Friday, November 27, 2009

Ribbon End

Our 2nd to last class of the year: Ribbon Designs on Pillowcases. Something you might find in a craft fair. Since our first pillowcase course last month, pillowcase have become the new favorite thing. What the women make I personally wouldn't use in my bedroom, but it is the high fashion here. When I do a mini-evaluation at the end of each class I try to get an idea about what the women learned and how they will use what they learned. They usually tell me they will try and sell it and make their new craft a business. Today their teacher pushed them to use it as a business. "Don't take this pillowcase and put it in your house where no one will see. Exhibit it. Sell it. Make more." I hope her push does push some of our women into business.

On the business note - I experienced the worst customer service today (well, almost everyday I experience bad customer service in Peru, but today was especially bad). I wanted to find out if this little corner store had envelopes.
"Can you show me the sizes?"
"You can't show me the sizes of envelopes you have?"
"You have to bring in a model of the size of paper you want to use for the envelope."
"But, I don't have the exact size, actually I want to see the sizes of the envelopes so that I can tailor my paper to the size you have."
"I am not going to take out all of my envelopes to show you. I have too many."

This conversation was repeated about 3 times. Can you believe that? I would think a business owener would want to sell her products, thus show them to her customers. I never got to see the size of the envelopes. We got a long way to go to improve businesses in Cajamarca outside of DiscoverHope Fund's reach.

Paz ~ Nora

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Yearly Evaluation

As everyone has had, I am sure, a delicious turkey feast today I was chowing on dry guinea pig for lunch, preparing for my afternoon evaluation session. But, I am not complaining, don't get me wrong, just craving the thanksgiving feast that fills the stomach and soul when surrounded by family.

I will have to take the satisfaction that the year end evaluation brings as my thanksgiving treat. This afternoon I met with the leaders of our village banks to evaluate our year as it comes to end in a short couple of weeks. We looked at photos that women took with a disposible camera to evaluate the difference DHF has made in their life. Giving a voice to the women through photos. The room was filled with good comments and positive feedback. Surprisingly, the feedback that I didn't expect to get was from our leadership workshops. I held in total 7 workshops throughout the year and according to the women they made a big difference in their lives. It has translated to more courage and self-esteem, that has translated to more sales as they have put aside their fears of selling to an unknown customer or going out on the street to offer their products. I got that warm, fuzzy feeling when I recieved this feedback from a number of the women. Tis true that our footprints, actions, and simple presence does something more than we can feel or measure in the lives of others. On this day I give thanks that my path that has brought me here to do this needed work and those who have crossed my path all along the way. Thanks Be to those that have enrichment my life and in one way, shape, or form, I hopefully have enriched theirs also.

Paz ~ Nora

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Spirit of Season

I always remember that Christmas marketing season always comes too soon in the U.S.. The malls are filled with red and green and Santa Clause before Thanksgiving. Well, in Peru the same thing happens. And, I was part of it this week. Peruvians are mostly Catholic and heavily celebrate Christmas. They make all kinds of crafts to prepare for the holiday. We made one of those crafts yesterday, a Mama Noel made out a re-used plastic bottle. The women loved it although they continually burned themselves with the silicon glue gun. Our new craft was a great way to re-use plastic bottles and create a little work of art that can be used as a candy holder for the holidays. Women that came to our baby blanket class today were bummed to have missed the yesterday's class.

Paz in your preparation for the holiday season ~ Nora

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Some Bumps in the Road and a "Cleaning"

I thought last week was tough with wedding planning problems - things proved to be even more difficult this week. I will spare you a play by play of my week, but give you a highlight of the tough things.

1. Almost got robbed in the bus. Two very shady guys sandwiched me in the crowd and showed me their pocket, as if they had a gun. I fell on the floor. Screamed a little. They got off the bus. Too close for comfort.

2. My internet modem, that hardly works anyway, fell on the floor with my personal computer and broke. I didn't know whether to laugh or cry. So now I am really without internet at home.

3. Getting out of a mototaxi for my house one night a big truck almost ran us over. Granted, we were parked right on the curve, but still, another life threatening moment wasn't what I needed this week.

4. And I got a stomach bug.

Talk about bad luck. I wish that one of my women would have "cleaned" me with newspaper. At our artisan bag class one of the loan recipient's baby started crying and another women suggested a "cleaning." Everyone agreed that the baby had seen too many eyes and got scared. Everyone started looking for newspaper to "clean" the baby. Once the newspaper was located, then the "cleaning" procedure started. While mom rocked the baby, another women passed the newspaper over the baby as if she was taking away the bad energy. They then took a candle and started to burn some of the newspaper, pass it over the baby. And surprisingly the baby stopped wailing. No more cry. The "cleaning" worked. I could have used that this week, too - who knows if "cleaning" works for bad luck.

Paz ~ Nora

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Jewelry lingering

Yesterday DHF held what I think will be the last jewelry class this year. We are in our last month of classes for the year, as I get ready to compile 2009 information to report out to our DHF family. This jewelry class was held in Banos de Inca and we filled up the patio of one of our loan recipients. This month's model was very simple, so the women finished early. Although the women finished their jewelry, they stayed around to make more jewelry, knit, crochet, and just chat. The lingering around for me equals joy, success and growth. It is proof that women enjoy the company, their teacher, and their thirst for learning continues. The lingering continued to the small fried chicken restaurant next to the patio, where another loan recipient has her business.

Paz to all those that linger ~ Nora

Monday, November 9, 2009

Holiday of Hope Thurs Nov 12! Holiday Shop for 40% of market prices...

Dear DHF Family,
We hope you will join us this Thursday Nov 12 at our final event of 2009,
Holiday of Hope!
Your $15 ticket treats you to fabulous food served by Thistle Cafe, Latin music by
Acoustic Jungle, and free garage parking downtown!

Your ticket also gives you entry into our silent auction party where you will be able to bid on incredible silent auction items for outrageous prices such as:
A pair of tickets to the Big 12 Championship game starting at $80
A pair of choice tickets to the Dallas Cowboys game starting at $130
A night at the Long Center for two and Eddie V's dinner starting at $70
Dell Mini computers starting at $140
Dell Studio Notebook starting at $300
Pilates and fitness packages starting at $50
Massages starting at $30
A week in Florida condo on the beach starting at $450
Lake Travis Retreat vacation starting at $480
Sunset Bat Cruise and dinner starting at $50
A $400 value to Four Hands Furniture starting at $120
and much more...including a weekend Wimberley cabin, a week in the majestic mountains of Keystone CO, health packages, dance and performance lessons, hockey and basketball games, wine dinners, professional services for companies and individuals, beautiful artwork, electronics and more! Come enjoy Holiday shopping for items starting at 40% of their market prices, 100% of your ticket and purchases support the work of DiscoverHope Fund

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

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Literacy End

Just a little taste of what my weekend looks like:
Our two literacy circle with the village banks Jehova es Mi Pastor and La Perlita finished their 7 month literacy courses at the end of October. Between the two groups they completed a total of 107 literacy sessions and 15 individual tutoring sessions. The two groups surprised me by making huge improvements on their post-literacy test (compared with their pre-test in April). We have women that can write their name and national ID number now. Women that can add and subtract. Write letters. Write descriptive text. Even multiply and divide. Huge, huge learning steps were made this year. Yesterday and today I am celebrating with the 2 groups and their literacy teachers with a close-of-classes mini ceremony. The women received/will receive literacy certificates for their participation and efforts this year. On top of that I felt it also worthwhile to give little gifts for the women that scored 20/20 in their post-test (4 out of 5 in Jehova group)!!! Part of our mini ceremony is to partake in the famous Peruvian Christmas Paneton, a little early, but Peruvians can never resist Paneton (the sugary, soft fruit cake found in every corner store in Nov/Dec).
Rejoice with me as I celebrate the literacy accomplishments with our women today!
Paz ~ Nora

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Serpost EASY Export Facil Adventure

Let me share a little story about "easy" export with all you readers. On the week of Oct. 19 I started to fill out "easy" export forms with the local mail service Serpost. I filled them out with Brian Horsley online, but not without a handful of glitches. It took us 3 whole days to figure out the "easy" 1 page form. After getting the required signatures I was ready to take my package to the Serpost office. I packaged up our women's jewelry in a small box and walked with excitement to the office, as it was the first time DHF has entered into the export adventure.

I arrived at the office at 12:30. The woman that was behind the counter seemed a little confused when she saw my forms. But, she took them anyway and started typing away into her computer. She had a little problem with the coding and getting the computer to cooperate with her (or her cooperating with the computer?) After close to an hour of back and forth with the computer, the poor thing shut down. No screen. No service. "Just a minute, Senorita, we will process your paperwork."

A half an hour later I was still waiting for the computer to come back to full force. When it finally did, it was obviously that the woman that was helping me had no idea what she was doing. She called the Serpost office in another city to get some technical assistance. By 2:30 - 2 hours later - my forms were processed and I paid the $50 fee and said Thank You. I left the office with less confidence and patience than when I arrived. Will this package really make it to Austin? My confidence dropped even more when the Serpost woman called me at 3pm and said "Oops, we actually need your original receipt, not a copy." (contrary to what she had told me in the office). So, I went back to the office and mustered up a smile and handed her the official receipt.

The following week I received a phone call from the Serpost Director. He congratulated me on being the 1st! "easy" Export Facil customer in their office. That explains the horrible service! They had no idea what they were doing! The Director assured me that he would follow the package daily and give me a full report then it arrived in Austin. Furthermore, he invited me to talk to the press to help them get the word out about how easy Export Facil is. I told him that I didn't have the best experience in his office, but I was willing to talk to the press. The press and Director stood me up for our interview the following day.

Amazingly enough, yesterday the Director called me again. "We have confirmation that the package arrived in Austin, TX." This is a good reminder that sometimes you got to have a little bit more faith in the unknown.

Paz ~ Nora