MEDA in the News

Biking across Canada to empower Ghanian women

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Road bikerSource: "Biking across Canada to empower Ghanian women (VIDEO)" in Christian Week (Photo Soumei Baba (Flickr CC))

Former MEDA interns helping women get out of poverty


Sarah French and Mary Fehr were hugely impacted during their time in Nicaragua and Tanzania working with MEDA (Mennonite Economic Development Associates) and their efforts helping women live healthier lives. Now they want to make an impact themselves. Together they embark on a four-month bike ride across Canada to raise $150, 000 for MEDA's Greater Rural Opportunities for Women (GROW) project in Ghana.

"The GROW project is assisting 20,000 women farmers and their families to sustainably emerge from poverty," French says in a release. "Mary and I wanted to support a project that focused on women because we saw the gender inequalities while on our own internships. It couldn't be more symbolic: Two women cycling across Canada representing independent, self-sufficient women."

Bike to GROW will begin May 18 in Victoria, BC and conclude September 5 in Leamington, ON. On the way, Sarah and Mary will stop at MEDA chapters, churches and community centres to speak with locals about MEDA, the GROW project and their experience.

"These women (in Ghana) work hard and persevere every day to provide for their families. You can see their smiles when they learn new things, produce a good harvest and have income because of our support," says GROW country project manager Catherine Sobrevega. "It's exciting to know their life-changing stories are going to be shared across Canada. Our team will include both of them in our prayers. May they remain strong and safe throughout this memorable journey for GROW."

GROW – Greater Rural Opportunities for Women from MEDA on Vimeo.

GROW is helping women soybean farmers in Northern Ghana increase agricultural production, strengthen their links to markets, diversify the food they produce and understand more about nutrition. Funded by Canada's Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development (DFATD), this six-year project will improve the incomes and food security of 20,000 women and their families.

Southwestern Ontario's peopleCare receives prestigious award

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peopleCare Brent Gingerich and Elaine ShantzSource: "Southwestern Ontario's peopleCare receives prestigious award" from peopleCare

For second year company is recognized as one of Delloitte's 50 best managed

KITCHENER, ON, April 10, 2015 /CNW/ - For the second consecutive year, Kitchener's peopleCare has been recognized as one of Delloitte's prestigious Canada's 50 Best Managed Companies. This award recognizes outstanding business performance and innovative management practices.

"For over 40 years, peopleCare's success has been founded in four key principles, hiring the right people, building a reputation of excellence, efficient use of resources, meeting and exceeding expectations," said Brent Gingerich, President and Chief Executive Officer, peopleCare. "There is no question that senior care is playing an increasing important role in society. As a third generation organization, we are proud of our history and future providing this service to the people and families of Southwestern Ontario."

peopleCare's front line team is comprised of over 700 professionals who focus on providing care to residents in homes in Tavistock, Cambridge, London, Kitchener, Stratford and Delhi. Currently peopleCare is in the process of designing a new retirement home in London that will provide a multitude of options ranging from independent living to assisted care.

"For us, peopleCare is not just a name, it is what we do. We care for and about people; residents, front line team members and the community in which we work and live," said Elaine Shantz, Chief Operating Officer. "We focus on providing much needed services to our residents by engaging our employees and developing leaders for peopleCare and the broader long term care sector."

peopleCare's commitment to long term care was recognized this year through the introduction of an innovative employee engagement model, "Closing the Loop". "The model empowers all employees to lead a project or introduce an idea where-ever they are in the organization," commented Elaine. "The front line team is given the freedom to use their expertise to enhance quality of life one resident at a time."

In addition, the organization recently sent a team to Ghana, as part of peopleCare's Beyond Ourselves initiative. Supporting a women's GROW project as a partnership with Mennonite Economic Development Associates, peopleCare raised over $40,000 (matched 9 times by the Canadian government). Participating in the trip, Brent stated, "It was hard to know who benefited the most the women in Ghana or our team. Clearly the leadership lessons we learned standing in a soybean field in Ghana apply right here at home."

For further information: Karen Gordon, Squeaky Wheel Communications Inc., 416-997-9478, karen@squeakywheel.biz

Ghana's House of Chiefs pledge to assist women access land for agriculture

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Naba Sigri BewongSource: "House of Chiefs pledge to assist women access land for agriculture" in myjoyonline.com

The President of the Upper East Regional House of Chiefs has called on government to support smallholder farmers to increase their productivity and income by improving the provision of agricultural extension services, irrigation services and subsidized fertilizer under the Fertilizer Subsidy Programme.

Naba Sigri Bewong was speaking at a dialogue session organized by SEND-Ghana with funding by Oxfam in Ghana which was attended by chiefs, small holder farmers and Civil Society organization in the Region.

He acknowledged that women's engagement in the agricultural sector of Ghana has come under constrained circumstances in spite of the fact that, they are responsible for up to 80% of food production.

These constraints he mentioned come from different sources broadly categorized under policy and institutional challenges as well as constraints with regards to culture and intra-household power relations and access to services.

The President of the Upper East Regional House of Chiefs pledged his support to help increase women's access to land for agriculture purposes and called on chiefs in the region to address existing challenges to women's access to agricultural lands.

Speaking at the meeting, Daniel Adotey, a Programme Officer of SEND–Ghana explained that, for us at SEND-Ghana, one of our priority working areas is to help smallholder farmers including women farmers to access all the things they need in the farming and we believe that when you support women farmer she will work get money and bring some home to take care of the children.

But we have observed that, there are some critical challenges facing smallholder farmers in this country including this region. They include access to fertilizer, access to Extension Services and more importantly access to land for farming.

All except land lies in the bosom of government. It is the Chiefs who are the custodians of the land lies in the domain of Traditional Authorities.

We have advocated for government to continue with subsidized fertilizer programme and by April of this year according to government, the subsidized fertilizer will be released.

We believe that, we have to work with the Traditional Authorities to see the need to help women to get land to till in order to earn some income to feed their families.

Our meeting therefore is to plead with Naba Sigri Bewong to work with his colleague Traditional leaders to help our women to get land for long term for the purpose of Agriculture.

Naba Sigri assured the gathering that, Sakote Traditional area has no problem releasing land for women for Agriculture purpose and therefore the issue is not a challenge. He however added that, he cannot vouch for the other Traditional areas and therefore gave the assurance that, he will convey the message to his other 17 colleague Paramount Chiefs.

He cited the Widows and Orphans Movement which is already benefitting from large land release for their 250 tree mango farm plantations in Sakote that will begin producing fruit in the next few years.

"If women want to expand their farm, there is an opportunity for them," he assured.

Monica Afana, a widow with two children complained of being robbed of her land as a result of her husband's death. According to her, about half of her farmland was forcefully taken from her by her deceased husband's elder brother.

"This has brought untold hardship on me and my children because we have to manage with the half that we have," she lamented.

The dialogue session is one of the strategic activities under the Grow Campaign in Ghana with the aim of increasing spaces for enhanced accountability and political commitment to guarantee land tenure security for women and other small-scale farmers in the face of 'land grabbing' and other land security issues in Ghana.