Thursday, April 22, 2010

Podunk Below the Masthead (Wednesday, April 21, 2010)

A local woman reaches out to help her Philippine home town, Kitimat may yet see life at Eurocan and some optimistic numbers and plans from the Port, some of the items of the Wednesday news cycle.

Daily News, front page, headline story
LOCAL WOMAN HEADS BANANA PROJECT TO AID POVERTY IN PHILIPPINES -- A local employee of Northern Savings Credit Union, is hoping to fight poverty in her home town in the Philippines through an ambitious program called the Banban Banana Project, which seeks to eradicate poverty, idleness and gambling in her home community.

Some hopeful signs in Kitimat as a five year plan to bring back to life the Eurocan Pulp and Paper mill in that community, though in a scaled down fashion. The project which would bring back about half of the 535 jobs that were eliminated when Eurocan closed in February. The proposed rebirth would involve a wider regional reach potentially involving Coast Tsimshian Resources group of Lax Kw'alaams which holds the Kalum forest tenure, from which the proposed reborn mill would draw timber from.

The Kaien Anti Poverty Society is  set to host a major fundraiser this weekend and once again has found that the community has been quite generous in providing prizes for the nights activities.  Money raised from Saturday night's event will be put towards the  Family Support Service Program that the Society operates, without any government funding.

The Sports section features details of the Curling Clubs plans for hosting the mixed provincials in 2011, as well the Wednesday edition features a recap of the awards at the Prince Rupert Minor Hockey Association banquet last week.

(Daily News Archives for April 21)  

Local woman heads banana project to aid poverty in Philippines
New breath of life for Kitimat
Anti Poverty Society gearing up for fund raiser
Internal audit conducted on B.C. Ferries data collection system
Harbour Theatre's newest play

The Northern View
Traffic volumes continue to grow as Prince Rupert Port Authority unveils economic impact analysis-- Details of a luncheon address by Port of Prince Rupert President and CEO Don Krusel who outlined some positive figures and optimistic plans for the port (see article here)

CFTK TV 7 News
PRPA'S Commissioned Report Findings Announced -- CFTK's review of some of the key points of the Ports information flow from Wednesday (see article here), video report from CFTK (can be viewed here)

CBC News Northern British Columbia, Daybreak North
No new items were posted to the Daybreak North website on Wednesday 

 Daybreak North is only posting selected items on their website now. The most recently posted items can be found on the archive page for Daybreak North click here 

Daily News, front page headline story

Local woman heads banana project to aid poverty in Philippines 
By Monica Lamb-Yorski 
The Daily News 
Wednesday, April 21, 2010

A Prince Rupert woman is trying to help fight poverty in her hometown of Banban in the Philippines. 

The town is located in the central part of the country in the area of Buenavista. 

During a visit back home in December 2006, Nancy Edwards, an employee at the Northern Savings Credit Union in Prince Rupert , was dismayed to see there were even more poor people than the last time she visited a decade before. 

 “There was hopelessness all around,” Edwards recalled during a presentation at Rotary last week. “I was moved to hold a meeting with needy people in that community to talk about their conditions and how I could help them. With their input we decided that they could plant bananas.” 

Four years later, Edwards is the lead coordinator of the Banban Banana Project. 

The mission statement of the project, Edwards explained, is to eradicate poverty, idleness, and gambling in the community by bridging the gap towards a complete change of values and ultimate prosperity for every family living below the poverty line in the community. 

“We envision a better, peaceful and progressive community. A community where no one goes hungry, where every family lives in a decent home, where poor, but deserving children have access to higher education,” Edwards explained.

At the start of the project, 87 members of the plantation, started 6,662 banana trees in May 2009. These produced 30,376 suckers, which brought the total number of banana plants in the project to 200,038 late 2009. 

“Banana equals hope,” Edwards told the Rotarians. “Fifteen cents will fund an education. The proceeds of the project help cover students’ tuition fees. It also helps provide for some of the families in the community. I pay fifteen cents for every single banana they plant and nourish to fruition.” 

Once the bananas grow, Edwards deposits money for every banana into a bank account for the Banban Banana Project. Accumulated funds will go to serve the educational needs of the community. 

“We were convinced that this banana project would help fight poverty in the community. It will also teach and encourage the people to spend their time wisely by working profitably, instead of loafing or idly letting the day go by. It has been said if you give someone a fish he’ll eat on that day, but if you teach him how to fish, he’ll have something to eat for a life time,” Edwards commented. 

At the start of the project, she fundraised to obtain used clothing, shoes and other useful items for the people of her community. She uses them as incentives for the workers. 

 “Name brands are usually more appreciated,” she said as she showed a photograph filled with various Levi jeans. 

“They are showed off as the more expensive ones.” 

 To augment her fundraising efforts, Edwards sold shiskabobs with a couple of friends in Prince Rupert and picked chanterelle mushrooms on Haida Gwaii and sold them, dried and fresh.

Back in the Philippines, she also started a scholarship program, funding it through a vegetable and fruit program in addition to the banana project. 

The sale of papayas, alone, funded transportation costs for children to travel to school. 

Workers have built a fishpond on the property, to raise additional funds.

 “People there make the minimum equivalent of roughly five dollars a day for their labour,” Edwards commented. ‘Walt Disney once said, “all our dreams can come true if we have the courage to pursue them’, and I discovered this is certainly true. I dreamed of helping the people in the community I came from.” 

So far, she has been able to help two students, Donna Jane and Joven aka Budong, pursue a post-secondary education. 

“By giving them the means to get their education, I know in my heart that they will also help the dreams of other youth to come true. My goal is to teach my people, particularly the youth, to work toward achieving their dreams. 
By helping them to realize their potential and to be self sufficient, I’m also helping the development of responsible citizens for this world.” 

It will, she believes, aid in the fight against poverty and crime. 

 “Instead of cursing the darkness, light a candle and do something,” Edwards said. 

 In 2009, the mayor of the Buenavista, presented Edwards with a certificate, commending her in her efforts to help make the community child friendly.

Showing a slide depicting young teenaged girls, Edwards confirmed many of them are high school dropouts because of financial situations. “It is hoped we can help get these girls back to school,” she explained. 

Another slide showed a parade float where members of the project proudly show off hundreds of bananas they’ve grown.

 “Children in the project, when they find work, are asked to pay it forward to help other children reach their goals.”  

Edwards also hopes to build a library and a factory for processing bananas. 

Mariana Hulsen, a fellow employee at the credit union in Prince Rupert, said the Banban project is hoping to purchase pigs and chickens for the members of the project. 

 “The idea is to give each person two pigs. One for food, and one for raising food. They would have to pay forward and give to other members of the community. We want to do the same with chickens. What it costs in Canadian terms, is negligible,” Hulsen said.

Another initiative is to fund one person to attend university and study agriculture sciences for four years. 

 “We would pay the expenses with the understanding that once they graduate they would have to work for the project for awhile until the project is improved. At the same time, with the new profits, we would be able to educate more people,” Hulsen said. 

Edwards said there is an account set up at Northern Savings Credit for anyone interested in donating to the project. Edwards is also looking for donations of Airmiles, books, clothing, and other means of fundraising. 

 “You can help me or you may even come up with other ideas of how you can make a difference in the lives of other people,” she added. 

 When it was his turn to thank Edwards for her presentation, Rotarian Brian Munsen shook her hand and said, “you are making a difference, one banana at a time.”

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