Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Good News about the Genesis Spinning Co-op

We recently received this from JHC:

The Genesis Spinning Plant building is now home to a new grinder that can do 4,000 lbs. an hour and mixer that can mix 2,000 lbs every 5 minutes, making cattle feed to 1) give jobs to the Genesis co-op folks while we wait on spinning machinery and 2) use up byproduct from our organic sesame and cottonseed. We don't actually have cattle, we're hoping other people do and they want to buy some feed! According to people who know more than we do (not hard to find) we can put 11 people to work full time on this and if we hit the price point (we think we can) sell like crazy during the dry season November to May. Tomorrow we're making 10,000 lbs of feed to test the market. If it goes well, we should start into full production soon to be ready when the market needs feed in November. (Oh, and P.S. another co-op is LENDING us the machinery, so the initial investment on this was LOW!). We're keeping fingers crossed!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Betsey's Fund-raiser Yard Sale for JHC

Meghan wrote this:
Betsey made $183 for Jubilee House at her yard sale on Saturday (9/24/2011).  But there’s an even better story.  Back when Betsey was trying to raise the money to go to Nicaragua, Darren and Audrey (Betsey’s son and daughter-in-law) gave her a used Hyundai to sell.  The Soto family bought the car, and since then Catalina Soto has been making a little extra money cleaning for Betsey and Audrey.  When the Sotos heard about the need in Nicaragua, they wanted to help and brought a lot of items to sell at the sale.  But then Betsey’s husband Bruce got laid up with back trouble and Betsey thought she’d have to call off the sale.  The Sotos came to the rescue, offering to set up the sale and have their daughter Emmy stay all day on Saturday to help.  This wonderful connection between the Sotos and the Kenworthys is just one of the unexpected blessings of our trip to Nicaragua.

Our community of support for JHC is growing.  We got to talk to lots of people about Nicaragua at the sale, and many were moved to donate a little extra or pay more than we were asking for an item.  Betsey’s neighbors across the street, who Betsey hadn’t connected with in a long time, heard about Nicaragua and donated a TV and a sound system to the sale (both of which sold), and wouldn’t take any money for either.  It was a labor of love and felt like it from beginning to end.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Thanks from JHC and Genesis Co-op

Multnomah Monthly Meeting sent us to Nicaragua with this "traveling minute". 
We gave it to the Jubilee House folks and the Genesis Co-op members, and they wrote their thanks and blessings on it and returned it to us. The text of the "thank you" notes is below along with a photo of each one who wrote it:

Front side:

Greetings Friends! Thank you for sending this wonderful group of people to the Center to help, learn and broaden a relationship between our community the work and the people of Nicaragua.

Kathleen Murdock for the Jubilee House Community 

Pablo Gonzales

Ervín Estrada

Gloria Elena Aguirre – hola q’ el Señor los bendiga

Gloria Elena Aguirre – Hello, may the Lord bless you all.

Xiomara Experanza Obando – Hola estamos muy agradecidos por haber trabajado para nuestro proyecto. Que Dios los Bendiga.

Xiomara Experanza Obando – Hello we are very thankful that you have worked for our project. May God bless you.

Back side:

From Friends in Managua, Nicaragua to Friends in Portland, Greetings! What a blessing it was to have Multnomah Friends worship with us at the Managua Worship Group on 28 August 2001 (means 2011). We are a tiny worship group composed of a handful of resident attenders. Our ministry is to provide spiritual community for ourselves by also for the many Friends and friends of Friends who come to Nicaragua to learn and serve. The experience here for most is a powerful and life-enhancing one that we are privileged to accompany. What stands out most to e from our time of worship together was the joy Multnomah Friends seem to find in that worship experience. It was certainly a joy for us as well. Thank you for your support of this group from your Meeting, and may it be the beginning of a rich and fruitful relation(ship). 
In peace, Pat Floerke, Clerk Managua Worship Group

Sara Carolina Narváez González – Gracias por su apoyo y que el señor los (les) bendiga.

Sara Carolina Narváez González – Thanks for your support and may the lord bless you all.

Diana Murillo - Bendito de Dios que permite estos acontecimientos y ha permitido que nos conozcamos y ustedes ayudarnos. Que Dios bendiga sus entradas y salidas hoy y siempre.

Diana Murillo - I am blessed by God for permitting these things to happen and that we have gotten to know each other and that you have helped us. May God bless your comings and goings always.

María Mercedes Serano - Muchas gracias por su ayuda para nosotros en la mano de obra y su visita. Esperamos que regresen nuevamente. Que Dios les bendiga y les deseo un buen viaje.

María Mercedes Serano - Many thanks for helping us with the work and by visiting. We hope that you will return again. May God bless you all and I wish you a good trip.

Soy Martha Vílchez y me siento muy alegre porque hay personas como ustedes. Solídanos Cariñosos y bondadosos, con un gran corazón tan hermosos. Gracias por toda su entrega. Que Dios todo poderoso los bendiga mucho mucho. Gracias (Martha?)
I am Martha Vílchez and I feel very happy because there are people like all of you. In solidarity, caring and kindness, with a huge heart you are so beautiful.  Thanks for your visit. May the all powerful God bless you very very much. Thank you. (Martha?)

Soy Rosa Urbina. Que Dios les bendiga y los proteja siempre.  Siempre les deseamos muchas prosperidades en sus iglesias, en sus grupos. Gracias por la ayuda y por el amor que llevan en sus corazones - aman al prójimo. Gracias por ser como son blancos como la lana y llenos de amor. Buen viaje. Rosa U.

I am Rosa Urbina. May God bless you all and protect you always. We wish for you much prosperity in your churches – in your groups. Thanks for the help and for the love that you carry in your hearts-- loving your neighbors. Thanks for being as you are, white as wool and full of love. Rosa U.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

El Porveir - Photo-Video w/Audio

Here's a link to what Meghan put together from her photos and audio recordings at the El Porvenir Coffee Co-op and Community. It takes about 16 minutes to play - definitely worth the time if you're interested in what people can do with limited resources and wealth. 

About 3-1/2 minutes into the video you hear a reference to the landslide (lahar) cause by Hurricane Mitch in 1998 in the next village over. René of El Porvenir states that 2,500 people died in that landslide. I've created a Google Earth animation video showing some of the places we went to and the site of the 1998 lahar. This was a giant mudflow that buried two villages and killed about 2,500 people. Read more about that at:
or at
Note that the name "El Porvenir" was also used for a village a few miles away from the coffee co-op. This village was completely buried by the 1998 lahar, but the coffee co-op keeps the name.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Genesis Spinning Cooperative

This is Lew writing. I believe that I speak for most of the delegation when I say that one of our greatest concerns when it comes to supporting the Jubilee House Community is the Genesis Spinning Cooperative. We sat under the big shade tree with them and listened to several of the 18 co-op members talk about working for the last 4 years without pay and the  disappointment they felt when they were cheated and given junk machinery that could not be used. The lawsuit continues and provides hope, but  they need to see some success in their business soon. If you wish to help you may start by following the instructions on this link to send an email to those responsible for the problems.

Also, if you have some financial means, the VIDA fund created by Jubilee House will be an important source of support until a legal solution is achieved. Note that the VIDA fund accepts either donations or loans. The loans can be set up to pay back up to 5% annual interest over 5 years. JHC manages this fund. The VIDA fund and its predecessor funds have a perfect 15-year track record of paying back investors. Here is a direct link to information about the VIDA fund. At the bottom it says how to loan or donate to it.
While in Nicaragua, I spoke at length with Becca Mohally-Renk about the needs of the Genesis Cooperative and what their options are (or were at that time; end of August 2011). Of course receiving a proper settlement for the lawsuit would be ideal, but what we can help with most effectively now is getting the needed $125,000 into the VIDA fund. With that funding the Genesis Co-op could purchase used but functional spinning equipment in Costa Rica, disassemble it, ship it to the Genesis Co-op, reassemble it, and get it operating. This would take about 3 months from the time those funds are available. 

While this is not the complete set of machinery needed to produce the final cotton thread, it would make a huge difference for them in several ways. 
1.) The cotton "rope" they could then produce would not have to be fumigated to enter the US (as the baled cotton is now). Thus, it would become possible to export true organic cotton to the US and obtain a significantly higher price that they can now get from the baled cotton.
2.) This would boost both their income and their spirits.
3.) It would begin to prove to their families and the community that "the gringos" (Jubilee House) are not trying to cheat them.
4.) It would also help make funds from the Nicaraguan government more available; funds that are needed to further expand production to the final cotton thread.  

If you doubt the importance of using organic cotton, please visit this link.

If you can read Spanish you may wish to read directly what the Genesis Co-operative members have to say on their website;
I find the "profiles de socios" (member profiles) the most interesting part of their website. You may get something out of it even without reading fluently in Spanish. 
I would appreciate any comments you may wish to add to this blog entry or any of the previous entries. 

Lew Scholl 

PS Anything you wish to say to the Genesis Cooperative members offering your support or prayers, can be passed on by emailing the Jubilee House Community at: This could mean a lot to them - just knowing we are doing what we can for them.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Back Home for over a week - September 9

Things got busy during those last few days in Nicaragua. So it was hard to find time to focus on the blog. I've been telling folks for over a week now that we would be putting up more photos and writing more in the blog. Well The time has finally come. Meghan and I spent several hours on Monday going over the photos and creating a PicasaWeb slideshow. I have since gone through and added captions and tweaked a few things. In case you choose not to follow the link and watch the whole slide show, I am including a few of the photos here.

The most important part of our travels that we haven't yet written about is the trip to the "El Porvenir" coffee cooperative, which I consider the highlight of the whole experience. Also little was written before about Saturday's tour of the Masaya volcano,  and our the trip to the market. I will write a bit here about the trip to El Porvenir, but I expect that Josh also has much to say about his experience there related to his interest in coffee. Also, perhaps Becca could write about her experience there, as the medical team offered significant service to that community. Betsey also seemed very interested in the school and education there. During part of the visit, we spent over an hour sitting in a classroom talking with René, the current co-op director, about the community, the coffee business, the education of the young people and their hopes for the future. This was far more information than I can write about here. So please, when you see us, feel free to ask any of us about what we learned of this fascinating community and its cooperative coffee business. 

What I personally found most interesting about El Porvenir was its remote location and the fact that most houses in the community are well up on the side of a mountain and its main center is perched high on a ridge. Getting there from the Jubilee House Community in Ciudad Sandino requires a 3 hour drive including nearly an hour on a very rough and narrow dirt road, then an additional 45 minutes or more with everyone packed into a trailer like cattle clinging to the rails as it is towed up a steep rough cobblestone road to the village located 3 km (2 miles) away and 430 meters (1,400 feet) above the valley floor. 

The water supply system for the entire community of about 250 people (44 families) for much of the year is an old rainwater collection system. Of course that only works during the wet season. During the dry season (and I'm told it is very dry from November through May) they have to use some other source. Until about 2 years ago they had to haul water up the hill in a tank on that same trailer we rode in towed by the tractor for those 3 km. This changed about two years ago when a project, apparently inspired by Engineers Without Borders, provided the community with a small pipeline and a pumping system. Now during the dry season a 1-1/4" galvanized steel pipe about 3 km long along with an electric pump and an intermediate storage tank, provides enough flow to keep the large tank filled during the dry season. This is a great benefit to the village, as it frees up both people and machinery to concentrate more on farming activities. What amazed me about this system is that it raises the water nearly 1,400 feet from the valley floor to the community perched high above on a ridge. With all the improvement, though, people still have to limit themselves to about 2 gallons per day per person.

The picture below shows two water tanks on the right - apparently both used for drinking water. There is only that one TV antenna. The only electricity for running the one TV, belonging to René, is provided by charging an extra large vehicle battery on the tractor. There is also a small photo-voltaic system that is used for one small light and for charging cell phones:

The village is located approximately equidistant from two active volcanoes, San Cristobal and Telica, both about 7 miles away. From the deck of the main building, Telica is visible to the southeast. San Cristobal to the east, is not visible from El Porvenir as the view is blocked by the ridge top and another old dormant volcano.  Another active volcano, Momotombo was visible on during the drive north. The large number of active volcanoes in Nicaragua seems to be related to what we learned in the National Museum; that Nicaragua is geologically the youngest part of Central America. This Google Earth simulated air photo shows the community looking toward the Telica Volcano.

Here's the same actual view of Telica:

In struggling to understand the economics of the village and coffee co-op I asked about its annual income from coffee sales. I'm told that the gross income is about $60,000. Some of this goes to purchasing and maintaining equipment and purchasing supplies. So the amount that actually ends up in the hands of the people is considerably less than that. So perhaps the income represents less than about 50 cents per day per person for the 250 people there. It is true that they grow some (perhaps much) of their own food and it may also be that some have jobs or work occasionally out side the village area, but this provides a rough concept of how little people live on in Nicaragua. I'm told that a common wage for workers is about $2/day.