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    Love in Action

    Giving our best through Gifts of Hope. November 12, 2021 by Lt-Colonel Brenda Murray
    Filed Under:
    International Development
    The Salvation Army provides food and shelter after an earthquake hit Haiti
    The Salvation Army provides food and shelter after an earthquake hit Haiti

    (Above) The Salvation Army provides food and shelter after an earthquake hit Haiti in August 2021

    In February 2020, the world began to shift as the COVID-19 pandemic grew. Since then, so much has changed. People quickly moved to working remotely, wearing masks, limiting travel and washing our hands more than we ever have.

    In the suffering, grief and isolation caused by a global pandemic, where can we find hope? I would argue that it is in challenging times like this that hope springs forth, pushing its way through the cracks of society in small gestures—a smile, a phone call, a card, a gift. Hope shines light in the darkness. Hope is believing that “something good might happen,” as defined by the Oxford Dictionary; that something positive will come out of our experience. In Matthew, Jesus taught his disciples about the revolutionary hope of the kingdom of God: “ ‘With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible’ ” (Matthew 19:26).

    All things are possible, but we have an active part to play. We were born into community; we were, and are, meant to be together. And in being together, in supporting one another, we help to break down the silos of isolation.

    Over the past year, through the Gifts of Hope program, you have helped to bring hope to neighbours beyond our borders.

    Students learn to sew at a Salvation Army vocational training program in the Congo (Brazzaville) Tty

    Republic of Congo

    Hope is the ability to support yourself and your family by starting your own business.

    This past year, 40 students graduated from a vocational training program in tailoring in the Congo (Brazzaville) Territory. At the graduation ceremony, they received a special gift of a tailoring kit. Imagine being in the situation of completing your training, but not having the resources to take the next big step of setting up your own business. The kits included a new sewing machine for each graduate. By offering tailoring services to their neighbours, the women will be able to generate income to support their families.

    In addition, at the end of the ceremony, the graduates expressed their desire to form a co-operative to support one another in their businesses.

    This holistic project was funded through Gifts of Hope—HopeThrough Education.

    Play time in Xai Xai, Mozambique

    Mozambique

    Hope is having a safe place to play.

    When a storm ripped through the community of Xai Xai in Mozambique and tore down their outdoor play structure, it rendered them non-compliant with local government requirements. As our partner territory, they reached out to see if the Canada and Bermuda Territory could support a small project to rebuild this structure.

    American television host Fred Rogers once said, “Play is often talked about as if it were a relief from serious learning, but for children play is serious learning. Play is really the work of childhood.”

    Through Gifts of Hope—Where Needed Most, we were able to source the funds and this project is now underway.

    Students at Chaanga Secondary School in Zambia are learning how to grow crops as part of the WASH
    (water, sanitation and hygiene) project

    Zambia

    Hope is the gift of training, drought-resistant seeds and tools.

    In Zambia, the main purpose of the WASH (water, sanitation and hygiene) project, funded by Canada and Bermuda, the Switzerland Territory and The Salvation Army World Service Office, was to improve the health and livelihoods of five communities. One of the objectives to achieve this goal was to increase the nutritional condition of vulnerable individuals and families through training and the establishment of institutional and family gardens.

    The outcome? School gardens in the communities of Shimbizhi and Chaanga provided food for a feeding program, benefiting more than 1,500 pupils. While students learned how to grow crops, they were also physically nourished by those crops. This is sustainability.

    The funds for our portion of this project came from your generous donations to Gifts of Hope—Hope Through Farming.

    Haiti 

    Hope is someone coming alongside you and providing food and shelter in a time of crisis.

    The global pandemic has disrupted life as we know it, but some countries have faced even more tragedy. In August 2021, Haiti was hit with a 7.2-magnitude earthquake. During the initial needs assessment, a member of the team, Mondesir Henderson, saw signs of hope.

    “People put barricades of rocks and debris to prevent vehicles from entering the perimeters,” he explained. “It is out of solidarity that people are trying to overcome the challenges, each one sharing with others.”

    The Salvation Army quickly moved into action, responding with care and physical support. In this instance, hope was evidenced in food and shelter being provided to individuals and families left homeless by this tragic event.

    Gifts of Hope—Hope Through Communities funds these types of projects and allows the Canada and Bermuda Territory to jump into action quickly.

    Mobilized to Share Hope

    The Christmas season brings with it a time of giving and thinking of others. It replicates the gifts that the Wise Men presented to the baby Jesus. It symbolizes our acts of kindness and surrender. We give our best.

    Our new vision statement says that “we are an innovative partner, mobilized to share hope wherever there is hardship, building communities that are just and know the love of Jesus.” What could be better than to purchase a gift of hope for someone you love today, that will provide a glimmer of hope to a neighbour beyond our borders?

    Are you mobilized to share hope this season? Visit salvationarmy.ca/giftsofhope.

    Lt-Colonel Brenda Murray is the director of international development.

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