Heading for Belize after great week in Nicaragua

This was a very productive week. I’m leaving for Belize tomorrow, returning home Saturday mid-day.

With our NGO partner, Alcance Nicaragua, I visited all four of the communities that we are working in. I documented the construction status of our composting latrines in Los Alvarez and El Llanito, near Santa Lucia in Boaco; and El Tunel and La Prussia, near Masaya and Granada. In addition, we were able to talk to the builders, community organizers, and individual family members who are participating in the project. I captured suggestions and observations from the builders to consider for future design improvements.

 

While I was not able to meet with Martha Castillo Ocon, my point of contact for the Masaya Rotary club, we exchanged messages and she commented on the construction activities using WhatsApp.

I was also able to visit the new communities that Alcance is working in out of the Santa Lucia office: Coyota and El Riego; and out of the Masaya office: Coyolar, Playas Verdes, and Justo Romero. Alcance discussed their thinking on new strategies to engage these communities to meet their many needs which include water and ecological stoves.

Ecostoves in Comejen Nicaragua

Yesterday we left Santa Lucia where we been looking at the composting latrine project and Alcance’s work in new communities. We arrived at Alcance’s offices in Masaya around 11 am. They gave me an update on their work on the composting latrines in La Prussia and El Tunel and their Initiatives with new communities. After lunch together, the Santa Lucia group went back. 


I went with Ricardo Rivera and Adriana Cruz to Comejen, one of the new communities they’re working in. We met with two families to discuss their experience with the pilot project for ecostoves. These ecostoves are so beneficial. They eliminate the health issue from having a kitchen and house full of smoke with it’s damaging effects on lungs, eyes, and other problems. In addition these stove burn much less fuel, so there’s less wood to gather or pay for. The women reported that they put out enough heat to cook very well. This is a demonstrated technology. 

Alcance has deployed these ecostoves in communities around Santa Lucia for some time, and has documented substantial user experience about their benefits.

This morning I had one of the mangos they gave us with my breakfast.

Belize Open Source Sustainable Development

I’ll be traveling to Belize, Wednesday 5/31 and be there till mid-day 6/3/17. Since I’ve been in Nicaragua for the composting latrine project, makes sense to stop in on my way home.

Here are photos from my last stop in December 2016, after our Engineers Without Borders assessment trip for the water supply project in El Llanito, Nicaragua. These selected ones show me with one of the improved cashews in our orchard, the caretaker’s residence, and our “tiny house,” where I usually stay.In the background can see our shed which covers our 40′ shipping container and part of our corrals. I’ve also include a photo of our cattle.

Belize Open Source Sustainable Development is a work in progress.

In October 2006, I got response from CA Secretary of State indicating we were incorporated and in June 20008, got letter from the IRS with the determination that Belize Open Source – Sustainable Development is exempt from Federal income tax and we are qualified to receive tax deductable donations.

Here is a bit about the story on the property. As the background page indicates:

I went to Belize in ’74 to help my parents, 2 younger brothers, and my sister relocate to a land development project between August Pine Ridge and San Felipe. My sister, the oldest of my siblings, is 11 years younger than me.

Roy Carver, an American businessman, had a 24,000 acre property along the Rio Hondo River border with Mexico. My dad, who had managed ranches in Wyoming and Arizona, was hired to run the beef cattle operation.
I was 27 and met my wife in Belize. She was working in Belize City on a Canadian Aid Project to bring water and sewerage systems to Belize City. Almost as a lark I bought the 40-acre property down the road from the ranch. I thought it might make a separate get-away for us away from the rest of my family.

Microloan programs: In El Llanito and Los Alvarez Nicaragua and worldwide via Kiva

Yesterday, while visiting composting latrines under construction in Los Alvarez, Luz Dania, from our NGO partner Alcance Nicaragua, told me about a local community microloan program.

It started as pilot program in El Llanito using the eco-stoves project repayments to their own community based organization. Then they were able to get $5000 from Outreach International to expand the program. Loans are up to a maximum of $200 US, but many are much smaller. Loans are intended to address various problems and opportunities.

Applicants submit requests for review by a committee. They’ve made 39 loans and another 16 are being made for agricultural loans (as it’s now time for planting and seeding). Recipients pay 1% per month, but payments can be scheduled for a later time, for example when crops are harvested. The committee members really know the people in their communities so they can choose reliable people to loan to.

These photos show case where a family used their loan to add a new roof over existing rooms and an area at the back of their house and install new doors.

My wife, Kathy, and I have a portfolio of organizations we support. But based on my conversation with Luz, I want to focus on Kiva and microlending today.

Bill Clinton’s 2007 book, Giving, inspired me to consider how each of us can change the world. He takes the reader through the extraordinary and innovative efforts being made by companies, organizations, and individuals, to solve problems and save lives both “down the street and around the world.”

He urges each of us to seek out what, “regardless of income, available time, age, and skills,” we can do to help, to give people a chance to live out their dreams.

He writes of how people with modest amounts who are willing to contribute sometimes are often unsure their $25 or $50 will make a difference. Kiva, an NGO, has resolved that question in an innovative way by offering people a way to become microcredit lenders of as little as $25.

Clinton’s book and shout out for Kiva encouraged me to start loaning through Kiva on a monthly basis. I’ve been doing it since 2010 and it adds up. Most of the loans are attributed to team Belize Open Source Sustainable Development.

Here is an image of loans I made today, after a reminder from Kiva that I had a credit. Most of them are from repayments. I focus on women in Ag in Central America, but occasionally branch out. The adjacent chart shows the cumulative effect with 421 loans to date, and over $10.5k lent. It surprises me in a pleasant way.

 

Construction progress: composting latrines in El Llanito and Los Alvares

I missed a morning flight in Houston. My Alcance Nicaragua NGO partners picked me up at the airport in Managua and we drove to Santa Lucia. Got in after 11 pm. I’m staying in the Alcance office in Santa Lucia.

Today we visited homes in El Llanito and Los Alvarez to view progress on construction of composting latrines. We talked with beneficiaries and the builders. I noted their suggestions for improvement and documented changes so we can “as-build” these units and incorporate improvements in the design for future deployments.

CWC TVW meeting

Jordan Bernal reported on recent successful conference with over 80 in attendance. Connie Hanstedt updated on the High School writing contest awards set for tomorrow. Plus more. Judy Melinek, MD, and T.J. Mitchell presented program, “Working Stiff: The Real CSI.”

For us writers they showed slide with biggest errors:

They then read from, Working Stiff.

El Llanito well for new water supply project

Martha Castillo Ocon, our Masaya Rotary Club partner, visited El Llanito to sign contracts with builders for the composting latrines. She also visited the existing community well that we plan to do our next Rotary/EWB project around: install a submersible electric pump, elevated storage tank, and a five kilometer pipeline distribution system to deliver water to tapstands throughout the community. This will address a long standing community priority. It will reduce the amount of time that mostly women and girls spend filling and hauling water containers from the well back to their homes.

Composting latrines construction is underway, traveling to Nicaragua and back through Belize

I travel 5/23/17 to Managua, departing 5/31/17 to Belize, returning to US 6/3/17. Here are few of the over 200 photos the Nica team has shared on a Whatsapp group.

Construction is underway with our NGO, Alcance Nicaragua, and our Masaya Rotary Club partner, for our Rotary/Engineers Withot Borders composting latrines project to do almost 90 more units with families in communities of La Prusia and El Tunel, near Masaya; and Los Alvarez and El Llanito, near the municipality of Santa Lucia.