An Update From Wendy
Thank you for your wonderful and caring friendship with CAUSE Canada in 2023. While the ongoing wars globally are deeply troubling, I still finished the year inspired. Did you? Sitting at a desk in Canada watching the news means that we sometimes need reminding that all the toil (yours and mine) are making a difference. We can do our best to influence where we can and even if you never see it, your caring is transforming lives – giving people dignity, hope and the opportunity for a prosperous future. So, let me share a few of the radical, inspirational moments of 2023 with the hope that you too will be inspired and ready to make 2024 a year for the books!
Amazing moments that showed we are changing lives in 2023:
1. In the middle of a meeting in Sierra Leone seeing Sarah, an adolescent girl that our team found locked in her home because of a disability two years ago, now leading the women in her community – old and young – to know their rights and how they must make their voices heard.
2. Speaking with adolescent girls in Guatemala about learning vocational skills that are opening new opportunities for them to support their families and the fact that this was the first time anyone had ever given them any type of training.
3. Hearing our local team in Honduras share about the impact of connecting municipal government and youth so that youth could have their needs and concerns heard and learning that the mayors found this so helpful that this will now be an annual consultation.
4. Participating in an online meeting where university students in Sierra Leone received a laptop of their own – the thrill and joy of having this tool that would help them was overwhelming.
I have said this before, but I want you to know that I am also so inspired by you. The notes of encouragement you send, your inspirations for giving, your commitments to pray for us and our work, and your generosity in helping solve big poverty problems.
I am so moved, encouraged, and constantly inspired by you.
So, as we go into 2024, I pray that this will be another inspirational year when, despite the wars that may continue, together we will press on in faith, towards dignity, equity and impact for all people so that they are equally valued and can live free from extreme poverty.
Executive Director, CAUSE Canada
The Landry Laptop Project
In 2023, The Landry Laptop Project was born of a belief in equality and dedication to education. Patrick Landry cared deeply for others and believed wholeheartedly in education. When he passed away in 2021, his children decided they wanted to honour him by creating a legacy that helped children to succeed in education.
The CAUSE Carrick Bursary Program is a life changing program for girls who enter it. When girls are accepted to the program, we make a commitment to help them complete a university degree regardless of how long it takes them. The girls are admitted to the program based on need, not grades, meaning that most are orphans, and some had already dropped out of school before being admitted to the program. All the girls work very hard to succeed because they know that so many girls never have this opportunity.
When the Sierra Leonean CAUSE Canada team heard that the Landry family was interested in investing in education, they asked if it would be possible to provide 20 bursary girls entering first and second year university with a laptop. Like in Canada, students entering university in Sierra Leone need a laptop to do their schoolwork but, often don’t have the resources. When the Landry family heard stories of how the girls were trying to write their essays on their phones, they saw this as an opportunity to bring equality in education.
In December, a special meeting was held for the girls who would receive a laptop. The look of surprise and then joy for the girls filled the room with emotion. Everyone deserves dignity and the opportunity to succeed. The simple act of giving a new laptop to a university student is truly life changing for these young women.
Patrick’s daughter, Joanne, shared “For me this project is satisfying on so many levels. It’s a full circle moment. My relationship with CAUSE Canada goes back many years. My Dad always loved and believed in the work that I did teaching students about poverty awareness and global citizenship. So, to be able to honour him in this way and benefitting such a promising population of young women each year is a gift to all of us.”
We extend our deepest gratitude to Patrick Landry — an advocate of education for all.
Advances in Gender Equality
“We never saw the point of paying the local tax and voting, but now that we know, we will pay our tax and we will vote. Next time we need to elect a new chief, you will see, we will vote in a woman.”
In December 2022, the Sierra Leone parliament passed the Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment Act (GEWE) seeking to increase women’s representation in decision-making positions so that women comprise at least 30% representation. This act helped to increase women as elected leaders from 14.5% to 30.4% in the 2023 elections. However, in rural Sierra Leone few people, especially women, understood what the Act meant and how their participation in voting could mean a change for them.
In rural Sierra Leone, women endure a heavy load – living in poverty, feeding their families, ensuring their children are clothed and go to school, growing crops and selling what they can to make money. Despite all that they contribute, at the national, municipal, local, and familial levels, men make all the decisions.
CAUSE Canada Sierra Leone Partnership recognized that the GEWE Act could have a huge influence on making women’s lives better if they only knew about it. Working with CAUSE Canada and the Government of Canada, Canada Fund for Local Initiatives, our Sierra Leonean team set out of help women understand this new Act.
The Sierra Leonean team began to tell rural women about the GEWE Act. Seeing how this Act has the potential to change the heavy burden of women, the women were filled with excitement and optimism. They could now see the point in voting and, while there has never been a female chief in Sierra Leone, they are confident that when the time comes for a new chief, they will put all their efforts in to helping it be a woman.
Meet Sofía*, an 18-year-old from a humble family in Todos Santos, Cuchumatán, Guatemala. Born into economic hardship, her parents faced challenges and moved in search of opportunities.
Living at an altitude of over 3,800 meters in the Cuchumatanes Mountains, the climate is harsh, with families relying on rainwater due to the lack of a water source. Educational conditions are inadequate, with a single teacher serving all grades. Sofía graduated from the local school but couldn’t continue her studies due to the remote location of the nearest elementary school, 6 km away and inaccessible by public transportation.
Sofía actively supports her family in various tasks, including farming, herding sheep, and household chores. Despite the challenges, she became involved in the PODER Project organized by CAUSE Guatemala, providing workshops on economic empowerment and sexual reproductive health. These workshops became Sofía’s source of learning and personal development.
When Sofía joined a group of young entrepreneurs through the PODER Project, the training ignited her passion for her professional development, steering her away from the common choices of early marriage or migration. Her parents, witnessing her dedication, supported her dream to start a small business. Together, the family invested in an oven, a kneading machine, and essential equipment for baking bread.
Sofía furthered her skills by attending additional bakery courses, enabling her to create and sell bread in her community. She continues to participate in the PODER Project’s ongoing training, contributing to her personal and professional growth. Sofía’s story is a testament to the transformative power of education and empowerment in creating sustainable opportunities for individuals in underserved communities. With your continued support, more stories like Sofía’s can unfold, making a lasting impact on individual lives and entire communities.
The PODER Project is an adolescent health program in Guatemala and Honduras aimed at reducing adolescent pregnancy, keeping girls in school, and providing support to many adolescent mothers who experience increased vulnerability to family violence and maternal mortality.
*Name has been changed
Dear friends of CAUSE Canada,
My name is Karla*, I am a 23-year-old resident of San José del Cacao. Today, I wish to share my gratitude for the impact that CAUSE Canada has had on my life over the past two years.
Before CAUSE Canada and the PODER project entered our community, many young women, including myself, lacked awareness of our capabilities and struggled to understand some aspects of life, such as relationships and gender dynamics. CAUSE Canada, through the PODER project has empowered us to become leaders, helping us to grow in the capacity and confidence needed to navigate various aspects of our lives.
The arrival of CAUSE Canada not only disrupted the challenging reality of rural life but also showed us myths constraining our potential. Through workshops, we have grown in our value of self-worth and developed the strength inherent in women and young people.
Personally, I have seen significant growth in my role as a mother and friend. The practical knowledge gained from CAUSE’s workshops has been key in my development. The focus on health, counseling, and entrepreneurship has equipped me with valuable knowledge that I can now apply in my daily life.
As a mother, the benefits have been immeasurable. CAUSE has provided me with medical consultations and essential medications, including vitamins and family planning resources. With this new knowledge, I have become an ambassador in my community, helping others to realize their worth and encourage them to keep moving forward.
I express my deepest gratitude to the supporters of CAUSE Canada for fostering a supportive environment that not only uplifts individuals but also creates a ripple effect, positively impacting our entire community.
Thank you for being an integral part of my journey.
*Name has been changed
The Afterschool Program
In Sierra Leone and other West African countries, the West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE) stands as a pivotal transition for students completing their senior secondary education. Higher education institutions set varying entry requirements for WASSCE performance, ranging from 3 to 5 credits, including essential subjects like English Language and Mathematics for admission into degree programs.
The journey towards meeting these requirements is no easy feat. On average, students attempt the WASSCE exams 3 to 4 times, aiming to accumulate the necessary credits and scores for university admission. This struggle highlights the challenges many students face in accessing higher education in Sierra Leone.
In 2021, CAUSE Canada introduced the Afterschool program, which provides students in secondary school with access to vital study aids, preparing them for success in writing the WASSCE exams.
One remarkable aspect of the program is its introduction of science subjects previously unavailable in rural schools. This initiative has led to a notable increase in enrollment, particularly among girls, in science streams within secondary schools.
The impact of this program extends beyond academic success; it opens doors to educational opportunities that were once deemed inaccessible.
Thank you to the Government of Canada CFLI, Global Affairs Canada and to you for your partnership in changing the world.
Bring Dignity, Justice & Hope To Every Community
$100 will help CAUSE Canada respond to the most urgent needs
100% Safe & Secure