CARE Canada: A powerful catalyst for change

| January 5, 2014 | 0 Comments
Kausar Parveen was a participant in CARE Canada’s community infrastructure improvement project and bought a small grocery store with her earnings.

Kausar Parveen was a participant in CARE Canada’s community infrastructure improvement project and bought a small grocery store with her earnings.

When we talk about development, we don’t usually think of little grocery stores. However, in a small village in Pakistan’s Punjab province, one little shop is testament to how an international organization can inspire a community.
But before we get to the store, we need to talk roads. In Pakistan, CARE Canada is currently administering a project funded by the Canadian government. It aims to reach some of the most vulnerable women in Sindh and Punjab provinces with non-traditional work as part of road maintenance teams.
“So far, more than 3,750 women have maintained over 6,000 kilometres of rural earthen roads in their districts,” says Sumair Khalid, a communications officer with CARE in Pakistan. In addition, the women involved in these teams take part in business, health and gender-equality training.
“The maintenance of roads is the vehicle for these women to progress towards empowerment. Working at the forefront of their community, they gain confidence and learn to apply lessons from the life-skills training,” says Mr. Khalid.
CARE was founded in 1945 to provide “CARE packages” to displaced people in Europe after the Second World War. Today, CARE International operates in more than 80 countries with poverty-fighting projects that reach more than 83 million people. CARE accomplishes this thanks to the collaboration of member offices across the world, including CARE Canada.
“Canadians are well-represented in the CARE International family,” says Gillian Barth, president and CEO of CARE Canada. Based in Ottawa, CARE Canada manages seven country offices and has a wide range of projects that provide immediate emergency relief and longer-term development assistance.
A volunteer board of directors made up of 18 prominent Canadians oversees CARE Canada’s annual operating budget of $150 million.
“We are fortunate to have such a high-calibre board,” says Ms Barth. “The list includes a former deputy secretary-general of the UN, a former deputy prime minister, a former assistant auditor general of Canada, a number of [former] diplomats and senior federal government officials, and representatives from academia and industry. They provide crucial oversight and expert advice.”
CARE Canada’s projects are funded through the support of individual Canadians, foundations, corporations and the federal government. The organization also works with international agencies such as the World Food Programme and UN Refugee Agency.
“Part of CARE’s strength is its unique ability to meld both an immediate, life-saving emergency response when needed, with a long-term development approach to help the world’s poorest communities recover from conflict and disasters and lift themselves from poverty,” Ms Barth says.
The organization prides itself on the quality of its humanitarian and emergency-relief operations. In the past few years, CARE has responded to food crises in Africa, supported refugees from the conflict in Syria and helped communities recover from devastating natural disasters such as the 2010 Haiti earthquake or, more recently, Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines. At the same time, CARE Canada’s development efforts are broad and focus on such areas as food and nutrition,
economic development and maternal and child health.
As an example, thanks to the federal government’s investment in maternal, newborn and child health in 2010, CARE Canada is operating in Ethiopia, Malawi, Tanzania and Zimbabwe to address the root causes that are negatively affecting the health of women, children and their communities. These projects are expected to improve the lives of 2.3 million people.
CARE places a special focus in its programming on addressing the needs of women and girls, those most at risk during an emergency and disproportionately affected by poverty. This includes women such as Pakistan’s Kausar Parveen, 35, a participant in CARE Canada’s community infrastructure improvement project. With the money she earned as part of a CARE road maintenance crew, she bought a small grocery store. Business training she received through CARE has helped her double her sales and increase profits each month.
More important, she has become an inspiring role model for women in her community. Her example shows how organizations such as CARE can be powerful catalysts for change.

Darcy Knoll is the communications manager for CARE Canada.

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Darcy Knoll is the communications manager for CARE Canada.

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