Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Put a fork in me -

I'm Done!

I am signing off for a couple of weeks and leaving the Hope House keys with Amy and Blake to take over while I rest and re-energize at home. They will be posting these next 2 weeks so that you stay afloating with village bank news. I will be back mid-July in time for lots of activity here in Cajamarca: new first aid classes for loan recipients, literacy evaluations and Independence celebrations for all of Peru.

Paz ~ Nora

Note: The photo above is the orange pound cake that the bakery class made this month. Quite tasty.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Summer Ponchos...just in time for the cold

So when I surveyed women for classes last month they all expressed that they wanted to make ponchos and scarves, "for the cold Cajamarca nights." A note to all you northern hemisphere dwellers : **the nights are a little chilly down here** Yesterday was the 2nd part of the two part poncho class. We had women attending that had finished their ponchos, women that were mid-way and other women that had to completely re-do their ponchos. The stitch wasn't the hard part, but the figuring out where to increase their stitches was. This month in July we will be creating new scarf creations, let's hope there will be less difficulty with those stitches.

Doesn't a poncho sound nice for a chilly summer night? Oh, wait, this probably doesn't apply to ya all that are reading this.

Paz ~ Nora

Monday, June 21, 2010

Leadership workshop

¡Saludos a todos! This is Amy writing.

This weekend we had our third and final leadership workshop with the women from Baños del Inca. The theme was communication and working in groups.

We started off with an icebreaker. We played hot potato and named the quality we would most like to improve about ourselves as leaders: common answers were to have more patience, to have more empathy for others, and to be more punctual.

Then, in order to introduce the topic of communication, we played a quick round of telephone using some Spanish tongue twisters. We discussed real-life examples of when the women have had trouble communicating with one another.


Our next activity covered different types of communication, like verbal, nonverbal and written or visual. Below you can see the women practicing verbal communication: one woman, the driver, verbally communicates to her partner where to walk while her eyes are closed.

Verbal communication activity

Later Nora told a story about teamwork using bees as an example. Every bee has a role, from queen bee to worker bee, and the bee hive needs them all to be successful. We used that storyto segway into a discussion of the leadership roles in the communal banks: president, secretary, and treasurer - and we made a list of the responsiblities of each position.

Our final activity, and one of the women's favorites, was to split into teams and construct skyscrapers out of toothpicks, marshmellows and gum drops. The explicit goal was to build the highest building possible, and the implicit goal was to work as a team and communicate with one another. Afterwards we discussed how it went, and wrapped up the afternoon with a delicious snack of gum drops and cake!

All in all it was both a fun and informative afternoon!

Friday, June 18, 2010

The week in review

It wouldn't be another normal week here in the DHF Cajamarca headquarters without lots of action and movement. To sum it up in pictures I can offer the following:

Monday: Our sewing class recieved their material to start sewing their jackets that match their skirts that they made last month. Lots of new cuts and measuring for our women.
Tuesday: Birthday cake and Cooking class (although unrelated). DHF held our first cooking FOOD class where participants learned the tricks to make economical and healthy meals in their homes.

Wednesday: Third Buy Day this year. With 3 jewelry judges it made the whole process run smoothly and finish early.
Tuesday and Friday: Computer classes continue. The digital divide becomes smaller yet. This week our students learned the basics of navigating the internet and set up their own personal email accounts. Their homework is to check their email and answer questions that Blake had sent (via email) to the class.

Friday: Literacy learning in the Hope House continues. Lily continues to juggle two literacy sections - Basic and Advanced. We sometimes have little ones join us, because they have a hard time stay in our daycare and be without mom for a couple of hours.
And, the week still isn't done. Saturday is our 3rd and last Leadership workshop in Los Banos. In July we will start another leadership workshop with 3 new village banks.

Paz ~ Nora

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Enough light?

One of my jobs is trouble shooting. If there is a problem, however small, I am the one to answer the call. Lily, our literacy teacher, came to me with a concern last week. The women in our Monday class are complaining of headaches during literacy class. And, there isn't enough light that enters into our classroom, could these problems be related? I went to the countryside to check it out. The classroom you see posted above is our natural-lack-light room (don't let the photo deceive you with the cracks in the wall). I scoped out the other houses of other women in the same village bank and found a room with more natural light. We decided to switch classrooms next week to see if this works out better and we have less headaches. And, the women have to study a little bit more outside of class, to get their brains working throughout the week, with the hope of also preventing headaches.

P.S. This morning, for Amy's birthday, we took a little morning break to sing (for a good 10 minutes) and eat yummy chocolate cake. Feliz Cumpleanos Amy! Paz ~ Nora

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Meeting with 'Fighting Women'

I started this week by meeting our new village bank 'Fighting Women,' or in spanish Mujures Luchadoras. Amy and I went to meet the new loan recipients, find out a little bit more about their businesses and explain the "plus" side of microcredit to survey their interests in classes and trainings. This group did not just sit there and listen to me (as you see in this video). Much of our meeting was them chatting, asking questions, and being very vocal. I love walking into a room with energtic women. It is a battery recharge for the week. After our microcredit plus session many of the women signed up for classes this week. A couple women are in computer classes, others came to chocolate class on Tuesday, two others came to jewelry class yesterday and some more are going to learn to crochet ponchos this afternoon.

Ingrid struck me as one of the most energetic of the bunch. She is in our Tuesday section of computer classes and also came to jewelry class for the first time yesterday. She is full of questions, thirsty for knowledge and completely full of light. She must have asked me 4 or 5 different times, "Computer Class is Tuesday. Then we practice on Thursay in the computer lab? Right? I want to learn until I know everything about computers because I don't know anything." I reassured her, Yes. She comes on Tuesday to learn and again on Thursday to practice and do her homework. When she came to computer class and was all questions. According to Blake, when she made a mistake and pressed the wrong key she didn't say Oops, like the other students. She said, "What does this do?" And then she did it again, just to make sure she learned it. For the first time during jewelry class, someone took notes yesterday. Ingrid. She had her notebook writing down all the different parts of the earring. This woman is going to learn a whole lot this month, this year, and hopefully the rest of her life.

Paz ~ Nora

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Closing the digital divide

We started last Friday with our first computation class, and it went really well! The curriculum went a little faster than planned because the women had told Nora that they didn´t know anything about computers or how to use them, when in fact most of them had some typing experience. One of the women has parkinsons, which gave her some trouble when it came to using the mouse, but she was quite proficient at the keyboard, because she had used a typewriter as a secretary some years ago.

The curriculum has changed dramatically since I put it together before leaving Austin. It´s now a 12 hour curriculum instead of 4. I haven´t hammered out all of the details for the last three classes, but in the first three hours the women learn basic typing skills and use MS Word templates to make professional looking recipes (We thought it would be nice if they could take home something they created at the end of the class that they might have some chance of actually using).

They had all heard of MS word before, but never used it. In the first class, we had them type recipes from memory, but many of women made recipes that were far simpler than I had anticipated (like two ingredients with two instructions), allowing them to finish typing their recipes way faster than we had antipated in planning the course. So, instead of having them type recipes from memory, I´ve printed out some sample recipes for the next class so the women can just copy new recipes directly from examples. This way they'll also leave with a recipe they didn´t know before the class.

More updates to come. Until then, salutations from Cajamarca!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Growing Leaders

So this past Saturday DHF held the 2nd Leadership workshop for our village banks in the Los Banos. Amy and I got to the workshop "dining room" 1/2 hour early to set-up and prepare. We found another group using our contracted dining room, which worried me at first, but then I remember, "We're in Peru. We'll figure something out." And we did. The other group moved into another space and we started prepping. 3 o' clock on the dot came and went and we only had 3 participants. I was worried. 3:10pm. 3:15pm. Well, right around 3:20pm everyone streamed in. All at the same time.

So we got started, 1/2 hour later than I planned, but with a good solid group of 14 women. The workshop topic was: How am I a leader in my own life? The goal today was for each women to recognize their leadership abilities, give themselves more credit than they usually do and identify their internal voice that gives them strength. We did this through a number of activities (not requiring literacy skills); We started by sharing stories of leaders in our own lives, then we identified our own leadership skills through HAND drawings and finally we allowed the women to recognize their internal voice and strength through a partner activity and finally a meditation exercise. I noticed the women laughing, engaging and participating much more than our first workshop. Many because we had different activities on the agenda. Maybe the women felt more comfortable the 2nd time around. Maybe the women came with a more open mind and heart. Regardless, it felt good. It felt like we are growing leaders.

Paz ~ Nora

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Austin in Cajamarca

Our LBJ school of public affairs graduate students from Austin are alive and well in Cajamarca. Amy and Blake arrived last week and will be working with DHF through August. The amount of working hands here on the ground just tripled - from 2 to 6! Amy will be helping with general program development and learning the ropes of day-to-day Hope House functioning. She will also be doing some in-depth interviews with loan recipients and develop and improve some of our existing monitoring/evaluation systems. Blake is taking the lead on computer courses set to start tomorrow. He has been busy checking, reprogramming, updating and prepping our computer room. Poor Guy. The computers haven't been used in awhile so he had a lot of work right away. They will be checking in on the blog every once and while, so take note. We - well let me speak for myself - I - am so happy to have them here.

Paz ~ Nora

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

the latest....

Village Bank Officer Elizabeth assisting our new village bank "The Stars of Belen" form their banks rules and regulations.
Literacy class out in the campo with the village bank "Strength and Blessing"; we have two sections - Basic (learners just learning how to write their names) and Advanced (Multiplication and Division)
The last class of our poncho series out in the campo with village bank "Margaritas."
Poncho model - who wouldn't want to buy a poncho for their little girl?

Dear Blog,
I have not forgotten about you. You wake up, work, share with the rest of the world, while I do the same. But, sometimes we just don't connect. I am sorry, there is just so much that happens everyday. It is hard to make the time. I will try to connect more often. Until next time...

Paz ~ Nora