Thursday, October 17, 2013

San Juanillo

This post is written by PHPG's Matagalpa region volunteer, Ross Harding.

San Juanillo is a small rural community a couple of hours away from Matagalpa by bus.

Although the journey can feel rather long, the natural beauty of Nicaragua at least makes for a pleasant view from the bus window.

San Juanillo is one of PHPG’s longer partnerships in the Matagalpa region. Our project here is part of our partnership with EOS International, which we also talked a bit about in an earlier post.

In the communities where we have partnered with EOS, generally our loans take the form of sustainable technologies such as fuel-efficient ovens or drip-irrigation systems. We also give a bit of capital, around $55, to help jump-start their business activities. With the help of PHPG and EOS, the communities we work with are able to secure livelihoods that they would have a hard time achieving otherwise.

So, how are things coming along? Regional Coordinator Eric and yours truly recently visited the community for one of our monthly collection dates.

Arriving at the local group leader’s farm, I couldn’t help but gawk at much of the picturesque beauty. Yet it is important not to romanticize things too greatly; our mandate is working with people who make on average less than $2 per day, which means despite the natural splendour of the land there is still real hardship. 

Thankfully, so far our efforts have contributed to lessening that hardship for the group we’ve been working with. Although there have been months here and there when one of the members might not be able to make the repayment (which is to be expected given the uncertainties of agricultural work), it’s certainly not a pattern. The San Juanillo group is leveraging the opportunity we at PHPG and EOS have been able to provide, and are well underway to paying it off completely. 

The group leader was happy to show us around her farm. Here’s what a plot of onions looked like in September:

And here they are in October:

So, in short, things are looking pretty healthy over in San Juanillo! We’ll definitely give another update on how things are going in this neck of the woods next month. It may be a bit of a trek to get to San Juanillo, but the gracious people, beautiful landscapes, and meaningful opportunities are certainly all worth it.

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