During the fall of 2015, I traveled extensively in South Asia co-directing Furman University’s India/Sri Lanka Study Away Program, which included 15 students and two faculty members. I made the most of being in South Asia by conducting site visits and interviews with five Dining for Women grantees: Emerge Global, The Unforgotten, Anchal, Matrichaya, and Vacha Charitable Trust, our featured grantee this month. Details
As the board and I worked to culminate the voices of members, leadership volunteers, and staff for the 2020 Vision, we had to look hard at the desires of the future. Most importantly, we had to understand what Dining for Women is trying to change. This instigated a very interesting discussion because, as we have been pointing out throughout this year, there are many points of change in our model. As we pursue our vision of change, we recognize that Dining for Women must create a number of transformations along the way: Details
In my very first week at Dining for Women, I sat around a table with our Board of Directors while Barb Collins, Board Chair and Co-Founder, asked each of us to share our “Dining for Women Story”. It was my first time meeting Anne Capestrain, but she told a story I will never forget. She shared how DFW had given her the opportunity to be a part of other women’s lives and, in doing so, she was inspired and her life had been transformed. I have visited about 50 chapters this year and have heard similar stories across the country.
It is devastating to see and read about the Syrian refugee families, and I find myself searching constantly for more information, more perspective. Dining for Women’s featured program in January was the Collateral Repair Project (CRP), which helps refugees living in Jordan. Our $37,000 grant is being used to provide psychosocial and wellness programs as well as leadership training for refugee women, many of whom have escaped from the conflict in Syria. I wanted to loop back with CRP to dig a little deeper into the perspective of the refugees and the future. Details
On September 25th, the United Nations made a historic and bold move by adopting the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). These new SDGs follow and expand on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) which were set in 2001 and are due to expire at the end of this year. Each goal has specific targets to be achieved over the next 15 years.
The Millennium Development Goals were a good framework for governments and international aid that have resulted in many global improvements, but they were too narrow to create comprehensive change. For the past two years, thousands of stakeholders have been developing a new approach. The 17 SDGs, which include 169 individual targets, are collaborative and transformational; they are inextricably linked to each other and reliant on each other for total success.
Equipping women in rural Mexico to farm a highly nutritious local grain crop; helping marginalized girls in Mumbai, India to complete their schooling; empowering Maasai women in Tanzania to protect their natural resources for themselves and future generations; and helping victims of human trafficking achieve justice and prosecute their traffickers. These are some of the objectives of the six featured programs that you – our DFW members – will support in the first half of 2016 through grants totaling more than $275,000. See the Program Flyer for a complete list of the newly-selected grantees.
A look at the work of our Program Selection Committee
By Janine Baumgartner and Susan Garrity
Members frequently ask how programs are selected for funding. We consider the selection of program grantees one of the most important decisions we make. As with every important decision, there is a designated person or body and there is a process.
Recently, DFW co-founders Marsha Wallace and Barb Collins and I had the opportunity to visit the U.S. Institute of Peace (USIP) in Washington, DC with Ambassador (Ret.) Steve Steiner. Ambassador Steiner is a fabulous supporter of DFW, along with his wife and DC-1 Chapter Leader Merle Steiner.
Dining for Women’s grantees are located around the world, but many work in Africa, specifically West Africa. For
the past year, the burdens of recovery from war – inadequate infrastructure and the struggle for education, health care and in many cases, survival – have been increased by the fight against Ebola.
In a three-part series, Dining for Women takes a closer look at this disease. In part one, we looked at the basics of the disease and the 2014 – 2015 outbreak. Our second feature looked at how a past Dining for Women grantee played a critical role in containing the outbreak. Finally, we look at the current state of this outbreak.
We spoke with Karen Yelick, CEO of Indego Africa, about the program’s history and plans for expansion. Indego Africa partners with cooperatives of female artisans to support them through economic empowerment and education. Listen with us as Karen shares success stories and displays the artisan’s beautifully handcrafted products.
Dr. Leslee Jaeger, an OB/GYN in Minneapolis and a DFW chapter leader, recently returned from a medical training trip to MamaBaby Haiti. There she taught clinic staff how to screen for cervical cancer. She wrote this article about her concerns of the growing risks of cervical cancer for women in the developing world. Details
Indego Africa’s Leadership Program will find and develop 100 emerging leaders to achieve their potential in the organization’s Rwandan artisan cooperatives. Indego Africa is our June 2015 featured program.Details
Women in Nepal will bear the greatest burden of loss following the recent earthquakes. The loss of home and a sense of place is one, but women are also at risk and vulnerable to traffickers and abusers. Programs we have sponsored in Nepal are working hard to help each other to overcome this adversity. Details
In December 2013, through the Smiles on Wings program, we invested in the futures of five young women. They are daughters of the Karen tribe in Thailand. The Karen people are outcasts in Thailand and often have little or no access to health care or education. These five girls are studying either nursing or childhood education and will return to work in their villages and improve the lives and health of their community. Here’s a look at the students we are supporting. Details
In August 2009, Dining for Women granted $18,437 to a small non profit providing support to farmers in Rwanda. Today, that program has grown from serving 25,000 farmers in two countries to a projected 305,000 farmers by the end of this year in four countries. We had a conversation with Briehan Lynch of the One Acre Fund to find out how they did it and to talk about the impact of our investment in them. This is the first in a series of Impact Hangouts to re-connect with past programs. Details
Our first Impact Hangout takes us to the One Acre Fund. We’ll reconnect with this program and find out how they’ve grown from serving 25,000 families to more than 300,000 families in Rwanda, Kenya, Tanzania and Burundi in just six years. This is the first of a series of Impact Hangouts for 2015. Details
Eighteen TWR members recently spent a week getting to know the students and staff at the Mariposa DR Foundation. The program brought us all closer to the work this program does to empower girls who are living up to the legacy of their namesakes. Details
We talked with Kay Yoder, director of US Operations for RIPPLE Africa, about the Changu Changu Moto stove program that DFW is funding this month (May 2015). This is a low-tech sustainable solution that addresses multiple issues from health to environmental sustainability. Take a listen. Details
Dining for Women’s grantees are located around the world, but many work in Africa, specifically West Africa. For the past year, the burdens of recovery from war, inadequate infrastructure and the struggle for education, health care and in many cases, survival have been increased by the fight against Ebola. In a three-part series, Dining for Women takes a closer look at this disease. In April, we looked at the basics of the disease and the 2014 – 2015 outbreak. In May, we take a look at how a past Dining for Women grantee played a critical role in containing the outbreak. Finally, in June, we look at the current state of this outbreak. Details
Our 2015 slate is complete with programs addressing women’s health, mental health, support for victims or terrorism and conflict and more. Our executive director looks at the difference you are making in the world. Details
We’ve selected the featured programs to round out the 2nd half of 2015. They focus predominantly on maternal and child health but there are also programs on environmental sustainability and girls’ education. Check out this interactive graphic. Details
Cooking should be one of those activities that makes us feel safe and secure. What’s more comforting than home fires? But in much of the developing world, indoor cooking over open flames results in dangerous household air pollution. The World Health Organization estimates that 4.3 million die each year from its complications.
RIPPLE Africa has developed a low-tech, sustainable and efficient stone cookstove that burns significantly less wood and uses bricks that retain heat as the cooking surface. This is safer than open flames, reduces the indoor air pollution and saves women significant time spent gathering wood for cooking fires. That time can now be used on educational or economic activities in the home.
RIPPLE Africa is our featured program for May 2015. Our $45,000 grant — distributed over two years — will directly effect 3,000 families in the Nkhotakota district of Malawi. The Changu Changu Moto project will build a cookstove in each of 3,000 homes, provide instruction for the families on safe use and include follow up visits for more training and education as well as data collection.
Our 2014 programs represent a strong focus on educating women and girls and building foundations of better health and economic sustainability. Take a look back at the work that you made possible in 2014.Details
Dining for Women’s grantees are located around the world, but many work in West Africa. For the past year, the burdens of recovery from war, inadequate infrastructure and the struggle for education, health care and, in many cases, survival have been overshadowed by the fight against Ebola. In a three-part series, Dining for Women takes a closer look at this disease. In April, we focus on the basics. In May, we take a look at how a past Dining for Women grantee played a critical role in containing the outbreak. Finally, in June, we look at the current state of this outbreak.Details
Leah Rashidyan, program director of MBH’s Well Women in Northern Haiti program, joined us for a conversation about the mission, the challenges and the great opportunities. “Health women build healthy families,” Leah says. Take a listen. Details
Two little words can mean a lot. Just for fun, we took a look back through our hangouts and online presentations in 2014 and found a lot of moments worth noting — thank yous to DFW, recognition of our members’ commitment and support and some calls to action from our programs. We mashed it up in this brief video. Details
Haiti has the highest infant and maternal mortality rate in the Western Hemisphere, and the highest reported rate of cervical cancer in the world. Poverty and lack of education about their health and medical options, as well as a lack of providers, exacerbates the problems. Details
Social media makes it easy to stay in touch with our programs — with stories, activities and ideas. Follow along — and join the conversation — by bookmarking this page with the live Twitter feed from programs DFW has supported. Details
CeCe Comacho, chief operating officer of Sustainable Health Enterprises (SHE), joined us to talk about how the organization is tackling taboos, training teachers and developing innovative solutions to keep girls in school no matter what time of the month it is. Period.Details
Dining for Women announces three programs have been the first to be awarded grants under our new Reserve Program. All three programs focusing on educating women and girls — the most direct path to positive health and economic change. Details
Although our programs may have more than one impact area, there is always one overarching focus. A look at information on DFW featured programs from 2006 through the first half of 2015 reveals that to be education. Here’s an infographic with a few other key stats about our programs. Details
When ordinary people are suddenly and inexplicably surrounded by war, life as they know it can cease to exist. They become the collateral damage. They are teachers, cab drivers, lawyers, bakers, mothers, fathers, children – all running away from devastation and toward the unknown. Details
Gender inequality and violence against women walk hand in hand through the world. Dining for Women has supported more than a dozen programs that specifically work to stop violence against women, to help its victims re-enter society and reclaim their lives or to empower girls to have the confidence and the skills to say NO to violent practices like FGM and indentured servitude. Details
In 2012, DFW supported Starfish One by One by funding an education and internship program to empower girls in Guatemala. The class graduated in November 2014 and are moving on to start businesses or continue their educations. Read more. Details
By Jessie Cronan
Executive Director, Gardens for Health
More than 500 people gathered at the Gardens for Health farm in Rwanda on Friday, Nov. 7, 2014, for a very unique Thanksgiving celebration. Families enrolled in our program joined local officials, neighbors, and visitors, for a day of dancing, singing, and – of course – eating. Details
Jessie Cronan, executive director of Gardens for Health, joined Dr. Veena Khandke, interim program director of DFW, for a conversation about how her program is fighing malnutrition in Rwanda with education and farming techniques. Details
Dining for Women is pleased to announce its grant program for the first six months of 2015, which will provide more than $331,000 to grassroots program from Jordan to Haiti. The programs will directly benefit more than 13,500 women and girls, and countless more indirectly.
The programs work toward improved health, increased educational opportunities, training of healthcare workers to return to rural villages and medical care.
“This group of grantees all offer something new to Dining for Women,” notes Dr. Veena Khandke, interim program director. “These programs are innovative and collaborative,” she says, noting that they represent a strong cross-section of need from aiding Middle Eastern refugees to inventing a completely new and renewable process to make affordable sanitary pads for girls in Rwanda.
The featured programs are:
The Collateral Repair Project in Amman, Jordan, which focuses on providing support for women and families who have been displaced by war and unrest in the region. The program will provide therapy and wellness programs, health and nutrition support, leadership training to rebuild lost self-esteem and exposure to women-led organizations in Jordan.
Sustainable Health Enterprises (SHE) based in Rwanda will provide critical health education to young girls, along with manufacturing and distributing affordable go! Pads, made from a renewable source – banana fibers – and offering education and menstrual hygiene. Due to cultural norms and misinformation, girls are often excluded from school and social activities during menstruation. This program aims to break the silence around menstrual taboos in schools.
In Senegal, the Grandmother Project develops training and education programs to encourage grandmothers to be agents of change in their communities. The leaders program will include the development of reusable training materials and workshops as well as a series of “Under the tree” pilot training programs.
Cervical cancer is a major women’s health issue in Haiti where the Mama Baby Haiti program is launch a well woman project. The project will include screenings and treatment for cervical cancer as well as education on sexual health, risky behavior and sexually transmitted diseases.
Open fire cooking, which is the norm in Malawi, is a dangerous practice. Improper venting of fumes can cause serious respiratory illness for women and their families. Well-vented open cook stoves, such as a Changu Changu Moto stove provided by Ripple Africa can save lives as well as preserve the critical forests.
Women artisans in Rwanda have been benefitting from the entrepreneurial programs of Indego Africa. But a new program – the Leadership Academy — will offer women advanced business training and the opportunity to apply classroom learning in actual situations by managing cooperative programs.
In addition to these six programs, Dining for Women has also granted $75,000 to five programs we have selected for multi-year funding. They are: The BOMA Project, a program supporting micro-enterprises in Kenya; Matrichaya, which offers vocational training, health education, medical aid and literacy programs in Ranchi, India; Friendship Bridgeis a microloan program that works with women in Guatemala to assist them in starting, expanding or diversifying their business; Village Enterprises in Uganda works in partnership with the Jane Goodall Center to provide women entrepreneurs with business and conservation and work toward the goal of sustainable livelihoods and environmental awareness; and PINCC, a medical treatment and training program in India that treats cervical cancer, trains and educates professional staff and women on prevention and treatment.
Educating girls may be the key to changing the world, but it’s not as simple as providing books, pencils and school uniforms. Girls’ education involves safety and security, health and wellness, reproductive education, and even educating parents to value and support their daughter’s education. To celebrate the 2014 Day of the Girl (Oct. 11), Dining for Women sat down with three of our programs to talk about their holistic approaches — what they do, how it’s working and what cultural shifts they are seeing in their parts of the world. Details
There are a lot of reasons to check out Dining for Women virtually. You might be out of town on business and miss your regular chapter meeting. You might not have a local chapter but still want to be part of the organization. Or you may just want to see what we’re all about. Find out more about how to get connected with DFW virtually.Details
Former kamlari slaves have had their lives transformed thanks to the efforts of the Nepal Youth Foundation and the support of Dining for Women. They now are transforming the lives of other. An inspiring self-perpetuating cycle that we are proud to be part of. Details
Foundation Rwanda was our featured program in September 2013. This summer, chapter leader Reiko Johnson had an opportunity to visit Rwanda and meet some of the women during a peer support group session. Details
The Nepal Youth Foundation was our featured program in January 2012. Dining for Women funded the Indentured Daughters Program, which, with the official abolition of kamlari, has become the Empowering Freed Kamlaris program. We recently saw an inspiring television report on their success and asked for an inside look. This update on the organization’s efforts and the photos and success stories show the tremendous impact we can all have. Details
Two leadership changes have been announced by Dining for Women. Dr. Veena Khandke will take over as interim Program Director and Helen Borland will step into the co-leader’s role in the Southeast Region, replacing Alison Lively who is stepping down. Details
How does Dining for Women select its featured programs? It’s a strenuous and stringent process that requires a remarkable commitment by the volunteers who take it on. Take a walk through the process with Dr. Maggie Aziz, program director. Details
Dining for Women is troubled and saddened by the recent allegations swirling around Somaly Mam and her subsequent resignation. The internal and private investigation by her foundation comes after a Newsweek article brought to light gaps and inconsistencies in her story, as well as concerns about her leadership. Details
Six new programs that support safe childbirth, re-entry assistance for imprisoned women, microfinance and business training, nutrition and help for grandmothers raising orphaned children have been selected for funding in the second half of 2014.
We started our morning leaving our hotel, Utz Jay, which today I discovered means “good home”, to walk over to the Mayan Cultural Center where we would spend time with our third organization, Oxlajuj B’atz’, or Thirteen Threads.
Receiving a warm welcome by the ED Ana Socorro Cumatz, we enter to find a room full of beautiful Mayan women and an altar that has been set up for us to participate in a Mayan ceremony. We were given some background on the altar set before us. Oct. 9 is a particularly special day as the Nawal-Energy is B’eleje’ B’atz’ signifying the female energy of the universe. Details
We visited Mercado Global on Wednesday and saw a different side to traditional Mayan weaving. Mercado Global has 31 cooperatives with about 340 women across Guatemala. It is a fair trade fashion nonprofit that sells wholesale to Anthropologie, Lucky Brand Jeans, Levi’s, Red Envelope, Henri Bendel, Calypso, and some Japanese retailers, among others. Although it is based in New York, the bulk of the staff are in and around Panajachel. Mercado Global’s immediate goal is to double its number of cooperatives/women in the next year but its larger objective is to change how the fashion industry operates, especially since the majority of workers in the industry are low-paid women. Details
We woke to a glorious sunny morning in Pana today and after a quick (but delicious) breakfast of fruit and banana bread headed off to visit with Friendship Bridge located around the corner on Calle Santander.
We were greeted warmly by Marta Ixtuc, Communications Coordinator and all around promoter of Friendship Bridge’s mission. She gave us a quick overview of the Microcredit Plus Loan Program, which received a DFW grant in 2007, and emphasized their dual mission of providing loans as well as education to Guatemalan women since 1998. Details
After breakfast at our hotel, Utz Jay, this morning we took the one and a half block walk over to Starfish One by One. Melanie was our guide for the day and greeted our group with many hugs and warm welcomes!
After introductions to the staff and volunteers, they gave our ladies an overview of the services which include tutoring and mentorship programs for first generation high school students. Most of the girls are the first in the family to graduate due to many economic and social obstacles. This is where the work of the mentors fits in. Because parents haven’t received formal education, they often don’t understand the opportunities and benefits that can help the whole family after educating their daughters. The girls who are selected enter into a six-year leadership program. There are 220 girls currently enrolled. Since the pilot program in 2008, Starfish One by One has had 13 graduates, 7 of which are in university! For this team, it isn’t about how many, but rather how far one girl can go! Details
We started our tour of five visits to featured organizations at MayaWorks, spending the better part of Thursday and Friday there. MayaWorks uses traditional Mayan weaving techniques to create products for an American market, such as luggage tags and yoga bags. Jeannie Balanda is the director of MayaWorks and accompanied us both days to introduce the women, give background, and translate. We had the wonderful opportunity to meet with several groups of women weavers and seamstresses, as well as some of their students. Details
The Guatemala travelers: Front row L to R- Colleen Blanchfield( Detroit, MI) Sheila Cook (Columbia, SC) Sue Garcia (Erie, CO), Karen Rawley (Weavers Way, PA), Lynn McClenahan (Portland, OR). Middle Row (L-R): Lauren McCarthy (Minneapolis, MN), Sue Fernbach (Asheville, NC) , Cindy Badocious (OH), Meg Sears (Bowling Green, OH), Cristina Ramey (Atlanta, GA), Rosemary McGee (Abbington, PA), Caarol Huckabee (Danbury, CT), Kira Walker (Atlanta, GA- trip leader). Back row: Barbara Myers (Newton, CT), Stephanie Sawyer (CA), Erica Crawford (Santa Cruz, CA).
By Lauren McCarthy
We are all here! A few members of our group arrived early, but as of Wednesday at noon we have all made it safe and sound to Guatemala! We have had sunny and warm weather (about 75 degrees) and felt safe, although it is a bit conspicuous being with a group of 17 gringos.
After we got our luggage (and everyone’s arrived) and went through immigration and customs, we met our driver, Noah; tour leader Alfonso, and group leader Kira Walker, who were waiting for us. Details
Editor’s Note: Foundation Rwanda, this month’s featured program, addresses horrific situations that are the result and the legacy of the 1994 civil war. Rape, brutalization, genocide are not pretty and many of our members have been disturbed by some of the images. We provide an array of tools that can be used to learn about our programs – the video is only one. Due diligence – on all of our parts – to make sure we make members aware of sensitive content is important. But equally as important is understanding that there are horrible and ugly things in the world. We can’t help to change them, if we won’t open our eyes to them. This post looks at the sensitive balancing act we must try to walk.
By Patricia Andersson Portland, OR, chapter leader
Update #2 from Borneo: Our luck has been continuing on this trip — finding lost cameras, rains not arriving until the completion of a big celebration, and biggest of all — everyone staying happy and healthy. We’ve just wound up three amazing days with ASRI/Health in Harmony in Sukandana, and are heading off tomorrow to visit the orangutans. In Indonesian, the word orang-utan means “person of the forest” and indeed their word for person is orang, which makes it an easy one to remember. As always, I’m trying to learn a bit of the local language, and have down a few phrases, which I trot out much to the amusement of the local “orangs.” Occasionally I unknowingly toss in a little Spanish too, having only one file in my brain called “foreign language.” Big laughs, at my expense. Details
We began our day with a walking tour of Old Town Hoi An. Well preserved temples, pagodas and ancient homes line the vibrant narrow streets. UNESCO has named this a World Cultural Heritage Site. Centuries old structures gave us the feeling of walking through 16th century Viet Nam. Our guide bravely took us through the Hoi An market to look, not shop! The bustling market was bursting with exotic fresh fruits, vegetables fish ,and meats. Open kitchens serving fresh local dishes, flowers, and spices all contributed to the visual and aromatic delights. Artisans sold their crafts, vendors offered silk scarves, kitchen utensils and so much more. Details
Since our group split up to visit the women in the Children of Vietnam program, here are a few notes from Group Three’s meetings. The beneficiaries in our group were: Mai, Nhung, Mui, Trang, Chi, Dao, Bich, and Ha.
This is Mai’s story.
Mai has been in the Empowering Women Program since 2009. She is a hairdresser. Details
Living in Washington, DC, I tend to think of a nation or a destination in terms of its monuments and memorials. So, during this week in Vietnam, as I have seen 200-foot tall Buddhas, statues, etc., I immediately assume “National Monument” and try to find out what it is in my guidebook or from my Vietnamese contacts at home. Finally, one Vietnamese friend texted, “Remember, very few national treasures remain in Vietnam today.” Details
Why do we travel? Pico Iyer, the esteemed travel writer, says “We travel to open our hearts and eyes and learn more about the world than our newspapers will accommodate.” Certainly a Dining for Women trip does just that.
After a full first day, culminating with dinner and a water puppet show with the 13 sweet girls, age 4 to 16, of the Humanitarian Services for Children of Vietnam foster home, we started the second day slowly with a rickshaw ride. Details
There was definitely an energy of celebration in the air as we headed toward that hospital in the morning. Mother’s Day in Nicaragua is a national and obligatory holiday. Imagine that! Only the restaurants and stores are open and everyone is shopping for mom! As we passed the market, I saw a large table completely filled with mother´s day cakes, a yellow cake with bright white frosting and lots of red frosting roses with Felicidades a Mamá written across the top. I bet there were 50 of them, monitored by two young boys, towels in hand, swatting at the ubiquitous flies that were trying to land on these masterpieces. Details
The chairs were two deep in the hallways when we arrived at the hospital for our second day of the mission. By 11:00, we had interviewed 30 patients and were well into seeing them in the treatment rooms. There are usually 4 treatment rooms running at one time – each one lead by one of the four medical professionals on our trip. Pam, Ilana, Ann, and Karen. Our mission is to teach the Nicaraguan staff and ideally graduate them to teaching their own staffs in outlying hospitals how to perform the cervical screenings and remove pre-cancerous lesions on their own. Sadly, most of the clinics don´t have the equipment needed to remove the lesions, either by freezing them (cryotherapy) or excising them with a live wire (LEEP). Training is one issue and funding equipment to do so is another. Details
We began the day on the rooftop of the Hotel San Francisco, connecting our DFW hearts and minds with a gentle yoga practice overlooking the city of Granada. It felt so good to move and breathe together. I taught the group Trimurti and Yoni mudras (hand gestures associated with the feminine body, mind, and spirit), uniting our intention of women helping women, as we headed for Leon and the beginning of our true meaning for being in Nicaragua, our medical mission with PINCC, or Prevention International: No Cervical Cancer. Details
Manuel, our guide, and the lovely Flavia met us at 8:00 for our kayaking excursion on Lake Nicaragua. The double kayaks offered us a stable entry into the second largest fresh water lake in Latin America. We began our journey exploring the calm estuaries of the Peninsula de Asese. Surrounded by water lilies and mangroves, we wove in and out and around small islands that are most likely the result of volcanic activity from 10,000 years ago. Details
OK. We’re heading for Jubilee House – part of the Center for Development in Central America – and there is some confusion going on in the front seat. I hear jubilado which means ” retired” and I’m wondering if we might be somewhat off target, when we arrive, after numerous twists and turns, at the old folks home! Hardly the fair trade, conscious community we were hoping for. Details
The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. -Lau Tzu
Headed for Nicaragua TODAY – for a medical mission – my first! The opportunity is part of the Dining for Women program – thanks to Jill Haas for inviting me to be a part of the Milwaukee chapter. I will have the opportunity to visit numerous projects funded by this group – including a completely independent women’s sewing cooperative in Managua. Details
Today, we began our last day together in El Salvador. As we climbed into the van I found myself feeling a bit sad, as we have made such wonderful friendships in such a short period of time. We traveled to a local clinic not too far from our bed and breakfast, in San Miguelito. Details
Today was our second clinical day with PINCC, in a location they have yetto have the opportunity to work. We traveled to Soyapango, a distance outside of San Salvador, to work in another clinic that strongly served women´s and community health and was an urgent care facility at night, thus giving 24 hour care. Details
An early start to our first day with the PINCC team included a hearty breakfast at 6:30 and filling two vans that headed out of San Salvador to the town of Nejapa. There we joined 33 doctors and nurses for a day of training. The nurses and some of the doctors (this week known as students) learned about the disease process of cervical cancer and the visual inspection procedure with acetic acid (AKA common kitchen vinegar) known as VIA. This is the low cost, very transportable, visual screening that PINCC takes on the road to low-resource countries. Details
Today is Wednesday and I woke with a migraine. So I stayed home to sleep in my dark room until it passed. Waking in the early afternoon, I take this time to reflect on my first day at the clinic. Nearly 60 women were treated in an energetic setting of Salvadorean doctors whom PINCC has trained to teach the screening procedure (maestras). Also present were about 15 to 20 doctors and nurses being trained by the maestras to perform the vinegar procedure. Details
Today we worked at the clinic in San Jacinto, about 45 minutes outside of San Salvador. The doctors saw about 45 women. Once again, I was given the opportunity to do interviews. Nearly half of the women I interviewed had experienced some form of sexual abuse. They never included those experiences when they gave the number of their sex partners. There were psychologists on hand to counsel these women. Details
Our first day in action with PINCC sped by! Severe traffic delayed our start which added to the frenzy. We worked at a Pro Vida clinic in Nejapa, where women had already been screened for the services offered today. There was an entire courtyard of women waiting when we arrived! Work stations were established, rooms were stocked, paperwork was stacked and patients were seen. Details
Today we hiked around the perimeter of the volcano. On the hike the contrasts of the beautiful country of El Salvador were once more in evidence. Wizened bare chested men carried lush calla lilies and colorful tropical blooms on their bent backs. A woman in her thirties did not smile for the camera because her front teeth were missing. We pondered why they were missing from her mouthful of healthy teeth. Details
Today our travels took us northwest of San Salvador to visit two different archaeological sites. One was discovered in 1976 by accident, as land was being cleared for construction. It has since led to the unearthing of several homes from the year 590 AD, when an explosion of the Laguna Caldera covered the indigenous people and their homes with molten lava.
Typically there were three buildings in a housing complex: one for storage, one that served as a kitchen and one was for sleeping. However, after seeing the hard bed platforms in the dormitories, it was a far cry from what we know as beds today! Details
Visiting the women of Pajaro Flor in Suchitoto today was like visiting a success story that is written in Dining for Women language. Although not a program supported by DFW, it is a clear example of strong women taking a stand for their rights and empowering women in their community to better themselves and their families.
This group was founded in 1991 near the end of the Civil War in El Salvador when it was seen as an important time for women in the history of their country. The founders of Pajaro Flor seized the opportunity to help women access land of their own, increase the awareness of domestic violence and strongly denounce it, and encourage women to participate in their local communities and governments. Details
Yet another whirlwind day, filled with history and brutal truths of the Salvadorians’ not so distant past. We visited Arch Bishop Romero’s home and the chapel he was shot in while giving a mass to the people. He was killed by a sniper in March, 1980. He was so admired by the people of the country that 1 million attended his funeral in the central town square. Sadly, more snipers used this as an opportunity to kill 60 people on that Easter Sunday. Details
Today we traveled for an hour to San Luis Ranchos, along narrow and winding mountainous roads. We stared in awe at the vistas and gorges of tropical green forests along the way.
Arriving in a remote village, we were so excited to meet the women at the small center, made of metal walls and roof, which is supported by CIS and SEW (Salvadorean Enterprises for Women). We were greeted with open arms and huge smiles by Delmy, the community women’s organizer, and her team of four other mothers from the local area. Also, with them were two scholarship students who are in the process of attending university through the generosity of CIS. The women shared their stories and told us what their participation in the co-op (dying Indigo and sewing school uniforms for government contracts) has given them. Details
After months of correspondence and anticipation I finally got to meet our team outside the San Salvadorian airport in a humid 84 degrees. Although we came from all corners of the US, we speak DFW and instantly connected as sisters!!! Details
By Angie Maddox
It’s hard to believe almost a month has passed since my return from Kenya. I think of the people and landscape everyday – constantly throughout the day. I’m often asked about the experience and my response remains the same – Amazing! Incredibly kind people, gorgeous landscape, and I’m still very much processing the experience. Details
This morning I sit watching wildlife from the Mountain Lodge, our home (with WiFi) for a few hours before we begin our journey toward Maasai Mara. In my last post I mentioned visiting communities. One of the communities we visited a couple of days ago in the Samburu region is a community funded through The Boma Project. It’s difficult to express in words the experience and the feeling of being greeted and welcomed into this community – there were so many senses stimulated. Details
Before heading for the hospital, Patricia and Carol worked together to assemble the group, in full scrubs, for a photo. These two groups have melded seamlessly into one over the past 5 days. In our group meeting, the PINCC volunteers admitted they were skeptical about the “Dining for Women” volunteers when we came in on Sunday. They´d already had a full week together and were very close, but the lines have completely blurred now and I can sense a gratitude that flows beautifully both ways between all of us. Ann and Karen have even expressed an interest in joining a DFW group when they get home. Another full circle. Details
Julio, our guide, arrived at 8:00 sharp for our walking tour of Leon. After a few short blocks, he conscientiously sat us in the shade in front of a large mural that related the history of Nicaragua from its indigenous roots to the current president, Daniel Ortega. Interspersed with our history lesson, Julio encouraged members of our group to read aloud pieces of literature in English, merging sentiment and imagery with fact. Lezli and I took turns reading A Roosevelt by Rubén Darío, which speaks directly and frankly to the bullying of Latin America by the U.S. government. Details
Friday morning. Our last day with the medical mission. The workload was lighter than expected as a group of 19 women, that we were hoping would arrive from a distant village, were unfortunately not going to be able to make the trip to the clinic. The interpreters were sent into the hallways to do patient education and do interviews assessing the level of knowledge patients had about health issues in general, and cervical cancer, specifically. Details
By 8:00 a.m, we were in the hotel lobby, wearing our scrubs and ready to go. We each made a name tag that could be easily pronounced by our Nicaraguan patients. Lezli, Catarina, Daniela, Lina… then made some adjustments. The hospital was crowded, inside and out, packed with people waiting to be seen. We moved through the non-air conditioned hallways, heading toward the air conditioned conference room to meet the Nicaraguan doctors, nurses, and residents. This is a teaching hospital, and some of the medical staff has worked with PINCC in the past three years, practicing to gain proficiency with the procedures to prevent cervical cancer. Details