Sunday, June 29, 2008

Rural Health Start

We started our first rural health session this weekend. We had a decent turnout - 8 women. The hope was to start at 3:00, but it turned out to be closer to Peruvian time, 4:30pm. The topic was respiratory infections, a hot topic now a days that the weather has cooled down quite a bit at night and all the kiddos are coming down with these dangerous coughs and colds. I was very impressed with our nurse, Yardeni, who was very patience and composed during the whole session, despite the late start and different levels of interest among the women. We set up a 2 month trial period to test our rural health education sessions - so will still have two more months to go to see if we can rally more women and interest and education.

Friday, June 27, 2008


Everyone has a story. A heartache. A survivor of something. A secret that comes out when it needs to or when it finds a door to leave. This week I had very touching conversations with two of our loan recipients. Two women that have been working really hard these past couple of months, coming to our classes and making a go of their businesses. Two women, that from a casual conversation, you would never guess their heartache and struggle. Both of these women are older, retired, but are still working in order to support their families. Common threads they share and may not even know it. They both have husbands that haven't contributed to the family needs, money that goes to alcohol, absence that pains beyond the lack of material needs. Tears that needed to come out. Picking up bottles to make extra money. Businesses destroyed. Entrepreneurs by necessity. Possessing internal Power and Light beyond their own knowledge.

In listening to their stories and providing the small words of comfort and strength I could find, I can only wonder, what are the stories behind all the other women? Do they all share a similar pain? A similar light? The beautiful thing about these two women is that they show up. They are taking advantage of opportunities. They are why Discover Hope is here right now. They are going door to door to sell jewelry - jewelry that they learned how to make only a couple of months ago. They have strength. They have beauty. They have light.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Proud of my Macrame-er's

I went to pick up my Dad in Lima and life as I know it continued in Cajamarca. I left Cajamarca with one Macrame (knotting art) class under our belt. We had 10 women start a month long Macrame course (once a week) and what I witnessed the first class was the women learning their first knot and making bracelets. I missed their 2nd class, but when I returned to Cajamarca with my Dad for their 3rd class some of the women were working on their second belt! I was so proud. We have one more class to go next week and I have a feeling we may have to offer another month of class come July.

It is exciting that my Dad gets to witness all this cool stuff happening with our women. He is taking Spanish classes in the mornings and visiting my groups with me in the afternoon. Starting tomorrow we are going to start to squeeze in some touristy kinda stuff, like thermal baths and waterfall and window mountain hiking. My Dad has been a trooper as we both got some kinda of crazy stomach bug, but both got up in the morning and tackled the day, bugs and all. We are feeling better now and are packing in activities with the days that remain of his visit.

The women really enjoy meeting my Dad. Coming to Peru alone and living and working alone is a bit strange for people that come from a very family focused culture. They love not only meeting my "young" Dad, but I think also seeing another part of me. Just waiting for more visitors to come so that my women can put together all the pieces of my family.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Wool Dying Teach and Learn

Cleaning wool with boiling water....
Taking out yarn from our "coloring" pot.
If you remember a blog from a couple of months ago - there are members of one of our village banks that were learning how to dye wool with natural plants. Those same members were teaching others this afternoon how to dye wool. Teaching is the greatest learning process in my book, because of the transfer of knowledge that the teacher passes on reinforces the knowledge that one holds in their head. Priscilla and Andrea did a great job. They had this group of 6 women wrapped around their fingers. We cleaned their wool and yarn with boiling water, boiled the plants in a big pot, and added the wool for 1/2 hour to "cook" and absorb the color. We were hoping for a green, but got yellow yarn. The general consensus was,"not bad for our first time." The group learned that they need to gather more plants if they want to have a stronger color, their wool needs to be clean (no grease or poop), and they can easily dye wool naturally instead of using chemicals (which is how all of the women currently dye their yarn). I told the group that they need to try it again - see how it goes - and if they need help, we'll call the experts and get Priscilla and Andrea back in action.
Rinsing finished yarn/wool in canal next to house.
All finished, let it dry in the sun.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Taking out the Air

Last night I had a new, surprising cultural experience. Things still shock me after 6 months. I took some folks out to dinner that have been helping Discover Hope in various different ways, a Thank You chicken and French fries dinner of sorts. Dinner was great, we had great laughs and the mayo/ketchup combo for our fries was perfect. I was having a little headache at the end of dinner and everyone seemed to know exactly why. "Because of the air, we need to take some out..." I was skeptical, but everyone was in complete unison agreement, so I thought, "Why not, take my air out." Nidia then grabbed some of my hair on the top on my head and tried to pull it out. It didn't come. She tried again and again. Nothing. My friend Paola also had air, so Nidia did the same thing with her, but this time it worked. She pulled a very small bundle of hair out of the top of her head and there was a popping sound. Paola smiled with relief. Well it just so happened that everyone had air in their head and Nidia took care of it, everyone except for me. She said I was too nervous that is why she couldn't help me. You tell me, how would you feel if someone tried to take hair out of the top of your head?