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