The roof is going on the Women’s Sewing Cooperative! And that's not all! The floor is getting poured (four inches of reinforced concrete)! The sewing equipment is now in Nicaragua waiting to be released from customs! The electricity and water are all installed! The wall surrounding the property needs one more side and a gate.
The women are attending training classes for commercial sewing. We have a representative from the buyer coming down in May and a person coming to set the machines up. It's really going to happen! It's been a long, long wait for these women.
The Concrete Construction Material business is moving to its new space to make room for the volunteer dorm. The cooperative is pouring the floor for the women's sewing cooperative. "Pouring"? Well, sifting the sand, hauling the water, and loading wheelbarrow after wheelbarrow of concrete to the different areas of the floor -- a little harder than "pouring"! Think of doing all that four inches thick 40 meters x 12 meters!
The Organic Crop Cooperative had its 6th annual meeting of growers across the western part of Nicaragua. The cooperative is expanding to include coffee as well as peanuts, sesame, and honey.
From our last newsletter, you may remember the problem we had in processing the crops. The crops are now being processed.
FINALLY! We've gotten loans to help other small farmers by buying their conventional seeds, processing it and shipping it to markets in the States. Small farmers have been waiting since December for someone to buy their seeds.
We almost signed an agreement to rent a plant but the day before the bank itself closed! We are still researching how to begin our own plant in order to create a worker/grower owned plant so that workers and growers are not at the mercy of the whims of the owners.
The economy of Nicaragua has been in the toilet! Much of Nicaragua's economy is based on coffee and the world market has coffee beans at 60¢ a pound instead of over $1.00. Loans cannot be repaid to banks and so five banks have closed so far.
The Clinic was dedicated on March 14 while a Bucknell brigade was here. Stef and Athena Rogers, the president of Bucknell University and his wife, came for the dedication. Bucknell raised the vast majority of the funds to build the clinic in response to the need created by Hurricane Mitch in 1998.
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!
The afternoon was full of sick people, including one girl whose kidneys were failing. The Bucknell campus physician referred her to the hospital and much to our delight, she is now well!
We require bonos (coupons noting labor donated to the clinic) for exams and medicines. We've broadened our bono system to include community service like cleaning up trash in Nueva Vida.
We are expanding our services to include health trainings, a battered women's support group, and giving out vaccinations (provided by the government). We are looking for funds to hire a women's health doctor and a laboratory technician. It is difficult for people who have no money to get lab tests done.
We, the Friends of CDCA, have made as a top priority finishing the volunteer dorm. We are asking you to give a little more and help keep the staff from going crazy.
Last year the community had one night when they were alone and not hosting someone in their home/center. They live and work in the same place, so people are in and out all day. But at night when you or I are relaxing with our families they are still working -- hosting, answering questions, being "on." When they have a delegation they have up to 30 additional people in their home.
With the existing space volunteers have to wait a long time to use showers and to dress because we do not have separate women's and men's bathrooms. The beds are very close together and when one or two get sick (the inevitable) then people don't sleep very well and germs are passed easily. The new dorm will give people more space, more flexibility, and a bit more privacy.
It will take $16,275 to finish the dorm. The building foundation is laid and it has a concrete slab. On May 8, a delegation from Lewisburg, PA, will begin the walls. The CDCA needs a separate space for all the wonderful volunteers who come. Please help. If you designate a gift of $150 or more towards this project, you can also have a tile placed in the dorm in someone’s honor, by including that information with your donation.
Our most exciting Community news is that Jessica is graduating from Ithaca College May 19 with a bachelor’s degree in technical theater. Sarah, being in the States on her speaking tour, will join Jessica for graduation. Jessica plans to move to Boston and share an apartment with her brother, Tiff, find a job, and "get on with her life."
Pat and a volunteer who is also a Friend, Becca, are pleased to be attending a reestablished monthly Friends Meeting in Managua. On other Sundays she and Kathy still attend the Moravian Church.
We have hired a Spanish tutor for Daniel (8 years old) and Joseph (5 years), whom they love. We all continue to learn. Coury (12 years) corrects our Spanish.
We are building another little house on our property. Connie Potter and Jeremy Thaler are moving down part-time to work with the cooperatives.
On May 13, you in the US will celebrate Mother's Day -- on May 30, Nicaragua celebrates. Mother's Day here is a ½ day holiday. It is a day marked by celebrations performed by children, buses loaded with people dressed up and carrying cakes and children reciting poetry.
In light of that let me tell you of one mother, Zulema. Zulema is president of the women's sewing cooperative. She and 13 women have labored for a year with no pay! A YEAR WITH NO PAY! These are poor women ... and I mean poor.
They have built much of their factory building themselves. They pool their limited resources and create things to raffle to hire men to do jobs they can't. They work and learn for half a day and then scramble for the other half to find ways to make money, because their families have to eat each day.
Zulema has three other children besides little David. Why does she work so hard for nothing now? Because this is the chance in a lifetime to make life better for herself and her children.
She and other mothers have a great hope in this cooperative ... in a future, and that is a wonder to behold here.
Happy Mother's Day.