Friday, October 30, 2009


Trying a new craft with present knowledge. Women in Peru Knit. Crochet. Sew. But, DiscoverHope women before yesterday didn't know how to combine all three skills to create a Yute Bag. Now they do.

Yute is a natural thread that has become popular in Cajamarca for making artisan bags. DHF women have learned how to make bags out of artisan hand woven material, but haven't actually crocheted a bag before. This afternoon we had 15 Yute Bags completed, some of which were already "sold" before they were finished. Our participants had advertised their bags to family and friends before they were actually done. That's business in Peru for you. Hey, if our DHF class means more business for the women, mission completed and I am happy.
Paz ~ Nora

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Bocaditos Baker Trouble

Let me explain: Bocadito Baker Trouble = Plug-in ovens that take FOREVER to cook appetizers.
Yesterday DHF held an appetizer (bocadito) course where women learned how to make three different types of appetizers. It was a chaotic course. First, the rainy season started in Cajamarca about 2 weeks ago, and the rain yesterday came down in full force right at 3pm when our course was suppose to start. So we had some late arrivals (including the teacher) and some women that couldn't cross the river that was formed in front of their houses due to the downpour and just didn't make it.With the 11 women that did come to class we started close to 45 minutes late, which meant that we would ultimately run late. Run late we did. We ran later than expected. Mixing ingredients, following the recipes, listening to appetizer tips was the easy part. Baking the bocaditos was the hard part. The HopeHouse doesn't have a 'real' oven, so we borrowed two electric ovens that were known to bake things "very quickly." Very quickly turned into 8pm. Class started at 3:45pm. The majority of the women had to leave before 6pm to catch a car back to their houses, but some die hard appetizer bakers stayed til the end.

It was definitely most frustrating for me (everyone else seemed to not mind the baking delay) to not be able to finish the class in a timely manner and have everyone go home happy with the taste of bocaditos in their mouths. Our women brought home uncooked appetizers to bake in their own houses. I'll hopefully get the full report about the appetizer turn-out in the next couple of days when women trickle back to the office.

Paz ~ Nora

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Don't forget your Holiday of Hope Tickets!

Dear DHF Family,
Don't forget your tickets for
Holiday of Hope, our final event of 2009. 100% of your $15 ticket supports the work of DiscoverHope Fund and gives you entry into our silent auction party where you will be able to bid on vacations, dinner outings, artwork, and much more for amazingly low prices!

You'll be treated to fabulous free food from Thistle Cafe and Latin music by
Acoustic Jungle. Free parking is included in the garage as our no downtown parking hassles! Thank you to our event sponsors Thinkwell and Tunuvah for making this wonderful event possible!

Join us Thurs Nov 12th, 7-10:30pm at the downtown Thistle Cafe located at 300 West 6th Street.
Get your tickets Here or on our

Friday, October 23, 2009

Lots and lots of Guinea Pigs

Yesterday afternoon was the official close of the Health Project with the last village bank group preparing yet another plate of guinea pig. With Tula we attended 2 clausuras yesterday; the 1st village bank started at 11am and the 2nd group started at 2pm. Both groups prepared fried guinea pig (Cuy). We went from one Cuy lunch to another. On top of that, I was given a whole fried guinea pig to take home 'to eat as a snack later.' This week I have hit my weekly record of eating guinea pig. In addition to being incredibly physically full, I was also full with gratitude and happiness. Gratitude that as an institution we were able to provide this type of assistance. Provide an opportunity that our village bank women have never had to make improvements in their homes. Santos, one of our active participants in this project, asked me over and over, "Please don't leave us. Please continue helping us." Happiness in that the houses of our women have been transformed in the short 7 months of our Project. We have left new experiences and ideas and footprints for positive change. We have touched and transformed lives.
Paz ~ Nora

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Close of Health Project

So last week was our Health Evaluation week and this week is the Close of Project week. We have been going out to each village bank to hold a 'clausura' where participation prizes and diplomas are given to each woman. We have gone to 2 banks this week and still have 2 more groups today. There have been speeches, applause, and warm words of sincere gratitude. Oh, the speeches. Peruvians are famous for long winded speeches that have no end. Tula caught me off guard when she asked me to give a speech to close the project with our first village bank clausura. I managed on the fly and made it as little winded as possible. The two groups we have gone to this week have prepared huge, enormous plates of rice, potatoes and guinea pig. Huge as in a mountain of rice. Countryside families outside of Cajamarca hold the tradition to serve lots of food when celebrating something. I tend to compare the enourmous food serving with their overflowing gratitude towards the Health Project. 'May God pay you for all you have done' are the words the echo out of Melchora, the president of our first village bank clausura.

Paz ~ Nora

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Health Evaluation Hike Time

It is Health Evaluation Hike Time. This week with Tula and the presidents of the 4 village banks we are making the rounds. Visiting every participant's house and evaluating their progress. In the beginning of our Health Project in May, Tula made a Health Promise sheet with each family where they discussed the improvements the family wanted to make in their houses and who was going to be in charge of making those changes. As we hiked house to house, not only were the Health Promise sheets full, but the changes were evident. Humble families with little income increased the size of their kitchen (or in some cases built a new kitchen!), organized their kitchen utensils and cooking supplies, separated children bedrooms from their parents and even built brand new latrines! Many of the improvements required some money, but more so TIME. The families met with Tula every other week to learn about a new health topic related to their house and their daily hygiene habits. Tula gave the families homework and each women then went home to find out how she was going to implement the house homework in her house.The health promise sheet is full!!!
Seperating Adult and children's beds with plastic curtain to create "bedrooms."

Yosebia uses an old fridge to store her plates, cups and cooking supplies. This latrine top was made out of an old beer sign.

Tula with Andrea in her new kitchen - hot lunch is just coming off the stove!
I was really surprised and touched to see such grand improvements in spaces that according to Melchora, "We never received this kinda of help before where we live. Nobody cared enough to show us these things." I know Tula worked long and hard with some of our families to get them motivated and out of the "I don't have money for this" mentality. Only a couple of weeks ago there were families without roofs on the kitchen and animals (pigs, chickens, etc..) running around freely. Now there are rooftops and animal corals. Some corals made out of un-used wood or cut up rice bags. The same with kitchen walls - Covered with cardboard and newspaper. Granted, there are a few cases where the families just couldn't fill up their Health Promise sheet - alcoholism in some families, another woman abandoned by her husband - but, these cases call for help above and beyond the scoop of our health project.

From what I witnessed from our Door to Door evaluation was one long success story. Families in poverty making huge changes in their homes and lifestyles. Washing hands. Drinking boiled water. Cooking in a smoke-less kitchen and preventing respiratory illnesses. Creating separate spaces for animals. Covering their latrine opening and placing toilet paper (or whatever paper they have) inside their latrine. It was as if I entered into completely different houses compared to only 6 months ago. With Tula's great energy and motivation, I give witness that change can happen in the humblest of place. You just need someone to care, someone to give of their time, and to show people that there is in fact another way to live. Through this project we recognized the dignity of each of the 30 families that participated and gave them the tools and ideas to make changes in their own lives. And, they did!
Paz and Praise to all our 30 families! ~ Nora

Monday, October 12, 2009

Lunch with Perlita

This past Saturday my sweetheart Hugo walked with me to the Village Bank La Perlita where 3 of the loan recipients in this Village Bank are participating in literacy classes. Their classes started in April and will be finishing this month. The group told Nelly, their literacy teacher, that they were so grateful that someone cared enough about the 3 of them to send them a teacher that they wanted to make me and my boyfriend a lunch. Maria Cruz, one of the 3 loyal students in this group, had attended literacy classes in a different community but "the teacher didn't teach us like Nelly does. She gives us individual attention and explains things when we don't understand." La Perlita has been learning addition and subtraction skills through activities that allow the women to practice 'making change' with fake money. One of the group goals was actually to learn how to make monetary change because, according to the women, "when we go to the market we don't know if they are giving us the right amount of change because before we couldn't add very well." This group is also working on their grammar and writing skills through children's story books.

The women made one of my favorite dishes - hot yellow pepper cheese sauce with potatoes and rice. During our meal we had lots of animal visitors come in and out of the patio to join us. One of those visitors - a 1 month old kitty - came home with us to be our mouse hunter. Thus, our new kitty cats' name is Hunter.
Paz ~ Nora

Get Your Holiday of Hope Tix Now! Nov 12; 7-10:30pm

Dear DHF Family,
We hope you will all be able to join us to lend Hope this Holiday season at Holiday of Hope, our final event of 2009. 100% of your $15 ticket supports the work of DiscoverHope Fund and gives you entry into our silent auction party where you will be able to bid on vacations, dinner outings, artwork, and much more. You'll be treated to fabulous free food from Thistle Cafe and Latin music by Acoustic Jungle. Free parking is included in the garage as our no downtown parking hassles! Thank you to our event sponsors Thinkwell and Tunuvah for making this wonderful event possible!

Join us Thurs Nov 12th, 7-10:30pm at downtown Thistle Cafe located at 300 West 6th Street.
Get your tickets Here or on our website:

Friday, October 9, 2009


This week during one of our class we had the bad case of timing. I plan educational activities every month and give the village banks a class calendar so that the women can choose the classes that they want to attend. Jewelry, Bakery, Business assistance, Sewing with Ribbon. You name it. I plan my month a month ahead of time and often times can not predict the inconvenient planning clashes that are bound to happen. The women in our village banks are often called to school meetings for their children the very same day mandatory meetings are held. Imagine, a woman signs up for one of our classes and then her child comes home at 2pm and says, "there is a meeting at 3pm for all the parents." But our class starts at 3:30pm. This happened during our jewelry class in Banos de Inca this week. For good timing planning purposes, we held our class outside of Cajamarca in the small town where many of our loan recipients live - so they started their necklace with us when class started, dashed to their meeting, and then came back to class to finish. If we would have held this class in Cajamarca we would have had fewer participants, so I just have to try to work around and 'in harmony' with the timing issues.

Paz ~ Nora

Monday, October 5, 2009

The things we do to make it

The weekend started with an 'apollada' and ended with the animal market.

You all remember Lizeth from previous posts? The spunky jewelry seller who was struggling to find her market. Well she put jewelry on the backburner while she helped her husband in his combi (minivan adventure ride - see previous post). Her husband drives and she collects money. It isn't a luxurious job, but it gives her at least $5 of for sure income daily.

The combi broke down a couple weeks ago. $1,000 in repairs. An amount beyond her reach. So, Lizeth decided to do what most Peruvians do in this situation: APOLLADA! What is an apollada? When you make a bunch of fried chicken and add a heaping mountain of rice and potatoes and serve lunch plates for s/5 (about $2) a piece. The financial gain isn't huge, but every little bit helps. So Hugo and I contributed our s/10 (more than $3) and ate lunch with Lizeth on Friday afternoon.

This morning Hugo and I ventured to the animal market outside of town to look for an alpaca. Many of our women come to buy and sell at this market, but after nearly 2 year in Cajamarca this was my first excursion to the famous 'pecuaria' market. It was animal chaos at its best. Mostly cows, sheep, pigs, donkeys and horses - no alpacas. I could not imagine having to come to the pecuaria weekly, as our women do - the noise alone of pigs getting dragged into pick-up trucks is enough to make your ears cry. But, according to Hugo we are going to try our luck again next Monday and see if our alpaca comes to market. Next Monday I am bringing my ear plugs!

Paz ~ Nora

Thursday, October 1, 2009

DHF Fall Newsletter 2009

Dear DHF Family,

Just wanted to write you to encourage you to enjoy our DHF Fall Newsletter. If you aren't on our newsletter list and would like to be, visit and see the sign-up area on the bottom left pane.

Blessings for a beautiful weekend,

Combi Twister

Welcome to the Combi amusement park ride :

I play twister in the combi.
The minivan is full of arms, legs, strong and poignant smells, alfalfa in the face, sleeping child on my shoulder.
Bodies are intertwined; Personal space is a foreign concept.
I find a seat to head to work, to the campo, to where ever the combi goes.
I am lucky to find a seat. Others are playing twister standing up.
My leg is touching 5 other people. I am not in the U.S.
As we continue to play and make moves, the combi starts its rollercoaster speed.
We round the corner as if bummer cars were let loose.
BAJA! BAJA! I bang my 70 soles cents on the window.
I squeeze out of the minivan and leave the rest of the group
to play twister for the rest of the rollercoaster way.

I arrive to the office, my body tired and my system sick with a cold.
Did the twister ride make me sick?
New world - Chocolate class - good smells - happy participation - some type of different twister with other rules.
Hands cutting hard bitter chocolate, stuffing molds, putting in sweet fillings, kids laughing with excitement at the sweet taste they will soon have.
I leave the women to work because I can. They are organized, responsible and working diligently.
I can't always leave early, but today I could. I can go home and rest and recharge for another day.

But, first I have another game of twister in the combi before I arrive home.

Paz ~ Nora