Thursday, October 30, 2008

Mini export experiment

We had what was our last BUY DAY with Discover Hope Fund in the Afider office. Two of my good friends were visiting this week, so they really helped out with all the chaos. We had 15 women participate with bags, purses and jewelry - more than our other Buy Days. I might have to re-think how we organize Buy Day to make it run more smoothly. At the end of the night we had spent 1, 465 soles - which is more than 600 bucks. If I didn't have help I don't know how I would have done it. We had the women label their goods and then we went around the table and picked some of the best designs to send back to the U.S. I felt like Santa Clause leaving the office; we had two huge bags of goodies. I hope someone in the U.S. will not only appreciate the work the women did in creating the jewelry and bags, but all the work that goes into picking, labeling, stressing that every women sold something, and finally packaging it all up. It is a lot of work - this mini-export experience.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Evaluation pictures

I kinda put behind me the fact that I am soaking wet, cold and tired... when I see the faces on women that have taken pictures of their lives, themselves and things important to them, all the other stuff kinda fades away. DHF is doing a type of Photovoice evaluation with some of our village banks. The women have seen me take pictures all year. They turn their heads, smile, show a grin of embarrassment. I show them the photo on my digital camera, but that is where the photo stays. The idea of photovoice evaluation is giving the women another way to express themselves besides just answering evaluation questions. And I have been surprised because all of the groups (6 so far) that I have approached this year, not one of them has used a camera before. I told them this is their chance to become a photographer, show the world their world. At first there was some hesitation and uncertainty(from the women) about being able to take pictures. But so far we have had a decent turnout and good conversation around the photos. (Note the great pig photo from Angelica in La Perlita Village Bank)!

Friday, October 17, 2008


Give you a little taste of classes this week (pun intended). Our same super bakery teacher from last month offered a cooking (appetizer) class this week. Two days. 10 appetizers. We had a small group of 9 women. They worked hard getting their hands dirty to produce some really delicious appetizers, through the direction of our teacher Luisa. Like our bakery class, the women hope to use these new recipes as an additional income generating activity. Of course they won't start off right away this weekend being contracted for parties - but if they start practicing with family and friends the "word will pass" that they are good cooks and can hopefully start a domino effect to attract more paying customers.
P.S. on an unrelated cooking note - 6 out of 8 of out literacy students passed their first literacy test with flying colors last week. That is SUCCESS! The two didn't quite ace the test don't feel so bad, because as they say, "at least now I am write my name and my ID number - I couldn't do that before." Again, SUCCESS.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Bags for export, Literacy tests and everything inbetween

The past couple of days have been filled with lots and lots of stuff. It all blends together and becomes part of the struggle to create hope.
Evaluation starts. Interviews. Questions. Reflection.
How has Discover Hope changed your life?
I have more skills. I can make a little bit more money.
Sewing artesian bags - another skill, another group of chaotic women and screaming kids.
One sewing machine breaks.
I take the combi back to Cajamarca late at night with our teacher, Socorro. Pay her in the dark.
The group starts to take their test just as the rain decides to fall.
The rain finds it's way through the tin roof that has sporadic holes.
What, you don't like the color of the ribbon? That's the only color we have.
These are the colors that North Americans like.
Hope you participate in our Buy Day - we want to show the world what you are learning.
Walking down a dirt road - hoping all the students are present today. Big day. Test day.
One women struggles with her literacy test - she can not finish, but she can write her name.
Exhausted with videos, pictures, and small stories of hope.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Pantalones hechos

Completed pants. After our sewing blouses and skirts there was a huge outcry for sewing pants. That outcry turned into 7 students, 5 of which actually came, made paper pants molds and ultimately sewed their pants. The small group we did have worked really hard and were asking for more pants designs at the end of our third class. This month in October we won't be offering a sewing class - there are other classes we are offering and our year long evaluation has started. One program manager can only do so much. But, I know that some of our most excited students will continue to visit our teacher Rosario, as she has offered an open invitation to visit her house and get sewing advice.

Our classes almost always include little kiddos. Here in this pic you can see Rosario's son. Sometimes (no, most of the time) the kiddos provide for a very chaotic learning environment, but at the end of the day, well the women are in class for their kids. They want to be able to make pants for their children, save money, and give them a better future. So, I figure, if the women can handle the chaos - I can handle the chaos. And it is good for the kids to see their mom's learning new things. Just can't forget the Ibuprofen at classes!