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Posted by: Josh Porter 1 year ago

Yesterday I walked around Monte Verde and visited several of the women who have graduated and launched from the program and are no longer working at Vida Plena.  From the beginning, our purpose has been to make a big investment in a few women/families over a long period with the hope and prayer that they begin to flourish the way God intends.  Believe me, it has not always looked like the simple blossom of a lily; it’s been messy and I’m glad I didn’t know how hard this would be at the onset…

But then there are days like yesterday.  I stopped by Altagracia’s house and enjoyed a cup of fresh brewed local coffee and an empanada that she makes and sells.  Apparently, she’s been putting her baking classes/training to good use as well.  Her house is on main street in Monte Verde, the street that hundreds of hungry construction workers walk down every morning to get to the bus stop.  Location, location, location!

Feline has been telling me for a year that she wants to make and sell peanut butter.  And now she’s finally started.  She buys raw bulk peanuts in a neighboring town, roasts them over a charcoal fire, and grinds them with a proprietary blend of spices (I suspect cinnamon and chili pepper). She gave us a jar of her special spicy Haitian-style natural peanut butter before we left, and I’ll definitely be going back for more.  I love seeing the dignity in her smile; she knows she’s done something amazing for herself and family.

Feline and her spicy peanut butter business

Nanouche has found a niche market for frozen products like ice cream, frozen juice, ice, etc. in her neighborhood.  She was explaining to me over the phone that she had purchased a freezer and was selling juice, but when we passed be her house, we found a full-service minimarket!  If there was ever a time and place for selling cold things, it’s now in Monte Verde.  Did I mention it was 102.5 deg F with the heat index today?

Nanouche Running her minimarket

Lastly, we’ve recently opened the artisan workshop along with language classes, group therapy, and trade training!  It’s great to be back and start all the wheels turning in the new normal.  After spending the last couple months in “aid and relief” mode, some of the cogs are a little rusty…

Most of the women in the workshop have only spent a month with Vida Plena before the quarantine.  So, in many ways it feels like we’re starting all over again as we’re training and investing in a new group of women, and simultaneously looking for new local business opportunities to help fill the gap in our tourist-dependent market.  In these strange and uncertain days, we’re so grateful for our faithful partner MudLOVE in Warsaw, who has continued to place orders and pursue new opportunities for the Viona bracelets the women at Vida Plena are making for them.

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