This past week our merry group of boxers got a night off, put on our fancy clothes and went out to an iDE Canada fundraiser dinner at the Convention Centre. It was nice opportunity to talk without getting in trouble from the coaches. We can get a little chatty during workouts. It was also interesting to meet some of the people who have been involved with iDE from inception.
International Development Enterprises (iDE) Canada was incorporated in 1983. The Canadian connection goes back to iDE’s founder Paul Polak who grew up in Millgrove, Ontario and graduated from University of Western Ontario. His unique ideas about using business to create opportunities for people living in poverty in the late ‘70s found traction with a group of Mennonite business people, including Art DeFehr. Art was named the UN High Commissioner for refugees for the Horn of Africa and invited Paul to come to Somalia to try out his, at the time, left-field approach to development. In their first project they formed an enterprise that built donkey carts from scrap and sold them to enterprising refugees, who then made money transporting water and other goods in the camps.
This group of business people became the core of support for the fledgling organization. Several of them, including Art, his brother Frank and Bill Fast, who has been a pillar of the organization through its history, remain on the Canadian and international boards.
We got a chance to meet Bill and thank him for helping create an organization that is making such an impact on poverty. Real changes, not just temporary hand-outs.
We also heard from iDE International CEO, Timothy Prewitt, who showed us some amazing figures on the impact the organization is having on agricultural communities in Africa, Bangladesh and Vietnam using simple technology like foot treadle water pumps and drip irrigation. One unforgettable story was of a woman in Zambia who was selling a few tomatoes a year as income for her family, but by adding a water pump to her farm and working with iDE farm business advisors to manage the type and timing of high value crops, her family now has a house, food, and her children are going to school. She is now teaching other women in her community how to do the same thing.
You can watch Veronica’s story here:
It was a great night out and a fun way to learn more about the organization we are boxing for. I believe even more than when I started, that this organization does some great things around the world. Thank-you for supporting me. And if you wanted to donate but saw that I’ve hit my goal, then please consider supporting one of the other boxers who hasn’t. We are all working very hard for a great cause. Each person has to raise $5000 to participate in fight night.
http://www.thecleanfight.ca to support any boxer or to come out and see the action.
Only 18 more days to go!