Monday, March 28, 2011

Hello DHF Family!

Now that I have been introduced via the Discover Hope blog, I would like to tell you a little about myself. As Des mentioned, I am from Madison, WI – born and raised all my life. I have done extensive traveling to both Europe and Africa, visiting the latter four times over the past four years. My desire to travel to Africa began at a young age when I saw my father living in various African countries for work as a medical doctor.

Some more interesting facts:
-        I have an identical twin sister and a nine-year-old little brother
-        My twin sister is a bilingual highschool guidance counselor near Boston and I am about to graduate with a degree in School Social Work (similar fields!)
-        I've been white water rafting on the Nile
-        I arrived in Zimbabwe in 2009 with just enough money to pay for the entry visa. I didn't even have enough money to pay for the taxi ride to a hotel. I had to borrow money from a friendly business woman to pay for the visa to cross into Zambia to get money from the ATM as Zimbabwe had no money in the ATM's (due to bad economy). If only I had known this BEFORE entering Zimbabwe. I guess it all worked out though!
-        I've been with my boyfriend for 11 years
-        My best friend is eight years my senior and has three kids (I have none)

I’m extremely grateful for having the opportunity to work with Discover Hope Fund and am excited to share my adventures during my three month internship. Every day brings a new experience and opens my eyes to the possibilities that microcredit can offer.


Monday, March 21, 2011

Introducing Rachel Rakower

I'd like to introduce you to a new addition to the DHF Family. Rachel Rakower is our Hope House spring intern hailing from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Rachel will be completing her Masters in Social Work this May and approached us about lending a hand last year. So how did this all come about? Our former program manager, Nora Bedard, took a class with Susan Kidd-Webster at the UW-Madison a few years ago (Nora is also a Social Worker by profession). Susan happens to be the person you speak with about completing an international internship. When Rachel mentioned to Susan that she'd like to intern in Latin America and practice her Spanish, DiscoverHope's name came up. And the rest is history.

For the next three months, Rachel will be helping us on the program management side here in the Hope House and also using her social work skills. She'll be teaching business-oriented English classes, helping our childcare provider revamp our childcare room, and co-facilitating our mental health series beginning in April. Rachel will also be writing on our blog from time to time, sharing her adventures in international development in Cajamarca, Peru.


Thursday, March 10, 2011

Creating Communication and Connection

Greetings DHF family, this is Nora (previous Peru Field Program Manager) signing in briefly to spread the joy of the fruits of DHF labor.
No, I haven't returned to Peru.
Yes, I have received emails from our loan recipients in Cajamarca.

As Desiree shared in a previous post, women started computer classes again this year. I was connected on the "other side" of the computer classes this time around. Let me explain. I opened up my email a couple of weeks ago and I received a couple of emails from our loan recipients in Cajamarca. One of them read the following:

Hello Miss Nora, I hope that all is well with your health. I am writing to tell you that I am learning so much this year, I am in computer class (learning excel) and when I learn more I want to find a job, since I will be prepared, even though the classes are hard I know I can do it. Thank you to you, Miss Desiree and the teacher who teaches me with some much patience.

Needless to say, I was beaming from ear to ear to read this. This is testimony that a woman from the countryside who has three small children and sells guinea pigs to create a small income for her family that lives in an adobe house without a front door, can communicate and connect to people (well, me!) outside of her community and outside of her country. I can only think, praise be to DHF to give her and so many other women these opportunities. It is changing her world. I remember when I met Esther last year and she was unsure about being part of a village bank since she was pregnant and her street food business wasn't flourishing. Now, a year later she has a new business and a beautiful baby, is making jewelry and selling it, learning crochet for the first time, and learning basic computer programs. All made possible through DHF.

I am anxiously waiting another email. One that talks about her new typing job.

Paz and Praise ~ Nora

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Springing Into Action with Educational Classes

The month of February came and went….fast. I’m proud to say that with the financial support of our DHF donors, we organized 38 classes ranging the gamut from how to make a pizza from start to finish to stylish haircuts, export jewelry models, and literacy classes. To run the numbers we organized:  01 health session , 01 animal husbandry talk, 02 jewelry classes, 02 cosmetology classes, 02 culinary classes, 04 literacy classes, 07 Computer Basics classes, 06 Microsoft Excel classes, and 13 crochet classes. We also organized our first Buy Day of 2011 in which our Hope House women took home a total $287.32 in profits.  

What rings home most of all is our women’s response when we ask them how they feel after leaving a class. I’ll give you a few examples. Angelica Huangal of Village Bank Mujeres Emprendedoras said she felt “more beautiful, professional, and ready to do her best.” After speaking to Magdalena Chatilan of Progresistas after finishing her baby jacket, “I feel proud. At first I didn’t think I would be able to crochet such a beautiful coat but I did my best and finished. I already have a buyer and have three orders.” Such comments make the work we do worthwhile and so important.

So what’s to come in the month of March…a programmed 50 development classes. Our women will be learning how to make new desserts, fashion-forward jewelry sets, manicures and formal hairstyles as well as scarves, coats, and ponchos. Beginning March 18th we’ll commence our literacy classes in the Hope House. As you can see, we’ve started the year off right and with your support we plan to continue at the same pace.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Dear DiscoverHope Family,

We hope you can join us for our next event, Spring Into Hope, on March 30 from 7-9pm at Icenhauer’s in downtown Austin. The evening will focus on the 300 entrepreneurial trainings we want to provide through the HopeHouse alongside our microcredit loans this year. This event is always very intimate and so much fun as we celebrate the spring and growth together.

Tickets and space are limited so we hope you can join us! Whether you are in TX/Austin or not, you can visit the event link and see what the buzz is all about. A $25 contribution sponsors an educational training for 10 women on average; I love that you can give the power of literacy, health, finance, artisan education etc. to someone for so little!

Other ways you can help: pass the invite link on and put it up on in your social media spaces. Our Facebook event invite is up also; “friend” us or share it forward if you are connected.

We are continuously inspired by you:
Those who live passionately teach us how to love
Those who love passionately teach us how to live. (Sarah Ban Breathnach)

Much Love!