Looking for a Few Good Bloggers to Join Our Social Media Team


CEF is looking for dedicated & motivated people to join our Social Media Team.  We’re looking for volunteer Social Media Coordinators who want to get involved in a great organization that wants to make a difference in the world through the power of people’s creativity.   Ideally, we’re looking for people with great writing & interviewing skills and some knowledge of how to use social media tools such as Twitter, Facebook and WordPress.  In exchange for giving us approximately 6 hours/week of your time, you’ll get a chance to become a part of a dedicated group of volunteering senior professionals and top companies from Canada, US and Europe, who share a wide range of expertise from various industries, to bring positive change to developing communities around the world.   Interested applications should submit a cover letter & resume to:  Susan McDonald, CEF Executive Director, susan.mcdonald@compassionateeye.org, 778-836-4536

Call for Applications: Communications Chair

Compassionate Eye Foundation (CEF) is seeking applications for the following Board Position: Communications Chair.

The Board at CEF is a gathering of amazing, smart, hard-working, generous and open-hearted people. We also laugh a lot! We are committed to making a contribution and being of service. We love to learn along the way. We believe passionately in what we do inside and outside CEF. We welcome others to join us.

To find out more and get the job description, please contact susan.mcdonald@compassionateeye.org

“Blankets for Babies” and the Village Knitters

The Village Knitters of Steveston, with some of the blankets they have created for the Compassionate Eye Foundation. Pictured from left: back row: Maria Koestlmaier, Judy Gibbins, Helen Burrows and Ricky Gillon. Front row: Nancy Pemberton, Nora M'Manus, Laura Moses, Edith Petersen, Maureen Moraga, Win Derasp and Louise Apps.

An Interview with CEF Executive Director Susan McDonald

By Michael Markowsky for Compassionate Eye Foundation, Photography by Liz Kearsley

Can you tell me about how the “Blankets for Babies” came to be?

One of the questions that we are often asked is, “What can I do to help?” An idea Compassionate Eye Foundation (CEF) is trying to foster is there are many different ways that a person can support the organisation. Everyone can contribute something, and usually we can find a way for that to work.

A group of women in Steveston (south of Vancouver, Canada) call themselves the ‘Village Knitters’.  They heard about a Pre and Post Natal project that CEF is supporting in a rural community within Guatemala called Comitancillo and they wanted to do something to help.

The founder of the knitting group is Edith Petersen. She began about a year and a half ago by putting up posters around Steveston, and 40 women showed up at the first meeting! These are women of all ages, who meet weekly.  It has become very vibrant group. It’s not a teaching class, just people getting together and sharing expertise.

Some of the members have participated in a project to make helmet liners for soldiers in Afghanistan.  This was a national project and in the end, the Steveston Knitters had contributed 560 of the liners sent overseas.

When that project ended, a group of women were open to contributing to another project.  The Blankets for Babies idea for the Pre and Post Natal Program resonated with them.

Can you tell me about the Pre- and Post-Natal Program CEF supports in Guatemala?

Yes, it is a really valuable project that we are a part of. The infant mortality rate in this particular area of Guatemala is close to 50%, there is virtually no medical support in the rural areas and, if there are difficulties during a birth there are no vehicles to get the mothers to distant medical facilities.

This project was created to offer information and services to women who are expecting. It provides maternal health information, prenatal vitamins, and information about infant care.

Infant clothing is difficult to find in rural Guatemala. I suggested the Village Knitters might want to create some blankets.

Edith presented the idea to the group and there was a great response. The group came up with beautiful fabric that is flame resistant and dries well.  This is important because many of the Guatemalan women are working around open fires. The blanket they designed had a little hat, an extra triangular piece of fabric to keep the babies’ heads warm. They embroidered each blanket with a unique decoration, like plants or flowers so each blanket is different. They also knitted little toques for each newborn child, so each child will get a blanket and a hat.

When will the blankets and hats be delivered to the children in Guatemala?

The blankets will be going down to Guatemala during the first part of this year.

If other people or groups are interested in contributing to CEF, what should they do?

Our byline has always been; ‘Come Join Our Creative Community.’ CEF has always welcomed people who have something to contribute. We have volunteers doing a wide variety of jobs that allow us to operate as an organization! I think virtually everyone can bring something to the table. It’s a matter of finding a good fit between an individual’s skills and passions, and our needs as an organization.

We have a number of volunteer positions that we need talented people to fill.  Some are long term, and some last only for a part of a day.  The more resources we have to draw on the more projects we can support in developing nations.

Please contact Susan McDonald at susan.mcdonald@compassionateeye.org if you are interested in contributing.

Partnership for Food Security in Ethiopia

Project beneficiaries selling eggs in weekly Bati market

By Deborah Turner for Compassionate Eye Foundation

Compassionate Eye Foundation (CEF) in partnership with CHF, formerly Canadian Hunger Foundation, have completed the 6th and final year of Phase II of a project to alleviate chronic food insecurity. This project in the Bati district of Amhara region in northeastern Ethiopia was in response to the recurring cycle of drought in the area. The most recent drought occurred in 2003. A new approach was adopted to meet the immediate food needs of those affected and also to address the underlying causes of chronic food insecurity. A long term plan was developed by CHF and the Ethiopian non-profit Organization for Rehabilitation and Development in Amhara (ORDA) to overcome the recurring cycle of drough, famine and humanitarian assistance. This project was supported by the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) and Canada’s Sprott Foundation. CIDA matched donor funds at a ratio of 28:1. This project touched 47,000 food insecure people in Ethiopia.


  • Increased agricultural production and performance – Significant gains in income resulted from the introduction of two cash crops, groundnuts and white sesame. Cassava was also introduced as a food security crop and some adopters are using it for domestic consumption as well as selling cuttings to neighbouring farmers for their use. Sale of fruits and vegetables introduced to the area continue to provide regular income to those farmers engaged in their production. Sales of livestock and livestock products are providing asset-building resources to households engaged in this activity.
  • Rehabilitated environment – Degraded land has been restored by building hillside terraces, water collection trenches and reservoirs, and shallow water wells. Reforestation has also contributed to improving the degraded ecosystem in Bati. Training sessions addressed watershed management, soil and water conservation, nursery management and alternative energy technology. A significant consciousness-raising activity took the form of a symposium attended by 290 government and non-government stakeholders such as elders and religious leaders. Its purpose was to formulate community regulations and resulted in a a prohibition on the sale of charcoal. It is reported that these sales have decreased significantly. There will be a followup symposium to evaluate implementation of the regulations and to revise future action plans.
  • Increased and diversified income opportunities and earnings – The project provided workshops for both men and women alongside livestock and agricultural training to reinforce the benefits of gender equality at the household level. Women’s savings and and credit groups have more than doubled to some 250 in Year 5. Efforts continue to link members to micro-finance institutions present in Bati. This will contribute to capacity building of the savings and credit groups.
  • Improved infrastructure – The capacity of local level institutions and government offices to ensure effective management and ownership of the the various infrastructure created by the project was strengthened. Responsibility for infrastructure interventions has been handed over to community and government bodies. These bodies are to ensure sustainable maintenance and upkeep into the future.
  • Gender and HIV/AIDS mainstreaming – All project activities ensure women are regarded as equal partners in development with men. The Gender Mainstreaming Survey found 59% of women and 51% of men consider that women’s decision-making power has greatly improved. In addition, the Lessons Learned Study reported that more than 90% of wives have been involved in key decisions of the household, including those related to sale of crops and livestock, as well as those related to land issues. In Year 5, the donation of a motorcycle to Bati town’s Women’s bureau enhanced the projects gender and HIV/AIDS mainstreaming efforts and will ensure these efforts are sustained after project closure.
  • Enhanced capacity of government, communities and households – Support was provided to Government offices at the woreda (township) or kebele (ward) level to improve their capacity to implement food security and other initiatives. Activities focused on handover of interventions and processes to Government offices and beneficiary communities, as well as clearly defining roles and responsibilities of the various stakeholders. The project’s close association with the Office of Agriculture and Rural Development, the prime beneficiary of this engagement, as well as the Offices of Education and Health plus the Women’s Affairs Bureau are positive indicators of the sustainability of gains achieved over the life of the project.
  • Enhanced capacity of ORDA – ORDA continues to articulate and refine its internal systems. After the years of project support it is a stronger organization. It is operating under a strategic plan for the period 2009 – 2013 that was developed through a lengthy participatory process with close collaborators and stakeholders. The major challenge over the last year was the late onset and early cessation of rainfall which affected crop planting and available pasture for livestock. Other challenges included the overlap of capacity-building activities with other government offices.


The three phases of this project are now complete. However a model has emerged to alleviate chronic food security by complementing government efforts. This highly successful endeavour is now known at the Bati Model. With its significant impact on the relatively large scale of 47,000 food insecure people situated within 10 kebeles, this model has the potential for use in other drought-affected areas of the world. CHF continues to expand its efforts in Ethiopia and is planning other projects that will benefit from the lessons learned and achievements in this partnership.

For more information on the Bati Model see – http://www.chf-partners.ca/newsroom/newsroom/media-coverage-2009/addis-zemen-newspaper-bati-as-a-model-in-insuring-food-security.html

Rope pump used for irrigation

Healthy Pregnancies for the Mayan-Mam Women & Helping the Elderly Find Support

By Rey Buenaventura for The Compassionate Eye Foundation

After three successful years, Compassionate Eye Foundation (CEF) is proud to announce its continued support of two small-scale, community directed projects headed by the Canada-Comitancillo Alliance for Rural Health, otherwise known as Alianza. Out of a desire to enact positive change for the women of Comitancillo, Guatemala, Alianza has developed both the Prenatal/Post delivery Health & Education Program & the Grandmothers Program. Both programs aim to empower mothers and grandmothers who lack sufficient economic resources, information and knowledge to make positive decisions about their health & well-being.

Living in an area with almost non-existent health services, Comitancillo’s expectant mothers often suffer from serious vitamin and mineral deficiencies, which puts them at increased risk of giving birth to babies that are predisposed to serious infections and delayed development. The Prenatal/Post delivery Health & Education Program aims to teach family planning methods, provide a forum for mutual support and reduce the likelihood of newborn illness and mortality due to malnutrition. This program is designed to help support 20 economically vulnerable women who are expecting their first child. The women taking part in the twelve month program are provided with essential supplies, such as nutritional supplements, healthy snacks, baby clothes and blankets. As well, they receive educational support to empower them with the knowledge they need to have a successful pregnancy.

The Grandmother’s Group Program is a health & education program that seeks to create a safe and welcoming environment for some of the region’s most socially isolated & economically vulnerable women aged 65 or over. Through a series of monthly meetings, the Grandmother’s Group creates a cooperative, support network that allows the women to share their personal stories in a safe, non-judgemental environment. Local health & community professionals are also invited to speak on various issues of concern. As well, the women are provided with essential supplies such as medications & basic foods to reduce the effects of malnutrition.

CEF is pleased that its continuing partnership with Alianza is having a positive impact on the Mayan-Mam communities in Guatemala. We wish to thank all of CEF’s supporters for their assistance & contribution in making this project a success. 100% of the funds provided by CEF go directly to both Alianza’s programs. We also wish to thank all of CEF’s supporters for their assistance & contribution in making these projects a reality.

To learn more about the various projects that Compassionate Eye Foundation supports, please visit www.compassionateeye.org

Extending Educational Opportunities in Zambia

Cherry Mae Magbual for Compassionate Eye Foundation

Compassionate Eye Foundation (CEF), in partnership with Friends for Zambia Society, has extended educational opportunities in Lilayi, Zambia by providing funding to build the third and final classroom block at the Twitti School.

This will be a three-classroom building. Together with a remaining construction of a library/administration building, the three-classroom block will complete the Twitti School as a Basic School, providing space for 350 to 400 children from preschool to grade 9.

Our common goal is to provide an opportunity for an education for as many students as
possible, and to provide a school that will carry on into the future as a legacy for the community. Continue reading “Extending Educational Opportunities in Zambia”

“Green” alternative income sources puts village on path to economic sustainability

Matthew Pattinson, Project Lead, Compassionate Eye Foundation

Like many small villages in Guatemala, the people of Tuixoquel have limited options when it comes to earning a living. To help improve economic sustainability, in 2008, Compassionate Eye Foundation (CEF) aligned in with “As Green As It Gets”, an organization based out of Antigua, Guatemala, that provides agricultural income producing alternatives to local villagers. The non-profit works alongside members of the community and builds their capacity through teaching new skills, improved agricultural techniques and providing ongoing support.

A strong emphasis is placed on protecting the environment and land restoration as an integral part of business management. The objective is to lift the producers out of subsistence agriculture by helping them attain skills that can improve their product quality and yields. Continue reading ““Green” alternative income sources puts village on path to economic sustainability”

Peer Literacy and Textbook Program – An interim report

Sue Dick, Education Chairperson and Project Lead, Compassionate Eye Foundation

At the beginning of the year Compassionate Eye Foundation (CEF) proudly announced its extended engagement in Sierra Leone. To promote the quality of education and to build literacy in the country, CEF joined with CAUSE Kids by providing support to two programs:

The Peer Literacy Program gives 20 girls from the secondary school system the opportunity to be seen as leaders in their community in their role as tutors. This exciting and innovative program also enhances the girls’ education and that of 500 primary school students they teach.

The Textbooks Program involves supplying 12 schools in remote areas of Sierra Leone with a complete set of textbooks and Teacher Manuals for 72 teachers and 3,600 students at the elementary level.

We are pleased to report that both projects are taking shape.
Deb Penninga, CAUSE Kids Canadian Program Manager, considers the first stage of the pilot Peer Literacy Program to be a great success. Deb visited Sierra Leone and saw the progress first hand. She reported that teachers were supportive, students were responsive and students who attended the program regularly demonstrated a marked improvement in their reading skills.

A newly enrolled Peer Literacy Coordinator works with tutors and young girls engaging them in taking a role model position and making sure they have the resources they need to succeed in the program.
Continue reading “Peer Literacy and Textbook Program – An interim report”

CEF & TIMERAISER-Vancouver, B.C.

Compassionate Eye Foundation (CEF) is pleased to have been selected to participate in Vancouver’s 3rd Annual Timeraiser. Timeraiser is a unique way to for skilled motivated volunteers to meet not-for-profit agencies organizations like CEF.  Volunteers bid on art and in turn pledge hours in the community.

Timeraiser will be held at The Roundhouse Community Centre (Yaletown in Vancouver, B.C.) on Thursday September 23rd, 2010 at 7 p.m.
Come visit us and take a part in making a difference in the lives of many.

Please visit Timeraiser.ca for full details and look under the Vancouver tab.

Note: CEF will be advertising a variety of volunteer positions on Timeraiser.ca shortly.

Letters of Gratitude, from Guatemala

Compassionate Eye Foundation (CEF) periodically receives thank-you letters by students and parents from Mayan-Mam communities in Guatemala, supported through its educational projects and programs. We are happy to share the following translated letters (from Guatemala); one by a student, and another by a parent, describing the educational opportunities CEF has helped bring about within their community. One community at a time, with your support, CEF is making a difference in the lives of many.

handwritten letter by a student
handwritten letter by a student

From a student, from third year Basico

“Through this letter, I send you my best wishes for success in your everyday tasks. I like to study and to learn a lot of things. We take physical education courses and I attend the technical operator course in computers at Comitancillo where I have learned to use Word, Excel and Power Point Programs. This year, I hope to complete all my subjects satisfactorily and, for the following year, I hope to follow a career. I remain grateful for your support.”

From a parent

“I am very happy because my children attend classes every day from Monday to Friday. We are very pleased with the program Pre Primera since our children have the opportunity to study. My children leave the house at 7:00 in the morning to attend classes at 8:00 a.m. and they return home at 2:00 p.m. Even though they must walk two hours a day, this is not important. The most important is that they learn new things. Thanks to all the donors.”

To learn more about projects Compassionate Eye Foundation supports visit  www.compassionateeye.org