Jan 25, 2008

Efforts to rebuild in the wake of Hurricane Felix

Miskita family waits for construction of new roof to be complete
Miskita family waits for construction of new roof to be complete

In the months since Hurricane Felix dealt its devastating blow to Nicaragua’s North Atlantic coast, the area’s women and families, most of them Indigenous Miskita peoples living well below the poverty line, are still picking up the pieces. The storm hit just days before the annual harvest, wiping out local food supplies and all but eliminating hope for income generation in seasons to come.

The $273 in emergency relief funds raised by the Global Giving community was combined with funds raised from MADRE’s network of donors and sent directly to CADPI and Wangki Tangni, our sister organizations in the North Atlantic Autonomous Region, whose territories bore the brunt of the storm. MADRE also collected donated goods, such as emergency generators, water purification tablets, antibiotics, sleeping mats, clothes, bedding, mosquito netting, and many other items, to be shipped to Puerto Cabezas and dispersed amongst the people. In the city, MADRE volunteers with experience rebuilding post-Katrina New Orleans helped repair the roofs of community buildings, including three schools and a community center; in the rural areas of the municipality, farmers received hope for their depleted crops in the form of seed banks and tools.

Mirna Cunningham, director of CADPI, the Center for Indigenous Peoples’ Autonomy and Development, had this to say: “I am writing from Puerto Cabezas to thank you for being there for us at a time when we were most devastated by Hurricane Felix. Without support from friends like you it would have been much harder to gather the strength to move into high gear. In addition to emotional support, your support helped us to redo electrical systems, replace roofs, windows, doors; refinish and paint walls, floors; replace lamps, beds, sheets, towels, clothing; replenish medicines at the hospital; buy seeds for replanting food crops; and so much more.”

The area’s Indigenous Miskita women have seen their crops and communities destroyed by winds, rains, and floods. However, they are encouraged by the supply of seeds in their seed bank, and by their knowledge of MADRE’s commitment to support their communities, and have already begun to replant their gardens.

Nov 19, 2007

Harvesting Hope: Overcoming Hurricane Felix

In the past year, Harvesting Hope has held trainings on sustainable agriculture and women’s rights; provided seeds that project participants used to plant community gardens; provided chickens so that families have a reliable source of protein in their diet; helped participants sell their surplus produce, eggs, and meat in local markets; and introduced participants to other Wangki Tangni programs that improve the quality of life for Indigenous families in the region.

This year, the project faced a devastating setback when Hurricane Felix, a Category Five storm, struck the North Atlantic Coast on September 3. Just weeks before collecting the harvest of a bumper year and reaping the rewards of their hard work and newfound knowledge, Indigenous Miskita women saw their crops destroyed by winds, rains, and floods. The Nicaragua Network Hotline reported that 99 percent of the crops in the region were destroyed.

However, Harvesting Hope participants are encouraged by the supply of seeds in their newly created seed bank, and by their knowledge of MADRE’s commitment to support their communities, and have already begun to replant their gardens.

Beneficiaries of Harvesting Hope include over 2,000 Indigenous women and families in the village of Waspam and 104 surrounding communities, as techniques learned in Harvesting Hope trainings are shared with remote communities by project participants. Rose Cunningham, Wangki Tangni’s Director, reports that women from neighboring communities continue to attend Harvesting Hope trainings in record numbers, sometimes walking two or three days to get there, and participants say that the income-generating aspects of the project are helping them come closer to meeting their families’ immediate needs.

Nov 19, 2007

MADRE HIV/FGM Workshops Replicated in Surrounding Areas

The workshops funded by MADRE and the Indigenous Information Network, our sister organization in Kenya, have been successful. As detailed in the last project update, during MADRE’s 2006 delegation to Kenya, staff members conducted interactive workshops which focused on education about HIV/AIDS prevention and the dangers of female genital mutilation (FGM). MADRE delegates used a methodology called “Train the Trainer” to ensure replication of lessons learned.

MADRE staff returned from another delegation to Kenya in November 2007, and reports that similar workshops are indeed being replicated in sixteen Samburu communities. Women, men, and teens of both sexes are reported to participate in the classes.

MADRE is pleased to share with Samburu women the educational tools needed to help their families understand more about the issues that affect their lives, and we thank the GlobalGiving community for all that they have contributed to help MADRE carry out this goal.

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