Jul 3, 2014

"...to talk English is to open doors"

English classes at the MGA Office
English classes at the MGA Office

Introducing new classes and opportunities as well as providing ongoing support and continuing education for Learning Center (LC) Project volunteers in Nicaragua is a vital part of W/NP program development.  Many of the Nicaraguans have expressed their desire to learn English. Petronila, LC student turned leader, was inspired by Sherin and Lynda, two longtime WI volunteers, and as a result took on the challenge to pursue an English Career at UNAN and offer English Classes to other LC volunteers in Nicaragua. Isabel, another cornerstone of LC activities and former English teacher, is also volunteering her skills to help others learn English. It was a delight to hear the following comments during the project monitoring and evaluations:

Sandra, “I am an active volunteer. I am motivated to learn English because I want to talk directly with Wisconsin volunteers and be able to share my feelings.   To have English skills will provide me other opportunities to earn income, for example, to translate for other LC’s I work with. To talk English is to open doors.”

Aura, “It is so important to attend classes. I felt encouraged to start over again after studying English in the past. English skills will help me to be able to communicate with any American people, and I have relatives in the U.S. and this will help me when I go there. My goal is to teach English in my neighborhood and community.”

Aura shared with us that she found out about the English Classes while attending the Monthly Learning Center Meetings that are held at the Managua Office.   Having the Learning Center Leaders/Coordinators gather monthly has proven to be an effective method of sharing ideas, information and coming up with new ways to achieve their goals.

The English class participants invite English speaking volunteers to be part of the program, either via Skype or during their visits to Nicaragua.

For more information please contact the W/NP office wnp@uwsp.edu and thank you for helping these volunteers achieve their educational and personal goals.

Students of all ages
Students of all ages
Aura and Marcia sporting their UWSP shirts
Aura and Marcia sporting their UWSP shirts
Isabel sharing her skills
Isabel sharing her skills
Diddman our "repair" specialist studying hard
Diddman our "repair" specialist studying hard
Learning is forever
Learning is forever
Apr 17, 2014

New Stove Project greatly improves health

Open fire cooking is common
Open fire cooking is common

Wood stove smoke is a problem for ladies and the rest of their families, especially children, in rural Nicaragua as well as in the large cities. For the past two years, W/NP has been working with a volunteer group from North Carolina with logistics and organization of workshops for building a model of a wood stove that includes a chimney. Last year the first model of this stove was built in Estelí. In examining the results, this stove meets the need for cooking and improves the smoke situation for many ladies in Nicaragua. The stove model was put into practice based upon suggestions that came from those who do the cooking and desire improved health for their families.

During a workshop last September it was sad to hear from one of the ladies that she is not able to make tortillas anymore because the doctor advised her to stop using the wood fire because that is the cause of her lung problem. She expressed that even though she was not going to making tortillas again; she will cook again and will not breathe the smoke. But most important to her, “…. is that other persons will not have my health problem situation and I am glad the new stove is safe for ladies and families.

The concept of this stove model was accepted by Lilly, a local leader from the Leonel Rugama neighborhood in Estelí. Lilly was glad to be part of first fire wood stove project and she used the stove that was built inside of her house.   With use, small changes were noted that needed to be made so ladies will have an efficient cooking method that does not let their lungs turn into the soot color from breathing smoke while they cook.

This past year, Lilly has been cooking with her new stove and has made some of her own modifications to better meet her particular needs. After her cooking was done for the day, she put a steel plate in the first burner in order to make tortillas with the residual heat that had built up in the stove. Even more surprising, she figured out how to convert the stove into an oven to further utilize the heat that had already built up during the day. She would scoop out the coals and put them in an empty pot which was then placed in the first burner on top of the stove, as she had done with the tortilla plate. Then she closed the air draft, and put her pan in to bake. In effect, she had turned her stove into a Dutch oven.  Both of these functions add greatly to the efficiency of the stove since they use the heat of the cool down phase which was going to be lost anyway.   Lilly, and all the women are keenly aware of how expensive firewood is in their community, so it is not surprising to see these adaptive uses come into play. 

The cost of the stove is US $80 which covers the cost of the materials that are purchased locally to the greatest extent possible. When the cost was discussed at the workshop conducted at Lilly’s house last September, the women agreed that it was a good price for a stove like Lilly’s with almost no discussion.

The new stove design has been well received with comments like “the stove cooks faster with the same amount of wood” or “the stove cooks in the same amount of time with less wood”. The reason for this is the efficiency that has been built into the stove over the three year development period. Briefly, the keys to the efficient operation are the controlled air draft and an insulated fire box. The controlling and directing of the air to where it is needed (the burning wood) allows for higher combustion temperatures and longer heat transfer time to the cook pot before exiting to the chimney.  This is in stark contrast to other stove designs that have no draft control but use a very small fire box and very small pieces of wood. These stoves, while efficient, are very labor intensive to operate, and generally take longer to cook a meal such as rice and beans. Not exactly selling points when women are already dealing with a host of third world issues.

We are anticipating new ideas and stove improvements as time goes by and the women continue to give us their feedback. This is as it should be. Not even Steve Jobs started out with a 3.5 version of a product with no Beta testing.  

 Details of the model stove

Three components, base cost is US$60

1. Stove (six concrete parts - two sides, one top, one middle, one end part and one door)

2. Aluminum Chimney

3. Base cement blocks and concrete

Note: if the house does not have a foundation, one needs to be built at a cost of US$20

The total cost is US$80  Please considering sponsoring a stove for a Learning Center in Nicaragua - so far we have commitments for 11 stoves, which leaves 89 to go if all 100 centers participate.

Major improvements for health and cooking
Major improvements for health and cooking
Meet Lilly who is helping to make improvements
Meet Lilly who is helping to make improvements
Components can be built on site or ahead of time
Components can be built on site or ahead of time
Finished product with a team effort
Finished product with a team effort
Happy with the new stove
Happy with the new stove

Links:

Nov 6, 2013

From Doll Dresses to Burn Therapy Garments

Taking accurate measurements for proper fit
Taking accurate measurements for proper fit

In 2008, volunteers began exploring how the sewing teachers and students could share their skills by making therapy garments for burn patients.  In looking how to provide a better assistance to burn patients after they receive initial treatment and during their rehabilitations process, Dr. Leandro Perez (Lenin Fonseca Hospital) shared with
W/NP how important it is to provide therapy dressing to the patient’s burns.  Another physician W/NP works closely with, Dr.Geraldine Cross, expressed how sad it is to let burn patients go after they have received the initial treatment, and during their rehabilitation it is hard to accomplish the appropriate healing process without the therapy dressing.

The W/NP Learning Center program  has responded to this unmet need by providing needed skills and materials to burn patients.  In 2010 W/NP made arrangements with Vivian Pellas Hospital to receive Boanerges Berroteran, employee from Lenin Fonseca hospital, to learn how to make the therapy dressing garments.   Taking the first step, Linda Schober from Wisconsin found an Industrial serger sewing machine for this project, and it was sent in the next shipment to Nicaragua. For two years, the initial idea of this project has not taken place.  Finally, in 2013 the funds were received and the project began to take form.

The Learning Center Therapy Dressing project officially began in April 2013.  The volunteers in coordination with Dr. Leandro have provided services to over 60 people.  Over 200 custom fit garments have been made.  Every patient is a challenge as some need more than one garment and some of their affected areas are difficult to fit.  The process to fit and make the garments can take up to 2 hours or more if needed.  Patients feel the program has provided personal and instant attention as they receive their garments the same day of their appointment.

In a few cases, such as the brothers Carlos and Rafael who were badly burned in a sugar cane fire, they need to return to get additional garments.   During the first phase of their recuperation process, they were measured and each received their first set of garments on April 10, and July 31st began the second phase where they received 10 additional garments to replace the old ones.

A key component to this project, were Lynda Pracht’s efforts with the Chica Nica Project. The advanced sewing skills acquired through sewing the Chica Nica doll dresses have contributed to the quality construction of burn dressing
garments.   The Chica Nica project has 35 members from different Learning Centers and four ladies from Chica Nica are part of therapy dressing project staff.  Quality control workshops provided by Lynda Pracht for 14 years have given the women opportunity to put into practice these past four months how to make masks, gloves, pants, shirts, sleeves, foot and ankle leggings, and different parts of the body garments that burn patients need to wear after the initial treatment and during the therapy process.

The Burn Therapy Dressing project is moving to the next level where all the creativity of these ladies is important. 
We are exploring ways to provide plastic surgery patients the specific garments needed, keeping quality, comfort and good price in mind for a sustainable alternative.  So far the Therapy Dressing service has been recognized
as a needed social project especially for people who lack resources and are in need of treatment for their wounds. 

W/NP is proud of the volunteerism exhibited as every volunteer makes a difference.  Volunteers such as Lynda Pracht are making the difference as she cultivated the ladies involved with the Chica Nica project who are now working with the Therapy Dressing project successfully.

We welcome your support to help continue this much needed service for people who have been badly burned and are without any other options for treatment.  Thank you for your consideration and support. 

Learning Center volunteers making the garments
Learning Center volunteers making the garments
Burn from an electrical cable
Burn from an electrical cable
Custom garments finished including glove
Custom garments finished including glove
Fixing the industrial serger sewing machine
Fixing the industrial serger sewing machine
Volunteers who are making the garments
Volunteers who are making the garments
 
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