Wednesday, October 2, 2013

PHPG Expansion in San Juan de Oriente

This post is written by Trent Shelton, PHPG's Program Coordinator in the Granada region.

The San Juan de Oriente new loan clients along with the PHPG team

Twelve miles west of Granada, in the Masaya province, lays a town called San Juan de Oriente. As you work your way up from the lowlands of Granada, you start to feel the temperatures drops and the pace of life become a bit slower. From the main highway passing by, you’d never know what San Juan de Oriente offers. The town’s economy is based on the production of ceramics. It is said that 80% of the town population are involved in ceramics. The ceramics created here in this humble town are internationally famous. This is with good reason, as the ceramics are incredible pieces of art. The world-class artists send their products all over the world and even host a few competitions in their town that draw wide attention.

One may wonder why this town of 5,000 inhabitants is specialized in ceramics and so good at what they do. In the 1970s, several international organizations made a big push to revive the traditional craft. Ceramic specialists from North America, Europe, and Cuba, came to San Juan de Oriente to train the locals on the art. The excited community had a great feeling about the future of ceramics and what it may bring to the local economy. For many, it has done wonders for their financial situation. Others are still struggling due to the relatively small market in Nicaragua.

Ceramics created by San Juan de Oriente artisan, Jacobo

PHPG has now entered into a new partnership with Esperanza en Accion, a fair-trade non-profit organization specializing in Nicaraguan ceramics and crafts. With the partnership, PHPG has given one group loan consisting of six artisans who also work with Esperanza en Accion. Each of the artisans creates ceramics, and each will use their loans in a similar manner. Financially, the artisans have difficulties in buying the light blue color of paint that is used. This color, celeste, is only produced in the US and is then exported, making it very expensive. Making the cost even higher is the fact that there is only one place in San Juan de Oriente that sells this type of paint. Putting the cash upfront to purchase this paint can be extremely challenging for a local artisan. With PHPG’s loan, each of the six loan clients will have the ability to make this purchase to continue using the beautiful light blue color in their crafts. We’re looking forward to working more with Esperanza and Accion and ceramic artisans in San Juan de Oriente!

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