Our loads considerably lightened after distributing baby clothes and supplies, maternity gowns and medical supplies, we spent some time in the town of Pucallpa. We took a boat ride in the lake and saw many vultures, tuki tuki birds and had a wonderful lunch at a floating restaurant with our friends that are beginning to feel like old friends – not strangers that we met five days ago!
We motored by the bathing spot for the vultures. After cleaning in the lake, they stand on the bank and spread their wings to dry. Very impressive! (some of us thought menacing would be a more appropriate adjective!)
There are many small green plants floating on the lake. They were so thick that the tuki tuki bird appeared to walk on water. When the tuki tuki found a promising plant, he would flip it over and eat the insects off the bottom.
We learned an interesting old tale. It was feared that dolphins stole women by impregnating them. No women were allowed to swim in the lake during the time they were fertile!
Tonight we head back to Lima and a few hours later we head to Puno and our home stays.
As we finish off the first part of our trip, I’d like to extend a sincere thanks to everyone who donated and helped us collect supplies. They were very gratefully received!
November 25 is the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. It’s a day selected to coincide with a date very important to the founders of the Maiposa DR Foundation. Read why.Details
Fifteen US-based DFW members embarked on a journey to Peru. Their first stop was an very special opportunity to break bread and join with DFW sisters in the Lima, Peru, chapter for a meeting, to share and learn about each other and about our featured program for October – Bumi Sehat. Chapter Leader Eli Bagnarol sends this post on the experience. Details
Dining for Women is pleased to announce its grant program for the first six months of 2015, which will provide more than $331,000 to grassroots program from Jordan to Haiti. The programs will directly benefit more than 13,500 women and girls, and countless more indirectly.
The programs work toward improved health, increased educational opportunities, training of healthcare workers to return to rural villages and medical care.
“This group of grantees all offer something new to Dining for Women,” notes Dr. Veena Khandke, interim program director. “These programs are innovative and collaborative,” she says, noting that they represent a strong cross-section of need from aiding Middle Eastern refugees to inventing a completely new and renewable process to make affordable sanitary pads for girls in Rwanda.
The featured programs are:
The Collateral Repair Project in Amman, Jordan, which focuses on providing support for women and families who have been displaced by war and unrest in the region. The program will provide therapy and wellness programs, health and nutrition support, leadership training to rebuild lost self-esteem and exposure to women-led organizations in Jordan.
Sustainable Health Enterprises (SHE) based in Rwanda will provide critical health education to young girls, along with manufacturing and distributing affordable go! Pads, made from a renewable source – banana fibers – and offering education and menstrual hygiene. Due to cultural norms and misinformation, girls are often excluded from school and social activities during menstruation. This program aims to break the silence around menstrual taboos in schools.
In Senegal, the Grandmother Project develops training and education programs to encourage grandmothers to be agents of change in their communities. The leaders program will include the development of reusable training materials and workshops as well as a series of “Under the tree” pilot training programs.
Cervical cancer is a major women’s health issue in Haiti where the Mama Baby Haiti program is launch a well woman project. The project will include screenings and treatment for cervical cancer as well as education on sexual health, risky behavior and sexually transmitted diseases.
Open fire cooking, which is the norm in Malawi, is a dangerous practice. Improper venting of fumes can cause serious respiratory illness for women and their families. Well-vented open cook stoves, such as a Changu Changu Moto stove provided by Ripple Africa can save lives as well as preserve the critical forests.
Women artisans in Rwanda have been benefitting from the entrepreneurial programs of Indego Africa. But a new program – the Leadership Academy — will offer women advanced business training and the opportunity to apply classroom learning in actual situations by managing cooperative programs.
In addition to these six programs, Dining for Women has also granted $75,000 to five programs we have selected for multi-year funding. They are: The BOMA Project, a program supporting micro-enterprises in Kenya; Matrichaya, which offers vocational training, health education, medical aid and literacy programs in Ranchi, India; Friendship Bridgeis a microloan program that works with women in Guatemala to assist them in starting, expanding or diversifying their business; Village Enterprises in Uganda works in partnership with the Jane Goodall Center to provide women entrepreneurs with business and conservation and work toward the goal of sustainable livelihoods and environmental awareness; and PINCC, a medical treatment and training program in India that treats cervical cancer, trains and educates professional staff and women on prevention and treatment.
Leaders, members and friends of Dining for Women met the weekend of Oct 10-12, 2014 in the Central Region to get to know each other better, to learn more about Dining for Women and to share experiences and information. Details
Educating girls may be the key to changing the world, but it’s not as simple as providing books, pencils and school uniforms. Girls’ education involves safety and security, health and wellness, reproductive education, and even educating parents to value and support their daughter’s education. To celebrate the 2014 Day of the Girl (Oct. 11), Dining for Women sat down with three of our programs to talk about their holistic approaches — what they do, how it’s working and what cultural shifts they are seeing in their parts of the world. Details
Beth Ellen Holimon brings 20 years of leadership experience
Beth Ellen Holimon, a resident of San Diego, CA, has more than 20 years of experience in nonprofit management, organization development and executive consulting, most recently as president of Holimon Planning and Coaching, a nationwide nonprofit and board consulting firm.Details
The Cascade Life community magazine profiled Jill Peirce, Central Region co-leader and Grand Rapids chapter leader, and her chapter. The linked file is a PDF version of this print-only publication. Go to page 17 for the story.
The Chestnut Hill Local reprinted a profile of Margaret Guthrie of Mt. Airy, PA, a 77-year-old author of eight published cookbooks. Margaret is a member of the Mt. Airy chapter, a prolific author and a dedicated community volunteer. Great story, great subject.
An article in The Coloradan gives a reporter’s personal perspective of a DFW dinner. The video clip shows the group reading the dinner affirmation – a nice moment. And the article is written first person by the reporter.
Marsha Wallace hosted a conversation with “A Path Appears” co-author Nicholas Kristof about the new book, the gains made in reducing extreme poverty and women’s equality — and the distance yet to go. The authors mention Dining for Women in several spots throughout the book. “Sheryl and I are such big fans of what you guys do,” Kristof said during the Hangout. View the on-demand video of this insightful conversation.Details
Is it luck, good fortune or just being in the right place at the right time. Whatever, DFW is the beneficiary of a lot of it — finding the right people when we need them, being in the right mind-space when we need to be. It’s luck the Dining for Women way — strategic serendipity.
There are a lot of reasons to check out Dining for Women virtually. You might be out of town on business and miss your regular chapter meeting. You might not have a local chapter but still want to be part of the organization. Or you may just want to see what we’re all about. Find out more about how to get connected with DFW virtually.Details
Many Dining for Women members and constituents raised questions about what would happen to the women supported by the Bond Street Theatre program when they are released from prison or once the US leaves Afghanistan. We posed these questions to Bond St.’s artistic director and founder, Joanna Sherman. Her answers are thoughtful and thought-provoking. Details
The October 2014 Proven Platter recipe is Chicken and Green Bean Salad (Lawar) – one of Bali’s most famous dishes. It’s also a major effort so be prepared for a lot of work. But it’s worth the effort! Details
Former kamlari slaves have had their lives transformed thanks to the efforts of the Nepal Youth Foundation and the support of Dining for Women. They now are transforming the lives of other. An inspiring self-perpetuating cycle that we are proud to be part of. Details
One of our members questions why we offer costly travel programs when that same money could go so far to support our programs. Patricia Andersson, DFW’s Travel Program Director, explores the responsibilities of privilege and the value of our trips. Details
Foundation Rwanda was our featured program in September 2013. This summer, chapter leader Reiko Johnson had an opportunity to visit Rwanda and meet some of the women during a peer support group session. Details
The Nepal Youth Foundation was our featured program in January 2012. Dining for Women funded the Indentured Daughters Program, which, with the official abolition of kamlari, has become the Empowering Freed Kamlaris program. We recently saw an inspiring television report on their success and asked for an inside look. This update on the organization’s efforts and the photos and success stories show the tremendous impact we can all have. Details
Two leadership changes have been announced by Dining for Women. Dr. Veena Khandke will take over as interim Program Director and Helen Borland will step into the co-leader’s role in the Southeast Region, replacing Alison Lively who is stepping down. Details
Ever wondered how to read about some of the trips the Travel Program has taken? This post will show you the easiest way to access the travel blogs, plus give you a taste of our recent trip to India.Details
How does Dining for Women select its featured programs? It’s a strenuous and stringent process that requires a remarkable commitment by the volunteers who take it on. Take a walk through the process with Dr. Maggie Aziz, program director. Details
Dining for Women is troubled and saddened by the recent allegations swirling around Somaly Mam and her subsequent resignation. The internal and private investigation by her foundation comes after a Newsweek article brought to light gaps and inconsistencies in her story, as well as concerns about her leadership. Details
The shocking kidnapping of 270 Nigerian schoolgirls has turned the world’s attention to human trafficking. Every day, in every country, people’s lives and futures are stolen from them. There is no easy answer, no quick fix. But we can take advantage of the opportunity to educate others on the widespread horror of modern-day slavery and to inspire them to join in efforts to change cultures for women around the world.
Life is a series of special connections and we never know where threads will lead you. Travel Program Director Patricia Andersson ties up the threads in this look at how the travel program and our October 2014 featured program Bumi Sehat are connected.
Marsha Wallace visited Louisville to meet with local chapters, to present at a University of Louisville-sponsored conference and stopped by WHAS11′s Great Day program. Joined by Louisville member Christy Haas, Marsha talked about the important role women play in the world and the power they have to change their communities when they are given a hand up. Take a listen. Details
Each month, recipe curator Linda McElroy will take a recipe from the featured program’s country and put it through its paces in her own kitchen. She will test it, tweak it and fine-tune it and you will benefit from her insights. This month it is a Mango and Coconut Tart, adapted from a traditional Tanzanian recipe. Mmmmmmm. Details
Six new programs that support safe childbirth, re-entry assistance for imprisoned women, microfinance and business training, nutrition and help for grandmothers raising orphaned children have been selected for funding in the second half of 2014.
Certain keywords help define ourselves and our values. DFW has four that we think describe the essence of who we are, what we value and how we work toward achieving our goals. Tell us if you agree and how you see those words in action. Details
Our travelers visiting Cambodia-Vietnam in February 2014 met several women who are beneficiaries of the work of Children of Vietnam and its Empowering Foundations program. Dang Thi Thanh’s story is one of them. Details
An article in the Santa Cruz (CA) Sentinel gives overview of Dining for Women purpose and activities as the organization gets ready to welcome Marsha Wallace for a March 2013 tour that will include television and radio programs as well as many chapter meetings!
Women and children in conflict zones around the world are far more likely to be killed, raped, injured and torn from their homes than actual combatants. The Women Peace and Security Act offers protection for women on the ground and a seat at the negotiating table. But it is languishing in Congress. What can DFW do to help?
Each of three small groups were guests at a beautiful, bountiful luncheon which had been prepared by single mothers – recipients of DFW micro-loans to Children of Vietnam’s Empowering Foundations for Women & Children (EFWC).
How appropriate that the last line of the DFW Dinner Affirmation reads, “May we all be able to feast together some day.”
(And then, of course, there were the dishes to do!!!)
Feb. 22 — Our day started off rainy and cool. We spent most of the morning in the wonderful Ethnographic museum learning about the 53 ethnic minorities which together make up 14 percent of the population. Later, we visited an ancient Confucian university with its lovely gardens and shrine. The rest of the day was deeply meaningful. Details
Karri Hemming, founder of the DFW chapter in Racine, WI, is active in the community’s efforts to create a safe haven for victims of human trafficking – a growing problem in the area. Hemming is executive director of the community’s Womens Resource Center.
Mary Caroline Mitchell and Rachel Broughton flank Dr. Ha Ngo, who visited their DFW chapter meeting.
By Mary Caroline Mitchell
Springfield, IL-3, Chapter Leader
Dr. Ha Ngo, Ph.D., is the director of a women’s empowerment program in Vietnam. Visiting the US as part of a program sponsored by the Department of State’s International Visitor Leadership Program, we were fortunate to have her join us for our February chapter meeting. The State Department program fosters citizen diplomacy and brought Dr. Ngo, the deputy director, Center for Education, Promotion and Empowerment of Women located in Hanoi, Vietnam, to Springfield. Details
Feb. 21 — Our first full day in Hanoi and what a day it was! Our first venture was a walking tour of the old city and our first lesson was learning how to venture down the sidewalk together and to cross a street and survive! We learned that we had to carefully venture out, never hesitating, never running, and not trying to go back. Details
FEB 19 — At 9AM sharp our group gathered together to finally meet each other and embark on our first day of adventure in Cambodia. We had an entire very warm day of touring the temples at Angkor Wat and Ta Prohm, the jungle temple. Details
DFW travelers receive blessing at a Buddhist monastery
By Thora Pabst
FEB 20 — Our group, perhaps a little worse for the wear, left bright and early for Tonle Sap Lake, the largest fresh water lake in Asia. This area supplies the majority of fish brought to the market. Life on the water can be challenging in so many ways. Homes are generally on stilts to receive the benefit of breezes and protection from rising waters during the rainy season. Modern amenities are virtually non-existent. Though their situations seems cobbled together, the residents appeared undeterred in their pursuit of daily life. Details
DFW recognizes that our mission of making a meaningful difference in the lives of women living in extreme poverty cannot be separate from our commitment to promote gender equality.
This is reflected in our recently revised vision statement: “We envision a world in which millions of lives have been transformed and extreme poverty has been reduced because Dining for Women has connected people in creative, powerful ways that assure gender equality. “
One of the most prevalent symptoms of gender inequality is gender-based violence. As Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn explained in the introduction to their book, Half the Sky, more women have been killed just because they are women than all the men killed in all the world wars of the 20th century combined.
Harmful practices like sex-selective abortion, female infanticide, suicide, honor killings, bride burnings, and rape are all components of gender-based violence. Estimates are that up to one in three women will be a victim of gender violence at some point, and in some countries, as many as 70 percent of women are victims. Gender-based violence, one of the most egregious of human rights violations, is a public health crisis and a barrier to some of the world’s greatest challenges: eradication of HIV and AIDS, extreme poverty and political stability in some of the world’s most conflict- ridden countries. Details
Our education team works hard each month to provide key information to enrich our members’ understanding of our featured program. But occasionally members or leaders have questions that aren’t addressed in our materials.
When that occurs, people may be contacting the program director or staff directly. Some of our funded programs report that they may be answering the same question from more than one DFW member or chapter. These can be time consuming calls for the program. But beyond that, if one program has a question, there’s a good chance others might as well.
There are some amazing things happening in dining rooms, kitchens, living rooms and great rooms across the country. Some of them are newsworthy – perhaps to a DFW audience or sometimes for a more general interest audience.
The most common content is photos – from anniversaries, fundraisers or meetings with special speakers. Social media gives us ways to share a lot of photos that don’t find a home on our website with a large audience every day. While photos tell a story, they do need a little help in the form of captions and descriptions. It’s important for us to know who’s in the photo, what they’re doing, where they are from and why it’s significant. Large group photos of your chapter do not need to identify each person; but photos of five or fewer should include IDs with first and last name, location, title and affiliation, from left to right.
With 8000 members spread out from Bangor to Santa Cruz, DFW uses email as the most efficient way to communicate. These messages include monthly newsletters, donation acknowledgements, tax receipts and other messages.
Dining for Women is very aware of the flood of emails all of us receive on a daily basis. To that end, in 2013 we significantly reduced our communications. Most months, the average member receives one email from us – The Dish; chapter leaders get two with the CL Newsletter. We have consolidated what used to be separate emails for new programs, trips or products into these monthly communications.
The Education Team has developed a slide show template we will use to offer each month’s program in a brief and consistent format, rather than requiring each grantee to develop a PowerPoint presentation. Beginning with our January Featured Program, presenters will have clearer options for sharing the month’s featured program in ways that work best for each chapter.
Annie Johnston (left) and Karen Faunt in the living room of Karen’s new home.
By Patricia Andersson Chapter leader, Portland
Annie Johnston could never have predicted that getting involved with our Portland Southeast chapter of DFW would allow her to once again visit the home where all her childhood family gatherings took place.
And Karen Faunt, long-time chapter member who’s also on DFW’s Program Selection Committee – as well as being the home’s new owner — would never have guessed that by hosting a DFW potluck, she’d be able to provide a new friend with a cherished walk down memory lane.
In Jacksonville, FL, First Coast News produced a multimedia feature story that aired on the local ABC and NBC affiliated networks in December 2013. Cheryl Tupper, the Jacksonville co-leader, and Michelin Tutein, who is launching a new chapter in the area, were both interviewed.
During the afternoon, we headed to the Munda tribal village on the outskirts of Ranchi. The projects in this village are overseen by Matrichaya graduate, Bacchan Devi. Bacchan is a shining example of the ever widening circle of women. When she heard about Matrichaya, she thought because she was uneducated, she wouldn’t qualify. Details
Barb Collins, co-founder of Dining for Woman, was elected as chair of the Board of Directors at its fall meeting in Newark, NJ. Barb takes over the chairmanship from acting chair Barbara Wagner. Details
Debbie Britt, right, and Cindy Ariel, left, with the retreat facilitators.
By Laura Haight
Operational retreats are a fairly common practice among big business and this fall two DFW regions employed the practice to bring leaders together to discuss a variety of topics.
Chapter leaders in the Mid-Atlantic and West had regional retreats in October.
Debbie Britt and Cindy Ariel, co-leaders in the Mid-Atlantic, brought in two facilitators – both are professional leadership coaches as well as DFW members – to run the program, which included a discussion of what is working at the chapter level and what could be improved, an idea-sharing discussion that “harvested” ideas from each member. Details
The day began with a visit to the Spoken English and Computer Literacy programs for girls. Each is a three-month program. These are introductory classes, and the current group of students has had only had one week of classes. All of the girls are from impoverished families. Details
The Pushkar Fair, also known as the Pushkar Cattle Market or the Pushkar Camel Fair, is a world famous event. It is held annually in the month of Kartika (October/November) ten days after the festival of Diwali. The Pushkar Fair is one of the largest cattle markets in all of Asia, and a major attraction for visitors to India. Details
Today is a day that all of us have been looking forward to since signing up for this Indian adventure. As we enter the Vatsalya building, we are again greeted by the lovely Jaimala. Today is a workshop day, so the women are sitting on the floor, sewing, measuring, and marking fabrics with Executive Director Colleen Cline. Details
On Nov. 9, after our visit to the Taj Mahal and on our way to the Agra Fort, we rode through an agricultural area with miles of recently harvested flat land, providing a respite from clamorous and congested Delhi. We saw no villages or houses, just the highway and farm land. In the middle of nowhere, a restaurant appeared, where we had a buffet lunch. Details
The Amber Fort in Rajhastan is yet another architectural marvel. We were all stunned by its beauty, design, and engineering — the result of almost unlimited resources. It was constructed by the Hindu Kachhawaha, who were allied with the powerful Muslim Mughal Empire. It was built in 1592 by Maharaja Man Singh I on the remains of an 11th century fort.
This morning we drove to the outskirts of Jaipur into the countryside and down a rugged dirt road to the orphanage run by the organization Vatsalya and directed by Jaimala, who has an MPH from University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. Details
The astonishing white dome, barely visible in the hazy morning sky, rose above the deep red stone wall. Just this preliminary glimpse of the iconic Taj Mahal was sufficient to bring a collective gasp of awe from our group. We had waited in line for an hour and a half and that moment made it all worthwhile.
We piled into the bus at 6:15am for a short ride to the Taj. Our most excellent guide, Sujata, secured our tickets and we joined the already lengthy line. We had heard the day before that the sky would be hazy in the morning, but we decided to take our chances, As we came at last to the red stone gate, the Taj Mahal was framed in the arch like a mirage. I was surprised to find, in spite of the growing crowd, that each of us could capture that moment on our cameras unobstructed.
Now the Taj could be seen in all its splendor. In the gauzy light, the Taj seemed constructed from the sky itself, floating above the earth. We spent quite a bit of time photographing the Taj and each other in front of the Taj, interspersed with long moments contemplating its ethereal beauty. We also had a group picture taken before making our way down the steps onto long path to the world’s most famous tomb.
We were up and out of the hotel by 6:45 a.m., headed back to Kairali spa for morning yoga in their beautiful garden. Our instructor, Swami Ganeshanand, is the founder and leader of Ananda (Bliss) Yoga. Dressed in traditional white guru garb, he moved us through an energetic practice focused on quick repetitive movements synchronized with powerful exhalations to detoxify, energize, and open the body and mind. The alignment cues were minimal – and as a yoga therapist – I was worried about the members of our group with lumbar and shoulder issues. My sense is that the acute focus on anatomy in the U.S. is a point where East and West diverge. Perhaps the truly integrated practice is a place where the traditional practice, with its emphasis on spirituality and energetcs, meets the modern view of wellness.
We ended with a lovely guided savasana, listening to the urban birds singing their Delhi morning songs. As we came to standing - Swami Ji announced that we would be ending with Laughter Yoga, throwing his arms up into the air and releasing the most contagious laugh I have ever heard in my life! We all joined in, arms extended toward each other with the Swami at the center of our circle. “It is important every day to laugh”, he said. “It releases stress and warms the spirit.” Wise words from our wise teacher.
Travelers on last weekend with their guide – Manuel (center). Back row (L-R): Sue Fernbach, Colleen Blanchfield, Cristina Ramey, Rosemary McGee, Sheila Cook Front row: Lauren McCarthy, Manuel and Lynn McClenahan
By Christine Ramey Atlanta (GA)
Friday morning, October 11th, we are up for our last day in Panajachel where we have until 10am before our journey to Antigua begins. Some of us head off to a used Huipil Market, others take a walk to Lake Atitlan to enjoy the view one last time and several wander the main streets of Calle Santader for some last minute bargain shopping.
At 10am, we load up our bus with our trusted driver of Four Directions, Noel, and take off. Not too long after taking a final ascent up our favorite windy road of Panajachel, we come to a complete stop amidst a parking lot of traffic. We discover that the local community is protesting the high cost of electricity. This puts a less than desirable kink in our journey, as we make the decision to turn around and head back down into Panajachel to take an alternate route. What would have been a roughly 2.5-3hour trip, quickly turned into a 5 hour ride! But, hey, we can at least say we experienced everything Guatemala has to offer, right! Details
Our DFW adventure officially began on Nov. 6, Wednesday, with everyone arriving throughout the day.
We met at Grace Home – situated in a trendy area of South Delhi – and a small group of us shared dinner and got to know each other. After breakfast on Thursday, we gathered together and shared our experiences with DFW. Taryn Walker, trip leader, also asked that we share an attribute we bring the group, and something we would like to work on personally while traveling in Inda. Details
Gloria Steinem, far right, with (from the left) Diane Wege Sherodan, Marsha Wallace, Elizabeth Howard, Jessica Neuwirth and Joan Davidson.
By Marsha Wallace Co-Founder, Dining for Women
My recent tour of the Northeast region was a dream come true,. It began with visits to the National Women’s Hall of Fame in Seneca Falls, N.Y., and Susan B. Anthony’s home in Rochester, and ended with dinner at friend’s apartment in New York City, where I had the privilege of spending the evening with Gloria Steinem.
I was thrilled to be able to share the mission of DFW with Steinem, who remarked that our model of fostering meaningful connections and thought-provoking dialogue among our members “is how the feminist movement gained momentum. …Making enough room for discussion is critical for deepening our understanding of the issues.” Details
After attending a fundraising event in Albany in September, the Albany Times-Union followed up with area chapter leader Rosemary Revoir and published a blog post about DFW’s mission and the camaraderie of our chapters that fuels it.
Technology has put incredibly high-end photography features into the hands of everyone with a smartphone, but it hasn’t done a great job of educating this new class of photographer.
This becomes a problem for us when media calls and wants a “high-resolution” photo for print publication. This primer may help you understand some basics of managing digital photos – whether it’s personal or professional.
We started our morning leaving our hotel, Utz Jay, which today I discovered means “good home”, to walk over to the Mayan Cultural Center where we would spend time with our third organization, Oxlajuj B’atz’, or Thirteen Threads.
Receiving a warm welcome by the ED Ana Socorro Cumatz, we enter to find a room full of beautiful Mayan women and an altar that has been set up for us to participate in a Mayan ceremony. We were given some background on the altar set before us. Oct. 9 is a particularly special day as the Nawal-Energy is B’eleje’ B’atz’ signifying the female energy of the universe. Details
We visited Mercado Global on Wednesday and saw a different side to traditional Mayan weaving. Mercado Global has 31 cooperatives with about 340 women across Guatemala. It is a fair trade fashion nonprofit that sells wholesale to Anthropologie, Lucky Brand Jeans, Levi’s, Red Envelope, Henri Bendel, Calypso, and some Japanese retailers, among others. Although it is based in New York, the bulk of the staff are in and around Panajachel. Mercado Global’s immediate goal is to double its number of cooperatives/women in the next year but its larger objective is to change how the fashion industry operates, especially since the majority of workers in the industry are low-paid women. Details
We woke to a glorious sunny morning in Pana today and after a quick (but delicious) breakfast of fruit and banana bread headed off to visit with Friendship Bridge located around the corner on Calle Santander.
We were greeted warmly by Marta Ixtuc, Communications Coordinator and all around promoter of Friendship Bridge’s mission. She gave us a quick overview of the Microcredit Plus Loan Program, which received a DFW grant in 2007, and emphasized their dual mission of providing loans as well as education to Guatemalan women since 1998. Details
After breakfast at our hotel, Utz Jay, this morning we took the one and a half block walk over to Starfish One by One. Melanie was our guide for the day and greeted our group with many hugs and warm welcomes!
After introductions to the staff and volunteers, they gave our ladies an overview of the services which include tutoring and mentorship programs for first generation high school students. Most of the girls are the first in the family to graduate due to many economic and social obstacles. This is where the work of the mentors fits in. Because parents haven’t received formal education, they often don’t understand the opportunities and benefits that can help the whole family after educating their daughters. The girls who are selected enter into a six-year leadership program. There are 220 girls currently enrolled. Since the pilot program in 2008, Starfish One by One has had 13 graduates, 7 of which are in university! For this team, it isn’t about how many, but rather how far one girl can go! Details
View of Volcán Atitlán, Volcán Tomilán & Volcán San Pedro at Lake Atitlán overlook.
By Christine Ramey
Another early day greets us as we wake up in Panajachel for breakfast at 7am. Once our bellies are full and happy, we are all gathered up and ready for our bus ride to Totonicapán, a 100-kilometer ride through very windy mountainous terrain, which left a few of us (me included) a little queasy. We are with our same guide from yesterday, Julio with Four Directions, who starts our morning off with a question, “is your heart happy today?” Which definitely puts one in a great mood! Before we took off officially from Panajachel, we stopped off at an overlook to see the gorgeous view of Lake Atitlán with three of their volcanos set as the backdrop; Volcán Atitlán, Volcán Tomilán & Volcán San Pedro. Some of the ladies even managed to get in some early shopping of jewelry and handmade figurines, as there were street vendors at the stop. Details
We started our tour of five visits to featured organizations at MayaWorks, spending the better part of Thursday and Friday there. MayaWorks uses traditional Mayan weaving techniques to create products for an American market, such as luggage tags and yoga bags. Jeannie Balanda is the director of MayaWorks and accompanied us both days to introduce the women, give background, and translate. We had the wonderful opportunity to meet with several groups of women weavers and seamstresses, as well as some of their students. Details
The Guatemala travelers: Front row L to R- Colleen Blanchfield( Detroit, MI) Sheila Cook (Columbia, SC) Sue Garcia (Erie, CO), Karen Rawley (Weavers Way, PA), Lynn McClenahan (Portland, OR). Middle Row (L-R): Lauren McCarthy (Minneapolis, MN), Sue Fernbach (Asheville, NC) , Cindy Badocious (OH), Meg Sears (Bowling Green, OH), Cristina Ramey (Atlanta, GA), Rosemary McGee (Abbington, PA), Caarol Huckabee (Danbury, CT), Kira Walker (Atlanta, GA- trip leader). Back row: Barbara Myers (Newton, CT), Stephanie Sawyer (CA), Erica Crawford (Santa Cruz, CA).
By Lauren McCarthy
We are all here! A few members of our group arrived early, but as of Wednesday at noon we have all made it safe and sound to Guatemala! We have had sunny and warm weather (about 75 degrees) and felt safe, although it is a bit conspicuous being with a group of 17 gringos.
After we got our luggage (and everyone’s arrived) and went through immigration and customs, we met our driver, Noah; tour leader Alfonso, and group leader Kira Walker, who were waiting for us. Details
Marsha Wallace, DFW Co-Founder, in front of our video in Times Square
By Laura Haight DFW Communications Director
A 10-second public service announcement for Dining for Women is now appearing on the CBS Superscreen in Times Square.
The video, which will run through Jan. 4, focuses on the future for women that Dining for Women works to secure – strong women, who are skilled and able to support healthy and happy families with hope for a better world for their daughters to grow up in. Details
A lot of classy ladies (like co-founder Marsha Wallace and Executive Director Jamye Cooper, to name a few) appear in this photo spread in Greenville’s top shelf magazine, Town. They covered a reception hosted by Women of the Peace Center for Marsha and 65 special guests. – October 2013
Girls are more likely to be left behind, left out, left off – just because they are girls.
This simple fact has been the focus of complex global initiatives undertaken since 2002 that include the Millennium Development Goals and UNESCO’s Education for All campaign. Since then, progress has been made toward parity in educational opportunities at the primary level, but a massive UNESCO global report on gender inequality, notes that those drop off at the secondary and college levels. Details
Editor’s Note: Foundation Rwanda, this month’s featured program, addresses horrific situations that are the result and the legacy of the 1994 civil war. Rape, brutalization, genocide are not pretty and many of our members have been disturbed by some of the images. We provide an array of tools that can be used to learn about our programs – the video is only one. Due diligence - on all of our parts – to make sure we make members aware of sensitive content is important. But equally as important is understanding that there are horrible and ugly things in the world. We can’t help to change them, if we won’t open our eyes to them. This post looks at the sensitive balancing act we must try to walk.
The International Violence Against Women Act is one of several important pieces of legislation around the world needed to stop stoning, rape, assault and other forms of inhumane and degrading treatment of women around the world.
By Laura Haight Communications Director, Dining for Women
On the wall in my office there’s a map showing newspapers and periodicals in a portion of the country based on data from the 1880 Census. It is actually one of the first infographics with red triangles showing dailies, blue dots showing weeklies, squares showing periodicals and different colors denoting the number of each in the area. There is hardly a town not covered with dots, triangles and circles.
Today, there are many fewer formal publications and yet probably even more communication channels when one considers blogs, websites, tweeters and more. Nonetheless, when a group, business or non-profit wants to get information out they turn to the established media: newspapers, television stations, magazines and, perhaps, established mainstream blogs.
Often, they find they don’t get the response they expected. So here are five tips to get your press release or information noticed.
Lysa Salsbury wrote a post on the University of Idaho’s Women’s Center blog about her first exposure to Dining for Women when a friend invited her to a meeting. Her article talked in equal parts about the concept of DFW, the featured program (One Heart) and the experience of the meeting. The Women’s Center’s mission – as stated on the blog – dovetails with ours: To promote and advocate for gender equity on campus and in the community through programs and services that educate and support all individuals in building an inclusive and compassionate society.
Editor’s Note: Jeanette is the daughter of DFW co-founder Barb Collins. We asked her to be our roving reporter during the 10th anniversary weekend and record her impressions, special moments and emotions from the event.
By Jeanette Collins
I was 13 when I first heard of Dining for Women.
Marsha Wallace and my mom, Barb Collins, have done an amazing thing: They took an idea and made it a reality. I feel honored to have grown up with what began as one small gathering and is now an international organization changing the lives of women and girls. Details
The Women Peace and Security agenda’s goal is to empower women – representing half the world’s population – as equal partners in preventing conflict and building peace in countries threatened by war and violence. Details
A group of journalists known as The Documentary Group were looking for ways to continue the work of a media icon – Peter Jennings – after his death in 2005. They wanted to do the work that he would have done – telling important stories that can effect change in the world.
Their focus became ending global poverty – a pervasive issue with many causes. But as they researched the topic, reaching out to experts in many different fields including international development, public health, peace and security, economic politics, one message came clear.
Cari Class started her DFW chapter in Santa Cruz, CA, nearly six years ago. “That same passion for what we’re doing as an organization, which just rocks my world and gives me a deep sense of purpose in my life, is no less vibrant today than the day I started,” says Class, whose energetic presentation drew cheers and applause from conference attendees. Details
If you talked to your child’s teacher, questioned your doctor or sent a letter to the editor of your paper, then you have acted as an advocate.
“We are each advocating for a host of important community and personal issues every single day,” noted Nancy Delaney, manager of community engagement for Oxfam America. “As members of the Dining for Women community, you’ve each become advocates for the women and girls whose lives and dreams you support.” Details
Food – cooking it and sharing it – is a part of who we are. But it got started that way because co-founder Marsha Wallace, who admits she’s not much of a cook, liked the idea of people bringing food over to her house. For more interesting details, check out this in a Philanthropy Journal story about DFW, Marsha’s contribution to the Women for Women cookbook, and our 10th anniversary #DFW10year this weekend.
A very nice web post from Anchal Executive Director Colleen Clines reflecting on her experience at our 10th anniversary conference. We loved having Anchal there – to display the beautiful quilts and scarves and to help us see and understand more about the impact Dining for Women is having.
It’s nice to see student journalists covering Dining for Women. The St. Rose Chronicle, a student newspaper at The College of St. Rose at Albany, NY, wrote an article about the Albany chapter’s meetings – potluck meets global discussion.
By Patricia Andersson Portland, OR, chapter leader
Update #2 from Borneo: Our luck has been continuing on this trip — finding lost cameras, rains not arriving until the completion of a big celebration, and biggest of all — everyone staying happy and healthy. We’ve just wound up three amazing days with ASRI/Health in Harmony in Sukandana, and are heading off tomorrow to visit the orangutans. In Indonesian, the word orang-utan means “person of the forest” and indeed their word for person is orang, which makes it an easy one to remember. As always, I’m trying to learn a bit of the local language, and have down a few phrases, which I trot out much to the amusement of the local “orangs.” Occasionally I unknowingly toss in a little Spanish too, having only one file in my brain called “foreign language.” Big laughs, at my expense. Details
Beth Gaines and Susan Altman, co-chairs of the Cedar City, UT, chapter were interviewed by The Spectrum. The article is substantive and talks about how the pair learned about DFW and decided to start a chapter.
We began our day with a walking tour of Old Town Hoi An. Well preserved temples, pagodas and ancient homes line the vibrant narrow streets. UNESCO has named this a World Cultural Heritage Site. Centuries old structures gave us the feeling of walking through 16th century Viet Nam. Our guide bravely took us through the Hoi An market to look, not shop! The bustling market was bursting with exotic fresh fruits, vegetables fish ,and meats. Open kitchens serving fresh local dishes, flowers, and spices all contributed to the visual and aromatic delights. Artisans sold their crafts, vendors offered silk scarves, kitchen utensils and so much more. Details
Kay Smith, chapter leader in Provo, UT, is spotlighted in an article in The Daily Herald. The article notes that there are now three DFW chapters in Utah – that’s pretty exciting. Smith is also one of our international travelers and visited Vietnam in March 2013.
Since our group split up to visit the women in the Children of Vietnam program, here are a few notes from Group Three’s meetings. The beneficiaries in our group were: Mai, Nhung, Mui, Trang, Chi, Dao, Bich, and Ha.
This is Mai’s story.
Mai has been in the Empowering Women Program since 2009. She is a hairdresser. Details
Living in Washington, DC, I tend to think of a nation or a destination in terms of its monuments and memorials. So, during this week in Vietnam, as I have seen 200-foot tall Buddhas, statues, etc., I immediately assume “National Monument” and try to find out what it is in my guidebook or from my Vietnamese contacts at home. Finally, one Vietnamese friend texted, “Remember, very few national treasures remain in Vietnam today.” Details
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton applauded the efforts of Dining for Women and its “deep and transformational” impact in a letter sent to the organization and released at an event in Manchester, NH., on Tuesday March 26, 2013. Details
Kay Wynn has written a column in the Sulphur (LA) Daily News about why it is important that we open our eyes to problems that are so far away. She talks about how she became involved with Dining for Women and how her faith influenced her decision to become involved.
Why do we travel? Pico Iyer, the esteemed travel writer, says “We travel to open our hearts and eyes and learn more about the world than our newspapers will accommodate.” Certainly a Dining for Women trip does just that.
After a full first day, culminating with dinner and a water puppet show with the 13 sweet girls, age 4 to 16, of the Humanitarian Services for Children of Vietnam foster home, we started the second day slowly with a rickshaw ride. Details
By Lynn Broadbent Fairfax Station, Virginia chapter member
On March 8, our journey began. My flight out of Washington, DC was 14 hours into Seoul. The first lovely surprise was the flight itself and the delightful Korean Air crew. I watched four movies and enjoyed some authentic Korean dishes, and glimpses out the window of mountains, snow, and eventually the beautiful suspension bridge of Seoul. Details
Read Article Kristi York Wooten, a blogger and women’s advocate, writes on the Huffington Post about 7 ways to celebrate International Women’s Day. She mentions Dining for Women and some other great ideas that we can use every day of the year.
There was definitely an energy of celebration in the air as we headed toward that hospital in the morning. Mother’s Day in Nicaragua is a national and obligatory holiday. Imagine that! Only the restaurants and stores are open and everyone is shopping for mom! As we passed the market, I saw a large table completely filled with mother´s day cakes, a yellow cake with bright white frosting and lots of red frosting roses with Felicidades a Mamá written across the top. I bet there were 50 of them, monitored by two young boys, towels in hand, swatting at the ubiquitous flies that were trying to land on these masterpieces. Details
The chairs were two deep in the hallways when we arrived at the hospital for our second day of the mission. By 11:00, we had interviewed 30 patients and were well into seeing them in the treatment rooms. There are usually 4 treatment rooms running at one time – each one lead by one of the four medical professionals on our trip. Pam, Ilana, Ann, and Karen. Our mission is to teach the Nicaraguan staff and ideally graduate them to teaching their own staffs in outlying hospitals how to perform the cervical screenings and remove pre-cancerous lesions on their own. Sadly, most of the clinics don´t have the equipment needed to remove the lesions, either by freezing them (cryotherapy) or excising them with a live wire (LEEP). Training is one issue and funding equipment to do so is another. Details
We began the day on the rooftop of the Hotel San Francisco, connecting our DFW hearts and minds with a gentle yoga practice overlooking the city of Granada. It felt so good to move and breathe together. I taught the group Trimurti and Yoni mudras (hand gestures associated with the feminine body, mind, and spirit), uniting our intention of women helping women, as we headed for Leon and the beginning of our true meaning for being in Nicaragua, our medical mission with PINCC, or Prevention International: No Cervical Cancer. Details
Manuel, our guide, and the lovely Flavia met us at 8:00 for our kayaking excursion on Lake Nicaragua. The double kayaks offered us a stable entry into the second largest fresh water lake in Latin America. We began our journey exploring the calm estuaries of the Peninsula de Asese. Surrounded by water lilies and mangroves, we wove in and out and around small islands that are most likely the result of volcanic activity from 10,000 years ago. Details
OK. We’re heading for Jubilee House – part of the Center for Development in Central America – and there is some confusion going on in the front seat. I hear jubilado which means ” retired” and I’m wondering if we might be somewhat off target, when we arrive, after numerous twists and turns, at the old folks home! Hardly the fair trade, conscious community we were hoping for. Details
The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. -Lau Tzu
Headed for Nicaragua TODAY – for a medical mission – my first! The opportunity is part of the Dining for Women program – thanks to Jill Haas for inviting me to be a part of the Milwaukee chapter. I will have the opportunity to visit numerous projects funded by this group – including a completely independent women’s sewing cooperative in Managua. Details
Today, we began our last day together in El Salvador. As we climbed into the van I found myself feeling a bit sad, as we have made such wonderful friendships in such a short period of time. We traveled to a local clinic not too far from our bed and breakfast, in San Miguelito. Details
Today was our second clinical day with PINCC, in a location they have yetto have the opportunity to work. We traveled to Soyapango, a distance outside of San Salvador, to work in another clinic that strongly served women´s and community health and was an urgent care facility at night, thus giving 24 hour care. Details
An early start to our first day with the PINCC team included a hearty breakfast at 6:30 and filling two vans that headed out of San Salvador to the town of Nejapa. There we joined 33 doctors and nurses for a day of training. The nurses and some of the doctors (this week known as students) learned about the disease process of cervical cancer and the visual inspection procedure with acetic acid (AKA common kitchen vinegar) known as VIA. This is the low cost, very transportable, visual screening that PINCC takes on the road to low-resource countries. Details
Today is Wednesday and I woke with a migraine. So I stayed home to sleep in my dark room until it passed. Waking in the early afternoon, I take this time to reflect on my first day at the clinic. Nearly 60 women were treated in an energetic setting of Salvadorean doctors whom PINCC has trained to teach the screening procedure (maestras). Also present were about 15 to 20 doctors and nurses being trained by the maestras to perform the vinegar procedure. Details
Today we worked at the clinic in San Jacinto, about 45 minutes outside of San Salvador. The doctors saw about 45 women. Once again, I was given the opportunity to do interviews. Nearly half of the women I interviewed had experienced some form of sexual abuse. They never included those experiences when they gave the number of their sex partners. There were psychologists on hand to counsel these women. Details
Our first day in action with PINCC sped by! Severe traffic delayed our start which added to the frenzy. We worked at a Pro Vida clinic in Nejapa, where women had already been screened for the services offered today. There was an entire courtyard of women waiting when we arrived! Work stations were established, rooms were stocked, paperwork was stacked and patients were seen. Details
Today we hiked around the perimeter of the volcano. On the hike the contrasts of the beautiful country of El Salvador were once more in evidence. Wizened bare chested men carried lush calla lilies and colorful tropical blooms on their bent backs. A woman in her thirties did not smile for the camera because her front teeth were missing. We pondered why they were missing from her mouthful of healthy teeth. Details
Today our travels took us northwest of San Salvador to visit two different archaeological sites. One was discovered in 1976 by accident, as land was being cleared for construction. It has since led to the unearthing of several homes from the year 590 AD, when an explosion of the Laguna Caldera covered the indigenous people and their homes with molten lava.
Typically there were three buildings in a housing complex: one for storage, one that served as a kitchen and one was for sleeping. However, after seeing the hard bed platforms in the dormitories, it was a far cry from what we know as beds today! Details
Visiting the women of Pajaro Flor in Suchitoto today was like visiting a success story that is written in Dining for Women language. Although not a program supported by DFW, it is a clear example of strong women taking a stand for their rights and empowering women in their community to better themselves and their families.
This group was founded in 1991 near the end of the Civil War in El Salvador when it was seen as an important time for women in the history of their country. The founders of Pajaro Flor seized the opportunity to help women access land of their own, increase the awareness of domestic violence and strongly denounce it, and encourage women to participate in their local communities and governments. Details
Yet another whirlwind day, filled with history and brutal truths of the Salvadorians’ not so distant past. We visited Arch Bishop Romero’s home and the chapel he was shot in while giving a mass to the people. He was killed by a sniper in March, 1980. He was so admired by the people of the country that 1 million attended his funeral in the central town square. Sadly, more snipers used this as an opportunity to kill 60 people on that Easter Sunday. Details
Today we traveled for an hour to San Luis Ranchos, along narrow and winding mountainous roads. We stared in awe at the vistas and gorges of tropical green forests along the way.
Arriving in a remote village, we were so excited to meet the women at the small center, made of metal walls and roof, which is supported by CIS and SEW (Salvadorean Enterprises for Women). We were greeted with open arms and huge smiles by Delmy, the community women’s organizer, and her team of four other mothers from the local area. Also, with them were two scholarship students who are in the process of attending university through the generosity of CIS. The women shared their stories and told us what their participation in the co-op (dying Indigo and sewing school uniforms for government contracts) has given them. Details
After months of correspondence and anticipation I finally got to meet our team outside the San Salvadorian airport in a humid 84 degrees. Although we came from all corners of the US, we speak DFW and instantly connected as sisters!!! Details
By Angie Maddox
It’s hard to believe almost a month has passed since my return from Kenya. I think of the people and landscape everyday – constantly throughout the day. I’m often asked about the experience and my response remains the same – Amazing! Incredibly kind people, gorgeous landscape, and I’m still very much processing the experience. Details
This morning I sit watching wildlife from the Mountain Lodge, our home (with WiFi) for a few hours before we begin our journey toward Maasai Mara. In my last post I mentioned visiting communities. One of the communities we visited a couple of days ago in the Samburu region is a community funded through The Boma Project. It’s difficult to express in words the experience and the feeling of being greeted and welcomed into this community – there were so many senses stimulated. Details
Before heading for the hospital, Patricia and Carol worked together to assemble the group, in full scrubs, for a photo. These two groups have melded seamlessly into one over the past 5 days. In our group meeting, the PINCC volunteers admitted they were skeptical about the ”Dining for Women” volunteers when we came in on Sunday. They´d already had a full week together and were very close, but the lines have completely blurred now and I can sense a gratitude that flows beautifully both ways between all of us. Ann and Karen have even expressed an interest in joining a DFW group when they get home. Another full circle. Details
Julio, our guide, arrived at 8:00 sharp for our walking tour of Leon. After a few short blocks, he conscientiously sat us in the shade in front of a large mural that related the history of Nicaragua from its indigenous roots to the current president, Daniel Ortega. Interspersed with our history lesson, Julio encouraged members of our group to read aloud pieces of literature in English, merging sentiment and imagery with fact. Lezli and I took turns reading A Roosevelt by Rubén Darío, which speaks directly and frankly to the bullying of Latin America by the U.S. government. Details
Friday morning. Our last day with the medical mission. The workload was lighter than expected as a group of 19 women, that we were hoping would arrive from a distant village, were unfortunately not going to be able to make the trip to the clinic. The interpreters were sent into the hallways to do patient education and do interviews assessing the level of knowledge patients had about health issues in general, and cervical cancer, specifically. Details
By 8:00 a.m, we were in the hotel lobby, wearing our scrubs and ready to go. We each made a name tag that could be easily pronounced by our Nicaraguan patients. Lezli, Catarina, Daniela, Lina… then made some adjustments. The hospital was crowded, inside and out, packed with people waiting to be seen. We moved through the non-air conditioned hallways, heading toward the air conditioned conference room to meet the Nicaraguan doctors, nurses, and residents. This is a teaching hospital, and some of the medical staff has worked with PINCC in the past three years, practicing to gain proficiency with the procedures to prevent cervical cancer. Details