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November 2023 Newsletter

Proud Teacher and Students

Adriana Rivas, left in the photo, is a Co-partners success story, demonstrating our “learn, earn and lead” motto She learned to sew in one of the first  Co-partners sewing classes. This knowledge enabled her to get a job in a sewing factory in San Salvador. Now she has a dressmaking business in her home town and teaches sewing  classes for La Nueva Esperana on Saturday mornings.  

Adriana with two students, wearing their creations and volunteer, Jim Heinzen

 

Second Semester Enrollment

Second semester enrollment is always weaker than first semester, but we still consider it strong. This is the first time that Apastepeque has offered a cosmetology course and the leaders are pleased with enrollment.

Ilobasco

Electricity 19

Cosmetology 16

Dressmaking 18

English 16

Apastepeque Compared to Ilobasco’s 26 years, Apastepeque has only a nine-year history. The most recent training cycle began just before the pandemic which negatively affected enrollment at that time.

Cosmetology 11

Introduction to Computers 5

Sewing Sportswear 6


Knowing Our Limits

When we visited Guatemala in June, the Red de Mujeres told us about their desires for a micro-credit program. Twenty years ago Co-partners learned how challenging microcredit is. We discussed the Red de Mujeres desire for a microcredit program advising them that we did not feel confident to develop and manage a microcredit program, but that we would find someone who could. Enter Mary’s Pence, an organization similar to Co-partners in its focus on women, but specializing in micro-lending and looking for organizations to work with in Guatemala. Mary’s Pence supports grassroots women’s organizations in the Americas and has committed to donate three thousand dollars to the Red de Mujeres to be used in individual economic initiatives.

 


Chickens!

Copartners has been promoting chicken projects for several years in both Guatemala and El Salvador.  Chickens provide a good source of protein from eggs, as well as from the birds when they are no longer producing eggs.  Criollo (locally raised) chickens and their eggs often garner a premium price for their superior quality when compared to commercially raised chickens. As a protein source chickens and eggs offer the additional advantages that they are relatively easy to manage, they are of a size that can be consumed at a single meal, as opposed to larger animals like pigs that require refrigeration for surplus meat or special conservation measures such as smoking, canning or drying. The chicken project carried out by La Nueva Esperanza in Ilobasco, El Salvador was started in July of 2022, financed with a Rotary Club grant to Co-partners.  During our 2023 visit we verified with seven of the participating communities where each recipient (one per community) was given nine hens and a rooster plus  sheets of metal roofing and chicken wire as needed.  For their part, recipients contributed wood for construction and committed to provide an equal number of pullets (chicks) to two neighbors.  This has resulted to date with 17 families having chickens from these initial 7 recipients. The project’s primary focus is family nutrition, however surplus eggs are often sold or gifted to neighbors..  One beneficiary explained that since she isn’t buying eggs for her own family she saves about $7.00 a month. Three extra eggs a day provides her with 45 eggs every 2 weeks that she can sell for $0.20 ea. resulting in additional income of $18 a month. 

     There seem to be two primary approaches to managing chickens.  The chickens may be caged in a roofed structure walled with chicken wire. This is most common when the chickens are raised a distance from the family house or when predators are a problem.  The other method requires an open area (patio) that includes the house and out buildings with the chickens roaming freely among other family animals. For cats and dogs raised with the chickens it’s all one big happy family, with the family dog protecting the chickens from predators.  In the open patio management model, chickens fend for themselves in the open area confined only by perimeter fencing so that they don’t wander off, but also have a sheltered area where they can roost at night or escape inclement weather.


 


Eileen playing guitar and harmonica for a rollicking round of musical chairs.

 

Introducing our Newest Volunteer

For years, Eileen Joyner wanted to volunteer in Central America, but it wasn’t until this past

summer that she could actually do it. When she heard about the 2023 Co-Partners program in Guatemala and El Salvador, she signed up. Eileen was a wonderful addition to this year’s trip. She is a fluent Spanish speaker; has a background in educational programs for Spanish-speaking adults and youth and is a talented singer and player of guitar and harmonica.

      In Guatemala, Eileen enjoyed listening to the indigenous women as they discussed the

advantages of adding chickens to their already thriving pigs’ projects. She noticed the participation of three generations of families, all of them ready to learn new skills. Also in Guatemala, Eileen organized

arts and crafts with the children. When she took out her guitar, the kids enthusiastically played musical chairs and sang new songs in Spanish.

     !n Apastepeque, the women’s group impressed Eileen with the variety of programs they had organized to help women develop skills, which they could turn into income-producing occupations. Whether learning how to make their own patterns for dressmaking or the details of cosmetology the women were perfecting important skills, and Eileen enjoyed hearing their stories of success. She also heard the wrenching story of a mother whose son disappeared after being swept up in the government’s anti-gang activities.

    After her week in Guatemala and El Salvador,   Eileen is ready to return as soon as the next trip is planned.

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