September 2002

Building New Hope visitors to coffee co-op     You are the foundation of the Center. In our newsletters we update you on the progress and problems of our projects, but in this newsletter we want to share with you what wonderful things people with resources share with the projects.
    After our last newsletter where we reported that we needed a $30,000 hunk - one woman wrote a check for $10,000, a university congregation wrote a check for $15,000 and a past volunteer loaned us $15,000 (which went straight to the coffee co-op to keep them from losing their land as they wait for Building New Hope to sell their coffee).
    After receiving a thank you letter detailing the rolling of our Land Cruiser in a flooded arroyo, a woman donated stock to help us buy a new vehicle. One couple has loaned and given thousand of dollars to the farmers to keep them afloat. One couple matched all June gifts last year to encourage more giving because summer and fall are low contribution months.
    These are large one-time donations, but there are many gracious, generous people who give $5, $10, and $25 faithfully on their limited incomes and we depend on them. One nurse tithes to us. One couple gives a portion of their stock to us. We are in several church budgets. Many of you helped us buy the Center, which means we are secure now (see Woodworking Co-op article). Several couples as they started their lives together, thought of the Center and had alternative gifts come to us, while one dear woman surprised us by including us in her will at the end of her life.
    People donate other things as well - a church donated a bus; a couple, a truck; doctors and nurses, medicines and equipment (into the hundreds of thousands of dollars); delegations, office supplies; schools, computers; preschools, school supplies; the list goes on and on.
    Delegations and individual volunteers help in so many ways besides physical labor and medical/dental clinics. A delegation in May left us $3,000 in cash, which was an answer to prayer. Volunteers are our biggest shipping resource bringing items to us and taking items back. They've gotten involved in helping the women get t-shirt orders and the coffee co-op sell their coffee.
    There are businesses, organizations, universities that just help us make things happen: selling the coffee, ordering organic clothing sewn here, getting us news coverage, helping growers find markets for their sesame, building the clinic, and organizing Hunger Walks. Many take huge business risks helping the poor.
    Many people organize speaking engagements for us when we go back to the States. They host us, feed us, and help us physically as well as emotionally. Pat and Kathy go to new regions almost every year (this year to Michigan and Indiana). It is amazing how strangers will just open up their homes and how soon strangers become friends.
    Then there are the really special people to whom we can write emails and yell, "help" - about whatever - and they help.
    We get lots of help from people here. Other Nicaraguan organizations believe in what we do and so they bring groups here, look for funding for us, and serve as valuable resources for us. Businesses and pharmacies give us discounts. And one special business for years has fixed our ancient computers for nothing or next to nothing.
    Without all of you this Center would not exist. Pat yourselves on the back - you are doing important work.

    The Women's Sewing Co-op is readying itself for working two shifts, six days a week, to complete an order for Maggie's Clean Clothes of 30,000 organic cotton t-shirts in 30 days. As always, things go wrong here and in the States: people not sending the correct machinery; businesses reneging on promises; the cloth not yet here (3 weeks late as I write); and Rogelio, our construction maestro, almost cut his thumb off today when a storage container fell.
    But the women are learning so much. They're delegating jobs and responsibilities more and more like pros. They're learning to create a paper trail so that shirts don't "disappear" and so that they don't end up with 50 shirts finished and 712 without sleeves. And they are hiring and firing - a really tough job.
    The owner of Maggie's came down in June with a film crew. Instead of a 3-4 minute promotional, it turned into 11 magnificent minutes and they are talking about a documentary.

    The Concrete Construction Material Co-op is making block for 50 houses that a non-profit organization here, Arco Iris, is building. They lost the order for paving stones for our road because they refused to pay a kickback.

    The Filtrón Co-op continues to do great work making clean water filters. They are back-ordered until October.

    The Woodworking Co-op has completed some furniture orders. They make beautiful, simple furniture, mirrors, and other items. Paul, their manager and creator, does wonderful work with them. They have to move out of the place we were renting because it has been sold. For those of you who are new, a little history:
    When we moved to Nicaragua in 1994 our host organization FUNDECI negotiated a place, in our behalf, for the Center. The site was part of a dairy cooperative. Through the years we have sadly watched as the co-op has sold its infrastructure and died. Several years ago, they did sell us the Center site and the land where our cooperatives are located. But now they've sold their remaining land to real estate investors. We'd been renting a building on that land and were using the well - these we are now losing.

    COPROEXNIC, the Agricultural Co-op, is really struggling. Some farmers recently pressed their sesame into oil to save something of their crops (the sesame market has bottomed out). A non-profit organization, Building New Hope in Pittsburgh, PA, still sells the cooperative coffee - which is some of the best coffee you'll ever drink. Building New Hope's roaster is fabulous, but sales are slow. Send us email and we'll give you their address.
    The rains have stopped and we're praying for them to start again and be normal.

    The Clinic has had to freeze the number of chronic patients we treat (diabetes, hypertension, etc.) because with the Ministry of Health cutbacks we were adding 1-2 chronic patients per day. We don't have that kind of budget* or time (seeing chronic patients cuts down on time available for acute patients - mostly children). Saying no is hard, especially when we know there are little or no other options available. [*One day of clinic operations costs $150.00.]

    Construction on the Women's Center and the International Training Facility is at a stand-still waiting for more funds and a better cash-flow time. We cannot justify building a new building when medicines need buying, our Nicaraguan staff needs their pay so their kids can eat, and capital is needed to keep cooperatives afloat.

    Reflection ---
    September 11 - the one-year anniversary is coming up. We heard on the news that New York is planning a very fitting remembrance of the day. Ex-mayor Julienne will read the names at ground zero of those who died in the attack.
    During the war here in Nicaragua when people had died in battle, their names were called and people responded with "Presente, Presente, Presente." Not letting them be forgotten.
    The Vietnam Memorial Wall powerfully carries the names of the US soldiers who died violently in the Vietnam War - so their names will not be forgotten.
    But who remembers the names of the poor? Losing a parent, spouse, sibling, child in a towering inferno is no more painful than losing a loved one to poverty. Losing a loved one in battle is no more painful than losing them to poverty. All are needless deaths.
    And to add insult to injury - many who die in poverty die with no visible means of remembrance… children with no special toys for a mother to hold or no photos for loved ones to frame or see. We have been asked many times to go to a wake and take pictures of the dead baby-child-father so the family has something. We think of all the photos and flowers at ground zero and realize that here there are no pictures - they are forgotten.
Baby died - 2 weeks old
Name Forgotten     Gandhi said, "Poverty is the worst form of violence." Why? Poverty, like violence, can be prevented. It is crippling. It is destructive and causes death. But unlike most violence it is slow, hidden, and accepted.
    Poverty is an accepted form of terrorism. The threat of poverty terrifies people. It is a powerful tool to get the populace to do what you want them to do - Nazi Germany, an excellent case in point.
    So poverty is violence, as war is violence. Poverty is terrorism, only in an acceptable form.
    The question is - who remembers the names of the poor? When will their names be recalled?

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