Monday, February 28, 2005

New Links

Check out the new links on the right of the screen. We now have links to a photo gallery and to our archived monthly newsletters. Also, you can click on the "Paypal Donation" button and contribe directly to our ministry. Alternatively, you can click on the "Contribute" link to learn how to make your World Concern payments on the internet instead of having to send in monthly checks. Also, I plan on adding some longer journal entries and diatribes in the "Longer Missives" section. Thanks for reading!

More Flooding

The flooding continues in the Rio Grande area. The water had been receding, but Sunday morning another wave hit and the water rose to a higher level than it reached the week before. Our country director, Marcia Suarez, visited the area last week and brought some tents to some of the homeless families. But this is just a drop in the bucket compared to the needs in the area. These mini-disasters are sometimes hardest to deal with because the do not make it into the international news media, so donations do not come in like they should to help relieve the crisis. World Concern Bolivia would love to do more but our project budgets are too tight as it is. If you feel moved to help in this effort, please make a donation and designate it to the Rio Grande Flood Victims.

Also, in the Yapacani project area, the project motorcycle was stolen over the weekend. This was the only transportation for 10 project facilitators. There is no money in the budget to replace it and now the field workers have no way of quickly getting into some of the more remote project villages. It will cost about $1200 to replace. Please be praying for this need.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Flooding in Micro-Credit Project Areas

This is the rainy season in Bolivia and recent storms in the mountains have caused the Rio Grande to rise rapidly and flood many of the communities where we work through the CAMS micro-credit project. More than 160 families have lost their crops and have been forced to evacuate their homes and communities. This is a tragic loss for them personally because most do not have any alternative sources of income and the majority of their annual income would have come from the lost harvest. The CAMS program is working hard to put together a plan that will give them an emergency loan so they can replant after the waters recede, and we will give them an extended amount of time to pay off their old loans. This is the second time in ten years that this area has seen severe flooding. Many people will probably decide to leave the area completely, but this too is difficult because they do not have the cash necessary to buy new land in higher areas. Please pray for these families in the communities of "Dos de Agosto," "Villa Montero," and "El Plato." Pray that they will recover quickly from these losses and that World Concern and the CAMS program will know how best to respond to this emergency situation.

Friday, February 04, 2005

Reina weaving a hammock in Santo Corazon

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Reina in Santo Corazon

Reina and her daughters, pictured below, live in Santo Corazon, an isolated community several days away from the nearest town with public transportion. Trucks can only get into the area one or two months a year. During the other months people must walk or ride horseback for several days to get out to a main highway. There are no banks or public offices in Santo Corazon, and only a few small stores. They only have electricity two hours each evening. Before Reina joined the World Concern women's solidarity group called "El Progresso" she lived in a tiny one room mud house. Through this micro-credit and savings group she has gained access to small loans starting at $150. With this loan she bought yarn and other artisan material to begin knitting clothes, purses (like those in the picture), and weaving hammocks. She already had the skills to make these things but did not have the money she needed to invest in materials. As she has progressed in the group the last couple of years she has been able to sell many hammocks to local cowboys who live and work on the surrounding ranches. With the profits she has been able to add several rooms onto her house, pay for her children's food, clothing, and educational expenses, and beginning putting some savings in her group's savings fund, the "banco comunal." She attends monthly meetings where she learns small business management skills and where she is taking a course called "Biblical Values in the Marketplace." The local World Concern field worker, Iracema, makes sure that all of the members of her solidarity groups hear the Gospel message. With a good history of loan repayment, Reina now has access to loans of up to $400 per 6 month cycle. After several years of working and saving, women like Reina, will have saved enough money of their own so that they will not need to depend on credit from an organization like World Concern. It is exciting to see how quickly women like Reina can improve their families well-being with a lots of hard work, and a little help to get going. But the most important change Reina can make is from the inside. Once she accepts God's grace in her life, everything else will be brought into perspective.

Santo Corazon from the air

Reina and her daughters in Santo Corazon