Commitment, dedication and enthusiasm are core characteristics found within the Learning Center Program participants. There is a winning combination when you mix volunteers who offer support in various ways with volunteers who are eager to learn, share their experience and become involved! Lynda Pracht, a Wisconsin volunteer of 13 + years, shared her story on the nationally televised program, Sewing with Nancy. “Lynda and her volunteers teach sewing and other skills to the women of Nicaragua, Wisconsin’s Partner country. Hear the heart-warming story of how the skill of sewing has enriched and improved the lives of the volunteers and the students.” - Wisconsin Public Television
Nancy’s Corner – Partners of the Americas Part 1 http://video.wpt2.org/video/2174451770
Nancy’s Corner – Partners of the Americas Part 2 http://video.wpt2.org/video/2174451773
Excellent coordination of the Learning Center program is reflective of the W/NP Mission; women in Wisconsin are working with women in Nicaragua to guide the self-governed Learning Centers. Monthly meetings are held to offer additional training and information:
“Today was a very busy day at the office but very pleasant at the end to see how the working together makes great success. In the morning we had the class of garment construction with only four women, and 2 in the Embossing. But this is all normal at the beginning of every class. From the two groups three women decided to stay to help with the preparation for our first meeting on Saturday. Then, as one from the Chica Nica group came to still deliver some of her work she was politely asked to help pack dresses. She happily got busy in the other side of the office where Lilliam also spent the whole day doing paper work on the computer.” Isabel Moraga
Time often brings perspective. Below are the most recent comments (2012) and then we step back in time to the year 2000 to see what was going on with the W/NP Learning Center program. You will find, for all the changes and all the growth, the Partners program continues to rest on a simple premise - that through unique, bilateral partnerships, people can work together at the grass-roots level to build a better hemisphere for everyone.
2012 “Activities in the learning centers continue to be high in demand. The initial monthly meeting, held January 28 at the Managua Office, was well attended with some participants traveling long hours to be present. (Rosa Torrez left her home at 6am and by bus arrived to Managua at midnight that same day – now that is dedication to attend a meeting. Her story will be featured in the next W/NP enews). The 2012 officers were elected and the calendar for monthly meetings and activities was decided. New offerings include marketing education and electricity for women. The year 2012 brings some changes to the program. Communication between learning centers is being emphasized in order to offer opportunities to all learning center members. The learning center program continues to grow with active involvement throughout Nicaragua.” Linda Weber, W/NP Vice President
Below we would like to introduce the Nicaraguan elected committee Of the Chica Nica Learning Center Projects for the year 2012. Pictured: President Suyen Martinez, Vice President Petronila Solis, Secretary Karla Velasquez, Treasurer Angelica Maria Ampié, First Vocal Irene Largaespada, and Second Vocal Reyna Mendoza.
Now for a moment, let’s step back to the year 2000 and hear Lynda’s perspective from 12 years ago…….
"Working together, we are making a difference" is a very true statement of the Sewing Center project. For the last 28 years, Wisconsin women have provided equipment and supplies to help Nicaraguan women gain a livelihood. I believe that W/N Partners should continue doing development projects in Nicaragua. We are no longer just a "charity group," and we need to grow with the times. I believe the best thing we can do is help the people to help themselves which gives them a way of increasing self-esteem. There are some cases where deficit financial help is needed, but the better way is to provide the opportunity for the individual to work to earn the money.”
My observations (from the year 2000):
After visiting all but 2 of the 50 Sewing Centers, I have learned a lot of things. Some of the centers are in peoples' homes, and some are in very well-established centers, usually a church. First, if the people have to pay a small amount they seem to take better care of their property. Second, Leonor always does paperwork for the equipment she provides to people; this helps make the people more responsible.
Women who have learned at our Sewing Centers have been successful. One of the women who is sewing garments has graduated from a Sewing Center and is now going to start a center of her own. Also, the doll dress project is helping to provide opportunities to women who want to advance in life.
The people of Nicaragua need lots of help, but they also need to be held responsible for projects after they have been provided information on what is expected. We should also start to provide small business training at a reasonable price for some of the Nicaraguan women in Nicaragua. We are ready for the next step in this development project. It is truly a successful one that is making a difference in the lives of Nicaraguan families.
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