Thursday, December 16, 2010

How to Help PHPG Get a $1,000 Matching Grant from

People Helping People Global has been offered a $1,000 matching grant by The following post will describe how to create a fundraising page on Razoo and set it up so that every dollar that is contributed via your page will be doubled by Razoo.

Step 1: Go to our group fundraiser page
The page is

Step 2: Sign up for Razoo
In the upper-right hand corner of the page, Click the 'Sign Up' link. Fill in your name, email, and password information, then accept the Terms. Then click 'Create Account.'

Step 3: Create a Page
About halfway down the team fundraising page on the right-hand side, there is a box that says 'Join this Team.' Click the button 'Create a Page.' Fill in the information (feel free to check out my fundraising page to get an idea of what to write). Please make sure to put 'Building New Hope' in 'nonprofit that you are fundraising for' line and 'People Helping People Global' in the 'Designation' line under the 'Customizable Options' section. If you don't do these two steps, then PHPG will not receive the funds. You can pull photos from our website or Facebook page to use on your fundraising page. Once everything is filled out, just click the 'Create Fundraising Page.'

Step 4: Join the Team
And finally, send an email to with the URL from your fundraising page and the name of our group fundraiser -- 'Help PHPG get a $1,000 Matching Grant!'

That's it! It should take no more than 5 minutes to set up. If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to give me a call at (802) 849-2259 or email me at Thanks so much for helping us get this grant. That's another $1,000 for our microlending projects in Nicaragua. That will help between 5 and 10 new families start their journeys out of poverty this Spring!

Take care!


Monday, December 6, 2010

Vermont International Festival

What a wonderful weekend.

I am pleased with how our organization did at the Vermont International Festival. For us, this weekend was not only about raising funds through selling our fair-trade artisan products. It was about letting the Vermont community know who we are, and what we do.

I was fortunate to meet many interested attendees. I was also fortunate enough to meet with the head of the Burlington fair-trade committee, which I hope will stem into further opportunities in the area.

We were happy to have seven amazing volunteers help us out throughout the weekend. Without their energy and support, I would have surely fizzled out.

Thanks to Tenzin, Michelle, Miriam, Paul, Janel, Ani, Katja, and Kelly! You were all a BIG help.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

People Helping People Global Holiday Events Guide

With Thanksgiving less than two weeks away, the holiday season is upon us. Things have been going amazingly well here in Nicaragua over the past few weeks. The biggest news is that we've secured contracts with seven new artisans/cooperatives. For most of these artisans, we are their only source of sales outside of Nicaragua, and in some cases, we will represent nearly 30% of their annual sales over the next year. Thanks to our Expanding Markets fair trade program, these artisans will be able to enjoy a sense of financial stability that has evaded most of them for their entire lives.

So, how do you get your hands on some of these awesome fair trade items in time to get them wrapped and dished out this holiday season? I'm going to break down our events by location so you only have to sift through the ones in your area. ALSO, you will be able to purchase items from our website starting Monday, November 22nd. There will be a big link on the front page of our website sometime next week so that you can do your holiday shopping from your computer screen.

Without further delay, here are the events that PHPG will be attending and hosting from now until the New Year:

Virginia Events

  • The 3rd Annual PVMS Craft Fair - This event is happening on the Southside of Richmond on Saturday, November 20th from 7am to 3pm. There will be lots of local and international vendors, as well as door prizes every half hour and tons of great food.
  • Santa's Attic Craft Fair - This event is hosted by the City of Hampton, and it features live music, food, local vendors, and us! It's a two-day ordeal. Festivities run from 11am to 7pm on Thursday, December 2nd and 9am to 3pm on Friday, December 3rd.
  • Fair Trade Festival - This two-day event takes place in Norfolk, Virginia from 9am to 10pm on Saturday, December 4th and from 12pm to 6pm on Sunday, December 5th. There will be tons of musical acts and local/fair trade vendors at the event. You can check out an article on last years event here.
  • Alternative Christmas Fair - This event is hosted by the First Presbyterian Church of Arlington. It runs from 9:30am to 1pm on Sunday, December 5th. This event will host the likes of Heifer International, Ten Thousand Villages, and many other fair trade vendors. This is our only event in Northern Virginia, so be sure to come check it out if you're in the area!
  • 2nd Annual NYE Charity Benefit Bash at Baja Bean - This doesn't really fall under the fair trade category, but it is our biggest fundraiser of the year. At this event alone, we expect to raise over $6,000 for our projects. Last year we were one of the biggest New Years parties in Richmond, and we sold out all 300 spots. Make sure you get your ticket today so you don't miss out on the fun. We have a Facebook event set up so you can easily invite your friends, and you can go to our event page to get your name on the list. The event will last from 9pm to 2am on New Years Eve. 
Vermont Events
  • The Holiday Showcase and Craft Fair - This event is hosted by BFA-Fairfax and will take place from 7am to 3pm on Saturday, November 20th. The event will include several local vendors and international organizations.
  • The Vermont International Festival - This three-day festival is being hosted at the Champlain Valley Exposition in Essex Junction. It will feature over 100 vendors and performers from around the world. It runs from 5pm to 8pm on Friday, December 3rd, 10am to 6pm on the 4th, and 10am to 5pm on the 5th. Admission covers the entire weekend, and the prices are $6 for adults, $3 for children (6-12) & seniors, Free for 6 & under, and $15 for a family pass.
  • Alternative Giving Fair - This event is hosted by Ascension Lutheran in South Burlington. There will be several alternative gift vendors at the event. It's going on Sunday, December 5th, and the time is still to be determined. Make sure to check out our Facebook page sometime next week for the details.
In addition to attending these events and supporting the artisans that we work with, we could also really use a few hands at each of these events. If you're interested in volunteering a few hours of your time to help out, we'd love to have you. You can sign up to say you're coming and/or volunteering at the corresponding event pages on Facebook. Thanks for taking the time to read this holiday guide. If you have any questions, you can always feel free to shoot me an email at

We hope to see you out at some of the events! Take care.


Thursday, October 28, 2010

How to Invite Your Friends to Our Facebook Page

One of the quickest and easiest ways you can help People Helping People Global is by “liking” us on Facebook and inviting your friends to “like” us on Facebook too! With over 500 million active users, Facebook is currently the best way to reach the largest online community on the internet.

As a PHPG supporter, Facebook can function as your one-stop-shop for all information pertaining to our organization. Wondering where that last donation went? We post stories about the loan recipients and artisans we work with. Looking for a job? We post all of our new job openings on Facebook. Want to find out about upcoming volunteer opportunities? All of those get posted on our wall, too. Plus we set up events on Facebook so that you can see who’s going to be there!

So, now that you’re convinced that “liking” us on Facebook is a great way for you and your Facebook friends to stay up-to-date about People Helping People Global, here are the steps to get you started (let the red arrows be your guide).

Step 1: You “Like” Us

1) This one is pretty simple. Just go to, and click the “Like” button at the top of the page.

Steps 2 - 5: Invite Your Friends

2) This one is pretty easy too. After you’ve “liked” us, you will see a link on the left-hand side of the page, under our organization image, saying “Suggest to Friends.”

3) When you click on that, a box will pop up with all of your Facebook friends. You can hand-pick the individuals that will receive your suggestion to “like” People Helping People Global. If you would like to invite all of your friends to join, there’s a little trick you can do – I know it’s going to seem weird, but give it a try…I promise it will work for most of you. Just copy and paste the following javascript into your address bar (you know, the place where you type in ""):

javascript:elms=document.getElementById('friends').getElementsByTagName('li');for(var fid in elms){if(typeof elms[fid] === 'object'){[fid]);}}

Magically, all of your friends will be selected, and you can go ahead with the instructions.

4) I always think it’s a good idea to use the personal message option when I suggest a page to my friends on Facebook. There are so many applications, group requests, etc. on Facebook, and providing a personal message lets your friend know why the heck they’re getting this suggestion. I usually write something like:  

“Hey, How’s it going? One of my friends started volunteering with this NGO that does water projects in Africa. I thought you might be interested in what they’re doing. - Alex”

However, you know your friends better than I do. If you think just an invite will work, then go for it!

5) Finally, click the “Invite” button. Your good deed is done for the day!

After all of this is done, feel free to post on our wall and introduce yourself to the PHPG community. We always welcome questions, comments, and suggestions. This organization is just as much yours as it is that of the people who work for and receive benefits from it. Please help us make it better by letting us know how you think we can improve!

Thanks for taking the time to do this, and take care!


Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Meet the Artisans: Telares Nicaragua de Molina Norte

Yesterday morning, Isabel and I hopped a bus from the south market of Matagalpa to venture out to the women's cooperative of the Molina Norte region of Nicaragua, about thirty minutes outside of the city. It was a beautiful trip with tons of great vistas of the sprawling city of Matagalpa and the hundreds of coffee plantations below.

As the bus crept up the mountain -- peaking at about 15 miles per hour -- Isabel and I chatted about what we expected to find at the Molina Norte women's cooperative. We've been working hard to diversify the fair trade offerings that we have for our American markets, so we were excited to add another group of amazing artisans to the repertoire.

We arrived at the entrance to the cooperative, and were escorted down through the compound. We were surrounded by composted flower gardens, organic coffee plants, and tons of streams. This place had an appreciation for nature!

When we arrived, we were greeted with five smiling faces, all attached to diligently working sets of hands. The unofficial leader of the group, Wilma Flores Escoto, got up from her loom to officially welcome us to the workshop. We quickly introduced ourselves to Wilma and the rest of the group, then the showcase began.

The Molina Norte cooperative is one of the few groups in the country that work in fabrics -- namely because cotton is pretty rare around here. However, the ladies purchase the colorful Guatemalan cotton that many of us are familiar with and create their own unique styles of purses, wallets, and other products.

After we snapped photos of about thirty different styles of bags, holders, wallets, et al., we asked for a bit of an explanation of how the products are created and how cooperative works. We received quite an extensive explanation (but we'll save that for a different post). The most important thing that we learned is that the money is placed in a joint bank account, and each of the women receives an equal pay -- these ladies are getting 100 percent of the profits!

We talked shop for a bit and made some final decisions about what we would purchase. The products are amazing, and we can't wait to offer them all to you this holiday season! We talked about setting up a contract for our return in the spring, and the ladies eyes lit up. It's not too often that guarantees get made here in Nicaragua.

When all was said and done and hundreds of photos were taken, we said our goodbyes to our new friends, Maria, Desi, Wilma, Nadi, and Ramunda. They kept thanking us for coming, but obviously the pleasure was all ours. To get a glimpse into the day-to-day lives of these women was quite a treat, and we look forward to our next trip out to Molina Norte.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Never Lose Hope...Later is Better than Never

Don't let the picture fool you -- it was NOT taken on the day this story takes place

Rainy season has taken a toll on just about everything here in Nicaragua, but most notably so, on the dirt roads. While biking out to a meeting the other day, this fact became quite apparent. The meeting was to be held at Elisa’s home, which is located at the very end of the peninsula and a fine spot for a meeting… if you can get there.

Yes, it was undoubtedly raining on this day causing me to question if I should even attempt traveling down this muddy, puddle-covered road. I had made my decision to make the trek despite the rain. In Nicaragua everything is cancelled when it rains. Schools close and children are prohibited from leaving their home because it is a “known fact” that they will become sick if they get wet. Being quite tired of rain (or even the potential possibility of rain!) and being used to the normal excuse to cancel, I decided to go ahead with the meeting. I was not going to cancel and be hypocritical; however, after each pothole that shot mud up my back, I began to doubt my better judgment.

Peddling away, my mind began to think of the group of people – hopefully – waiting for me at Elisa’s house. This group is compiled of fishermen and women from the island region of Granada. All in all, this region consists of 354 islands that were created hundreds and hundreds of years ago when the closely located, and still quite active, Mombacho volcano erupted, spitting rock and lava into the lake. Since then these people have lived and breathed off of the fruits of the land and of the lake. Each individual in the group will take out a loan with People Helping People Global to improve their fishing business. Most will buy materials to make nets and/or repair their boats. Oh no, I thought, with the rain and their leaking boats, it will be twice as hard, if not impossible for people to arrive. There I was feeling sorry for my own situation.

With Elisa’s home is sight, the final puddle covering the entire road proved to be the death of me or at least that of my somewhat presentable appearance. My tires were half submerged in the puddle. Inching along, all I could do to not fall in was continue peddling – shoes, ankles and calves fully submerged. On the bright side I had arrived. Elisa came out and offered me a warm welcome as we laughed about my state. My laugh quickly turned into worry when I saw not a soul had arrived yet. As we waited, making small talk, time seemed to creep along. My hopes of having our meeting on this dreary day seemed to be passing by. Oh well, I thought, at least I had an adventurous afternoon.

Just then, from across the field I began to see signs of life. Yes, they were coming! Our meeting would be held despite the conditions. Never lose hope...later is better than never.

The goal of the meeting was to announce which individuals would be receiving loans for the first round in their community. I was dreading this part the most. When the time finally came where I would read the list of the lucky ones whom had been randomly selected to receive a loan, my heart sunk looking at all who were not on my list. Those not selected would have to wait until February when we return from our holiday fundraising stint in the US. As I butchered the pronunciation and stumbled through the list my anxiety grew, anticipating the disappointment of half of the group would feel when I finished.

The time had come. I read the last name, and paused knowing the next step was to look up and address all questions. No doubt I would hear, “Why him, not me?” or “I turned in my request before her.” However, to my surprise, when I lifted my head I saw nothing but smiles, happiness, and peace among the group. I did not hear one complaint. There was no anger or hostility, even though each and every one of them is living in extreme poverty, hunger and poor health. A family making $15 dollars per week is considered blessed (with a family of 5 this would equate to less than 50 cents per person per day). Given the difficultly they all face, I still did not hear one complaint. I was praised for coming to their community and praised for offering this great opportunity.

As aunts, cousins and neighbors began congratulating one another. I smiled to myself thinking, I guess they do have the right mentality down here in Nicaragua: never lose hope...later is better than never.


Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Granada NGOs Meet to Discuss Future Collaboration on Projects

It's great to be back in Nicaragua again. Isabel and I landed here last Wednesday, and we haven't stopped moving since then. Here's a quick overview of what's been going on here over the past week or so.

We ran into Sylvia, one of the leaders of Cena con Las Madres (older post about the community, brief overview of CCLM). She came up to us grinning ear-to-ear with a success story. A group of French travelers came through Granada and wanted to participate in CCLM. They went out to the Sabeneta neighborhood where the CCLM ladies live, and they cooked, ate, and danced the night away. The ladies brought in $60 bucks on the night (the equivalent of two week's worth of income for most of them), and the travelers took back an experience that I'm sure they'll be hard-pressed to forget for a long time.

People Helping People Global is very close to finding a permanent home in Granada! As many of you all probably know, our organization has operated in a nomadic style over the past year or so (Our apologies to those Continental workers that had to carry around our 75 pound checked bags). However, our friends at Soccer Without Borders have decided that they need a bit more space to house their projects, so they have bequeathed their lease on to us. The tentative move-in date is September 12th.

The last piece of exciting news has to do with the meeting that we had last Friday. Soccer Without Borders, the group mentioned above, decided that it would be a good idea to bring together the non profit groups that operate in Granada, Nicaragua. We had a pretty good showing, and the meeting really gave us a good starting point for collaboration. What's great about the group is that every organization brings something different to the table. Here is a list of the organizations that attended and a bit about them:

  • Soccer Without Borders: a US-based NGO that uses soccer as a conduit for social change in various countries across the globe.
  • Hotel con Corazon: a hotel in Granada which directs all of its profits to education programs in the rural areas outside of the city.
  • Vida Joven: provides mission-oriented support to youth in Nicaragua.
  • La Esperanza Granada: a Nicaraguan-based NGO that provides supplementary support in the primary schools surrounding Granada.
  • FC Carita Sports College: a group that focuses on sport to help local at-risk youth.
  • Cruz Roja de Nicaragua: the local Red Cross branch.
  • Empowerment International: works with "street children" to help them escape their situations through various means (e.g., photography, daily programs).
We head out to see our micro-lending groups tomorrow for the fourth month of loan repayments. We're very excited to see how everyone is doing and how their businesses are fairing in this unforgiving rainy season that we're experiencing right now. We'll keep you updated.

Take care,

Monday, August 23, 2010

"Local 'People' Helping Foreigners in Need"

Exciting news, everyone. People Helping People Global just got an article published in the Henrico Citizen. The article, entitled "Local 'People' Helping Foreigners in Need," was published in the Henrico, VA newspaper's August 19-September 1 edition. It outlines the general work and origin of the organization, in addition to focusing on the benefits of the new website and its ability to connect our donors with our loan recipients. The article may be posted in the online edition sometime in the next few days, but for now, I have scanned the print version and added it to our website. You can access the article here. Thank you all for your continued support, and just remember that you can help us get more articles like this one just by spreading the word about our organization.

Take care for now,


Thursday, August 19, 2010

Celebrating World Humanitarian Day

Since December of 2008, August 19th has become important day of observance amongst the international community. The United Nations General Assembly marked today as a day to “contribute to increasing public awareness about humanitarian work and the importance of international cooperation, and to commemorate all humanitarian and United Nations and associated personnel who have worked in the promotion of the humanitarian cause, and those who have lost their lives in the course of duty.”

People Helping People Global would like to extend a brief yet sincere thank you to all of those humanitarians out there who have devoted their lives to serving others. We would also like to take a moment to remember all of the humanitarians who have lost their lives while serving the global community.

If you would like to learn more about World Humanitarian Day, please visit the official website at:

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Micro-Lending Group Fights Poverty by Connecting Donors with Entrepreneurs Thousands of Miles Apart

Hey guys,

Below is a press release describing our new website features. Please let your friends know, and if you have any connections to media outlets, please forward them the information. Thanks much, and take care.


Micro-Lending Group Fights Poverty by Connecting Donors with Entrepreneurs Thousands of Miles Apart

Fairfax, VT, Tuesday, August 10, 2010 People Helping People Global (PHPG) , a Vermont-based nonprofit, has just introduced a new website that will attempt to revolutionize philanthropy as we know it. This new website allows donors from all over the world to donate directly to entrepreneurs in Central America. “Instead of writing a check to a big nonprofit and hoping that your donor dollars make their way to the right place, we’ve set up a system that allows you to choose exactly where your hard-earned money is going,” said Alex Tuck, co-Founder and Executive Director of PHPG.
Informational meeting in Avelardo Enrique

The system is pretty simple.

A member of PHPG investigates which neighborhoods have the highest incidence of poverty while also having a high potential for success. “We like to work in neighborhoods where other nonprofits are also helping out. If education and infrastructure are being addressed by other organizations, then there’s less to distract us from business start-ups and job creation,” says Tuck.

PHPG then has meetings to inform the community about the micro-lending program and passes out applications to those who are interested.

All applications are reviewed, and each person that requests a loan is interviewed. The purpose of the interview is to meet the family, learn about their living situation, current income, educational background, and borrowing history. If the potential loan recipient falls under the lending guidelines of the organization, then he or she is added to the new website.

On the new website, donors may view pictures of the potential loan recipients and read their stories. If the donor would like to contribute to a particular entrepreneur, all he or she has to do is select the desired dollar amount and click donate. The system works just like any retail website. The donor just goes to his or her cart and checks out. After confirming the order, the donor is taken to the PayPal website where the donation is processed.

After PHPG receives the full donation amount, the organization disburses the money to the loan recipient. The loan recipient then pays back monthly payments on the loan over the agreed upon period. After the loan is repaid, the funds are used to facilitate new loans to other members of the community.

PHPG believes that they have a system that sets it apart from the organizations that currently exist in the micro-lending world. “Micro-lending started as a way for impoverished individuals to raise themselves out of poverty. Now, a lot of companies look at it as an easy way to make money. Unfortunately, it’s at the expense of the ultra-poor. Our goal at People Helping People Global is to put the philanthropy back into micro-finance,” said Tuck.

Another differentiating factor for PHPG is its size and intimacy. Isabel Gamm, co-Founder and Program Manager of PHPG, tells of her experience, “Community members trust our organization, because we interact with them regularly. In a community where we work, named Avelardo Enrique, we have meetings under the mango tree. During these meetings, we connect on a personal level. We talk about success stories and how to combat problems. We grumble over the heat. We discuss bookkeeping methods, where to buy the best nacatamales, and laugh as the falling mangos whiz by our faces. Our meetings are formal yet fun. That is what separates our organization other micro-lending groups.”

One of the biggest differences that PHPG has with other micro-lending groups is that it doesn’t charge interest. “We charge absolutely no interest on our loans, because we strongly believe that micro-loans requiring borrowers to pay high rates of interest often leave the borrower in more debt than when they began. Our goal is to raise communities out of poverty, not perpetuate the vicious cycle,” said Gamm.

The new website may be found at There readers may learn more about the organization, try out the new donation system, and access the organization’s social media outlets.

About People Helping People Global

People Helping People Global is a project of Building New Hope, a registered 501(c)3 non-profit organization. It partners with locals in impoverished regions of the world to develop sustainable economic initiatives. It currently focuses on providing zero percent interest micro-loans to individuals living on less than two dollars per day.


Alex Tuck
Executive Director
People Helping People Global
(804) 859-5597

# # #

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

PHPG is Heading to the Carytown Watermelon Festival!

Hey there, People Helping People Global supporters!

I just wanted to let you all know that you can find us this Sunday, August 8th at the Carytown Watermelon Festival in Richmond, VA. According to the website, over 115,000 people are estimated to attend, making it the  largest single-day festival in Virginia.

Isabel and I will be out there representing PHPG with our bright, powder blue shirts. We plan to have tons of great Nicaraguan, fair-trade items available, ranging from hand-crafted earrings to recycled paper products to ceramic whistles. Additionally, since we've had to cancel our bowling event, we have tons of great gifts from Richmond-area businesses that we're going to raffle off. We plan to put together several gift packages, including gift certificates to the Capital Alehouse, Basils, and the Can Can Brasserie.

Please let all of your Richmond friends know to look for us at the festival. Also, if you haven't done so already, please follow us by clicking on the "Follow" link on the right-hand side of this blog and tell all of your friends to do the same! Thanks much for reading.

Until next time...


Friday, July 23, 2010

2010 Bowl to End Poverty


Dear PHPG Supporters,

I regret to inform you that due to lack of interest in the 2010 Bowl to End Poverty, we have had to cancel this event. Thank you all who have taken the time to raise funds and encourage others to participate. If you know anyone who would still like to contribute to People Helping People Global, please direct them to our donation page. Thank you so much, and have a great day!

Alex Tuck

Richmonders Gear up to Raise Funds through Bowling

Richmond, VA, Friday, July 23, 2010 People Helping People Global (PHPG) is looking for event sponsors and participants for its 2010 Bowl to End Poverty. The event will take place on Thursday, August 12 from 5 to 7, Friday, August 13 from 5 to 7, and Saturday, August 14 from 2 to 4, at AMF Shrader Lanes, 8037 Shrader Rd. in Henrico County.

The three-day event – which includes 2 hours of free bowling, event t-shirts, and raffle prizes – is a thank you to all of those individuals who raise at least $50 for PHPG.  “In these hard economic times, organizations have to look to different methods of fundraising. In this case, we tried to reward our fundraisers with something in return for their hard work,” said Isabel Gamm, co-Founder and Program Manager of PHPG.

The money raised at this event will go towards expanding the organization’s existing micro-lending projects in Central America. “The great thing about micro-lending is that you’re empowering individuals to help themselves escape poverty. Plus, after they pay the loan back, someone else can use the funds to do the same thing. It creates a ripple effect in the communities,” said Alex Tuck, co-Founder and Executive Director of PHPG.

The organization is asking that anyone who is interested in bowling or becoming an event sponsor or prize sponsor visit the event website,, or call (804) 859-5597 for more information.

About People Helping People Global

People Helping People Global is a project of Building New Hope, a registered 501(c)3 non-profit organization. It partners with locals in impoverished regions of the world to develop sustainable economic initiatives. It currently focuses on providing zero percent interest micro-loans to individuals living on less than two dollars per day.


Alex Tuck
Executive Director
People Helping People Global
(804) 859-5597

# # #

Friday, March 26, 2010

A Trip out to Caña de Castilla

Being back in Granada for the past couple of weeks has been quite a great experience. Isabel and I have had the opportunity to reconnect with a lot of our old friends, and it feels like we never even left the place. Today, I just wanted to tell you about a couple of those old friends and a trip that we took out to their neighborhood a few days ago.

The little guy with me in the picture above is my younger, Nica brother, Jorge. Jorge and I lived in the same house for about three months during my last stay here in Nicaragua. He, Isabel, and I would make up games, watch Curious George, and fumble through elementary Spanish together (although I have to say that 3-year-old Jorge may have had a better grasp on Spanish grammar than myself, haha). Jorge is the son of Claudia, one of the maids that worked for the hospedaje where we last stayed, and one of the perks for them at the time was that they got to stay in the maid's quarters in the back of the house. The time that we got to spend with them, and Claudia's newborn, Mary Elena, was priceless. So, when we got back to Granada, one of the first few people that we had to visit was obviously Claudia and the crew.

We lucked out on Monday, because we ran into Claudia, and she just happened to be off the next day. So, Tuesday morning, we got the chance to head out to her house in Caña de Castilla, about a 10 minute bus ride to the southwest of Granada. This was our first trip out to her community, and we definitely didn't expect to see what we did.

The trip out to her place took just a little over an hour. During that time, we had the opportunity to describe to her what our organization does, and we got to learn a lot about her experience as a housekeeper at our old place. First of all, she gets paid less than $3 a day for anywhere between 10 to 14 hours of work. Some days she even has to come in at 4:30am to cook breakfast for a big tour group. It's great because these big groups usually leave a pretty hefty tip; however, despite this extra work, she never sees a dime of it. Secondly, she was allowed to stay at the house, but her kids were forever banned from staying there overnight.

Anyway, when we got out to her neighborhood, we were blown away by the beauty of the landscape. There were tons of various fruit trees lining the road back to her house, and the shadow of the active Mombacho volcano was lurking over us (don't worry, it hasn't erupted since 1570). Claudia's house was nestled in the middle of this beauty, and they even had an avocado tree and a plantain tree to add to the ambiance. The only problem is that 14 people are confined to little more than 300 square feet of space.

Claudia and her 9 brothers and sisters share the space, along with her 3 children and her mother. Her father died less than a year ago when a bus struck him while he was standing on the side of the main road at the entrance to their town. Her sister works 2 to 3 days a week, so in all, the household brings in about $21 a week for 14 people (or a little over 20 cents per person per day). Before the father's death, things were not such a problem. However, after his income stopped, things got a lot harder.

Needless to say, this family is in extreme need of help, and they have some great ideas to change their lives around. Claudia's mother plans to start a business selling a new product which is not available in Granada. She plans to borrow enough money to rent a space in the market and purchase enough goods to begin sales very soon. In fact, they plan to fill out the paperwork in the next week and start selling this coming weekend during Semana Santa (Easter Week). We're really excited about their energy, and our level of trust and belief in this family is very high. We can't wait to report back to you the incredible things that they are able to do in the next few months.

Thanks for reading about our adventures! Until next time,


Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Hello from Nicaragua!

Happy belated St. Patty's Day and Happy March Madness to all of you basketball lovers out there. I just wanted to make a quick post to let you all know that we arrived safely in Granada Monday around midnight EST. This week we plan to lay low and assimilate back into the culture before ramping up our projects. We plan to make initial contact with our Cena con las Madres group, in hopes to roll out the project within the next few weeks. We also have a meeting with the folks from the Pittsburgh-based group, Women of the Cloud Rainforest, to discuss a partnership on a few projects that we expect will create many new jobs for Nicaraguans. Additionally, we have started our quest for a permanent location for the International House Project.

Things haven't really changed here too much over the past few months. High tourist season is nearing its final weeks until it ramps back up in the summertime. From what I've gathered, it wasn't nearly as bad as everyone had projected. With the high tourist season comes a huge over-saturation of street kids and beggars. And unfortunately, they all compete each other out. Due to the overwhelming numbers, tourists and well-to-do locals tend to get more callous towards these groups, in turn destroying the market of begging for food and money. In a way this is good since a beggar lifestyle is not economically sustainable; however, it still hurts the heart to see these 7 year old kids begging for food only to be turned down time and time again (and, yes, I am part of this denying population).

However, thanks to the tons of generous donations that we have received from all of you over the past few months, we are able to start changing these individuals lives. We plan to work with the parents of children like Animal (pictured above) to create a sustainable business and generate sufficient income for their families. And by the way...I'm pretty sure that's his nickname, although he hasn't broken down to tell us another name despite our pleas.

Thank you all for the support that you've provided us so far. We look forward to reporting back many stories of successful implementation over the next few months here in Granada.

Until next time!


Monday, January 4, 2010

Party Like It's 2009!

Hello everyone, and Happy Holidays from the folks here at People Helping People Global. I hope that everyone had a great holiday season, and you are all ready to get started off on the right foot this new decade. I just wanted to share some news about the fundraiser that we had here in Richmond this past Thursday, aka New Years Eve. Baja Bean was gracious enough to host our event, and we were able to raise over $6,000 for our organization!!! Thank you everyone who attended and helped out with the event.

We had over 300 individuals join us that night, and it resulted in one of the biggest parties in Richmond, VA on New Years Eve. Everyone had a terrific time, and people even donated more money that night on top of the $50 entrance fee. I'll post a link to the pictures from the event in the next few days.

If you are in the Richmond area over the next month, please check back on our website ( often for more of our organization's events.

Thanks for reading!

Alex Tuck

Program Manager
People Helping People Global