December Project Roundup
December 25, 2016
Bauya, Sierra Leone
Team Bauya continues to do an excellent job of walking alongside people in savings and agriculture. Eleven savings groups are still working together toward economic empowerment, with 57% of participants being women. Three of these groups will end their first cycle together with a share-out this month. The team is now working with 48 model and extension plots.
The end of the second growing season is bringing wonderful harvests to the farmers. These visible successes attract more farmers from surrounding communities who want to learn how they are achieving such high yields. This growth in interest speaks to the importance of raising up teachers from within who can be true catalysts for change, empowerment and lasting impact.
A fun and exciting development over the past few weeks has been the sharing of suckers from our original pineapple farm. Currently 10,916 suckers have been harvested and used to begin at least five smaller plantations in both the Bauya and Lunsar areas. Also, the two goat farming projects are doing well, and a new kid has been added to the herd.
Lunsar, Sierra Leone
Shanty and John continue to work hard and report both successes and failures. Sadly, one savings group has decided to stop their weekly contributions because of trust issues and pressures from family members. We are hoping they can overcome these difficulties and have offered assistance. The other four groups continue to contribute and grow in their understanding of the savings and loan process.
Overall, the agriculture projects are doing quite well, with only a few snags here and there. Because the rains are beginning to slow at the end of the second growing season, increased irrigation is becoming necessary, and pests in some locations are becoming a problem. The biggest pests of all are the goats. The solution is building fences; unfortunately, farmers are not always willing to commit the time for their construction. At Just Hope’s model plots in Lunsar, we are preparing to plant living fences of Jatropha curcas as an example of a more sustainable solution to the goat problem.
Team Ghana is faithfully looking forward to 2017, when Peter Mueller is no longer involved with day-to-day operations, and the team of locals takes on all responsibility. The past month has been a time of problem solving and perfecting skills. They have expressed in their 2017 plans their desire to recruit more participants, but their greater need to go deeper into existing relationships.
There are 30 savings groups, and the team is on target to have 33 by the end of 2016. We are now serving 655 participants with 59% participation by women. Last month, 94 loans were taken, for a total value of approximately $7,500.
Farmers for the 11 model plots have seen some fantastic harvests as well as struggles with weather and pests. These struggles present multiple reasons to spend more time walking alongside farmers and deepening trust. Time will allow our team of advocates to aid in the perfection of sustainable agriculture techniques and skills. It will allow growth in results to underscore importance of the techniques and new land and time management strategies. Perhaps most importantly, it will allow for the emergence of new farmer advocates within communities. It will be these informal advocates who bring about long lasting change and impact.
The students finished their final week of Survival Skills classes and English classes. Only Farah will be graduating from the program, and is already “practicing,” which is how they refer to interning, around the offices at Malambo. Farah had perfect attendance for the Deloitte workshops in Panama City held on eight consecutive Fridays. Maritza, Elva, and Alejandra also attended and did very well. Lucija, the Director over Transicion a la Vida, was responsible for including our girls and making sure they had all the information necessary to receive the training.
After she graduates, Farah will live with a Malambo staff member until she finds housing with other roommates as she goes to college. Malambo will subsidize her basic needs until she is on her own. We are excited to this first fledgling leave the nest and take flight!
The orphanage in Colon is under significant transition as the director, Sister Gloria, decides the next plan for where to move the girls who are 15 years old. The goal is to keep girls until they are in 9th grade (which is usually age 15) and then move them to other institutions in the community.
Our teachers, Karen and Melva, are in the process of determining where the students are going to be sent and how they can still be involved in Survival Skills and involved in our youth empowerment work. The teachers have received strong feedback from the students that they want to continue the program so they know how to live independently once they graduate.
Classes are well underway for 31 girls and 4 boys enrolled in our Survival Skills program in the Dominican Republic! Joanna is teaching the survival skills classes, and Harry is teaching the English classes. The students went on their first field trip, “Know My City.” They visited the fire department, the police department, grocery store, administration center, and other notable areas in the community such as churches and parks.
December, and the arrival of the second load of shoes, mark the bittersweet end of our support of the Survival Skills ministry in Honduras. Raul and Shannon have called, written, and left voice messages thrilled with the support Just Hope has given them to make their dream of their program a reality. They are making great impact with the young men they teach. Currently there are four living in the home and over 15 total enrolled in the program. This program has been recognized with national awards, even attracting the interest of the President’s wife.
Raul and Shannon are taking the lessons learned from the first load of shoes to move forward in a profitable way. They continue to praise that our initial “hand up” has empowered them to be self-sustainable in their programs beginning in January.
The banana plantation will be ready for harvest in January, and members of the leadership team plan to witness part of that process in person. Orlando has built a storage unit on site to stage the harvest in preparation for pickup. In November he averaged 12 employees per week, and that number will likely escalate as harvest approaches. He too has expressed much appreciation to Just Hope for allowing him this opportunity to employ people in his community with a crop that will provide long term jobs in an area where they are desperately needed.