Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Year 2...!

    This month marks one full year since the beginning of our aquaculture support project in DR Congo.  Since July of last year, we have delivered updated training to more than 600 fish farmers, at least 10% of whom have been women.  We have provided a $25 tool subsidy (worth 3-4 hand tools) for pond improvement and expansion to 200 of those farmers.  We have equipped a Regional Aquaculture Coordinator with full-time salary, transportation costs, and a dirt bike for travel to seminar and fish farm sites.  And this full-time salary has provided a viable livelihood for a family of eight people.  Last week (July 8-12) we held our fifth seminar with roughly 100 people in attendance, further adding to our impact.  We are contributing to the revitalization of the aquaculture sector in DRC. 

    In January of this year, I had laid out a budget and plan for the first half of 2013.  It involved raising $15,000 and completion of all of our first-year objectives, minus one seminar.  Thanks to the generosity of our donor network, most of them individuals, we have met our goal!  Assuming conservatively that fifty percent of the seminar participants adopt practices that improve their pond productivity and thus food security for their families, as of July we will have impacted the lives of 1400 people!
Women participating in one of the aquaculture seminars

    I have been asked many times why I do this—Fish for Hope, that is.  The best response I can come up with is that I feel compelled to do it.  It has never been out of a need to prove myself to others, or to myself for that matter.  It’s part of His design that I have the privilege of living; it’s ultimately about people; it’s about responding to a need, contributing to the solution.  And it’s not only me, but a network of people with compassion.

    I lost my dad a few weeks ago.  He was a unique man of deep character who lived a life of meaning and integrity.  His obvious support for my work, as well as his analytical mind and professional skills augmented my own efforts toward realizing a dream.  In his memory, my family requested that donations be made to Fish for Hope.  More than $3,000 has been received from more than 70 donors.  I consider it tremendous affirmation and a great honour that these funds have been entrusted to a project for which I am responsible.  The support and affirmation of family is energizing.  Furthermore, I am proud to continue Dad’s legacy in this way.

    And so we enter the second year of this two-year project with momentum from our initial success.  We will hold at least five additional seminars, reaching out to hundreds more for whom poverty and food availability are daily challenges.  We are part of the solution, with compassion.

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