By Tori Wong
I first met Rainbow when I and a group of peers in high school participated in one of HOPE International’s overseas trips. We went to Ethiopia to see how money raised by a local fundraiser, the Run for Water, contributes to local and sustainable development of deeply rural villages in southern Ethiopia. Rainbow is a Program Manager for HOPE International Development Agency, a local NGO based out of New Westminster. Her role at HOPE focuses on its overseas programs such as staying in contact with projects and staff overseas and coordinating with them to determine how the head office can best support them. Rainbow also communicates with donors who are supporting children and families as well as occasionally bringing groups of students to project sites to learn more about poverty, development, and what these look like on the ground.
Rainbow graduated from UBC in 2007 with a degree in Global Resource Systems, after which she took a course in rural development in Uganda, which started her focus on rural development as a career. She first began at HOPE as a volunteer, but then moved on to work in the International Development and Community Services department at the YMCA. Rainbow returned to HOPE after completing her Masters in Peace Education, this time in a more permanent capacity. As university students, we are always told that volunteering and networking are valuable in shaping our future careers. At times, it’s difficult to know where to network or how to meet people, but joining clubs, attending speaker events or documentary showings, or researching and contacting NGOs about volunteer or internship positions are great places to start. Volunteering is always a positive, at the very least in terms of experience and knowledge building as well as getting to know people in the industry.
One of the reasons I wanted to speak with Rainbow is because I believe a number of students interested in development work may shy away from the NGO and voluntary sector because it is not as lucrative as government or diplomatic positions. In response, Rainbow simply stated “at the heart of it, it’s what you want to do. I feel very privileged to be a part of what HOPE does…if that’s what people want to be a part of, that will be the reason for being in this field of work”. She admits that some days, work will be fighting the printer and doing budget reports and finances, but when she gets to hear stories of progress and transformation from HOPE’s overseas projects, it really reiterates why she’s doing what she’s doing. Most of the work that HOPE does is at their head office in New Westminster because they have local staff managing their overseas programs on the ground. Activities and tasks include fundraising, education, facilitating donor communications, and coordinating with staff to ensure that overseas projects have the support that they need. Now and then, Rainbow will visit projects such as those in Ethiopia or the Dominican Republic, but a lot of what needs to be done is done through communication.
If you would like more information on HOPE as an organization, follow the link to see the kinds of projects and work that they are currently managing.
For more information on the IR Coffees program, please visit our website.