Thursday, September 30, 2010

A Call for Action on Behalf of Genesis

Latest news regarding Genesis, the spinning plant cooperative, and the lucha (struggle) of obtaining the spinning machinery from Coker International!

We are trying a new tactic to get Coker to pay attention to the plight of these people…the Rev. Narcie Jeeter ( is organizing 2 demonstrations in front of Coker International in Greenville, SC. The first is on Tuesday October 5th from 2:00 – 5:00PM and then again on Friday, October 8th to begin at 10:00AM.

Why this call for action? Coker International wants more money from the CDCA to get the machinery other than the $150,000 they have already. They are not willing to put up a secure bond to insure that they will actually buy and ship the machinery. We have a lawyer from the Wake Forest Law Center who has advised us not to talk more with Coker except to say "deliver the goods." We want to put pressure on him to do right by these 18 women and men, who have been working on this dream for more than three and a half years with no pay.

If you are in the area please make a poster and go and represent the members of Genesis. Call for Coker International to do the right thing and get Genesis the machinery so they can work and feed their families. Hopefully the media will cover it and that too will make an impact.

If you are not in the area but know someone who is, please ask them to go represent you.

We are working on other avenues as well. We are grateful to our lawyer, Steve Virgil; Mark Lester; Narcie Jeeter; Paul Susman; and Greg Nevers, a lawyer in SC, for serving on a task force to help us explore ways to make the plant a reality…to think outside the box since the box did not serve Genesis well. We are so very grateful to those of you who emailed and called Coker International to encourage him to move forward.

Genesis has good friends in people like you…and so do we at the CDCA.

Here is a link that has a timeline for what has happened

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Businesses that Care

A couple of weeks ago I posted a blog explaining my dislike of capitalism. That notwithstanding, I now want to mention a couple of businesses that use capitalism in a small way to spread justice.

Once Again Nut Butter and Maggie’s Clean Clothes work closely with Nicaraguans and with us. Once Again Nut Butter is a cooperative in Nunda, NY, who makes nut butters (surprise!) and roasts nuts. They have worked with us since 1996 giving capital to growers here, buying their products at fair prices, and traveling down to meet with growers to make that one-on-one connection.

In 1998 through us, they loaned growers $142,000 in seed money, then Hurricane Mitch hit and all the crops were lost. It took eight years but the loan was paid in full. They continued to buy Nicaraguan organic sesame for the best tahini I have ever had, by the way.*

For several years the members quit coming but in the past year have started traveling back and it means so much to the growers…to put a face on the one who buys their products. OANB have tried to help the Center in other ways: they recently bought their promotion peanut butter scoopers from the woodworking shop that we have helped start here. You can find their products in the organic sections of food stores or on their website

Maggie’s Clean Clothes has been working with us since Hurricane Mitch in 1998…helping to establish cooperatives and fair trade businesses to make organic cotton clothing**. They were very involved with the Fair Trade Zone, a women’s sewing cooperative, in its early days…buying the cloth first, helping them learn about quality, and buying their garments at fair prices as well as promoting the women themselves.

They also have put themselves “out there” for the Nicaraguans taking risks. BenĂ¡ has been down twice this year with a film crew to promote the efforts that are being done here. Maggie’s is giving $5.00 for every order of $35.00 or more to the CDCA until November 30th. Their clothes are comfortable and very pretty…and are organic cotton. I love them…really. You can order from their website Use this promotion code JHCFAIRLAB for $5 to come to the CDCA. Do your holiday shopping early!

* Why organic foods? It is good for our health and good for the health of the earth.

**Why organic clothing? Cotton is the second most pesticide laden crop (coffee is first). Besides being good for the earth, the byproduct of cotton fibers goes into tampons…who wants to use pesticide laden tampons? No one but most women do and it is not healthy.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

The Suffering of the Poor

My father suffers from chronic pain. Daddy and his doctors struggle to keep the pain at a livable level. It cannot be eliminated completely. My dad has access to pain medications. He has a comfortable bed and chairs to sit in. If he has to go anywhere Daddy goes in a car that is also comfortable. He does not have to work, do his own laundry, cook, or clean. And it saddens me to see him suffer even though his pain is managed as best as possible.

Imagine if you will having the chronic, ever-present pain and not having the luxuries, Daddy has. This is the life of the poor.
If they have a bed it is usually a poorly made, cotton stuffed, lumpy mattress on broken frame. Although the bed is more likely to be two saw horses with 2 or 3 pieces of rough wood straddling them. The chairs they do have are hard and very uncomfortable. If they have to go anywhere they have to walk or go by bouncy, crowded buses.

The women, who suffer from pain, continue to wash clothes out on their pilas (concrete scrubbing sinks), cook on wood fires, and care for their extended families of six or more. The men cut firewood with machetes and put in long and hard hours each day.

Often we, who are not desperately poor, don’t think about the poor suffering from pain. We tend to think of hunger and disease, but we forget about actual arthritis, back pain, bad knees, and osteoporosis.

In our clinic the most sought after service is the care of the volunteer orthopedist, who comes from Managua two mornings a week. His mornings are full-to-bulging with patients. He offers injections to help those who suffer from chronic pain as well as acute. He relieves to some extent the swollen joints, the chronic back pain, the knees that want to give away…he helps to ease the pain.
 I remember the first time that I went up with doctors to El Porvenir (the coffee cooperative). We rode in an open trailer pulled by a tractor bouncing and bouncing…holding on to the rusty rail to keep from falling down or out.

One of the doctors, Randy, asked, “Kathleen, did we bring acetaminophen?”
“Good, because I’m giving lots and lots of it to every single patient that shows up.”
Bottom line, the poor hurt.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Pulling Up by Your Bootstraps

Thank you all for your emails and calls to Coker International encouraging them to do the right thing. We are amazed at all the goodwill shown to Genesis. This whole debacle has reinforced in me what are the evils that capitalism birth on a regular basis.

Many in the States cannot understand why countries rise up. Why would they turn their backs on capitalism when so many of us think of capitalism and democracy as synonyms? Looking at Genesis, I understand.

Capitalism has at its basis greed. It also spreads the notion that if one just worked hard enough, put in enough labor, sweat, and time then one can pull one’s self right up and prosper. One just has to play by the rules and the system will work for you.

Well, first…there seems to be no rules. The JHC took out loans to pay the broker…to pay him up-front money. Loans with ridiculous interest and the broker took the money and didn’t play by the rules.

Second…these women and men have worked hard enough…harder than most of us ever have. They built their huge building by hand….by hand! No troughs for cement to slide down. Hand shoveling cement. Hand-tying rebar to reinforce the building. Digging and leveling with shovels. Hard…they worked hard. And they have no boot straps to pull themselves up with!

Oh! We hear how desperate “some” people feel in regard to money problems…problems
that caused them to not honor their contracts. They may not be able to go on vacation or even lose one of the many businesses they own…but they do not lie in bed worrying about the next day’s food….literally Food. For. The. Next. Day. Not next month. Greed.

The members of Genesis worked/are working incredibly hard. They have sweated. They have put in the labor. They have waited and waited. They have worked within the capitalistic system and played by its rules and where are they? Hoping that enough pressure can be put on the broker to do the right thing. This is not right. Not by any measure.

The poor are poor because others reap the benefits of their labor. This is why peoples rise up. Plain and simple.

Monday, September 6, 2010

CDCA in Northwest this month!

Becca & Paul are in the Northwest speaking this month giving a dynamic slide presentation titled “Living Our Vision: Partnering with the Poor to Build Lives with Dignity” and also selling artisan crafts and organic coffee.

They'll be in Seattle, Portland, Whidbey & Lopez Islands, Hamilton & Missoula Montana, Sandpoint & Boise Idaho in September and October. To see their full schedule go to:

Please come hear them, and invite your friends in the area!

Come and see how working together we can all build lives with dignity. They’ll be showing slides and speaking about the CDCA’s groundbreaking work in 5 areas:

>sustainable economic development

>sustainable agriculture

>primary health care


>appropriate technology

Highlights of the talk will include:

>A rural coffee cooperative that is

-- educating the children & adults in its community through marketing its

fair trade organic coffee

>Worker-owned cooperatives that have joined together to

-- develop a sustainable organic cotton production chain

-- create jobs for the poor: farmers, ginners, spinners, knitters & sewers

-- produce certified fair trade organic clothing

>Artisan craft sale!

--Organic coffee, wooden spoons, pottery & more!

-- Proceeds from craft sales go to the operating expenses of the CDCA project

For their full schedule see:

If you have questions, you can email or call their US cell phone at 413-250-9751.

See you soon!