May 2003

screen printing college t-shirt order     The Women's Sewing Cooperative completed a large order of shirts for the Presbyterian Church, plus six small orders, since the last newsletter. They are screen printing their own shirts and getting better and better at it. They continue to learn better business practices (slowly but surely!) and seem to be working better together.
     They are waiting for the realization of a promised, large grant that will allow them to be able to get an inventory of cloth. If they get this money, work can be steadier and marketing should be easier.

     The Organic Agricultural Cooperative is in its 9th growing season. Sesame prices are finally coming back up, but all the processing plants in the country have closed. As a result, selling sesame is an unknown for this year.
     Honey producers have lost much of their production as many of their workers have gone to the U.S. to work cheaply for honey producers there. The coffee cooperative, El Porvenir, anticipates a good harvest (hopefully 50,000 pounds - last year they only produced 1,000 pounds).

     The Concrete Construction Materials Cooperative is working steadily, covering costs, and paying off a little of their debt. They are having a hard time with bookkeeping, so we still do that.

     The Clay Water Filter Cooperative went into a major slump. We have a volunteer, Bonnie, who is finding them more markets for their filters, so they are working again. When there is a natural disaster, then non-governmental organizations purchase lots of filters, but - fortunately for Nicaragua - we've been without a disaster for a while.
     They are discussing with a few potters the idea of their joining the cooperative. The potters were part of another cooperative (Cerámica Por La Paz) that recently folded. If this happens, the cooperative will then expand to include pottery as well.

     The Security Cooperative has added one member. We've had a huge reduction in theft since helping these guards own their own business.

     The Woodworking Cooperative is locked up and on hold. The boys who were learning woodworking were not responsible, and the volunteer overseeing this project didn't want to spend time teaching carpentry but wanted instead to teach marketing and furniture design. So we're in a holding pattern for now.

Pedro installing ITF tile The International Training Facility is coming along wonderfully and slowly. It is cooler than our house/office, with the huge trees surrounding it.
outside of ITF porch      It has a large meeting room decorated with colorful tiles given in honor of many people, a large dormitory room (both with concrete floors) and two large bathrooms with slate on the walls and floors. Surrounding two sides is a tiled, screened-in porch.
     Fortunately, with an additional $900 both large rooms can be tiled (and then mopped easily). Unfortunately, construction expenses have already run $4,790 more than contributions received for the building.

     The Web site is updated. If you have access to the internet, look up our website: It has lots of new information, new pictures, and a new layout thanks to volunteer Waxor! With this new site, we also have a new email address: Our old one ( also still works.

Jubilee House Community      The Community has been here for nine years this April. In those nine years within our community two children have graduated from high school and then college while three have started school. One child was born here. JHC pinata birthday party
     We've lost family and friends to death. We've gained friends: so many good friends. We've gotten to know hundreds of wonderful people who've come to volunteer. We've enjoyed hosting our families and many U.S. friends and showing them Nicaragua, this beautiful place.
     We've gotten older (hopefully wiser; definitely crankier and creakier). We see the world differently. In nine years we've made Nicaragua home.

     Volunteers assist in the Health Center in many ways. Lisa, a volunteer for three months, inventoried all our medicines and logged them into a computer program (developed by two other volunteers). She then taught us how to keep it current. What a labor of love!
     Cheryl, a third-year medical resident, came and helped in various ways as well as seeing patients. Lisa's mom, Dottie, saw patients and held an hour-long training on asthma for our staff. A medical delegation from Alaska brought medicines, and the two pediatricians and six nurses saw over 300 children in four days - four busy days!
     We have the help of nursing students being taught by Sue, our Nurse Practitioner, at a university in Managua. They learn as well as help. Soon we will have an ob/gyn on staff who will work in the Women's Center when it is finished.

pouring Women's Center concrete floor      The Women's Center has walls, floor, and plumbing. Groups from Lopez Island (WA), Peddie School (NJ), and Bucknell University (PA) have worked hard on the Center. An Alaskan nurse who works in women's health looked at the Center and heard the plans and pronounced it well thought out.



I loved the springs in North Carolina. After the dismal, gray winters - the air would warm and the flowers would bloom. I miss that. Here it is dry, dusty, and so, so hot!!
balloon hats at El Porvenir      But last week I had my burst of beauty up on a mountain that was extremely dry and dusty with buildings that were dingy and poor. We were doing a medical clinic with two doctors, while two volunteers, Josh and Lisa, were outside on the porch making balloon hats for about 200 kids. Silly, colorful, squeaky, explosive balloon hats. It was a burst of beauty - a burst of joy.
     Volunteers have energy and enthusiasm to spread that joy. They play Hokie-Pokie with kids or "Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes". They read to kids or draw with them. They bring silliness and fun to the heavy weight of poverty. And like Patch Adams thinks that laughter helps heal sickness, so we see how laughter helps lift the burdens of poverty.
     Becca and Paul, who work with us, would clown at demonstrations against the war in Iraq. They would direct traffic, mime silly things, juggle, and dance with puppets. They would bring joy into a deadly serious matter and show that laughter is an excellent way to teach, to mend, and to heal.
wall flower painting      We forget to laugh and get all caught up in the lucha (the struggle), so Josh made balloon hats for us. Gene, a retired Bucknell professor, kept us laughing about dismal world events. Brian, Lisa's dad, cared about our children and worked to lift their burdens.
     All volunteers spreading a little light - a little gaiety - a little joy. Thank you.

- Kathleen

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