Saturday, September 26, 2009

City Tour!

As all you DHF supporters are gathering in Austin to grow more support, I toured Cajamarca with some of our village bank women. The office of tourism invited us to participate in free guided tours of the tourists sites here in town to celebrate World Tourism Day. The women had a fabulous time. Many of them had never been to any of Cajamarca's tourist sites, although they have lived here all their life. It was an honor for me to walk the historic sites with them and a joy to see their faces full of interest and surprise. Many of the women that went on the tour are also part of our literacy circles. They walked around with pencil and paper taking notes because their teachers are going to quiz them next week. A class field trip - a total new experience for them! Pictured below are the women that went on the tour this morning; We are pictured in front of the "Rescue room" - the historic capture of the Inca king Atahualpa by the Spaniards that changed the face and course of Cajamarca and made it into the colonial city it is today.

Paz~ Nora

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Cake Bake Break

This wasn't our first cake bakery course, but it was our first bakery course in the Hope House kitchen. I found a new bakery teacher that was willing to bring all her bakery goods, including an oven, to the Hope House. We used 2 electric plug-in ovens that proved not to be the best option (but the only option at the moment). On Monday we made the cake mix and did the baking. However the electricity went out just as our cakes were finishing their baking. Even before the electricity went out one of the plug-in ovens broke.
So we had two semi-cooked cakes on Tuesday when we finished our bakery course. One of the cakes fell in the middle and the other one was lacking some "fluff." We decorated anyway. Blanca, our new bakery teacher, was excellent at giving step by step instructions and actually giving the students the bakery tools so that they could practice and get the feel of the different decorating techniques. Although we had some baking issues the women were satisfied customers at the end of class as they each got to taste the 2 cakes. Delicious! Perfect! And furthermore the comment that I enjoyed the most: "This class was like baking at home, better than when we went to the restaurant for (bakery) class, here it is like we are family and we are cooking together."

Despite the oven break, missing bakery tools and electricity shortage - it is better to bake in the Hope House compared to other kitchens. There you have it folks!

Paz ~ Nora

Don't forget your tix for Band Together for Hope!

Final reminder...get your tix for Band Together for Hope while they are still available. Sept 26 from 6-10pm in East Austin at the beautiful backyard outdoor venue of the Good Life Team! Limited tickets are available due to the size of the venue and they are selling quickly. Take advantage of the $25 online price by purchasing early.

$25 is less than a Saturday night out and for a great cause! Your ticket gets you complimentary food from
Cantina Laredo, drinks from Tito's Vodka, Tequila Azul and more, amazing music by The Mother Truckers and Stonehoney, and a great shared experience. 100% of the proceeds go to the work of DiscoverHope to create opportunities for women in poverty through microcredit and sustainable development training.

Follow @magszoe for Twitter updates day of the event. Rain or shine (although we know it will shine!)...we have large tents to provide refuge.

Looking forward to sharing a great time with you all,


Friday, September 18, 2009

Having a bad week? Just Knit!

Yesterday I brought my own knitting project to our scarf crochet class since it was a relaxed class and it gave me a chance to chat it up with our women. I found out everyone was having a bad week filled with bad luck. On one hand it comforted me that I wasn't the only one dealing with some disappointing and frustrating things, on the other hand my heart ached for our women.

Andrea, who milks cows and daily sets her milk in front of her house in her 50 litre steel containers, was robbed. Her two milk containers that cost $100 each have to be replaced and she has to pay for it. Lizeth and her husband have a combi and provide public transportation for daily income, but the combi van broke this week and needs more than $1,000 of repairs on the motor. Money which isn't easy to come by, especially when her children have been sick and in the emergency room this month. Nancy has three girls, all with chicken pox. Socorro parents are aging and ailing and she needs to find money to take care of them.

And so the conversation went...but slowly it turned into jokes and laughter and our problems were put in the back of our minds. Everyone was concentrating on their scarf. In another world. And there wasn't a problem in the room.

Paz ~ Nora

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Peruvian Planning

The energy that goes into Peruvian planning far surpasses planning I have ever had to do in the U.S. These past couple of weeks I have been working diligently to plan a trip for our women to the famous (tourist) co-operative Granja Porcon. Porcon is known for many community elements: reforestation, yummy milk products, textiles and above all of this the ability to run a community co-operatively. A number of the village bank women in town have commented about the desire to form a business together and rent a space to jointly sell their goods. So I thought what better place than the Granja Porcon to take our women on a field trip? Exchange experiences with the Porcon women and get a sense of the steps they need to take to jointly work together.

I worked on a number of official letters (oficios) - the only slow way to get things done around here - this month. One of the oficios I personally took up to the Granja (1 hr. north of Cajamarca) to hand deliver to the General Manager to ask for a group discount for entrance fees. After a month of back and forth Oficios we got our reply - YES, we were welcome, come, visit!

So I called yesterday to confirm that our educational encounter with the women was being set up and we could exchanges experiences and have time to ask questions with these savvy co-op women. The reply I got, contrary to previous replies throughout the month, we can not attend to you the day you want to come up. Pedro, the 2nd guy in charge, is out of town and so are all of his back-ups.

I kept my cool and tried not to yell to much at Pedro. Could he not have told me this in the beginning of the month? Before I signed up more than 30 women for this trip? Alast, my heart sank as I couldn't fight with the forces that be in peruvian planning. I had made a good faith effort, but this time my effort wasn't going to lead to a field trip to Porcon.

On a positive note, my dear friend and DHF rescue worker Vicki, came to our rescue. Vicki works in the office of tourism and she offered to let our women take advantage of World Tourism Day next weekend (when we were planning our Porcon trip) and take a free city tour of the tourist sites around the Plaza de Armas. It's not Porcon, but it will have to due for those that have their heart set on site seeing.

Paz (in your planning) ~ Nora

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Don't forget your Band Together for Hope tix! Sept 26 6-10pm

Dear DHF Family,
Don't forget to purchase your tickets for the 2nd annual Band Together for Hope event on Sept 26 from 6-10pm in East Austin at the beautiful backyard outdoor venue of the
Good Life Team!

Limited tickets are available due to the size of the venue and they are selling quickly!

Take advantage of the $25 online price by purchasing early. Your ticket gets you complimentary food from
Cantina Laredo, drinks, and amazing music by The Mother Truckers and Stonehoney, and a great shared experience. 100% of the proceeds go to the work of DiscoverHope to create opportunities for women in poverty through microcredit and sustainable development training.


If you can't make the event and want to support our work via donation, visit our DonateNow link at We appreciate every stakeholder that is part of the fabric of the work we do!

Looking forward to sharing a great time with you all,

THANK YOU TO Band Together for Hope SPONSORS:
501 Studios/"PEGALO"
Austin Management Partners
Cantina Laredo
Conversion Sciences
Dwyer Murphy Calvert
Fair Bean Coffee
Good Life Team
Jen Spencer Coaches
Law Office of Virginia W. Greenway
MotorBlade Postering Service
MS Music Management
Tech Ranch Austin
Tequila Azul
Tito's Vodka

Friday, September 11, 2009

Piggies and Bunnies

I went from one set of animals to another yesterday. I accompanied Tula to another health session with a different village bank. One of the women, Melchora, in this bank couldn't attend the health session in her own living room because she was monitoring the birth of 8 little piggies. I hear all kinds of excuses from women about why they can't come to meetings, classes, etc.., but this was the first time for me that little pigs were the excuse. Melchora was sitting guard to make sure the big pig didn't kill her new borns by squishing them as they fought for milk. It is a very amazing and cool thing to see little pigs on the same day they are born. They have skin like rats, but are so much cuter. They tremble and jump. They are clean! and so precious.

After witnessing the piggies do there thing I quickly made my way back to the office to monitor a 'Soft' course. What is Soft? Fluffy material (there may be a more formal name that I don't know of) that is used to decorate dolls, animals, etc... This afternoon 8 women were making bunnies out of Soft and decorating used plastic containers. The women loved it. It is a great way to reuse plastic containers that often find their way into the trash, or worst yet the river. A number of women told me they were going to use their new bunny to store their sewing material and try and make more bunnies so that they wouldn't forget how. Imagine a whole family of bunnies in the house! Augh.

It was an animal filled day. At least I could go home to the peace and quiet of no animals; no more alpacas on my front lawn, or mice in my bedroom and even Sexy, our spazzy barking dog, has calmed down.
Paz (in your own animal encounters) ~ Nora

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Hygiene Tips

Bathroom = Luxury! This week Tula is talking about personal hygiene with our families and how to set-up a Health Corner in our women's houses. Many of the women use outdoor latrines and don't have an indoor bathroom. This makes it difficult to have what we consider a complete and clean hygiene space with mirror, towel, and all our personal hygiene supplies in one convenient location. This week and next Tula will help the women set-up their hygiene corners with a mirror, towel, shelf or recycled plastic bottle for soap, toothbrushes, hairbrushes, etc.. Some of our women have already set-up their hygiene corner because they were inspired by other families who had implemented something similar from our Health Field Trip.

I learn something new everytime I go to a health session. The health session this week included a comical theater performance, hand-washing demonstration (which all the women were listening intently), and some great culturally sensitive tips: If you don't have deodorant, use lime! If you don't have soap, use ashes - which has cleaning powers when combined with water.

All this talk about water is a sore subject for me. For the past 5 days I haven't had ANY water in my house. It is an awful, horrible feeling not to have even a drip come out of the faucet. The problem was solved this morning when I awoke at 6am to the sweet sound of running water. I jumped out of bed to start cleaning! I wanted to take advantage of having running water, a luxury I would take for granted in the U.S. I know many of our families in village banks have these same water struggles and out of necessity are creative and resourceful to make their households run with minimal water. This in turn creates roadblocks to hygiene. But, knowing our women, they figure out a way.

Paz ~ Nora

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Interior/Exterior Designer

Meet Tula - Our fabulous Interior/Exterior Designer!!!
You have all heard about Tula in all my previous posts about the health project. But you haven't heard about her amazing interior/exterior designing abilities. She knows just where you should put your trash can to keep your house clean, where to put your pots and pans to avoid domestic animal contact, how to rearrange your guinea pigs so that you have more room in your kitchen. Really, any home improvement question you have - she is your woman. Our health project ends at the end of the month, so I am guessing she is free to make any personal house calls for a reasonable price. Let me know.

These past two days Tula and I have gone to visit some of our families that are the most behind on their house improvements. The majority of our families are using their stoves and are very happy customers while also continuing with their "house homework" to make their living spaces cleaner and healthier. However, we have a couple of cases of absence husbands = no construction, painting, etc..., houses with no income flow and kitchens without rooftops.
There are two families that have built their stoves surrounded by 4 walls, but no rooftop. These families were motivated to build a whole new room for their kitchen, "If I am going to have a new stove, I am going to have a new kitchen and do it right (and make all the improvements)." However, as their income is small and slow, the improvements have taken their sweet time. However, we are on a time crunch now. Our project ends this month. We want to see the stove actually working and where there is no rooftop it is hard to tell if the smoke is actually leaving the kitchen.
Another family is in a bit of tight situation - husband left his wife high and dry with two kids and kitchen walls that are falling apart. Together with Tula we are looking for a creative solution to help this family make improvements that the other families have already made.
Paz ~ Nora