Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Nora's visit and Building Homes of Hope

DHF had a wonderful whirlwind weekend under the rainy Texas skies. On Friday I picked Nora up from the Austin airport on a leg of her homebound adventure from Peru for graduation, reunion, and a best friend’s wedding. We smiled widely at one another as I know that feeling of setting grounded foot back in the USA after being gone from quite sometime. Nora and I spent the day together sharing news from the field in Peru and headquarters in Austin. She dumped her overweight suitcase out on the family room floor and I enjoyed the beautiful women’s products she brought back with some new latest and greatest items: plant holders, hand woven placemats, and rings. I am constantly amazed at the ever improving work of the women and how they are integrating our feedback into their colors and styles. In Peru, Nora organizes artisan classes for both local and international, so the women can attend either or both based on their desires to produce.

Nora and I shared a Mexican lunch; this is one of the foods missed most by all of the travelers I have known that live in Peru for long-term. There is a misnomer that Peruvian food may be like Mexican or even Central American. Missing from any Peruvian store: cheddar cheese, refried beans, and black beans! If you are a Mexican food fan, this is a travesty and can cause some serious daydreaming. Of course, I wanted to fulfill Nora’s desires for Mexican ASAP.

At 3:30pm after a quick day of discussion, I dropped Nora back off at the airport to fly onward to her sister’s graduation in Kansas. I was sad to not be able to spend more time together, but knew that serious joy was ahead of her. Nora left me with her beautiful handmade wedding invitation nestled in a hand sewn Peruvian pouch. I am so excited to marry her and Hugo in Cajamarca, as she asked me to share in this honor for them on Jan 2, 2010.

At 5:30pm, the memory of Nora lingering, our amazing DHF volunteers Enea and Kayleigh came over to organize women’s jewelry for our “Building Homes of Hope” event the next morning. One advantage of this volunteer job: you get to pick your jewelry before anyone else! Over snacks we worked for 3 hours together to beautify the women’s creations by organizing, hanging, and arranging the pieces.

The next morn, Sat May 16, I was off to the home of John/Renaye Thornborrow to set up for our Building Homes of Hope event. This journey was a wet and slow one, as the skies opened up with serious rainfall for most of that day. The absolutely incredible volunteers of DHF helped us re-configure the set up of the event due to the relentless rain. At 4:30pm, we welcome the first of our approximately 50 guests and enjoyed the inspired evening together. Our brilliant guests donated approximately $5000 for our healthy homes initiative, development education classes in the Hope House, and microcredit work.

We are still seeking to complete our Healthy Homes funding initiative that focuses on our work with the poorest of our women in our village banks in Cajamarca. This project was funded in large part by
Firland Foundation of WA State, but we need approximately $1000 more to supplement this for full payment of the project.

This initiative is 7 months long and provides a nurse educator to the family, building of corrals for animals, brick stoves for the kitchen, plastic skylight for natural light and circulation of toxic wood-burning gases, and three family health lessons a month on critical subjects like boiling water…all in the name of reducing respiratory illness and malnutrition in children and families. We know there is no need for children or their parents to become gravely ill or die from these absolutely preventable illnesses.

Here are examples of women in their houses and what their homesteads look like. If you are interested in helping us complete this funding initiative, write anytime to or click here for the DonateNow link.

To a beautiful beginning to your summer, MM

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