The Pandemic: Programming Changes
As we reported in May, our “Learn, Earn and Lead” motto has temporarily changed to “Cure, Feed and Seed.” Co-partners is diverting funds from training to address the need for food and medicine resulting from the pandemic. Each of our three partner organizations identified the neediest families in their communities and provided necessary medicine or food. The Red de Mujeres in Chichicastenango came up with the idea of a seed program to supplement their food distribution and passed out seeds for planting in kitchen gardens to four hundred families-- radishes, carrots, zucchini, cucumbers, cilantro, and onions. In the fertile soil of Chichcastenango, the vegetables are growing like crazy.
What a great display of imaginative leadership by the Red de Mujeres.
Our two locally run training centers in El Salvador have target dates for resuming classes in January when they hope that schools will reopen.
The Pandemic: Fundraising Changes
For six years, 2014-2019 Co-partners received incredibly generous support from a popular Washington D.C. restaurant. Luis Reyes, a Salvadoran and co-owner of Lauriol Plaza gave us a beautiful space where we could sell Central American crafts, provided delicious food and gave us 50% of the take on the drinks sold. All we had to do was call our supporters and work with the Salvadoran embassy to advertise the event. We set up our crafts display and soon realized robust sales. In a good year, we earned about $3,000. How could we possibly duplicate this successful fundraising event without a gathering?
We did it by recruiting some of our exceptionally gifted friends and relatives to volunteer their talents and work with our technical maestro to record videos for performing via Zoom. The play list included fifteen virtuoso performers, even two with national reputations.
We sold two levels of tickets: general admission and premium admission. The purchase of a $100 premium admission included the delivery of a bottle of wine and four types of hors d’oeuvres by a costumed and masked board member.
A further change in our fundraising has been to set up on our website (www.copartners.org) our annual Christmas sales of crafts from Central America and donated jewelry. Do your Christmas shopping in El Salvador and Guatemala without leaving home!
There is one thing that has not changed in our fundraising—participation in the federal Government’s Coordinated Federal Campaign. If you are a government employee, please consider contributing to Co-partners through CFC. Our number is 61291.
Small is Still Beautiful
Small is Beautiful: A Study of Economics As If People Mattered is the title of a 1973 book by E. F. Schumacher. Twenty-some years later the Times Literary Supplement ranked it as one of the 100 most influential books published since World War II. The idea that something small-scale can be better than a large-scale equivalent describes the work of Co-partners. To begin to develop leadership skills, rural women learn on small projects with small budgets. Co-partners, as an all-volunteer organization needs funders that do not require complex grant applications. A perfect fit is the Rotary Club of Washington D. C.’s International Grant Program. Co-partners can manage their application process and the awards are the right size for novice managers in developing countries. In four of the last five years, the Washington D.C. Rotary club has awarded Co-partners grants ranging from two to five thousand dollars. The first award was for transportation scholarships for rural students hoping to study beyond the eighth grade available in their rural communities. The second award funded the Association La Nueva Esperanza in Ilobasco to purchase industrial sewing machines and establish a sewing
workshop. The third grant funded industrial sewing machines for the Apastepeque group. The fourth grant funded the Chickens for Chichi project in Chichicastenango, Guatemala. In October,
a second Rotary Club located in Westborough, MA, funded three new laptops for the computer classes in the Ilobasco training center. We are hoping that the Rotary Club of Washington D. C. will fund several additional laptops.
Chickens for Chichi
Similar to the US experience, COVID-19 is rampant in El Salvador and Guatemala where multi-generational households and close quarters make social distancing impossible. A wide range of preexisting conditions, lack of access to healthcare and a limited social safety net compound the situation. When there is work, the poor must work to eat, regardless of quarantines. Restrictions in Guatemala were not as strictly enforced as in El Salvador, allowing the Rotary funded Chickens for Chichi project to begin. The organization originally scheduled to provide training in raising chickens closed due to staff Covid-19 infections, but the energetic president of the Red de Mujeres located a second organization willing to give the training that has taken place every two weeks in the months of September and October. After each session, board members replicated the training in their communities. On October 24, forty-eight happy women took home two hundred and eighty-eight chickens. This project will provide much needed nutritional value to families living in extreme poverty further exacerbated by the pandemic.