Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Meet my role models: Harriet and Sam Lapkin

Just before Pesah, Harriet Lapkin (Judy's mom) presented us with the most amazing birthday present: over $5,000 for Eliminate Poverty Now from more than 30 friends and family members. What an incredible gift! Harriet had started a fundraising campaign back in December. We had no idea it was happening, and we were blown away.

Here's what we plan to do with this lovely contribution. As you may know, Sam (Judy's dad) suggested some time ago that we focus on sewing as an income-generating activity. When we were in Libore, Niger in February, we saw the success of the Pencils for Kids sewing center which was the recipient of Eliminate Poverty Now's very first grant.

The students are able to sell their work in the local market. Their products are in enough demand that within a year new graduates are able to pay off the machines they receive on microcredit at graduation. John and I became very excited about starting another center, based on what had been learned in the first one. I wrote about it in an earlier blog post (http://judyandjohn-africa-2010.blogspot.com/2011/02/monday-february-14-2011-day-6-great.html).

Last week, Hamani Djibo - a wonderful, intelligent, hardworking young man and our first and closest Libore contact - reported that his NGO had evaluated several potential locations for a new sewing center. Galbal (another village in the Libore cluster) has 72 women who are interested in learning to sew, and the village has a building they can let us use to get started. The building will accommodate the first 30-35 women. Furthermore, there are two markets nearby at which the Galbal women can sell their products, and where they will not compete with the Libore sewing center graduates.

But the village expressed that they had an additional priority: the women don't even know how to read and write. (They probably never completed primary school.) To be better tailors, as well as to operate their own businesses, they should be literate. The village asked if we would bring in not only a master tailor, but a literacy teacher as well. For their part, the community offered to construct an addition to the classroom that they have made available for the sewing center. Isn't this an amazing story!

The total cost of this expanded learning/vocational center (including teachers salaries, repair of the existing building, sewing machines, classroom furniture, supplies, etc.) will be just under $9,000. In Africa, it costs relatively little to do so much good.

Our deepest thanks to all of you who participated in this most meaningful of birthday gifts. You will be changing the lives of these women - and of the families whose lives depend on them. If any other readers of this blog would like to join us, click here to donate.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Our amazing volunteer

Eliminate Poverty Now has the most amazing volunteer. Eliana Arian is truly an extraordinary young woman. She - along with the rest of the women in her family - has taken a real interest in Eliminate Poverty Now. They do so much: collect coins in a large jar on their kitchen counter, talk about our work with others, call with ideas for how to reach out to others, and lots more.

Eliana has involved her friends in the work we're doing. She and her friend Adar spent an afternoon packing up the beautiful notecards which are sold on our website, and which we give in appreciation for larger donations.

Eliminate Poverty Now is helping all these people lift themselves out of poverty.

And this week Eliana gave a 45 minute presentation about Eliminate Poverty Now!!! She spoke to the 8th grade girls at her school, Joseph Kushner Hebrew Academy, about all the work of Eliminate Poverty Now, with a special emphasis on Pads for Peace. There are about 20 girls, and lots of them want to participate in our penpal program. They will correspond with girls their age in the Sauri, Kenya Millennium Village Cluster.

The Sauri girls received the very large donation of Always pads from Procter & Gamble. Pads For Peace (with help from donors and the Congregation Agudath Israel Women's Seder) facilitated the gift, and paid for the transportation.

So if you know of any young people - and youth is a state of mind, right? - who want to volunteer, we'd love to have them. Let us know if you want help making a presentation about Eliminate Poverty Now - we have slideshows and prepared material you can share with the group. Some schools have started a penpal program (6th-8th graders, girls or boys). Other schools have run fundraisers to support a specific Eliminate Poverty Now project, like Little Rock Early Childhood Development Centre

Eliana has set a high standard, but now we have a role model to guide us!

Update on Trees for Kids

Last year, one of the first grants Eliminate Poverty Now made was $2500 for Trees for Kids. This program was initiated by Robin Mednick of Pencils for Kids and Dov Pasternak, then of ICRISAT, in response to the famine in Niger. It provided training and supplies to young people to graft fruit trees in Niger. Their wages were paid by the farmers who own the trees. At $10/tree, our grant paid for 250 trees to be grafted.

Now we have photos of the results. It's wonderful to see the kids grafting the trees in the early photos, and eating the fruit later on. I highly recommend reading Robin's comments on the photos. To do that, you need to watch the slideshow in full screen (click the little icon on the bottom right) and then click "show info" on the upper right.