The Women’s Sewing Cooperative has completed its first orders. Bená Burda, the owner of Maggie’s Clean Clothes, came to meet with the women in May. She was impressed with the strength and determination of these women. She bought their first product, a hair scrunchy made from an organic t-shirt she had with her.
We are putting their logo on many of the shirts.
The women still need about $20,000 more in machinery to be able to sew all the designs that customers want to order. This money will be a loan that they repay, which will then get other businesses started (we have three other businesses waiting for funding). If you can help, please do - these women have worked so hard and waited so long.
Volunteers from all over the U.S. (and one from Ireland) have graced our home and our work. In May we hosted a delegation from the “Friends of Bucknell”. They were alumni, faculty, one student, and spouses of faculty at Bucknell University. They officially began the volunteer dorm hand-mixing the concrete.
In June, a brigade from Highland Church in Maryville, TN, came. They continued the work on the dorm and also painted murals on the clinic wall with the children of Nueva Vida. Their murals, and one created by Gloria Murdock (Kathleen’s neice), have brightened up the clinic area.
We have also hosted 15 other wonderful volunteers, who have worked in the clinic, built on the dorm (but this time with a luxurious cement mixer!), dug latrines, picked up garbage, planted trees, mapped for our organic growers, and done community education.
Health care is not sustainable. In all of our development work we struggle to implement sustainable development projects, but health care is not one of them.
Poor people cannot provide adequate health care for themselves. It’s true in the U.S. and it is even more true here in Nicaragua. But poor people can contribute for services given.
In our health clinic people are treated either in exchange for a bono which represents a donation of a half-day of volunteer labor to the Nueva Vida community or for a donation of 30 córdobas (the equivalent of an unskilled laborer’s daily wage of $2.20). The labor is encouraged… cleaning up trash, attending health education classes, and working hard at school are just some of the ways to earn bonos. We, of course, also make some exceptions.
Who do we see? We see women and children mostly, but we do treat men (many clinics do not). We see acute illnesses - lots of respiratory problems, bladder infections, diarrhea, earaches, etc. We are seeing more and more chronic patients: asthma, hypertension, diabetes, epilepsy.
We have on staff one Nicaraguan doctor who works afternoons (whose salary is supported by a U.S. doctor), a nurse practicioner two days a week through the Mennonites, a full-time volunteer nurse, a full-time medic, a social worker counselor, a receptionist / cleaner, and a community promoter who oversees the bono system.
Our volunteer nurse has organized the clinic so that patients get classified as to the seriousness of their illnesses and receive an appointment for that day. As a result, the lobby is muy tranquilo (calm), as they would say here.
The clinic is a wonder and a struggle. The need is great. We could use an ob/gyn for the increasing number of pregnant women, a lab technician for all the necessary lab tests, a dentist for Nueva Vida which has none, and a health promoter to go house-to-house teaching people public health issues.
But we are going further and further in the hole financially. Medicines bought each month cost close to $1,000, and we are limiting what we buy. Staffing runs $1,000 a month. Then we have cleaning and office supplies, bills, etc. We have only $500/month pledged in receipts.
Today a son pushed his 87-year-old diabetic mother a mile to the clinic in a hand-crafted wooden wheelbarrow cart (she sat on a little stool) to see the doctor, get her ulcerated foot treated, and receive her diabetes meds and some ibuprofen for her arthritis.
Also a mother came and received soy beans for making soy milk for her 3-year-old malnourished little boy. He was so thin and small. Soy for protein and calories, vitamins and iron - and antiparasitics to kill the parasites eating what little she could find to feed him.
Please help us help them. Without you - without us - without that clinic - who knows what would happen?
The Community was saddened by the death and loss of Thomas Earl Woodard on 8 August 2001. T.Earl was Mike’s father and grandfather to five in the Community, so our family grieves.
“Don Tómas” (Thomas Earl) lived with us for awhile down here. He endeared himself to many Nicaraguans, especially to the women in the Sewing Cooperative. He would go out every day taking them coffee and talking with them about their building process. He spoke in English and they in Spanish and yet the barrier of language was broken.
Thomas Earl is survived by his two sons, Mike and Tom, 14 grandchildren, two sisters, a brother, and a host of friends.
We will miss you, Daddy, Granddaddy, Thomas Earl, Don Tómas.
Nicaraguan News in Brief:
Coffee prices for growers are at an all-time low $0.60/pound. As a result of this crisis, growers have lost money and cannot pay their debts, including their workers’ wages. Hunger is a major problem in a fertile area because poor coffee workers are unpaid and much of the land is used for coffee production. The festivities included folk dancing, children singing, piñatas, speeches, ribbon cutting, and a beautiful bronze plaque presented to us by Bucknell. The morning was full of joy!
Nicaragua’s sixth bank has closed. (Fortunately for us, our main bank is still operating.)
On top of this, much of Nicaragua’s farming area is affected by droughts.
The Nicaraguan presidential elections are this year. As other political parties exchange their own stronger candidates for weaker candidates, the race is deliberately narrowing down to two main political parties: the Liberales, the current government, and the Sandinistas.
How many of you, like me, love the ritual of brewing, smelling, pouring, and drinking a cup of coffee in the morning? There’s enough of us, for certain, because next to oil, coffee is the second highest commodity exchanged worldwide.
nbsp; Banks, in a country struggling to survive, are closing and foreclosing - thanks to “business”.
Growers who produced coffee are losing their land because they can’t make payments - thanks to “business”.
We have small growers contacting us constantly, wanting us to sell their coffee for them. We have good people in the States selling their coffee for us. We pay $2.00/pound for organic coffee and we sell it for almost double. We’re barely keeping up with the costs because of all the export laws on coffee. Coffee smells fill our house/center as we take in 100-pound bags. Emails fill our mail box of wonderful people getting us in contact with buyers up there who care. And growers’ eyes have hope when they leave our center. That is good business.
The Friends of CDCA asks your support for the volunteer dorm / meeting area project. Currently in place are the foundation, the first floor support pillars, and some of the walls.
With money in hand we can complete the walls, plumbing, and electricity, but not the roof, windows, doors, and flooring. We have cut costs by using volunteer labor and Excluding the second floor, paint, and flooring tile.
If you'd like to help, please designate your contribution for this purpose. (For gifts of $150 or more, a decorative wall tile can be made. Please indicate the name to go on it.)
Goal: $19,400. In-hand: $8,500 to date 20 August 2001
Kathy and Pat will be speaking in Iowa this fall, October 12 - November 9. They will also be in North Carolina November 26 - December 2. Please contact them if you would like to see the CDCA slide show.
The Angel Tree concept is to counterbalance the commercialization of Christmas by decorating a Christmas tree with wooden Nicaraguan ornaments and then selling the ornaments as Alternative Christmas Gifts. This year the proceeds will go to help the clinic. If you would like to aid the people of Nueva Vida and return some meaning to Christmas by sponsoring a tree in your church, civic group, or school group, then please let us know quickly.