Wednesday, September 26, 2012

over the river and through the woods

never know what you'll find in the campo
i've started working with local microcredit cooperatives in the campo near my site with one of my ngos.  these cooperatives are community banking and microcredit in their purest forms. the women come together on a schedule they decide and put in money to the bank.  then as members of the bank need money, they can take out loans at an interest rate set by the members and according to rules they have established.  because everyone is part of the same community it creates more motivation to pay back the loan and allows members who need extra cash to start a business endeavor or buy seed for farming to have access to the capital they need. it is really cool to see in action.

in the middle of no where 

doing an activity
my role with one of my organizations is to adapt our emprendendurismo curriculum to the more informal setting and give charlas (literally, "chats", but more of a training) on different topics related to running a business.  right now i'm doing ones on characteristics of entrepreneurs, the importance of planning (for a business or whatever they might want to take out money for), creativity, and ways to generate new ideas. the full plan for these charlas is still kind of being developed one week at a time as i decide what to talk about with the groups, but it is generally following our entrepreneurship curriculum that we have with PC.

saw this guy on the road somewhere

i've been out to several communities now, and usually it involves taking a cab to somewhere on the main road and then walking down some dirt road for a while to get to the community. literally, over the river and through the woods. sometimes with out  bridges to cross the river. once there, our setting is usually quite humble.  someone's home that has an area for people to come and sit while i talk.  usually it is between 15-20 people, mostly women.  the walls are made of bricks and mud and dirt floors. usually there is a nice smell of wood smoke wafting from the kitchen area as someone is preparing lunch. it reminds me of camping a lot.

a traditional kitchen.

i've also been helping out with some other activities in the campo for youth.  we did some charlas on self-esteem last week and also got to go on a nice long walk.  several times now when i've trekked out to the campo i arrive to find out we're either in the wrong place, or no one knew we were coming so we have to reschedule to come back later.  i've gotten to have some fun conversations and free coffee as a result though while we shoot the breeze for a while.  all in a days work here in nicaragua. haha.  as a result i spend a lot of time just chatting with rural women about their lives and how the credit co-ops have made a difference in their lives. i really enjoy that part a lot.
no one showed up for the charla? well let's chat then.
plastic furniture is a mainstay in nicaragua.
with one of my other orgs, i'm starting to develop similar courses.  one is going to be a two day workshop focused on finances and marketing for some people who have already started the process of forming a business, and then we are going to adapt the entrepreneurship course to a 3 month cycle to administer in a central location that people can come once a week to learn more.  unfortunately with that, we are going to start in october, but we'll have to stop until after christmas because the coffee harvest starts in november and the target audience will all be working in the hills picking coffee.  i got to go out to the campo and meet a few of the people they work with.  amatto, below, has a chicken farm and sells eggs in my town and some of the neighboring ones as well. 

he even hammed it up with a smile. i was shocked!
finally, even if nothing works out on a day out in the campo, i still get some great views. i love being up in the hills of nicaragua.

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