Canada Comforts Society - September 2023 Newsletter
On June 29, 2023 we were fortunate to attend an update meeting with Melissa Mitchell of WalkWithMe.global (a humanitarian branch of Tying Vines, Inc.). The talk was arranged by the Compassionate Resource Warehouse who has partnered with Melissa and Tying Vines on container shipments to Jordan, Lebanon, Yemen, Tajikistan, Kenya and Ukraine. All containers that held precious items made and sent by Canada Comforts.
Melissa and Tying Vines have partnered with multiple organizations to provide medical care, educational programs, vocational training for young adults, counseling for trauma-affected youth, and business development to help communities become self-sustaining. Melissa shared many stories and nothing is as vivid or real as hearing about places and conditions from someone who has actually been there and worked with the local people.
Some of the things she spoke of that stood out for us were:
- Tying Vines’ focus is helping people not helped by the UN in Syria/Lebanon/Yemen/Jordan and accounts for a million refuges fleeing ISIS and the Taliban war
- refugees think they are going to a camp for a month and often are still there after a year
- the camps are communities; when shipments are unloaded the refugees help unload and sort; they determine themselves who is in most need and distribute
- people are not moving so they need to learn a skill to help survive in a camp
- in the Tying Vines medical centres they run baby programs consisting of 100 babies under one year at a time and cycle them out
- women without money give birth in tents as there are no free clinics
- Tying Vines has been working in the camps since 2015. When they started 13 was the average age for girls to marry as their parents can’t afford to feed them. Now the average age for any girl in their programs is 18. Most girls have been raped but, positively, suicide rates have dropped 80%.
- Tying Vines has done more in 2022 than in the last 8 years due to the Ukraine war
- to date 14 Compassionate Resource Warehouse container shipments have been sent to meet the needs of Ukrainian refugees
- Canada, USA, Germany, Poland, Romania, Moldova and Ukraine make up the corridor of hope supporting the refugees
- 60 surgeries a day are performed in one of the converted containers
- next Tying Vines were providing disaster response to Syria and Turkey after the earthquake; Melissa had been to the affected areas; houses and buildings levelled to the ground; they drove for 2 hours and it was the same everywhere; in Turkey most people are living in tents outside their homes.
Melissa’s stories and experiences were of impact and life change. We were struck how such accomplishment and hope can come out of disaster. It also reinforced so clearly that everything Canada Comforts does truly makes difference to so many people.
Sylvia and Sara Hatfield
Some housekeeping details for your information:
- The baby pack organizers have requested that knitted/crocheted baby hats be a minimum of 6 month size, which is an average head circumference of 17”. This is important because smaller hats may not fit for long, and this may be the only hat a baby receives
- When sewing items for Canada Comforts, please use the patterns you receive from us. Our patterns have been approved by the organizations requesting donations from us and they are expecting consistent sizes and styles.
- Most people are very good about labelling their donations with names and contact information, but we still get some unlabelled bags and boxes. We really want to be able to thank you and to let you know your gifts have been received.
- We’re sending out an SOS for knitted slippers for Ukraine, in all sizes (child to adult) for trauma victims in the war zones.
Dave Peacock’s African Journey
Dave Peacock, a volunteer at the Compassionate Resource Warehouse (CRW) made a 3 week trip to Africa this summer, to visit Youth for Christ (YFC) ministries in Kenya, Tanzania and Burundi. He spent time with directors, staff and local people there and sent back some wonderful photos and a very eloquent travel blog. Dave wrote about the extreme poverty and challenges in the regions, and how YFC projects, and donations from CRW containers, including many Canada Comforts items, are giving hope to a great many people. Here are some highlights from Dave’s trip, in his words:
CRW sent containers to YFC Kenya and YFC Burundi in 2022, to support the various ministry initiatives they have. Running their own schools, a safe house for pregnant teens, skill development, an orphanage, and work in the slums, are just a few things that are allowing the staff and volunteers to come alongside and bring young people hope.
The government has given them land to build a school, and this was a great bridge building opportunity for them into the community. Burundi is now considered the poorest country in the world with a GDI per capita of just $270USD. What a privilege to share some of our resources that will have a huge impact!
In Kenya, they were able to offer teen moms in their Safe House clothing, baby diapers and clothing, strollers, as well as maternity packs for those who were still to deliver. Plus they have been using sewing kits and fabric to teach these young moms a skill so they can hopefully find some work to bring stability to their family.
I was able to visit a school an hour outside of Nairobi, Kenya. It was started in a very poor region where many kids were not in school, either because the closest school was many miles away, or because parents couldn't afford it. I had the privilege of handing out school supplies such as notebooks, pencils, crayons, pencil crayons, erasers and rulers to 20 children. You would never know it from the picture because of the school uniform, but these 20 were from the poorest families in the school. I can only imagine the delight the parents had when their child came home with these supplies, because for them, these are very difficult or impossible for them to afford when they are just trying to feed their families each day. This is just one story of many where items like these are of huge value to those who receive, because with an education they have some hope for the future. This is only possible because people like you generously buy these items for us to send, so that we can share them with those who so need them.
As I spent the week in Burundi, the word that kept coming to mind was transformation. Every year they are giving hundreds of young people hope through their schools and orphanages, transforming their lives forever. Their orphanages are actually called Homes of Hope, where kids are cared for by house moms and given the opportunity to go to the YFC school, transforming their lives physically with food and shelter, through education, and spiritually. I was so impressed by these kids, their kindness, warmness and welcoming nature.
We can walk far when we walk together…. African proverb
Canada Comforts Society is a registered Canadian charity run by volunteers.
Roberta Graham, President 250 595 9902 email@example.com
Sara Hatfield, Secretary/Treasurer 250 474 4614 firstname.lastname@example.org
Betty Guiney: Workshop Leader 250 478 3040 email@example.com
Sylvia Hatfield, Founder 250 474 4614 firstname.lastname@example.org