Tapping Our Trans-Local Potential for Change

Archive for the ‘Poverty Reduction and Economic Development’ Category

Vancouver’s diaspora shares development stories

Dialogue story tellers gathered together before the Engaging Diasporas in Development dialogue. Photo: Greg Ehlers.

This post was written by Douglas Olthof, Project Researcher and MA in International Studies at Simon Fraser University.

On January 19, 2011 the Engaging Diasporas in Development Project convened the first in its series of public dialogues. The dialogue was entitled “Innovations in Poverty Reduction and Economic Development” and covered three core themes: responding to basic needs through grassroots mobilizations, business and economic development, and tapping the potential: learning from the diaspora.

Participants began filtering into the Morris J. Work Centre for Dialogue amid considerable buzz. Soon thereafter, as the sounds of dozens of conversations mingled above the assembly, a single voice cut through the din and invited everyone to join together in conversation and collaboration. Vanessa Richards urged the participants to join in song and for the next few minutes the diverse crowd became a united chorus. With melody and harmony still reverberating through the room, the dialogue had begun.

Continue reading →


The Power of $100

Photo: Doug Olthof.

This post was written by Miriam Egwalu, a member of the Ugandan diaspora in Vancouver.

My story started when I went to Uganda in March, 2009 after my Mom passed away. During the burial and afterwards, I noticed that there were more women than men. Most of the women were either very old or very young single mothers. The men were also very old or very young. I later realized that most of the men had been killed in the 25 year war that had ravished Northern Uganda and that the others had moved to towns and cities to try and find work, leaving behind wives to take care of the kids and grandparents.

When I interviewed one of the older ladies, she informed me that most of the women get no support from their husbands who have moved to cities and some are widowed with numerous children to support. She was one of the widowed. She was left with 6 kids to take care of. Her oldest daughter was not going to school because she needed her to help in the garden and other chores. The other 5 kids were being supported by a charity organization in order for them to go to school.

Continue reading →

My Canadian experience inspires my development work in Sri Lanka

Members of the Sri Lankan diaspora gather at Trout Lake, BC.

This post was written by Sumana Wijeratna, President and CEO of VanLanka.

Nine years ago I arrived with my family in Canada. In Sri Lanka I worked with the Urban Development Authority as an urban planner in the municipal offices for eleven years and for another six years as the deputy director for regional offices.

After settling in the community of Surrey in 2002, I established VanLanka Planning Consulting where I continued to seek opportunities to use my experience in the international development field. In this quest, I reached out to the Vancouver-based International Centre for Sustainable Cities (ICSC) where I was able to offer my networks and local knowledge of Sri Lanka. This collaboration soon led to ICSC developing three successful community environmental management and sustainable planning projects in Sri Lanka that were funded by CIDA. I learned so much about sustainability planning from this experience and also believe my experiences were valuable to the Centre.

Continue reading →

What is Poverty?

A farmer in West Bengal returns from ploughing the fields. Photo: Douglas Olthof.

This post was written by John Harriss, Director of International Studies at Simon Fraser University.

I can well imagine many readers reacting to this question along the lines of ‘What a silly question. Isn’t it obvious?’ Well, yes, it is, at least on one level. ‘Being poor’ surely means ‘not having enough’, or ‘being deprived’? But not having enough of, or being deprived of what? The obvious answer to this question is probably ‘Not enough money’. But then that only raises the question of ‘Not enough money for what?’ ‘Not enough money’ for some people, clearly, might be a fortune for others. This is particularly obvious when we think across societies. Poverty in our own society might still mean having all sorts of things, like television sets, fridges and motor cars that a poor woman in Lesotho, say, probably can’t even dream of. So answering the question ‘what is poverty?’ really is a bit more complicated than we might think at first.

Continue reading →