Hello, all! I hope you are having a happy weekend. Here follows the promised update about the jewelry and pastry workshops.
The Jewelry Workshop was Friday, July 26. It took place in the Casa Materna in Nancimí, since most of the participants were from Nancimí. The Casa Materna was a past project carried out in partnership with FSD. Many of the rural communities surrounding Nancimí lack medical clinics, so pregnant women would travel by foot to Nancimí in order to give birth. Unfortunately, as a result, many women went into labor en route to Nancimí, resulting in serious health hazards, even sometimes mortality, for the baby and the mother. The Casa Materna was built to give women a place where they could go two weeks before their due date, so that when they gave birth, they would be in a comfortable bed under medical care.
The Casa Materna in Nancimí.
The view from the Casa Materna--beautiful.
The workshop was facilitated by Yessenia, one of the promotoras who lives in Nancimí. She volunteered to go down to Las Salinas, learn how to make the jewelry from a fellow FSD intern, and then teach the workshop. She taught them a couple bracelet patterns, how to use the pliers, and how to make earrings.
Yessenia, in the red shirt, showing my host sisters how to make the bracelets.
During the workshop, each of the participants made a bracelet and a pair of earrings. That day, what they made was theirs to do with as they would—keep it, sell it, give it as a gift (one of the women actually gave me a bracelet she made with some extra beads, which put a huge smile on my face). But and the end of the workshop, they chose a day to meet again (the following Tuesday), and that day I would provide them with their “starter kits”—little packets of beads, thread, pliers, etc., so they would have the starting capital to start selling and making a profit.
This workshop and the subsequent “production day” were such heartwarming experiences for me. During the workshop, I loved seeing how excited the participants were to learn the patterns, and the enthusiasm with which they showed me what they made and let me to take their picture. They took such evident pride in creating something beautiful, which they could then use to supplement their household income. During the production day, when each participant had more materials to work with, they started getting creative and trying new designs. And then afterwards, when we were returning the chairs we had borrowed from the health clinic, I saw a couple of the participants already starting to sell their wares to women waiting for their appointments at the clinic. All three members of my host family attended as well. Valeria already sold two bracelets and a pair of earrings to her fellow students in her Saturday English class, and received a couple commissions for bracelets of a specific color. Araceli took the other two bracelets to work with her today to find clients there. It is so beautiful for me to see the women exercising their creativity and their entrepreneurship, and to know that these workshops have already made a difference in income of at least a few of them.
The Pastry Workshop was last Friday, August 2, in the Soda y Repostería Jenna here in Tola. It was facilitated by Doña Socorro, one of the women who works there. The participants learned three different recipes: donuts, turnover-style pastries (using two different fillings, one pineapple and one chicken and potato), and “cheese fingers”, or strips of cheese wrapped in pastry dough, fried, then rolled in sugar. Needless to say, I was very hungry by the time the workshop was over, and immensely enjoyed sampling the participants’ creations, and I can personally attest to how delicious they were.
It was also really lovely to see how the women all worked together during this workshop. When Doña Socorro demonstrated a technique, they would all gather around to watch, then switch off so that everyone could practice it. As the recipes progressed, they wordlessly divided up the tasks between each other, each one jumping in where something needed doing.
Doña Socorro, in the center, mixing ingredients for donuts and explaining the recipe, while the participants take notes.
Doña Socorro demonstrating how to knead the donut dough.
My host mom's sister-in-law (I guess that also makes her my host aunt) rolling out the donut dough.
Participants removing the donuts that have been cut from the rolled dough.
Doña Socorro deomnstrating how to wrap the cheese in pastry dough for the dedos de queso.
Doña Socorro explaining how to know when the donuts are ready to remove from the oil.
Pastries frying, chicken-potato pastries in one pot, pineapple in the other.
Finished donuts, rolled in sugar. Yum.
Finished dedos de queso. Yum, again.
They have scheduled their production day for this coming Saturday, August 10, and Doña Socorro has very kindly allowed them to use the kitchen at the Soda again. So that day, I will bring them another round of ingredients, they will practice the techniques they learned during the workshop, and then start selling their products.
In sum, I think the skills workshops went very well, and I cherished the opportunity to be present. I want to be sure to thank all my donors once again. Your generosity has already helped empower these women to find new ways of self expression and new ways of building economic stability.
As of tomorrow, I only have 2 weeks left in Nicaragua. Those two weeks will be quite full, with two more workshops, the pastry production day, a final report to complete, and some translations I need to finish up. But my, the time has flown. There are definitely some things I miss about home, but I have developed so much affection for my host family and host community, and it’s starting to hit me that I don’t have much time left here. So I’m trying to take advantage of the time I do have left to savor the beautiful relationships, nature, and culture (and fruit! I am going to dream about the mangoes here for the rest of my life) of this community.
I hope you have all had restful weekends, and I look forward to updating you soon!