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.

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