Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Guatemala October 2015

Coming October 2015!
Old Guys in Action Ride across Guatemala for Mothers and Babies

The Need:
33% of indigenous women in the mountainous highlands of Guatemala have no access to formal prenatal/postnatal care. 
Maternal mortality is twice the national average; twice the UN Millennium Development Goal target for 2015. 
Malnutrition for kids under 5 is the 6th highest in the world.
Cultural & language barriers contribute to poor utilization of government health clinics. Clinics that do exist in these remote areas are crumbling, under-staffed and poorly equipped.

The Response:
CAUSE Canada, with over 30 years of experience in Guatemala, has been entrusted by the Canadian Government to manage a $4.4 million, 4½ year program that will directly benefit 68,000 mothers and babies and indirectly benefit another 160,000 men, women and children. The program will:
·         Renovate, equip and staff 57 Maternal Newborn Child Health (MNCH) centres by 2020.
·         Institute health training programs through local women’s MNCH committees.
·         Provide pre- and post-natal counselling.
Our/Your Part:
CAUSE Canada must raise $675,000 as part of this Canadian Government grant program and has asked for help from Old Guys in Action to raise $40,000 of that total through their Ride Across Guatemala for Mothers and Babies. Here’s the plan:

·         This October four Old Guys (Bernie, Ross, Andrew and Jeff) will cycle 300 km through the mountains of Guatemala, climbing over 30,000 feet (equivalent to scaling Mt. Everest) at altitudes as high as 12,000 feet.
·         The ride will raise awareness and funds towards CAUSE Canada’s MNCH program   obligation.
·         Old Guys will pay 100% of their own costs, so all funds raised will go to CAUSE Canada.
·         Donations are matched 6.5 times by the Canadian Government and are fully tax deductible.

Please help Old Guys in Action and CAUSE Canada make a difference. 

Give now to CAUSE Canada!

See below for how to donate:

Go online now to CAUSE Canada at

When you go to this site, you will see a form at the bottom of the page that looks like this example below:

You can also give cash, or a cheque payable to CAUSE Canada, to one of the Old Guys. Or mail a cheque to: 
CAUSE CanadaPO Box 8100, Canmore, Alberta T1W 2T8.

Don’t forget to reference Old Guys Guatemala on the cheque.

Friday, January 9, 2015

It Was Cool to be Cold!

It was another dilly of a dip! On New Year’s Day 2015…77 Dipsters and Distance Dipsters got cold and wet in the 6th Annual Calgary Icebreaker Polar Dip.
  • Costumes: Bombastic!
  • Smiles: Fantastic!
  • Jumps: Gymnastic!
Check out the event video, the Icebreaker Facebook Page and "Gallery” at  for great videos and pictures of this amazing event.

Best of all, generous people helped us exceed our $75,000 fundraising target for the great work of the SA Foundation. (Visit the “About SA Foundation” tab to learn more about this amazing organization).

Thank you to all sponsors, donors, volunteers, dipsters and distance dipsters that made this event such a success! See you January 1, 2016!


Saturday, November 15, 2014

2015 Calgary Icebreaker Polar Dip

On January 1, 2015 Do the Dip! for the SA (Servants Anonymous) Foundation and their fight to stop human trafficking and provide recovery program's for survivors of sexual exploitation around the world. The 6th annual Calgary Icebreaker Polar Dip is guaranteed to be the most fun you will ever have in a frozen pond on New Year's Day!

Do the Dip! Do a Distance Dip! Sponsor! Donate! Spread the Word! Come and Watch!
This year we're moving to Elbow Valley, just 7 minutes west of our site last year.
Visit for more information.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Sierra Leone Ebola Outbreak: Help by Supporting Team Old Guys in Action in the CAUSE Canada Canmore Rocky Mountain Half Marathon Sept 7, 2014

As Bernie said in the very first Old Guys in Action blog post, “You can’t just sit there!” Bernie Potvin, Andrew Lawson, Pascia Birch, Steve  Crawford, Tim Rowe, JoyAnne Krupa, Adam, Alexandra, Jon and Ross Weaver are joining together as Team Old Guys in Action to participate* in the CAUSE Canada Rocky Mountain Half Marathon and 10K Run. As a group we are committed to raising $5000 for CAUSE Canada’s efforts to stem the alarming growth of Ebola. CAUSE is uniquely positioned to intervene having worked in Sierra Leone for over 25 years, with knowledgeable staff on the ground and an effective strategy in place. Find out more
 All funds raised by Team Old Guys in Action at the Rocky Mountain Half Marathon will go directly to CAUSE’s Ebola Fund. Please help by donating through the Old Guys half marathon team page.
It's Personal! Most of the members of Team Old Guys in Action have visited Sierra Leone at least once and these have been life-transforming experiences. In 2011 Bernie Potvin with Jon and Ross Weaver cycled the 500KM “Tour de Sierra Leone”, raising funds for CAUSE Canada’s birthing hut program. Birthing huts target the horrendous rate of maternal mortality in Sierra Leone where at the time 1 in 8 women died in childbirth. Progress has been made and over a dozen birthing huts are in operation because your support. The birthing hut shown here with CAUSE Executive Director Bev Carrick has averaged 30 births per month for over 3 years including the twins shown in the picture below.

It is tragic that this country, devastated by war (1991-2002) and steadily progressing in the past decade is now the central focus of the Ebola outbreak. It is heart-rending that people we have come to know and love, CAUSE Kids that we support month after month, babies born in Old Guys birthing huts…their families and thousands more are now at risk from this incurable disease. Please help CAUSE Canada make a difference in this crisis by supporting Team Old Guys in Action in the Sept 7 run. Click Here to Donate!
*Note: Some team members cannot run in Canmore on Sept 7 but will complete their event where they are across Canada in the same timeframe.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Ken YA! 2014

 Four Really Good Reasons to Train Hard and Run FFFAAASSSTTT!!!


Three of the Old Guys will be travelling to Kenya in June to do trial runs and planning for the June 2015 900 Km Cross-Kenya relay run in support of Mully Children's Family. 
We can hardly wait! When we get back we'll pass on lots of information on the 2015 check back here this summer and book time to join us June 2015! Questions? Contact 

Friday, January 10, 2014

What a Dilly of a Dip! Thank YOU!


Few have dipped more times than Ron and none more dapperedly (except 'Breaker the Bear perhaps!) 


52 Dipsters on New Year’s Day
2 Double Dipsters
10 Distance Dipsters in the UK
2 Delayed Dipsters (Jumped Jan 11)
Many, many Wish They’d Dippedsters!

And generous people donated $75,000 for the wonderful work of the SA Foundation. THANK YOU!!!
The wonderful people at the SA Foundation are on the front line tackling horrendous issues associated with human trafficking in the global sex trade.
  • 15,000 women per year sold from villages in Nepal to brothels in India
  • Girls purchased from orphanages in Budapest and sold to markets around the world
  • Here in Canada the average age of recruitment into the sex trade is 13
The SA Foundation provides a home and recovery services to exploited women and their children in Vancouver, Budapest and Nepal and has been instrumental in establishing their programs in four other locations in North America.
Check out the Polar Dip and About SAFoundation tabs for details. And visit our new sister website: for everything you wanted to know about jumping into freezing water in Canada in January!


Monday, November 11, 2013

What's New?
  • A new website:
  • A new look and logo
  • A Distance Dip option: You don't have to be in Calgary or anywhere cold to participate!
  • The nice people at the Discovery Ridge Community Association have asked us to join them for a skate party at their new rink right after the Dip. Bring the family!
  • The nice people at Javino have invited us to warm up and fuel up any time after the Dip.
What's the Same?
  • Same date and place [Jan 1, 2014 1PM...Discovery Ridge Pond]
  • Our new mascot 'Breaker the Bear will be on hand to wow the crowd
  • It's still cold! [But the people are warm and friendly]
  • Same great reason to support the tremendous work of the SA (Servants Anonymous Foundation)
Follow us on Twitter (@Icebreak); Like us on Facebook (Calgary Icebreaker Polar Dip)

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Welcome to and!
Old Guys in Action was very proud to present the 4th Annual Calgary Polar Bear Plunge January 1, 2013. Plunge donors generously gave over $40,000 in support of our target charity, a wonderful organization, the Servants Anonymous Foundation and their work with victims of human trafficking. You can still give online at Please indicate "2013 Polar Bear Plunge" in the comments area.
  • Check out the Polar Bear Plunge tab for more information, videos and pictures related to the plunge.
  • Check out the About SA Foundation tab for more information on the Servants Anonymous foundation.
  • Continue reading the Blog Entries (below) for stories related to the work of the SA Foundation in Canada, Hungary and Nepal...and stories from previous Old Guys in Action events.
  • Finally, explore other tabs on this site to find out more About Old Guys in Action, our other events and the other organizations we support.
Thanks for visiting and come back again soon!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

The Reason we're Freezin': A True Story from Canada Plunge or Pledge to Make a Difference

She was a beautiful First Nations woman but she didn’t realize that yet. When I first met Sherry (name changed) she was angry, broken and insecure. This was her second time in our recovery program. I wondered if she could stick it out.

You see, SA Foundation’s recovery program is not for the faint of heart. For someone with an addiction and used to living on the streets, our rules are tough! Curfews, dress code, no contact with former street friends and the hardest one of all...hours that run 9 AM to 5 PM! For those used to waking up in the afternoon and going to bed early in the morning this is a huge adjustment. Not only that but you are forced to look at your past, deal with your abuse and exploitation, forgive those who have hurt you. Who would want to do that?

I’ll tell you who. It’s women like Sherry who have hit rock bottom and are afraid for their lives! Afraid the next trick will be their last! Afraid they will be tomorrow's news. They come with nothing to lose and everything to gain!

Sherry stayed with me for one year in the frontline house. She was a blast to live with! Funny, witty, strong and yes so beautiful! I watched her blossom in that year. Together, we celebrated her first New Year's clean and sober.

This past year I celebrated 11 years clean and sober with Sherry! I’ve also had the privilege of watching her become a dedicated wife, a loving mother and a strong, compassionate...and very opinionated leader in the First Nations community! Sherry is a real role model for other Native youth and women in our program. It is women like Sherry that testify, “the SA programs works!”

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

The Reason we're Freezin': A True Story from Hungary Plunge or Pledge to Make a Difference

Ilona was 16 years old when I first met her on stroll. Skinny, unkept and nervous, smoking a cigarette. Dark over-exaggerated make up covered her scared young eyes. 
Budapest at Night
Illona is just one of thousands of girls I’ve seen on the streets here in Budapest who was tricked into believing there was legitimate work waiting for her. Orphaned and living in poverty in Maldova she was an easy target for the pimps. Once across the borders, her documents were taken, she was beaten, starved and raped into accepting her new fate. If she ran, they told her, they’d just go and get her young sister. That was all it took.

 After a year on stroll, she still believed that someday she’d earn enough to buy her freedom and take care of her family. I knew better. The pimps would over-work her young body, making as much money off of her while they could.

Soon, her addiction would be out of control and her body too tired to work. Then, she’ll be thrown away and replaced by the next victim. This is the vicious cycle. I’ve seen it over and over again.  
The Hungarian team has reported that they do not know of ANY recovery programs for sexually exploited women in Hungary despite a large number of Hungarian women being exploited in and outside the country. This spring the SA Foundation Hungarian team will open the FIRST and ONLY long term recovery program for survivors of sexual exploitation and their children! As it is too dangerous to try and rescue women locally their focus will be to rescue and repatriate women being exploited in other European countries.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The Reason we're Freezin': Nepal Part 2 (true story) Plunge or Pledge to Make a Difference!

Sumi couldn’t move. Her whole body felt numb. If she could just get up she would go home and tell her mom she was sorry for disobeying her and going to the movie theatre. But she couldn’t. As her eyes adjusted to the dark she saw several other Nepali girls, all in various stages of consciousness. In the corner a man and a woman were arguing. Then the man took a large stack of money and left.

Each one of the girls was taken roughly to a small closet and thrown in. What happened next and what would happen for the next 10 years for Sumi is indescribable. Imagine the most humiliating, violent, invasive torture that no woman or child should ever know about, never the less endure.

The rest of the story though is nothing short of a miracle. For 10 years Sumi and her mother prayed. Prayed for freedom. Then one day, Sumi jumped out of a five-storey window and ran for her life. She found a construction job in India to earn the $25 needed for a bus ticket home.

Upon returning to Nepal Sumi found her family had moved from their home! She was crushed! However, thanks to the kindness of her former landlord, she was able to track them down.

You can imagine the shock and joy of her poor mother when she saw her daughter walk back into the compound after a ten year absence! Of course, she could hardly recognize her daughter. The one she remembers was a bright eyed mischievous 14 year old. The one standing before her was extremely malnourished; her hair thin and dry, cigarette burns marked her arms and her eyes old and tired.
But they would deal with that later her mother thought.

For now she has her daughter back and they would celebrate today!

Monday, November 12, 2012

The Reason we're Freezin': Nepal Part 1 (a true story) Plunge or Pledge: Help women like Sumi! Please.

It was Sumi’s first time inside a real movie theatre! She was so excited despite a bit of guilt she felt for disobeying her mom to come here. Her mom just doesn’t understand she thought. All Sumi does all day is work hard cleaning other people’s messy homes and washing their dirty laundry. Then she gives every rupee she earns to her mom. This month she just withheld 50 Rs. (less than a dollar) so she could go and see the new Bollywood movie that everyone has been talking about.

The movie was starting. Sumi couldn’t wait to see Shahrukh Khan (the Indian version of Brad Pitt) on the big screen. Her friend handed her a pop and bag of popcorn. Sumi sat back and began to relax, enjoying a rare opportunity just to be a fourteen year old girl.
Photo: National Geographic
She didn’t know how long she’d been sleeping! Where was she? It took her a moment to remember where she was last. Did she actually fall asleep during her first movie? How could that have happened?
Her eyes adjusted to the dim light. Her friend was sitting across from her. There were two other men in the room that she’d never met before. “Where am I?” she asked her friend. “You fell asleep in the movie she said and afterwards we came to my friend’s house. Here, have a bite to eat and we’ll take you home.” Sumi protested. “What time is it? My mom will be worried sick! I have to get home. Please take me home!” “Oh sure, we will!” her friend smiled, “just have a little something to eat.”

The second time Sumi woke up her friend was gone. Her head throbbed and her body felt numb. Where was she? And why she couldn’t understand the language. If she could just clear the fog in her head and stand up she could go home but she couldn’t move.

Her friend had sold Sumi to a brothel in India.

To be continued...

Wednesday, October 24, 2012


The work of Servants Anonymous Foundation is BLACK and WHITE.

The subject matter is as BLACK as can be imagined. No, actually I can't imagine the life the young woman describes in the true story below. How can anyone, let alone close family, betray a trust in such a hideous way? And the "strangers"...

But it is WHITE. Because SAF cares for young women like this. Gives them real love. Gives them hope and new life.
Be part of the WHITE side of this story. Visit our Polar Bear Plunge tab. Make a difference. Please.
At 13 my aunt told my parents she had found a good job for me in the city. Instead, she sold me to a brothel where I was told I had to satisfy the dirty and violent perversions of strangers until I earned enough money to buy my freedom...I was starved, tortured and gang raped.


Sunday, September 30, 2012

Jan 1, 2013 Polar Bear Plunge: Freezin' for a Reason!!!

It's official! The 2013 Polar Bear Plunge is ON!!!

We are very proud to be supporting Servants Anonymous Foundation's projects in Nepal, Hungary and Vancouver. The Nepal project tackles the horrendous reality that 10-15,000 young women per year are smuggled out of Nepal and sold into the sex brothels in India. SAF's Nepal Project is making an impact through village education and border monitoring. SAF cares for survivors of sexual exploitation in Nepal, Hungary and Vancouver, helping them to regain a life that has been so tragically marred.
Join us in supporting this Servants Anonymous Foundation. Check out the Polar Bear Plunges tab for more details.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

GO! Total Stranger, GO!

Way to go TEAM! All 16 Old Guys in Action runners successfully completed their races on May 27…and more importantly, helped in raising $16,000 (so far) for Mully Children’s Family. Thank you to donors who gave so generously to make a difference in the lives of former orphans and abandoned street kids in Kenya.

Amber, Kaelynn, Ryan and Liam: Well done! These kids put in the big KMs in the weeks leading to the Kid’s marathon, running the final KM on race day. What a great way to show you care for kids half way around the world in Kenya!
5 KM runners Ann, Gabe, Claire and Sophia; and 10 KM runners Sarah, Taegan, Jason and Dave: Thank you for your support and congratulations on races well run!
Marathoners on the team ranged from ultra-marathon veteran Nicki Rehn, to first-time marathoner Jon Kennard, to old and original Old Guys Bernie and Ross. Thank you all! Way to go!
Every runner has a story at the end of a race, especially a marathon. Our stories include cramps…lactic laced legs…chocolate gel packs leaking from running shorts (traumatizing nearby runners)...mantras of “it’s only pain, it’s only pain”…finding inspiration wherever it can be found to put one foot in front of the other, yet again.
I took inspiration from a sign I saw heading out at the beginning of the marathon…and again on the home stretch over 4 hours later. It read “Go! Total Stranger, Go!” The lady holding the sign was boisterously encouraging the runners over that whole period, as were hundreds of other cowbell ringing, noise-maker slapping, bubuzela blowing  supporters. They really did lift our spirits and helped us through the marathon mind-fog to keep going.
Just like the fans that lined the marathon route, all of us Old Guys runners and donors are fans of you, Charles and Esther Mully…and all 6000 of your kids! We love you! We think you have an amazing story. Each of you have overcome obstacles and have a wonderful bright future. We hope you are encouraged by our efforts in this race. “GO! Mully Family, GO!”

Monday, May 21, 2012

According to the Lycklamas “Everyone Should Have a Family”

Kaelynn, Amber and Ryan with parents Trina and Jason
The Lycklamas are an athletic family. Cycling, hiking, mountain climbing, hockey…and running! And the whole family are now officially Old Guys, supporting Mully Children’s Family in this weekend’s races.

Dad (Jason, AKA "the Machine") is running the 10K. Mom (Trina, a runner herself) will supervise Kaelynn (10), Ryan (7) and Amber (5) in running the Kids’ Marathon. The kids committed to running 41.2K in stages. They will run the final 1K along with the elite marathon runners on race day.

As a family, they’ve done an amazing job in fundraising for Mully Children's Family, home for thousands of former orphaned street kids. Thank you!

Why fundraise? Why run? According to the Lycklama kids, “Everyone should have a family and we should help those who don't have one to get into one."

Well put. Well done Lycklamas!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Calgary Ultra-marathon legend Nicki Rehn is an Old Guy!!!

Nicki is a nice lady...but a bit flighty!
I have always loved running.  It is the simplest form of adventure because all you need is a pair of shoes (or not even) and a place to explore.  I run for many reasons - for fitness, to compete, to explore new places, to push my limits, to decompress my day, to kick-start some creative process, to breathe fresh air, as a social occasion, as an excuse to travel, and for the pure pleasure of moving swiftly across some terrain.

I have done eight full marathons, two ironmans, eleven ultra-marathons (included one that was over 200 miles), fast-packed 1000 km across SW Australia, and represented Canada in long course triathlon.......and I feel like I'm just getting started! 

I choose to run for the Mully Children's Family because it is a way of bringing together my three great loves: Africa, education and running.  I spent four years living and working in West Africa and thus have a special connection to the continent and her people. And, at very my core, I am an educator. 

It a pleasure to support and represent this organization at the Calgary Marathon in 2012 by becoming an "Old Guy". Click here to sponsor our team and support Mully Children's Family!

Marathon Instructions: Put one foot in front of the other. Repeat 100,000 times!!!

Ross and Mini-Mully at Yatta, Kenya in 2010
Over the past 23 years, Charles and Esther Mulli have adopted over 6,000 kids! They currently have over 2,000 in their care...and Charles knows them all by name. Back in 2008 Bernie invited me to hear Charles talk here in Calgary. His story impressed me so much that I remember saying to Bernie on the way home, "We need to do something to help Charles in his work...I know, let's do a fundraising run across Kenya. To which Bernie replied, "Absolutely...I'm in! How far is it across Kenya, anyway?"

Turns out it is about 1000 KM. We've been training and planning ever since. The Calgary marathon is an important milestone along the way. After all, we need to be able to do this marathon without expiring if we ever hope to do over 4 marathons a week for over a month by 2014.

Thanks for your support and thanks to all the other Old Guys in Action: Team Mully Children's Family 2012 Calgary Marathon team members. One foot in front of the other...repeat (100,000 times!) Click here to donate through the Calgary marathon website!

Friday, May 4, 2012

Got to love these kids!

Two of the 2,000+ children currently under the loving care of Mully Children's Family. Bernie, Ross and Claire toured this home in Yatta in 2010 and were so impressed with the facilities, staff and programs. Water catchment basins and pipelines to assure clean water for drinking and agriculture, education and training facilities, reforestation and greenhouses...and so much more. But it was the tragic, yet heart-warming stories that made such an impression. Many of those cared for at Yatta are women who have escaped the sex trade with the help of MCF. They are being trained in a variety of trades that will put them on a new and positive track in life. Their children are fed, schooled, given medical attention and a real chance to blossom with positive role models. Their future is bright.

Thanks to those who are sponsoring Old Guys in Action: Team Mully Children's family in the May 27 Calgary marathon! If you haven't given yet, we'd love your support...All funds raised goes to Mully Children's Family and will make a real difference! DONATE NOW!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Old Guys in Action: Team Mulli at the Calgary Marathon. Join us and Run for a Reason!

Old Guys in Action is sponsoring Team Mulli in this year's Calgary Marathon. As a (soon to be) official charity at the May 27, 2012 event we would love you to join us in running the full or half marathon, 10K, 5K or...get your kids involved in running the Kids' marathon.

Runners will be asked to help raise funds for Mulli Children's Family, an inspirational family of over 6,000 ex-street kids, former prostitutes and aids orphans founded over 20 years ago by Dr. Charles Mulli. His is one of the most compelling stories of our generation (check out the "About Mulli" tab for more info).

Want to run? Stay tuned. As an official charity, Team Mulli runners can register at special discounted rates. Details to follow, but send us an e-mail at to let us know you are interested.

Want to sponsor a runner? We'll let you know how in upcoming posts. Thanks!

Winter Training in Calgary. Got to love it!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

The Plunge was Brrrrr-ific!

Thanks to the 23 hearty souls that jumped in the third annual Polar Bear Plunge...more than doubling the number of plungers from last year. Thanks also to:
  • Sponsors and donors who helped in raising close to $6000 for Mulli Childrens Family in Kenya
  • Dave and Javino for hosting to post-plunge party
  • Volunteers who helped to set-up, take down, film, canvas and count the proceeds
  • Shelley, our tireless Communications Director who coordinated communications, promotion and media contacts for this year's event.
Ron Isaac: Ice Fishin' in Style.
Got MORE pictures? Send them to us, we'll post them in the PBP Archives.
Bigger and better next year! Mark January 1, 2013 in your calendars. Spread the word. There must be thousands out there who are chomping to have the chance to chill for charity.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Update: December 10, 2011

Welcome and congratulations to brave volunteers who will be "taking the plunge" on New Year's Day!
Ross Weaver, Adam Weaver, Alexandra Weaver, Bernie Potvin, James Potvin, Gabe Potvin, Kate Larose, Colin Scheer, Karen Lalonde, David Wayne, Grace Corry, Ron Isaac, Preston Fabbi and Jason Lycklama.
More to follow in the coming days.

Follow us on Facebook:  for details, videos, photos and more

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Do You Dare to Bare???!!!

3rd Annual Polar Bear Plunge! January 1, 2012 2:30PM

We're at it again!

Where? Pond above waterfalls, behind 329 Discovery Ridge Blvd
Why?     To raise money for Mully Children’s Family: Home of over 2000 orphans rescued from urban slums in Kenya. Pledges welcome and tax receiptable.
Can I Plunge?   Can I Watch?    Can I Donate?

Yes! Yes! Yes! Details to follow soon!

At age 6 Charles Mulli woke in his Kenyan village hut to discover his parents had abandoned him.  He went from hut to hut begging for food and scraped out a meagre existence. After years of struggle, Charles worked his way out of poverty, married, raised a family and excelled in business, becoming one of the most successful entrepreneurs in Kenya. At the height of his career, Charles felt convicted to give away all his resources to help street children from slums in Kenya. Twenty years later, Charles and Esther Mulli, their biological children and MCF staff have rescued over 6,000 street children from lives of abuse, addiction and abandonment. (Cdn Foundation) or

Monday, May 23, 2011

Tɛnki, Tɛnki!

The Old Guys are home safe and sound!
We’ve had about a week to reflect on the amazing experience that was
the CAUSE Canada Tour de Sierra Leone.
Here are a few of our thoughts as we process the experience.
1. First, we are tremendously grateful to you (and about 150 others like you) who recognized the need and responded to the opportunity to make a difference to many thousands of women and their families in Sierra Leone. We are truly humbled by the response and support you have provided. At time of writing we were within a few thousand dollars of our stretch $50,000 goal…and have every expectation this target will be exceeded. Thank you so much! 

2. The birthing hut program will make a difference. We saw these huts in operation and met some of the Maternal Child Heath Care Attendants. The huts are well constructed and equipped. The attendants are dedicated and trained. On average 25 at-risk women use the services of each of these facilities on a monthly basis. At over 250 women per hut per year, times the 12-15 that will be built because of this initiative, over 3000 women will have dramatically higher chances of surviving and thriving through childbirth…each year. 

What’s more, CAUSE Canada has applied for matching grants for the funding provided through the Old Guys in Action initiative. We anticipate that your donation will be matched on a 3:1 basis. This means your donation will make three times what is already a very significant impact!

3. The issues that led to Sierra Leone having the highest maternal mortality rate in the world (1 in 8, versus 1 in 11,000 in Canada), are complex. They are the product of history, culture, war, poverty and other factors. Birthing huts on their own will make a big difference, but we applaud holistic approach we witnessed that CAUSE Canada is taking involving education, women’s literacy and empowerment, nutrition and health training, agriculture, clean water and micro-enterprise. CAUSE’s long-term commitment with its national staff and community leadership and involvement are having a sustainable impact. 

At a more macro level, we were encouraged to see an increased level of economic activity, investment in infrastructure, and focus on local and national governance that bodes well for the future of the country. At the airport as we were leaving the country, Paul Carrick, CAUSE Canada Founder ran into a former CAUSE national staff worker. He had worked for CAUSE at a refugee camp after the war and honed his leadership abilities to the point that he was subsequently hired by the UN in Sierra Leone. Fast forward…this gentleman has since earned a PhD from England and holds a leadership position with the UN with responsibilities in other countries in Africa. A good news story where investment in good people at the local level by CAUSE Canada is having a significant international impact.

The purpose of Old Guys in Action is to provide opportunities to Learn, Engage, Network and Support best-in-class organizations working to address complex development issues. CAUSE Canada is such an organization. We feel privileged to have partnered with them on the Tour de Sierra Leone, and we encourage you to continue supporting CAUSE Canada on an ongoing basis.

On behalf of “Old Guys” Jon, Bernie and Ross, 
CAUSE Canada staff in Canada and in Sierra Leone 
and the many thousands of beneficiaries of your generosity…
as they say in Krio…
Tɛnki, Tɛnki!