Movin’ on up

I have always been told by my dad that if it scares you, it’s probably worth a try.  Naturally that was my thought process when it came to conquering a dream.  A dream to help women and children in countries with extreme need. The thought scared me because I was going into it so blindly and I still am, but I never thought twice about it.  As I began to tell others about the project, I was asked why I wanted to focus on other countries when here in our local communities we have so much need. It really struck me hard, but I knew from my travels, that the need in these countries was unlike anything I had ever seen.  I would talk to a friend about it and she said it best, the world is our community, it’s our global community.

And so I searched for existing organizations who could help us get off the ground.  Through Jenny, I was connected with Amy from Women of the Cloud Forest in Costa Rica and Nicaragua.  I told you about her in my previous post.  She is a true gem,  and she told me about her women in Costa Rica.  These women make on average $1.30 an hour. One lady’s name is Yesina, a single mother who’s parents were never educated. She has a 6th grade education.  Through Women of the Cloud Forest she has been able to earn an income and make her dream of sending her son to university come true.  It’s giving women HOPE. HOPE to become somebody. All they are asking for is an opportunity.

My search did not just end there. I searched for clothing companies who would give us their excess inventory, returns, damages, last season’s fashions, etc.  And without a doubt and full confidence I know God put Matilda Jane Clothing in our path.  This company is one where even though I’ve never met these wonderful people, somehow I feel like they are family.  They have sent us donations and have supported us in ways I would have never even dreamed of.  Their tag line is “The Unpredictable Clothing Company”, which is exactly true. Not only do they make some of the most beautiful children’s clothing, unpredictably, they impact lives in ways never imaginable.

With all of that being said, I am SOOO excited to share with you how Matilda Jane, numerous consignment sales and DAR Project will be partnering with Women of the Cloud Forest to bring them HOPE.  Below is an update from Amy in Costa Rica.  I want each of you to know we won’t stop with these women…our next stop is Nicaragua.  Stay tuned for exciting news from the women in Nicaragua.  We are working out the logistics to provide them with an art center so they too can benefit from the DAR Project.

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“Hola Martha! Thanks for the email and good thoughts.  Yesenia, my daughter Olivia and I arrived in Granada last night after a full 12 hour day of travel from Monteverde.    While we were eating dinner last night at a restaurant with outside seating, barefoot children were asking for money and food while others were sniffing glue from empty water bottles to forget about eating.  I’ve seen it so many times now that somehow I can put it in part of my mind and heart and not break down crying like I used to.  
After much thought and discussion, this the plan that we have arrived at and I hope that it meets your expectation and that of Matilda Jane for the use of the clothing and their generous donation. As I expressed to you before, the group of women that we work with in Monteverde, are not in need in the same way as the majority of people here in Nicaragua.  The majority of them live in towns that surround the Monteverde zone where there are no work opportunities.  Folks who live in their towns travel by bus on unpaved roads for 1-1 1/2 hours to work in the tourist industry in the Monteverde area.  Our project there has become more like an emotional support group for these women.  Of course they love the fact that they are able to earn some extra money but what they have told me is the most important is the idea of feeling self-worth and pride from what they make. With all of that said, here is the plan and what I presented to the “women of the cloud forest”. -At the moment it looks like 15 of the women will participate in the Venta de Ropa project. -This project will be part of the chain of “DAR” where the women will be able to work together in small groups learning business skills through holding three sales during the months of October, November and December. -The preparation for the sales and the actual events will take place at the “art center” in Monteverde with the idea of using these first events to work out the kinks.  All of the women are interested in the holding a one day sale in their town in the future since that opportunity doesn’t currently exist in their communities. -The group will be divided into 3 sub-groups of 5 women.  Each group will work three days in one month to prepare the clothing and holding the actual event.  They will earn $2/hour for their time for a maximum earning of $48/person per month plus cost of their transportation to Monteverde (ranging from $2-$3 per trip).  This translate to the need of a Venta de Ropa sale per month that generates at least $250 to cover the cost of the time of the five women.  With so many clothes, I think this will be realized quickly.  -Since the idea of the clothing to is try and offer it to folks who are in the most need, they will prepare tickets to distribute to families they know who fit this criteria of “bajo recoursos” and allow them the opportunity “pre-shop” one hour before the event opens.  -All funds raised over the costs of the women’s time will be donated back to “DAR Project” so they can be used to continue the chain of giving in less fortunate countries. (The women really liked this idea.  I explained to them how we have a opportunity for them to learn about business, offer fantastic clothes at great prices to folks in their community and then be part of the bigger picture in the world of offering opportunities to others who are less fortunate.  It is very empowering for them to think that they could be part of this chain as well. I’ve included a few photos from the meeting and also of the women with the sign.  I left it there for future use.  I have a friend who said he would help to document the actual selling and unpacking of the goods when they arrive.  It’s pretty amazing to think of all of your work Martha and to sit with the women and explain about you and what a wonderful heart and vision you have for the world.  They all committed to making sure your hard work is realized the best they can.  During the meeting I shared with them some photos I had taken in Nicaragua of typical houses and general conditions.  All of them expressed how grateful they were to have the opportunities that they do in Costa Rica and how to remember to be so thankful each day.  It was neat to be able to share all of this first-hand with them. We are here in Granada until September 1st when Olivia and I travel back to Pittsburgh.  I have great internet access where I am staying so feel free to send over any questions or thoughts.  The program there can still be tweaked before the sale so if you have any other ideas, I can easily pass them through Yesenia. Take care and thanks again for the opportunity. Noches, Amy”
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