As the year winds down, I wanted to take a moment to reflect on another year that saw many gains and challenges on the road towards a world without poverty.
In 2011, CARE and the Canadian public were called on to respond to two very large humanitarian crises – the earthquake and tsunami in Japan and the drought crisis in East Africa. Both caused great devastation, but also demonstrated the resilience of the human spirit as well as its capacity for empathy and generosity.
CARE has been working in East Africa since the late 1960s and we began sounding the alarm months before the world’s attention focused on the region. At its most critical point, the Dadaab refugee camps were seeing 1,300 people arrive each day. CARE was able to put the people, expertise and resources in place to support those affected thanks to the generous contributions of the Canadian public and the Government of Canada. I saw this emergency unfold in person, when I visited Kenya in July. The time spent talking with women about their lives and then hosting the Canadian Minister of International Cooperation, where she announced significant funds to help fight this hunger, reinvigorated me, a CARE staffer for almost 20 years.
This year also saw the beginning of two new CARE maternal, newborn and children’s health programs in Zimbabwe and Ethiopia. These two programs come at a time when maternal death rates are absolutely too high in these countries – our work will empower mothers and their children to have greater access to health services, nutritious foods and life-saving information.
These programs are just two of the hundreds of programs that CARE is managing around the world, from supporting women’s access to jobs and education in Pakistan, to supporting farmers in Honduras and ensuring women and men have better incomes by being part of business-chains in Indonesia.
In reflecting on the successes we have seen, one must remain sober-minded and acknowledge that sometimes it feels like one step forward in some areas can be two steps backwards in others. The global economic fallout continues; political instability is rife; and insecurity of all sorts is seemingly penetrating many aspects of all our lives. Continually pushing against these boundaries towards a world free of injustice and poverty is a fight we must all take up – it is only in solidarity with each other that we can all rise-up and face a brighter future.
As we close out 2011, I would like to personally thank all my CARE colleagues around the world and the women, girls, boys and men we work with every day. I’d also like to thank the Canadians supporting our work with their donations and those who help us spread the word about CARE’s work through social networks, be they online or in person. You have helped make a difference this past year. Thank you.