Calgary group partners with Free the Children to help Kamoda, India

Kamoda, India and human trafficking was the topic of discussion for a Calgary event aiming to create awareness and raise money about issues affecting people around the world.

Attendees of A Night of Hope 2012 packed the Nexen Atrium on 7th Avenue, downtown.

Every year for the past three years the organization Hope and Opportunity for People Everywhere (H.O.P.E) holds A Night of Hope, partnering with a non-profit organization to raise money for a specific cause.

This years Night of Hope was held on Saturday, Oct. 20 and partnered with Free the Children.

In the rural community of Kamoda, India many children are not enrolled in school and are regarded as a part of the Indian labour force.

Because of the lack of emphasis on education in the community, the hope with the Kamoda project is to provide business and skill development, as well as conflict resolution, to women in the community.

Funds raised will go to the development of woman’s groups, training in the community and the distribution of productive resources such as animals.

Women will be able to use their skills to be able to work with the Hope and Opportunity For People Everywhere holds A Night of Hope every year to raise funds for various charitable organizations.

Photo by Shannon Galleygovernment and other women. They can make a living and not have to worry about debts to lenders.

With the women contributing financially they will not have to give up their children as child labourers to pay off the family debts.

“We look for an organization with low administrative costs so that we know that the money we are raising is going primarily to what we want,” said Kristi Shehata, a member of the H.O.P.E organization.

“We like to have tangible projects that we can raise money for so that people who donate can see where their money has gone.”

Raising money for charity

In 2011 the organization raised over $20,000 for the Global Enrichment Foundation to sponsor four Somali women to attend university. They were also able to send food convoys for the famine there, which helped feed 40,000 people. Similarly, in 2010 the organization worked with Free the Children and raised $13,000 to build a schoolhouse in Kenya.

Devon Kennedy, director of operations for Free the Children in Western Canada, was the keynote speaker for the evening. In her speech she said there are lots of challenges in India. She said Free the Children wants to fight poverty through education.

According to Kennedy, 90 per cent of the child labourers in India are located in rural parts of India such as Kamoda.

“I like that they focus on a different community every year, it’s not just focused on one area and that’s it,” said Nikita Parmar, who attended the event Saturday evening.

Getting involved

H.O.P.E is an organization that was created by women, and through their various initiatives they choose to support women.

To raise funds, there was a silent auction. Attendees also had the opportunity to buy animals that would be given to the Kamoda community to help women with financial independence. By having an animal such as buffalo, the women in the community can make ghee to sell. Ghee is clarified butter and is a staple in Indian cooking. People could also purchase 50/50 tickets and cupcakes, all in support of the Kamoda project.

Actor Tom Currie read his children’s book “No Through Traffick” written for his two children and the victims of human trafficking. The book was written in such a way that was appropriate for children while still holding a powerful message.

Kristi Millar, step mom to three boys, also attended the event and said she came to learn more about Free the Children. Millar said this event was “quite inspiring.” She and her husband are hoping this will create some dialogue in their home and broaden their worlds – an experience to educate their children with.

sgalley@cjournal.ca