A Few Novel Ideas

There is a lot going on right now at EWB UWaterloo and EWB chapters across Canada. With EWB Day coming up on March 18th, lots of work needs to be done, and we need your help for a few initiatives. Everything I’m going to talk about today requires minimal work, but we need lots of people to help out with them.

First up is our giant Art Attack. You may have noticed several orange garbage bins across campus for coffee cups. We are collecting coffee cups to make a giant picture. Please drop off you coffee cups in any of these bins to help us make something HUGE!

Our friends from McMaster EWB are making a video for EWB Day, and they need more submissions. They want to highlight the spreading of ideas within EWB and how these ideas have led to a greater impact. All you need to do is record a short video clip of you passing the EWB light bulb from one side of the screen to the other. The extended deadline to do this is March 7, so get out there and show what EWB UW has to offer! For more details see the My EWB post here.

Erin Antcliffe, a recent Waterloo graduate and current EWB African Program Staff brought up a really interesting idea in her blog. It’s called “Development Digest” and is essentially a collection of interesting articles she found in the past week. I highly recommend you check out some of the articles for some fascinating articles. She is however looking for a better way to share these articles than her blog. In her words, “What I’d really like is a system where I (and others) can share links, then users can star or upvote to indicate which ones they liked. Think Reddit or Hackernews. Or something similar to Paper.li, but that only pulls links from Twitter. If you have any suggestions on a system that will do what I’m looking for, please let me know!!”

With the recent controversy surrounding Canada’s foreign aid. EWB has been very active in trying to promote transparency in The Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA). By signing on to The International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI) , Canada’s aid can be transparent as other countries such as the UK, Australia and The World Bank. A standardized format for expenditures would make it easy to compare the effectiveness of Canadian aid to other aid. The government is already thinking of signing on to this initiative, but they need a bit of a push. You can send a letter that you can personalize to your MP here. We need to let our government know that Canadians want more transparent aid.

More Video Details: http://my.ewb.ca/posts/83798/
Erin’s Blog: http://erinantcliffe.wordpress.com/
The letter: http://act.ewb.ca/letter

Picture Challenge #1

Have you ever wondered how life is different in Canada and overseas? We talk about some of the large differences between the two, but what about our motivations and inspirations as individuals? Well, this is something we want to find out! We recently introduced a new idea called the Picture Challenge to help learn more about Canadian and African Programs!

We asked you to submit a picture of someone or something that motivates or inspires you.

The results are in! Click on the picture below to see what was submitted from our Chapter members and our Chapter African Programs Staff (CHAPS) Erin Antcliffe. Below is her explanation of why her colleague in Ghana, Mustapha, inspires her:

Attached is a picture of Mustapha, one of my colleagues who is an Agricultural Extension Agent (and who you might have met if you came to conference this year!). He is standing with the leader of a farmer group that he trained in Agriculture As a Business. The picture was taken at the 2010 district Farmer's Day celebrations, where this farmer group won Best Farmer Group of the year, thanks in no small part to the work Mustapha has done with them.

It is really REALLY frustrating sometimes to work with the Ministry of Food and Agriculture in Ghana. Change seems to happen really slowly, and a lot of the barriers to change come from a higher-up place (national level or even donor policy) which is hard to get to. Some days I am ready to just throw in the towel and switch to an easier job. But then I think about Mustapha. He works SO hard to help his farmers, with very little recognition from his supervisors and very few resources. He is out there on his moto at 6am almost every day, visiting villages and fields and just chatting with farmers. He has built incredible trust relationships and people are constantly calling to ask for his advice. Little by little, he is achieving social change - getting farmers to work together, to buy better inputs and make smart business decisions about how they run their farms. He is changing Ghana, starting with his small area and working outward to influence his colleagues, his bosses, and those of us in EWB. If you had a chance to chat with Mustapha at conference, consider yourself lucky. He is one of the amazing Ghanaians who is actually changing the future of his country and he inspires me every day!

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