue, Quebec

Pierre modified salt iodization equipment and thereby reduced mechanical breakdowns by 40 percent. He also gave technical training to 100 operators and wrote a user manual for them. His contribution made it possible to boost the production of quality iodized salt and to improve people's health.

Iodine deficiency affects brain development and reduces the IQ (intelligence quotient) of entire communities. Providing quality iodized salt prevents child developmental disorders.

More information:
CESO and the Micronutrient Initiative support salt producers in Senegal
Photos in flickr
Canadian Executive Service Organization (CESO)
The Micronutrient Initiative
DFATD's work in Senegal

Liz Connell and Paul Whitney

Empowering Zambian beekeepers through an innovative partnership

Liz Connell and Paul Whitney from Ottawa, Ontario

Liz and Paul created the African Bronze Honey Project in 2013. Inspired by a friend, Dan Ball, who trained 6,000 people as beekeepers in Zambia, Liz and Paul now market Zambian honey in Canada, and aim to generate enough profit to train another 6,000 beekeepers.

They partner with Canadian schools and not-for-profit organizations to sell the honey as a fundraiser. The beekeepers are paid the world price for their honey and 25 percent of the selling price goes to the beekeeper training program or to Canadian not-for-profit partners. About 10 percent goes toward developing new products.

More information:
African Bronze Honey Project
African Bronze Honey Project - News
African Bronze Honey Project - A Sweet Product with Purpose
DFATD's work in Zambia

Kelsie Wright along with three other Canadian interns

Teaching children to protect the environment in Nicaragua

Kelsie Wright from Orillia, Ontario

Kelsie, along with three other Canadian interns, organized an Environmental Awareness Day that reached some 200 Nicaraguan children in three communities: Pearl Lagoon, Raitipura, and Haulover. Through various activities – a video, a giant book, games, and art creations – students in Grades 1 and 2 learned as much as they laughed. They are now better equipped to protect the environment, sea turtles, and natural resources in their communities.

More information:
Walk In The Rain or Get Wet
Environmental Awareness Day
Pueblito Canada
International Development Project Browser: Pueblito Canada - International Internships 2013-2014
DFATD's work in Nicaragua

Courtesy of Oumou Nomoko

Empowering women in Burkina Faso

Oumou Nomoko from Gatineau, Quebec

Oumou is helping the Association Munyu des Femmes de la Comoé in Burkina Faso launch four microbusinesses to increase women's income by 20 percent. She is also helping to train women belonging to the association and empower them financially.

More information:
International Development Project Browser: Oxfam-Québec — Volunteer Sending 2009-2014
DFATD's work in Burkina Faso

Courtesy of Cynthia Fallu

Measuring babies more accurately using PDAs in Ethiopia and Zimbabwe

Cynthia Fallu from Montreal, Quebec

As a volunteer with Health Bridge, Cynthia developed a survey that allowed Care Canada to establish a baseline for its project to improve the health of mothers and children in Ethiopia and Zimbabwe. She also trained 20 local enumerators to use personal digital assistants (PDAs)—palm-held data-gathering devices similar to today's smartphones—to gather the data, including measuring and weighing babies and transmitting the data in “real time”, providing vital information about children's health and nutrition.

More information:
CARE Canada
DFATD's work in Ethiopia
DFATD's work in Zimbabwe

Courtesy of Paul Stinson

Involving a Canadian classroom in development

Paul Stinson from Craik, Saskatchewan

A teacher at Davidson School, Paul encouraged his students to make a difference globally and locally. The students participated in Free the Children's Pennies for Change program, collecting more than $200 to bring clean drinking water for life to 15 people living in Kenya. They also created a small vegetable garden and shared their tomatoes, beans, carrots, cucumbers and strawberries with the Davidson community.

More information:
Saskatchewan Council for International Cooperation (SCIC) Global Classroom Video
Sun West School Division "Help Make a Difference" Wiki
Free the Children
DFATD's work in Kenya

Courtesy of Thomas Conant

Improving children's lives in Kenya

Thomas Conant from Burlington, Ontario

Tom worked with 18 high schools in Kakamega district in Kenya, teaching English and life skills. He also helped to build a new dormitory and a library, and organized a marathon to spread messages of peace before the 2013 national elections.

More information:
Community Education Services (CES)
Thomas's blog
DFATD's work in Kenya

Courtesy of Elizabeth Johnson

Improving children's education in Rwanda

Elizabeth Johnson from Langley, British Columbia

Elizabeth, originally from Rwanda but now living in Canada, raised $150,000 to improve the school, which she herself had attended as a child. Canadian donors helped build two buildings (8 classrooms), 16 latrines and a new kitchen serving lunch to 1,500 children; and are creating mini-libraries in other rural schools, which have reached more than 5,000 children so far.

More information:
Grace Rwanda Society
Toonies4Change Fundraising campaign
DFATD's work in Rwanda

Courtesy of Ralph Graham

Better food, more satisfied customers in Guyana

Ralph Graham from Victoria, British Columbia

Ralph, a renowned chef who has cooked for the Queen of England, helped employees of the Surama Eco-lodge, a community-based eco-tourism enterprise, improve their food preparation and hospitality skills, and potentially grow their business.

More information:
Video: Surama Eco-Lodge in Guyana
International Development Project Browser: Project profile for CESO — Volunteer Sending 2009-2014
DFATD's work in Guyana

Courtesy of Geneviève Sylvestre

Preventing natural disasters in Benin

Geneviève Sylvestre from Berthierville (Lanaudière), Quebec

Geneviève is helping to build the capacities of local partners to better prevent and manage natural disasters such as the floods that affected the 42 villages of the Sô-Ava Commune and a fire and cholera epidemic that hit one of the villages.

More information:
Geneviève's Blog (in French)
International Development Project Browser: Oxfam-Québec — Volunteer Sending 2009-2014
DFATD's work in Benin

Courtesy of Jean Beaudry

Gardening improves child nutrition in Bolivia

Jean Beaudry from Saint-Bruno-de-Montarville, Quebec

Jean helped 80 families in eight poor neighbourhoods in the city of Riberalta develop home gardens and grow the fruit and vegetables they needed to protect their children from malnutrition in just one year.

More information:
Video: Devenez coopérante ou coopérant (in French)
International Development Project Browser: Oxfam-Québec — Volunteer Sending 2009-2014
DFATD's work in Bolivia

Courtesy of Gary Buchanan

Turning waste into treasure in Nicaragua

Gary Buchanan from Athabasca County, Alberta

Gary is providing economic development advice and helping to convert waste paper into cooking briquettes which will reduce deforestation and create new jobs in Somoto.

More information:
International Development Project Browser: Municipal Partners for Economic Development
DFATD's work in Nicaragua

Courtesy of Kelly Galloway-Sealock

Sharing expertise with Tanzania

Kelly Galloway-Sealock from Kitchener, Ontario

Kelly is working with the city of Morogoro on local economic development initiatives such as creating economic corridors linking rural and urban communities.

More information:
International Development Project Browser: Municipal Partners for Economic Development
DFATD's work in Tanzania

Courtesy of Diane Tisdall

Building indigenous tourism in Argentina

Diane Tisdall from Toronto, Ontario

Through an internship program with Niagara College, Diane is organizing workshops to train indigenous people in business, computers and first aid, and helping develop community-managed tourism in Yryapu.

More information:
Diane's blog
International Development Project Browser: Niagara College of Applied Arts and Technology — International Internships 2010-2013
DFATD's work in Argentina

Courtesy of Lise Hamilton

Increasing food security in Mozambique

Lise Hamilton from Calgary, Alberta

Lise is helping monitor and evaluate projects to improve farmers' planting and conservation methods, increase productivity and provide more food for their families in Pemba.

More information:
Lise's blog
Aga Khan Foundation Canada
International Development Project Browser: Enhancing Food Security and Increasing Incomes in Northern Mozambique
DFATD's work in Mozambique

Courtesy of Anna-Gina Bazinet

Training teachers in Mali

Anna-Gina Bazinet from Montreal, Quebec

Anna-Gina helped train more than 30 Malian teachers in Sikasso and organized community awareness-raising sessions for more than 100 people about the importance of education.

More information:
Anna-Gina's story (in French)
Québec sans frontières (in French)
DFATD's work in Mali

Courtesy of Brother Paul Desmarais

Training farmers in organic sustainable agriculture in Zambia

Brother Paul Desmarais from Stoney Point, Ontario

Brother Paul created a centre for organic farming and helped train 1500 small-scale farmers and their families to increase crop yields, reduce hunger and become self-sufficient in Kasisi.

More information:
Canadian Jesuits International
International Development Project Browser: Organic Agriculture for Small-Scale Farmers
DFATD's work in Zambia

Courtesy of Wes Strickland

Reducing preventable child deaths in Sierra Leone

Wes Strickland from Nanaimo, British Columbia

With his Sierra Leonean friend Aiah Gbakima, Wes founded the Village Medical Project for Sierra Leone Society which has provided free medical treatment to villagers and reduced mortality rates for children under five by 82 percent since 2007 in Kono District.

More information:
Village Medical Project for Sierra Leone (video)
Village Medical Project for Sierra Leone Society
DFATD's work in Sierra Leone

Courtesy of Cecilia Joao

Developing women leaders in Mozambique

Cecilia Joao from Tambara, Mozambique

Working with Oxfam Canada, Cecilia has helped women take on leadership roles in schools, savings and credit groups, villages, towns and districts in Tambara.

More information:
International Development Project Browser: Sustainable Livelihoods and Agriculture Project
DFATD's work in Mozambique

Courtesy of Kinsey Brockie

Building a well in Kenya

Kinsey Brockie from Mississauga, Ontario

Kinsey and her fellow students at McGill University are raising $15,000 to build a well in Utoo which will provide clean drinking water to 1000 families who currently have to walk six hours to get water.

More information:
It Is Well website by students at McGill University
DFATD's work in Kenya