Loving the View

By Dan Rogers

I am no photographer. Let me be clear about that. I’m not even particularly interested in photography except as a record of events and people. Which surprises some folks given my involvement in an organization that relies heavily on the talents of professional photographers who, along with many others, dedicate their time to produce excellent images to generate our primary revenue source.   

But I love watching the process of a photographic production unfold like an intricate dance that is planned by the producer, the creative director and the photographer, and then executed by the photographer and his subjects incorporating whatever location and landscape is chosen. It evolves in slow motion but captures images that existed for but a moment but are documented for the rest of time.   

I try to make at least one of the CEF shoots per year to watch, and thank people, and help if I can. And this year on a wonderful couple of days in late June I went to Tofino, Vancouver Island, BC to “help” with the shoot produced by Amy Jones, shot by Steven Errico, and executed by a talented crew and cast.  Not a bad gig…2 sunny days in Tofino with two good friends and a great cast and crew.  

I see my role on these shoots to be a gopher. Whatever needs to be done. So I picked up lunch, I ran errands, I carried equipment, I shopped for groceries and props. Whatever I could do to be useful so the talented image creators could concentrate on what they were doing. It’s so different from my usual life I love it all: Amy’s focus on detail; her partner Gavin’s cheerful help seeming to anticipate what comes next all the time; the wardrobe and makeup artist’ patience as they wait for direction for what’s next and then next after that; the talent’s acceptance that Steven will decide what’s next and where and how.  He is the director and the recorder…always thinking and planning. His focus is amazing. I’ve seen it on a shoot, and also when we travelled together in Cambodia. He is a professional through and through, and CEF is lucky to have had him shoot for us more than any other photographer to date. The Tofino production marked his 11th CEF shoot.   

It was a great couple of days in Cathedral Grove and on Chesterman Beach and environs. I’m certain there will be many great “active lifestyle” images, (think surfing and beach running/walking, picnic, hiking, bonfire, etc. ) produced that will generate revenue for CEF and our wonderful projects around the world.  I get to experience a world I’ve come to know only through CEF and hang out with some really fun, talented people. Thanks all.   

Photo by Amy Jones

Project Update: Feeding Dreams School in Cambodia

By: Jaishree Narsih

 

IMG_0595CEF has funded multiple projects in Cambodia that have had a lasting, meaningful, positive impact on the people and their communities. We are pleased to announce the completion of yet another successful project!

Partnering with Kids International Development Society (K.I.D.S.), CEF is proud to have funded a project to provide sanitary washrooms to the Feeding Dreams Cambodia School.

Feeding Dreams is a grass roots organization that provides free English and computer classes along with a Vocational Hospitality Training program to children and youth who live in the slum areas of Siem Reap city in Cambodia. This organization works closely with K.I.D.S. and helps over 800 children and youth and their families.

IMG_0516The school has been quite successful, with many of the students gaining invaluable skills and going on to find secure employment. The one issue was a lack of washrooms. The washrooms were located right beside the drinking water system, causing many hygiene and health issues. Often times the washrooms were not even usable due to water problems. Setting their sights on building four new washrooms with more privacy, further away from the drinking water system, K.I.D.S. approached CEF.

Now completed, we are happy to report that the school has 4 new sanitary, hygienic washrooms! Utilizing the skills of a local carpenter and his team, this project also helped create more employment opportunities for local residents. Clean, sanitary washrooms are something we can take for granted here, but in small rural places such as Siem Reap, it is highly valued. The children are so happy to have this new facility, as can be seen by their smiling faces! K.I.D.S. opened the new washrooms just last week and here is an excerpt from their experience:

“It was a very happy group that we met with today and it was wonderful to see the kids having a clean, private and decent washroom area. As we said before the Cambodian’s often laugh and call the bathroom the Happy Room, hence the happy faces in the pictures.”

CEF is happy to support such amazing grass root causes. Through this project we are able to help support the successful delivery of educational programs for children and youth in Cambodia and lead to a sustainable cycle of education and employment. A big shout out to K.I.D.S. and Feeding Dreams for helping to make this project a reality!

Celebrating the life of John Baigent, one of CEF’s amazing partners!

 

 

John Baigent, Founder of Partners in the Horn of Africa died at the beginning of December 2016 in Enderby, B.C. JB

For many years before I was involved in Compassionate Eye Foundation, I was a labour lawyer in both Alberta and British Columbia. Starting in 1980, I worked in this profession and got to know many other lawyers doing similar work. One name I learned early in my work life was John Baigent. John was a renowned figure in the labour law field and in the labour movement, creating an impressive reputation as the leading practitioner in Western Canada.

I never ran across John on a case, however, as shortly after I moved to Vancouver in 1990, John moved to Enderby B.C. to carry on his practice and to fly fish. He moved there because he could—his clients would seek him out.

Eventually, John stopped practicing and returned to his true love—Africa and community development in Ethiopia. John had a vision of building schools, footbridges, and wells and generally helping people in rural Ethiopia improve their lives. John started Partners in the Horn of Africa and, through his sheer force of nature and persistence, turned it into a $1 million per year organization that changed the lives of Ethiopians, particularly young girls and young women.

John cajoled and persuaded dozens of his former compatriots and adversaries to donate thousands and thousands of dollars to his cause and John was the volunteer Executive Director for the first 12 years at Partners in the Horn of Africa. He travelled to Ethiopia at least once a year to meet communities and oversee operations, then would come home and personally raise the funds for the projects he had promised to the locals.

I got to know John when I became a monthly donor to Partners in the Horn, and was inspired by his energy and passion. He was clearly my inspiration to get involved in the Compassionate Eye Foundation. I could see through his example that my skill set could be useful in helping others in faraway places.

After I joined the Board of CEF, I introduced Partners in the Horn to CEF and, after the Board vetted the organization, we commenced to fund projects with them starting with a school in 2011. It has been a truly wonderful partnership as we have funded for a number of years a program that allows AIDS orphans to go to school. One of the great weeks of my life was spent with other Directors of CEF travelling in Ethiopia with John and Yehalem (the country director for Partners at the time). We saw the change work close up. It was amazing.

John announced a couple of years ago he was going to step aside as Executive Director. That was a difficult transition for the organization. Partners announced last year it was going to stop operating. I remember when John phoned me to tell me. I was very sad but he was clear eyed that it was time—Partners had run its course. I saw John at the 2016 AGM and he was comfortable with the decision. I didn’t know then that he would die 6 months later after a lengthy illness.

I was meeting the week before he died with a former member of the Partners’ Board. We were talking about John and this fellow said “no one I know has done more for poor people than John Baigent.” I totally agree.

A Celebration of John’s life will be held at 2:00 p.m. on Saturday, February 4, 2017 at the Riverside Community Hall on Trinity Valley Road, 10 km east of Enderby.

Partners in the Horn of Africa celebrated John’s achievements in its December 17 blog, and included John’s obituary.

–Dan Rogers, Chair, Compassionate Eye Foundation Board of Directors

Building Schools & Hope in Nepal

 

Jaishree Narsih

The 2015 earthquake in Nepal affected so many lives and left so much damage. A year later, the people of Nepal are still rebuilding. One of the many affected areas of infrastructure were the schools. CEF is proud to partner with Kina Social Ventures to support the rebuilding of some of the schools so the kids of Nepal can continue to get a good education.

For 13 years Kina, a registered Canadian charity, has been helping at-risk girls in rural Nepal by providing them with educational support and healthcare services. These girls are supported throughout their entire education, with the ultimate goal to empower them with this education and become more productive members of society and contribute to the development of their community.

Because the earthquakes in 2015 damaged many schools, Kina is working to rebuild these schools so they can continue to support girls with their education. CEF is funding the reconstruction of one of the schools in the Rocham Village area of Nepal. This is a very remote area of the country that houses approximately 150 families and there is currently no electrical power. It is quite a trek to get there from the capital city of Kathmandu with a lot of heavily terraced, steep, and corrugated mountains along the way.

DSC_0068
Base, one of the remote communities in Nepal where Kina is helping rebuild schools.

David Wood, Founder and Director of Kina, was in Nepal in May and provided us with an update on the school construction. The foundation has been dug out and a lot of the materials are being transported to the Rocham Village site. The goal is to have an earthquake resistant school up and running as soon as possible.

The school in Rocham Waku currently under construction.

Kina is working with a local in-country partner, The Small World (TSW), to help with the construction of the schools. There is a School Management Committee and a School Construction Management Committee – all made up of local residents who are learning and developing reusable skills.

Currently, in Rocham Village, there are three schools, all of which have extensive damage, overcrowding, and extremely tiny classrooms. Classes grades  1 – 8 are taught in these schools. One of the schools is extremely damaged due to the earthquake and is quite dangerous, but still being used on a temporary basis until the new building is up and running. The other two schools are comparatively safer and slightly bigger. More than 230 students attend these schools, so if you do the math, that is approximately 76 students per school in some very small classrooms, as can be seen in the picture below!

Nepal class
A very cozy classroom in Nepal.

While on this trip, David was also able to interview new students for the Kina scholarship program. So many of these girls come from poor families, live in very remote areas, and some have no parents. With the continuation of Kina’s program and the building of this new school, the hope is to equip these girls with an education that will serve them well into the future.

Nepal kids

 

 

Project Update: 8 Smart Kids Students Supported by Giving Tuesday

Adrianne & Rick, Kids International Development Society

The 8 students that CEF is supporting through the "Giving Tuesday" fundraising event, their parents and mentor Hak.
The 8 students that CEF is supporting through the “Giving Tuesday” fundraising event, their parents and mentor Hak.

On Sunday March 6, 2016 Adrianne and Rick of the Kids International Development Society went out to see the Smart Kids and have a meeting with with the eight students that will be moving to Siem Reap in August to attend grade 12. Their parents attended to discuss any concerns and to go over what the students would be provided with while boarding at Hak’s (Smart Kids Manager) home in Siem Reap.

The parents were happy that their children were being given this opportunity and although they would miss them they are hopeful that this will lead to a better future for them. For many of these families they have sacrificed to send at least one of their kids to school. The parents had a few concerns about registration fees and transportation fees. We were able to reassure them that these costs will be covered. The students all realize that this is a huge opportunity for them and they are excited and committed to do really well.

Thanks to the support of the Compassionate Eye Foundation all room and board, Khmer school fees, English school fees and bicycles will be provided for the students. Hak is also going to give extra computer and English lesson at his home during the week. KIDS will provide the computers for the students. The students will be expected to assist with household chores and cooking. The parents agreed to try and provide some pocket money for the kids however some cannot so we will ensure that the kids get some funds while in Siem Reap.

It was a rather moving meeting as the parents deeply thanked CEF, KIDS and Hak for this amazing opportunity.

A Message from Dan Rogers: Happy New Year!

Dan Rogers, Board Chair

2015 was quite the year for Compassionate Eye Foundation! It started in Cambodia for four members of the Board of Directors, including myself and Steven Errico, a photographer who has shot for CEF for about nine years. Trips to countries where we support programs and projects are always interesting, sobering, emotional, enjoyable, and entrancing. Cambodia was all of those. Our time spent with the people in Cambodia still resonates and we came to appreciate much more fully the deep dedication and tremendous work done by our great partner Kids International Development Society (K.I.D.S.) and their local partners.

The reason for CEF is the projects and programs we fund around the world. In addition to our work with K.I.D.S. in Cambodia, this past year we continued our support of the community of Tuixocel in Guatemala, the Peer Literacy and Teacher training programs in Sierra Leone through Cause Canada, and the Orphans and Vulnerable Children program with Partners in the Horn of Africa in Ethiopia. We also started a new initiative with Free the Children in Kenya, and funded a program with the Global Health Initiative (based out of UBC) in Peru. The work all of our partners do continues to inspire and we are proud to be involved with all of them.

2015 was also the year that, after 10 years, Susan McDonald stepped down as the Executive Director and we learned (painfully, I might add) to live without her. Fortunately, she is still involved with CEF as a volunteer. We continue our search for the right person to fill the Executive Director position and hopefully will be able to announce someone very soon.

Each year we give thanks to all involved in the various shoots around the world that support our work and in 2015 we had more to be thankful than usual. From Toronto, to Hawaii, to multiple shoots in London and Vancouver to our final shoot just before Christmas in Montreal, it was a great year for CEF and we are very excited to see the results. These are challenging times in the stock photography world, but we are determined to continue to generate funds for these projects. We are humbled and grateful for all the extremely talented creative folks who give (and then give some more) to help CEF succeed.

I also want to recognize three other people who stepped down from roles in CEF this past year. Fiona Watson left us after years as our Creative Director. We could not have achieved near as much as we have with you, Fiona! However, Fiona did us the great favour by arranging her replacement in Kate Stevens; who has seamlessly taken over the role. Our Board of Directors has also experienced change, with Michael Glogowsky and Andrea Dowd-Deaver stepping down after many years. We miss you both.

There are too many people to thank including our great delivery partners, creative staff, communications and branding volunteers (thank you EFM!) and the tireless Board of Directors. We know we have a lot of work ahead of us in 2016 as it is also our 10th Anniversary. We are planning a celebration and the biggest “shoot” year yet!  It will be exciting and challenging. I look forward to all our supporters being involved! As always, if you have any comments or questions, don’t hesitate to contact me at daniel.rogers@compassionateeye.org.

Wishing you all the very best for 2016!

Project Update: New Classrooms for Trakiet Primary School in Cambodia

Jaishree Narsih

Imagine attending a school where you had to share one small classroom with more than 60 other students. It seems unbelievable to think about, but this is the reality for many children living in rural Cambodia.

Compassionate Eye Foundation, in partnership with Kids International Development Society (K.I.D.S.) is helping fund the building of four new classrooms at Trakiet Primary School in Cambodia. With four classrooms already in place, the hope is to alleviate the overcrowding that is happening and ensure that all the kids have access to a proper education in an environment that is conducive to learning. This project provides a second benefit because some of the community members can be employed as labourers for the classroom construction.

Photo: Robert Kent, CEF's founder, during his recent visit to Cambodia
New classrooms under construction. Photo by Robert Kent, CEF’s founder, during his recent visit to Cambodia.

On average, the four classrooms that are currently in place serve about 500 students that come from three different villages; with many students commuting over long distances. Due to overcrowding, some of the kids are taught in a tin building that overheats quite easily and has a dirt floor, which becomes a mud floor when it’s rainy. To compensate for the lack of room, some children are being taught in a nearby monastery, which means that they don’t get access to the lunch program that is funded at the school.

The red hut in the background is the original classroom building that is currently being replaced. Photo: Robert Kent

Many of these students and their families live on or close to the poverty line. A good education is the only way to break this cycle of poverty and give the kids an opportunity to be able to find good sustainable employment and ensure a brighter future. The four new additional classrooms, along with desks, chairs, blackboards, and tables will vastly improve the learning conditions.

Construction is currently underway and the school will be fully completed by April 2016. There are about 15 workers from the community that have been hired to help with this project. Below is an excerpt from the Co-Founder Administrator of the Kids International Development Society, outlining how helpful this project will be:

“It will be a relief for the children and teaching staff to have better conditions to learn and teach in. The staff were saying that during the rainy season the water in the little tin building with the dirt floor is ankle deep and the kids have to put their feet up on the wooden bars of their desks. Right now it is 34 degrees here and the tin building is sweltering hot. Some children have to attend school at a nearby Pagoda as there is no room at their school. ​As well the kids in the kitchen area are crammed in and only have half walls and the lunch program has to be cooked outside,​ so these new ​classrooms will make a huge difference.”

Trakiet_RKent

With the completion date only four months away, there is a lot of hope and excitement for what these new classrooms can do for the community. A good education can open so many different opportunities for the people in this small rural town.

 

Have Triple the Impact on Giving Tuesday!

CEF_GivingTuesday_Instagram_2015At CEF, we’re excited to announce that this Giving Tuesday (Dec. 1) we are focusing on the Smart Kids Rural School Sponsorship Program in Cambodia.

This inspiring program, run by Kids International Development Society helps youth receive an education and work towards a better future. It includes educational programs, school supplies, uniforms, and English tutoring.

Many of the youth enrolled in the program work and live in brick factories and cannot afford to go to school. Without an education to obtain better paying jobs, the brick factories are often their future. When CEF Board members visited Cambodia this year we were so impressed with the program and the children, that we knew we had to help support it.

That is why we are directing all Giving Tuesday donations to this program. Not only that, but CEF and generous committed sponsors will match each dollar up to $3,000!

Learn more about the program and our visit to Cambodia here, or watch this short video about one of the youth in the program.

If you are as inspired by this program as we are, please consider making a donation for Giving Tuesday. Every dollar you donate multiplies, having an even greater impact on these children’s lives!

Click here to view our Giving Tuesday campaign page.

Smart Kids

Helping to Break the Cycle of Poverty in Cambodia

Leah Lockhart, Communications Chair

Education is one of the keys to escaping poverty but, unfortunately for many children, poverty is the biggest barrier to attending school.

During the CEF visit to Cambodia in January, we met with a group of students in a program run by our partner, Kids International Development Society (K.I.D.S.). The program, called Smart Kids, supports children who otherwise would not be able to receive an education.

In Cambodia, especially in rural areas, parents often cannot afford the costs associated with school and require their children to work or help with household chores. Many children work to help support their families and are unable to go to class.

10906498_10153358643971777_8921502826226092074_n (2)
The children put on a play explaining the importance of clean drinking water.

We met with students at the school where Compassionate Eye was funding a clean water project. Although it was the weekend, the entire school, teachers, and parents came out to greet us. The students in the Smart Kids program performed a fabulous play demonstrating the importance of clean water and how children often miss class because they are ill from drinking unclean water.

Later that afternoon, we visited some of the students in their homes to help us better understand why they were enrolled in the Smart Kids program. Families in that area have very low incomes, mostly derived from fishing and labour – in this case, primarily brick factories. The children, ages six and up, work in the factories alongside their parents, in poor working conditions, often operating dangerous machinery or stacking bricks in kilns.

A kiln in one of the brick factories.

Sadly, many of the children also call these factories home. The stark contrast of these smiling faces in crisp school uniforms sitting at their desks, followed by seeing them in their day clothes surrounded by the dusty, grim factory grounds was unsettling. Many of the families living on the brick factory property cannot leave because they don’t own land and can’t afford to rent or buy a house. One girl’s mother had moved to the factory when she was 15 – her daughter’s age – and had been there ever since. The mother desperately wanted a different future for her daughter, but her options were very limited.

10940457_10153384898746777_3705193776505112763_n (2)
One of the families that work and live in a brick factory. The girl in the middle is part of the Smart Kids program, which enables her to go to school.

This is where Smart Kids comes in. The program helps break these vicious cycles of poverty by supporting one child from each family by providing education-related expenses like uniforms, school supplies, and a bicycle to commute between home and school. The program also covers Cambodian school costs and English classes.  An education, and especially English lessons, is a ticket out of the difficult situations many of these children endure. The children work hard, often going to school in the morning, then to work in the afternoons, and take English classes in the evening.

At the time of the visit 23 children were enrolled in the program. Upon our return, we decided that CEF would help others have the opportunity, and are delighted to say that we are now supporting an additional 11 children to go to school through the Smart Kids program.

The new group of Smart Kids supported by Compassionate Eye Foundation.

To learn more about the program and some of the children we met on our visit, hop over to our partner K.I.D.S.’ blog here or check out this great video by K.I.D.S. that follows one of the students we met, Pisu, as he goes about his day from the brick factory to school and back.

A Day In The Life Of Pisu from KIDS on Vimeo.

This video is about Pisu

Adopt a Village Program in Kenya

 

Groundbreaking ceremony (2)

We’re thrilled to announce that we have partnered with Free the Children to implement the holistic, sustainable, Adopt a Village programming in a Kenyan community.

The program helps empower community members with the resources and knowledge to break the cycle of poverty in their village. This program is located in the community of Esinoni (in the Nkori Nkori region of the South Narok district in Kenya) and will be supported by the local government through construction of school rooms and teacher’s accommodations. New infrastructure to promote hygiene and sanitation will be installed including water stations, hand washing stations, and latrines.

The community is incredibly excited for this new partnership and we just received this beautiful photo of the ground breaking ceremony in Esinoni. Stay tuned for more updates and photos as this project gets underway!