Roasted beans? College.

It’s been a tough season for Las Minitas coffee farmers with whom we work, but we were able to get in organic, shade-grown coffee from a nearby settlement. Not too much, but it meant I had 14 bags to sell to help fund college scholarships.

We now have $140 toward each of two scholarships for Alonso and Yessenia to attend college in Leon. Each $300 covers all costs for the year.

They are the first to attend college from Las Minitas.

We are still hoping to raise another $400 for the scholarships.

 

Upcoming Events

2015

FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 6

“Embrace Every Angle”photo exhibition KMD_0931-treated-sized-wordmark-small

Carlson CoWorks, 60 Carlson Road, Rochester

6 to 8 PM

I’m a contributing photographer in a pop-up exhibition of photographs organized by yoga instructor Lisa Savage-Katz, focused on embracing who you are and your body, in all conditions and shapes and sizes, and loving yourself. I will have four images in the show, which feature Liza doing yoga poses in various and often surprising locations. A portion of the sale of prints goes toward community projects: Sale of my prints will benefit The Friends Project and our Masai scholarship project. I will be at the opening.

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SUNY Geneseo, Geneseo, NY

Distinguished speaker series, All-campus lecture

2:30 to 3:45PM

Kris Dreessen gave up most her belongings in 2014 to live her dream: To travel around the world helping to document tribes with disappearing or changing languages, and sharing stories of everyday people who make a difference in the lives of others. She started by living with Nicaraguan farmers in El Sauce, with whom she built a preschool using $5,200 raised from family, friends and people who support the idea of do-it-yourself change. She has collaborated with linguists working with groups with under-studied languages in Kenya, Senegal and Australia, and is creating a visual and written scrapbook of the communities, focusing on what is important to them, changing culture and traditions still in use. She has been an outdoors and feature reporter, editor and photographer for newspapers and has visited 35 countries, usually solo and always with more memory cards than cash. Living with colonists in the Amazon rainforest inspired her long ago to share stories that might otherwise go untold. In 2006, she created The Friends Project, a grassroots effort that funds small improvement projects in developing communities she visits that are driven by residents.

Celebrating the opening in June 2014.

Celebrating the opening in June 2014.

Remember when 250 of us raised $5,200 for materials and partnered with the farmers in Las Minitas, Nicaragua, to build a preschool!

I wrote a story about it … and finding second family when you dive past the surface … and it’s published in my home city (Rochester, NY)  newspaper, The Democrat and Chronicle, and Rochester Magazine.

I just now noticed our friend on the left pointing at us. Yep, WE do this. Booboo-Yah!

Thanks!

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The Rochester Magazine 10th anniversary issue.

The Rochester Magazine 10th anniversary issue.

One year ago this month The Friends Project opened the preschool in Las Minitas, Nicaragua.
On the newsstands today, the 10th anniversary issue of Rochester Magazine features a personal essay and lots of photos about our project!
It’s a celebration of community, collaboration and an intimate look at what it was like to build it beside the farmers.

Kool and the Gang had a good point: “Celebrate good times! Come on!”
Run to the newsstands and spread the word: Everyday people can make tremendous change — just ask us!

Me, dancing with teacher Marisela, to mariachi music during the opening.

Me, dancing with teacher Marisela, to mariachi music during the opening.

Joselito, holding his version of The Friends Project logo, during the first day of school at the preschool, 2014.

Joselito, holding his version of The Friends Project logo, during the first day of school at the preschool, 2014.

Children at the Las Minitas school, June 2015

Children at the Las Minitas school, June 2015

It was this month last year that I gathered outside the Las Minitas preschool with more than 60 people, who had walked and ridden their horses to celebrate its grand opening — and new opportunities for their children.

When I see these photos, I am again floored by the support the idea to help the farmers create a school received from everyone in Rochester, and beyond.

Celebrating the opening in June 2014.

Celebrating the opening in June 2014.

As I told community leader Alcides, “people want to be a part of your vision.”

Our $5,300 paid for a mason and helpers, the materials to build, and confirmed to Alcides and the other families that we are in this together.

See little Joselito’s fingerprints at the door? They will be there long after he and the current 17 students move on to elementary, then high school and then … who knows.

That’s a great feeling.  WE do this!

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During a class. June 2015.

During a class. June 2015.

Margaret Nsombo, left, with some of the neighbors she and her friends help.

Margaret Nsombo, left, with some of the neighbors she and her friends help.

OUR GRASSROOTS EFFORT, THE FRIENDS PROJECT, IS PROUD TO PROVIDE $500 IN SCHOLARSHIPS.
NDOLA, ZAMBIA —
On the outskirts of Ndola, schoolteacher Lillian Hetman, Margaret Nsombo and a group of their friends have started their own outreach, based on faith and faith in their ability to help their neighbors.

One day, they hope to have a building to gather in; right now, they envision what they can do between shoulder-height walls of logs and a small foundation. It will be a meeting place that symbolizes what they have been doing for several years — providing school fees and supplies for young children whose families can’t afford it, food for the most needy, and friendship.

They are living the concept that it “takes a village to raise a child.” The Friends Project is honored to join their effort.

On New Year’s Day, people come to Margaret’s house for soda and well wishes, a new beginning.

Margaret Nsombo, middle, Lillian Hetman, second from right, and other women from the outreach at their future gathering place.

Margaret Nsombo, middle, Lillian Hetman, second from right, and other women from the outreach at their future gathering place.

One day, Margaret and Lillian and the ladies walked with me to their future gathering place. I met a family who knows their work first-hand, and some of the kids who rely on their community approach to opportunities to have one at school.

They do it with no outside funding, and no deep pockets to reach into. Still, they get it done.

This week, The Friends Project provided a $500 gift to the women’s outreach; it will be split between students for their fees, as much as it can go around.

Some of the recipients are pictured here. We look forward to updates and seeing how the students are faring.

One gift, many possibilities. Young minds that we can only imagine now where they will go.

Me with new friends at the New Year's gathering.

Me with new friends at the New Year’s gathering.

MEET SOME OF THE STUDENTS THE $500 SCHOLARSHIP MONEY IS ASSITING IN SCHOOL FEES:

School children who will receive scholarhips for school fees.

School children who will receive scholarhips for school fees.

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School children who will receive scholarhips for school fees.

School children who will receive scholarhips for school fees.

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Me, with the residents of Las Minitas at the opening celebration of the school.

Me, with the residents of Las Minitas at the opening celebration of the school.

More than 200 people came together from Rochester and beyond to raise $5,200 to help the farmers realize their dream.Later this month, Rochester Magazine will feature a first-person essay about The Friends Project mission and the experience of building the school … It’s a fine magazine and I’m proud to amplify our supporters’ belief that everyday people can make a tremendous impact.

Here’s a look at our school on a day off last week, 2015, a year after opening. Come Monday, it will be full of kids!

The preschool, after the kids have gone home, in June 2015.

The preschool, after the kids have gone home, in June 2015.

Myself with the women before we entered the forest.

Myself with the women before we entered the forest.

My Wednesday: ask Joola women of Enampore to observe a ceremony of newlyweds. They took us in, treated us like the women and put us in traditional dress head to toe. Then they sang into the sacred forest, where we shed our shoes and danced for hours, to the rhythm of wood used as drums. Our guardian? One of the brides. This is when they walked us home. They seemed happy I could keep up with them dancing.
Such an amazing honor.

Why not bike 15k then walk three hours in 93-degree heat?! I did attend a Mass entirely in Joola Bandial, spoken by 2000 people in the entire world, see where the king lived, met a princess, learned traditional house making with mud,  learned how to tap a palm tree for wine. What do the Marines do again? :-)

Yesterday, these kids were part of a big group of kids who swam with us, gave us oysters and held our hands at all times possible. A great day.

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…Bandial and Essyl, Senegal

Why not bike 15k then walk three hours in 93-degree heat?! I did attend a Mass entirely in Joola Bandial, spoken by 2000 people in the entire world, see where the king lived, met a princess, learned traditional house making with mud,  learned how to tap a palm tree for wine. What do the Marines do again? :-)

Yesterday, these kids were part of a big group of kids who swam with us, gave us oysters and held our hands at all times possible. A great day.

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…Bandial and Essyl, Senegal

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