Monday, December 19, 2011

A Message from one of our Guatemalan partners, Volunteer Peten

Dear Friends of Volunteer Petèn,
November 2011
As many of you already know from our past newsletter, 2011 has been a difficult year both for Volunteer Petén and for Guatemala in general.  As the social integrity of Guatemala continues to decline and collapse, tourism, the major component of Volunteer Peten, has also declined greatly and, in the Peten region, has virtually collapsed.  Earlier this year, we made a plea to friends and past volunteers from our program to donate so that we could make ends meet and finish our school program, as well as maintain programs in the ecological park and community library, and we received a great response and are deeply grateful for all your aid and assistance.   Upon facing this crisis, both the decline in tourism and the increased violence in the region, only two decisions were available to continue with Volunteer Peten; one was to continue our projects based solely on donations from friends and family, or to find other sources of income to run the projects based on sustainable projects such as selling firewood, animals, plants, and produce.  Since 2002, when our project first began, our philosophy has always been to manage our program more like a business than a charity and that our success would be based on the participation of international volunteers.  With the volunteer program financially sustaining our program, we were able to put all extra donations towards some amazing projects such as the ecological park, the community library, and building schools for the community. Therefore, the option of having donations sustain the program is does not fit with our philosophy or goal as an organization.  This past year, most of our efforts were put into projects for our students in the natural resource management school, where they participated in growing and selling produce, animals, animal products, plants, and firewood.   And even though these activities are important and integral for the survival of any society, the market doesn’t exist in the Petén to economically sustain these activities.  Therefore, the second option is only viable to sustain one person or one family, but is unable to sustain any type of project or formal program.  Also, since the lack of security and violence is growing in the region, right now it is not even feasible to sustain a project without investing in private security, which also goes against our goals and philosophy.
Having explained the current situation, we have decided to wrap up our project in the next few months and to end all programs in February or March of 2012.  We apologize to those that have already made plans for 2012, and hope that you can make the necessary changes to your agendas. 
              Our project is completing its 10th year this January, and we still have some work to accomplish before we close our doors next year.   We are soliciting donations for one last time to help us put some closure to our projects, as we will be working diligently during the next couple of months to pass our projects to local authorities in hopes that they can sustain the park, library, and school projects that we have created.  Our goal is to raise $6,000 during the next two months to help us with the following goals; continue to fund and organize the 2012 school year for 6 students ($400 for each student for one full year, for a total of $2400), training park personnel to continue running the park in coordination with the local authorities ($2,000), training a community librarian and establishing a community fund to sustainably manage the library ($1,600).
Visit us at  for more information or contact us at
Thanks to all your help and support for our program, and we will  keep you informed of our accomplishments during the next few months.
Matthew R. Peters

Thursday, December 15, 2011

GYVN launches its membership program!

A Global Membership allows you to shape and create GYVN as it continues to build generations of young leaders. Your membership benefits include: receiving quarterly newsletters eligibility to sit on the board of directors, an invitation to the annual general meeting and to other events and gatherings, plus more! A one-­year membership donation of $30 to the general fund can be done via

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Photos of Ugunja's current situation as a result of the flooding

Our partner Ugunja Community Resource Centre (UCRC) has been hit by extreme flooding and the conditions are extremely bad.   Please see the photos below sent by UCRC's Executive Director of the current situation.

At this time, any assistance whatsoever is welcome and appreciated. If you would like to donate to assist with this crisis, GYVN  can offer a tax receipt for donations over $15. There are 2 ways you can donate: online through Canada helps (select the Ugunja project) or through the mail by sending your donation to our P.O. Box: 

Global Youth Volunteer Network
Waterloo Square PO 40053
Waterloo, ON N2J 4V1

Monday, December 12, 2011

The Ugunja Community Resource Centre Needs Our Help!

This letter is to let you know that our friend and partner organization in Ugunja Kenya – Ugunja Community Resource Centre (UCRC) - is in the midst of a crisis.

There has been extreme flooding in the region from heavy rains.  At this time, 40,000 people have been affected by the floods. The large torrents have swept away homes and farms along the riverbanks and have displaced many families. To make matters worse, there is a national Doctors strike so there are no doctors willing to assist with the urgent needs. The floods have forced people from their homes as well as damaged homes beyond repair. The high waters have also increased waterborne diseases like cholera and the number of mosquito related diseases like malaria. More than 100 families are camping in schools and other institutions, waiting for supplies. UCRC has been visiting these people but currently have no resources to offer.

Here are some statements from Aggrey, the Executive Director of UCRC.

“We are hit by heavy floods and in our community houses are submerged and people camping outside.  Deaths are occurring both from the impact of the floods and doctors strike.  The situation is bad.”

“The need is great but the response is slow coming from relief agencies.  Red Cross has not reached many of the places despite desperate calls to assist even infants and old men who we found shivering from the harsh cold.”

“We have immediate needs for cash for medical services (already people are dying out of malaria and water borne diseases), foodstuff, blankets and beddings, etc.  The situation is so bad that any assistance is welcome.”

Global Youth Volunteer Network would like to respond to the needs of our friends in Ugunja but to do so we also need your help. If you would like to donate to assist with this crisis, we can offer a tax receipt for donations over $15. There are 2 ways you can donate: online through Canada helps (select the Ugunja project) or through the mail by send your donation to our PO box listed above.

If you would like to talk further about this please feel free to contact me at or 1 (250) 516-6210.

Thank you for your consideration,



Monday, December 5, 2011

GYVN Projects in Mizoram, India

 Malaria Detection Clinics 

Mizoram is a remote, mountainous state located on the southernmost tip of Northeast India. It is nestled in-between Bangladesh and Myanmar (Burma), where malaria is the number one killer. In these remote areas, there are no nurses or doctors. Sometimes it takes many days to get to the road, often leading to prolonged symptoms and further health deterioration. It is this delayed in treatment that there is such a high rate in malaria deaths, especially in rural areas. If detection and treatment can be caught and administered early, then malarial death rates can be decreased.

Malaria detection clinics currently exist in 49 villages. The first established clinics were equipped with second hand microscopes donated by Canadian universities and Global Youth Volunteer Network (GYVN). These initial clinics are now self-sufficient. Low cost, high quality microscopes can now be purchased within the country. However, there is a need to open more clinics to effectively combat the increasing instances of malaria. Every year, about 4000-5000 blood samples have been collected and tested for Malaria. The total number of malaria tests performed currently stands at 14,512.

GYVN is continuing its partnership with the Relief and Development of the Baptist Church of Mizoram (R&D BCM) by providing funds for the expansion of these malaria clinics. New clinics are now being called ZoClinics. This expansion includes the building of more ZoClinics in other towns and villages within Mizoram, where the testing of blood pressure and diabetes will be included. The existing 49 clinics are being upgraded to include these additional services. With these added services, there is a need for training local technicians and an upgrade in equipment, such as microscopes.

Benefits and Impacts of ZoClinics
  • A total of 49 villages populating about 51,498 people have greatly benefited.
  •  In 2010, malaria deaths decreased by 50%.
  • Villages where ZoClinics are operational, malaria deaths have been reduced by more than 90%.
  • Expansion on testing for other health issues - typhoid, diabetes, and blood pressure.

 Farmers’ Sponsorship Program 

In Mizoram, 65% of the people are partially or fully dependent on agriculture. As the population increases within the state, the “slash and burn” shifting agriculture no longer allows lands to properly fallow and therefore dampen crop production. This greatly reduces farmers’ incomes, making poverty an inevitable reality as 30% of people are currently living below the poverty line (with an annual income below Rs.36000 or just under $900 CDN).

The Relief & Development of the Baptist Church of Mizoram (R&D BCM) hopes to implement a 3-year SALT Farming project where they yearly acquire 50 new slope hill farmers and assist them with farmland development using a sustainable, agricultural system through the education and training of SALT farming. SALT or Slope Agriculture Land Technology is an effective and economic farming solution. It minimizes soil erosion and increase crop yields. Farmers plant nitrogen-fixing trees to bind the soil, generate fertilizer, and provide food for livestock. Food crops grown annually and perennially can be planted in-between the hedgerows. SALT farming is an innovative agricultural technique as fruits and vegetables can grow on the farmer’s own lands, phasing out rice production on different plots of lands and increase a farmer’s to profits by 30%. The intended outcome of this project is for each farmer to establish environmentally stable and economical farms to ensure a sustainable livelihood.

Global Youth Volunteer Network (GYVN) has partnered with R&D BCM to help financial support this program which will support 150 farmers annually for 3 consecutive years. GYVN is launching the Farmers’ Sponsorship Program where donors will financially support one farmer participating in the SALT Farming Program and their family for $20/month for 3 years. A monthly donation of $20/month will go towards the farmers’ education and training on SALT farming, purchase of planting seeds, seedlings, and tools for maintaining a farmer’s plot of land.

Benefits and Impacts of SALT Farming in Mizoram
  •  Access to Legal Land entitlement
  •  Land entitlement chances will be created to poor farmers
  •  Restoring the environment, reducing the soil and tree destruction
  •  Labor cost for farming is reduced
  •  Improve the quality of seeds and seedlings to provide crop variety
  • Food security with regular source of income
  • Soil fertility will lead to improvement of socio-economic conditions for farmers
  • Income from farming can potentially increase to about 30% in third year and even up to 50% after 10 years