Nutritional Center Staff
March is always an exciting time at Refugio Rafael because that's when the project hosts our volunteer delegations from abroad. Our Program Director always sites these visits as a critical boost to morale, and it now also serves as the time for our annual meeting of the Foundation. We had 2 volunteer delegations this year - one with volunteers from Massachusetts, Oregon, Ohio and Brazil, and one with volunteers from the University of Southern California. Both groups advanced the work at the refugio, learned a great deal, and shared the joy and love of a project that has so much to give.
We have 2 exciting updates since the last delegation left just two and half weeks ago. One is a benefit born of a difficult situation for one of the mothers in the refuge. While the delegations were present, this Mom chose to bring her infant son to a nutritional center because she perceived that he was not showing growth as she expected. At the nutritional center, they found her child to be malnourished, and they offered to take him in for nutritional support. While they asked for her to leave him for a month, she just couldn't bear the separation, and she returned after a couple of weeks to take him home. The project personnel are supporting her in implementing important changes to her diet to support her baby's health and growth. Because it was an emotional experience to leave her son even for this short time, our social worker went to the nutritional center to support the Mom and to help communicate critical information with her. This visit led to a partnership with the nutritional program to visit the community and to create a health campaign for all of the families in the area, whether housed in the refuge or not. The first workshop in the series took place this past week, and the center is also supporting a health campaign around diabetes and female reproductive health.
The second update is in the handcraft program. While the mothers of the refuge have been the leaders in working with wool, the young women living in the refuge, and some of our most supportive neighbors, have begun to show their creativity in design. Having learned felted wool techniques from a previous volunteer visit, the women have been perfecting a technique of wet felting, and the young women began experimenting with new jewelry designs. This experimentation led to some fabulous, market-ready products, both for export to the Fair Trade network, and for local sales. This project is becoming an important conduit for mentorship between the wise women and the younger women who are looking to them for guidance, and at the same time providing hope through their own ingenuity and creativity. The first products are just reaching the shelves at Global Gallery Coffee Shop, and we hope to have more ready for the summer wholesale season. This development for the handcraft group is important for financial stability for the families, and also providing critical scholarship support for the young women as they seek additional education beyond the high school level.
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Anita modeling one of the new earring designs
USC student volunteer group
Juana demonstrating wool dyeing
First health workshop