But do they serve coffee?

The state of Nariño is famous for its coffee and it was in this coffee growing environment where CAPD recently co-sponsored a filter construction workshop. The Fundacion Suyusama, co-sponsor,  has been working for decades in rural areas  near Pasto, to improve the lives and productivity of rural folk, through efficient wood stoves, drip irrigation, water system infrastructure, improved seeds, agricultural extension in all its facets, etc.

The Suyusama Foundation logo

Ivan Castro, our partner in FRPG, worked for Suyusame earlier on in his career and he was responsible for brining us together.  Previously a couple of Suyusama people attended the construction workshop in Pasto (previous blog) and it was good to have them involved again.  Bob did not appreciate the significant logistics challenges of having a filter construction workshop out in the countryside but Ivan and his friends in Suyusame made it happen.

Silvia’s demonstration farm
Suyusame leadership & FRPG

In the photo below, you will see a “chiva” which carries cargo and passengers on a daily route.  Without this service it would be very difficult to bring in supplies or send the harvest to markets. The chivas all have loud air horns and you can hear them coming from a distance starting at 6 am, so you can get to the road to flag them down. They are reliable but not comfortable nor fast.

The Chiva delivering our molds, picking up produce

This is the rainy season in Colombia and it had an impact on the training.  We fortunately found a partially finished house, and mixed concrete and filled the molds inside the house and on the porch.  Next morning the house was being used by a group of women preparing a lunch for a meeting in the adjacent church hall.  Our group rose to the occasion and moved the three 350-pound concrete and steel molds to a less crowded workspace by suspending it from a bamboo pole (see photo).  Do not be fooled by the sun in the photos.  Bob continually wished for rubber boots to complement his rain jacket but sadly had to put up with wet feet for 2 days.

How to feed 20 people country style
A welcome spot of sun with fantastic scenery. In this and other pictures you will see coffee bushes and the long slopes of the Volcano Galeras.
Sieving the sand for concrete mix
Assembling the molds
Greasing the molds

The group learned some theory, constructed 3 filter boxes as part of the workshop and learned how to install the filter media. Bob was mighty impressed with the group of 14 men and women.  Everyone jumped into action as soon as the word was given.  Without this proactive attitude the workshop would have been impossible. These men and women now know what is possible when considering improvement of water in the homes near where they play roles as servant leaders.

Compacting the concrete
Relocating the 350 lb beast
Taking the mold off
TENSE – will it work

Strangely enough, Bob did not get a coffee until he asked for it.


Custom wheelchairs meet extraordinary needs

Tatiana, one year ago.

You may recognize this picture of Tatiana from last year. We saw her, sitting on the ground, when we were delivering a stroller to a neighboring child. Tatiana was 12 years old in that picture and had never been to school. She also hadn’t had the medical care she deserved due to family complications.

This year, it was her turn to receive a wheelchair.

Tatiana, this year.

Whereas Tatiana didn’t say “boo” last year, this year she admitted that she would like to attend school. Let’s hope that it becomes a reality for her. Our partner in the wheelchair program in la Guajira is the Rotary Club Cerrejon. They will provide follow-up.

Josue poses with John, design engineer, in the grounds of his home.

Meet Josue, one of two children from the same family born with cerebral palsy. Besides his physical limitations, Josue also has limited sight and sees only shadows. Josue’s family has been displaced twice by the internal violence of Colombia. That means that TWICE the family lost all they possessed and had to start over again in another location. Can you imagine? At the moment, they are living in a very humble house as they try to get back on their feet. The picture below is of their bedroom.

Note the walls made of cloth bags used for corn and the dirt floor. This is the family’s bedroom.

I could be telling you a very tragic, no-hope sort of story, but that is not the case. This family has something special that is shared between them and that is love. It is so clearly manifested that it warmed my heart. I think they are a very special family. The Rotary Club Ronda de Sinu is in agreement and will help them acquire a permanent home. This club is our partner for the custom wheelchair program in Monteria. They provide follow-up and we (CAPD & ASODISPIE) provide annual maintenance of chairs previously provided.

Foam lining of a rather peculiar but effective chair seat.

John, the design engineer posing with Josue in the picture above, has a creative mind and loves to invent. And this is what he designed for Shirley, a child with a condition that leaves her bones vulnerable to multiple fractures. In her short life, Shirley has had 17 fractures. So, John devised a chair that would fit her body and protect her from further damage at the same time. It is a modified baby seat.

Shirley occupies her throne like a princess.

Shirley and her parents are very happy with the outcome of this new design. We hope it provides her and them with greater independence and security from further harm.

John and I made the rounds to Albania (la Guajira), then Monteria (Cordoba) and finally to Piedecuesta (Santander), providing new chairs, reviewing old ones, plus evaluating new children for the Program. In all, we made 31 visits to children living in rural and semi-urban areas. CAPD partners with ASODISPIE to construct these custom wheelchairs. CAPD shares the cost with our respective Rotary partners, in addition to ASODISPIE who held a fund-raising campaign for two children from Santander.

Thank you to all our partners and donors for this Program. The     children and their parents thank you.



FANDIC turns 20!

Congratulatory banner provided by CAPD

FANDIC celebrated its 20th birthday this year!! They marked the occasion with a special celebration for the volunteers and families, those who formed part of the family over the years.

Putting the icing on TWO large birthday cakes

Marlene, as the founder of FANDIC, provided an introductory welcome. Each family received a certificate of participation; the children danced and the mariachi band played. A good time was had by all.

Twenty years – it is hard to fathom that this fragile seed planted in a community rife with problems, could have flourished and continues to strengthen.

Fandic’s timeline, composed of pictures, helped us recall special moments.

This year, Fandic was chosen to represent the category of organizations working with children, for a campaign run by Vanguardia Liberal (a local newspaper) called “Bucaramanga without limits”. The organization with the most votes is provided with funds to improve their infrastructure. The photographers came and the families responded.

Forming a heart, a symbol of the campaign.

Those interested in voting for Fandic in this campaign, go to https://www.bucaramangasinlimites.com/

FANDIC was still in a celebratory mood when this picture was taken. There are 4 foreigners in this picture. Can you spot them? Good friends, Dan and Vio, came from Manitoba to visit, and Beatriz came from Madrid to volunteer for a month. Thanks for helping us celebrate!

Thank you to all FANDIC leaders and families for their participation over the years. You are the heart of this organization.



Amazing Volunteers

The month of October for Bob was a takeoff on “Around the World in 80 days”.  Over the course of the month, via buses and cars and planes, he managed to visit groups in 6 different states.  Never to be repeated, he says.  Each group was planning or executing a project to help their neighbours.  Of course, most of the projects were water filter related.

CAPD, as mentioned over the years, is involved in participatory development, so we go where we know people and we see enthusiasm and commitment, and these groups have demonstrated this.  With the improvement in security, city dwellers are increasingly reaching out to help rural families, whether the program involves water, education, health or economic activity. CAPD has provided molds and training in various related themes to each of the groups involved in water filter projects.

Bob is increasingly impressed with the commitment that Rotarians are showing in helping rural folk get safe water for drinking and cooking. These projects require a range of skills from administration, accounting, logistics, training, community relations, etc. and require hands on involvement at least a couple times a week and sometimes require flexibility to take time during the week.  Bob would like to acknowledge the volunteer service of Rotarians in Fonseca, Santa Marta, Barranquilla, , Montería, Ibagué and Bucaramanga.

The photos below show some of the volunteers in action.

Rotarian Harold Bonilla (white) and Rotarian Carlos (blue) inspecting the filter construction area.
Rotarians from Santa Marta chatting with some community leaders about the filters recently installed in the community.
Rotarians from Santa Marta visiting a home which received a filter 4 months prior.
Rotarians from Santa Marta on a Friday, pausing in the street of a village where filters were recently installed.
Volunteers from a Colombian foundation in the community of Oasis (Santa Marta) provide after school activities for children in a squatter’s community.
Saturday activities include lunch.
Rotarians delivering filters to a community near Monteria.
Community volunteers have received Tee shirts with the program name and logo and showed great dedication in making sure people got all the filter components to take to their homes.
In Ibague, Rotarian Maria Clara takes time off during the week to organize materials for a shipment to a village.
Near Ibague, Rotarians (turquoise) prepare to hand out filter components. They do have jobs but are able to take time off.
Bob, Rotarian Maria Clara and Program Coordinator visit a home to see how the family is doing with the filter.
Rotarian Mario, program director in Ibague, visits a family with a filter.
Rotarians from Nuevo Ibague and Armero Ibague were invited to help this community solve their water problems. On a weekday, we spent two hours on the highway and an hour bumping along a rough gravel road, just to arrive.

In appreciation of our Rotary volunteers, the back-bone of CAPD’s   filter projects,