hi dear friends,
this will give you all the news from my second project. its here in Cuenca, and is a laundry that i started last year with the staff and residents of the Casa Maria Amor (CMA) which is a shelter for battered women and their children. unlike most shelters in the usa, the women actually live here for many months with their kids. in my opinion, they are quite heroic since they have already broken all conventions by leaving their abusive spouses/partners. they get absolutely no cultural support for this. i can remember when it was like this in the usa, can you?
when i came last year, with $6,000 in donations from friends and family, i helped them add a program they sorely needed: training for their economic lives outside the casa. this was the one piece which was missing from CMA's programs. they provided educational, legal, psychological and social work help, but did not have the resources for this much needed part. then i arrived with money and an idea, and the rest is history. like the project in San Cristóbal, this laundry - called Mujeres con Exíto or Successful Women in english - belongs compleatly to the women themselves. they comprise the board of directors who run it, make all decisions, pay all expenses, etc. CMA provides support from their social worker, but does not get any financial payment. Approximate 30 women worked there last year. after women leave CMA they can continue to work there.
Besides the continued successful operation of the laundry, i found new good news. the staff has acquired a grant from a NGO in Germany. it will allow the expansion to another business - food preparation, as well as 4 months of training. after the training, the women can make their own proposals for micro loans to start their own businesses. the grant gives CMA money and staff to accompany the women on this part, which i was not able to complete last year. Hurray!
it also fits beautifully with my plans to start a website when i get home. if i can do it, this website will connect people in the USA with women from CMA. on the site, one can view the women and their projects, make a "social loan" i.e. one where you get the principal back, but not the interest. the women will pay interest, but it will be used to pay the costs of administration and add to the loan fun. now i know there will be someone at CMA to administer this site from their end, i am so happy.
enough for now, but stay tuned...
besos y abrazos (kisses and hugs) to you all,