Wednesday, February 29, 2012

End of Day 11: $2015.00

Thanks for another $10 donated today!  Thanks for the continued support.  Please continue to help however you can!  Think $5 is too little?  Think again!  Every little bit helps get closer to the goal!  Check out how you can donate too!  Or, check out these upcoming fundraising events if you would like to help out by going to one (or more) of them.  As always, please feel free to email me if you would like to help organize a fundraising event, have an idea, or just a question for me.

Reminder that tomorrow, March 1st, is a Bowling fundraiser!  If you live in Oregon, check this out:  50/50 Bowling night:  Thursday, March 1st.  6:30 to 8:30 p.m.  Four Seasons Bowling Alley, 322 SE Washington St, Hillsboro, Oregon.  $16 includes 2 hours of bowling and shoe rental and $8 of that goes to this fundraiser!  Also, 15% of any food/beverage sales goes to the fundraiser.  So, if you happen to be in the area, go get some strikes for charity!

I was asked by a friend about the kinds of programming and activities the community would like to see in the community center.  Briefly, the center will be used to hold monthly town meetings as well as any additional town meetings or special events.  There is also a strong desire by community members to have English language instruction for adults and children in the community.  One reason for this is to prepare local community members to be able to act as guides and hosts for potential income-generating ecotourism in the area.  There is also a desire to have programs for women in the community- from workshops to early childhood programming and exercise classes.  A shared community kitchen and playground for children.  Because medical services are an hour away, providing simple health services is also important.  A library and reading area.  An office area for anyone in the community needing a meeting space, to use.  A guest room/house to be used for visitors.  Educational programming for youth and adults, including environmental topics relevant to river health and quality and other environmental concerns highly relevant to daily living.  A computer work area with classes on how to use the machines.  Opportunities for cultural exchanges with youth living in the US.

So there is a brief overview of some of the classes/services the community is hoping to have in the community center.  Of course, the list is not exhaustive, and some opportunities may develop in the future that will be in line with desires of the community, but haven't yet been discussed.

What other things are you curious about?  Let me know!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

End of Day 10: $2005.00

Yay!  Thanks to a generous $20 donation, the total amount donated is now over $2000.00.  That is awesome!  Thanks for your continued support.  Please continue to help however you can!  Think $5 is too little?  Think again!  Every little bit helps get closer to the goal!  Check out how you can donate too!  Or, check out these upcoming fundraising events if you would like to help out by going to one (or more) of them.  As always, please feel free to email me if you would like to help organize a fundraising event, have an idea, or just a question for me.

The Applebee's Dining to Donate flyer is now available online please remember to bring a copy of it when you come out to eat on 3/19!

The Zumbathon flyer is also available online and there is now a Facebook Event page so send it to anyone that might be interested!

Remember, 100% of the money being donated is going toward sustainable development in rural Ecuador, with the primary focus being construction of a community center that will also act as a sister neighborhood center to Madison, Wisconsin's Meadowood Neighborhood Center.  I imagine that some of you that are stumbling upon this blog and fundraising initiative for the first time are still wondering why you should care, or why it is important to help.  So, over the next few days I plan to provide more details on goals for the community center and beyond (including more details about why the connection to the Meadowood Neighborhood Center is important), and hope you will share in my enthusiasm and consider donating.  I am also hoping you will feel compelled to ask questions for anything you might want to hear more about.  Don't be shy!

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I have been volunteering my time and money to help get this initiative going, as it has been something this community has been trying to do for a long time, but as with many worthwhile projects, financial resources were not readily available.  I became intrigued by the enthusiasm the community first shared at a town meeting, but was cautioned by some that the request for assistance not simply be a hand me out, and also to be sure that this really was something community-led.  So, I talked with the president and others in the community about how we could help out.  I even met with the mayor and he seemed excited about this initiative.

But, the true test came with what happened after I returned to the US.  Communication between the US (or the rest of the world) and this community is not easy.  It is 45 minutes by truck (of which there are two truck owners in town who charge 50 cents one way to the nearest town) or 35 min walking to the road plus additional 30 minutes to the closest town where you can then pay a dollar an hour for internet (if it's working that day, and it is often spotty).  In a region where people are fortunate if they have work, and, if they do, are likely earning about $8 a day for 10+ hours of work, the bus fare plus internet fees are nothing to ignore.  So, when the president continued to make efforts to get to the internet to discuss ideas and plans over gmail text chat, or borrow a cell phone from someone, or use a cabina or pay phone to call me so I could call back, I knew that there was something unique here.

It became clear to me through these continued discussions that the community wanted this center not only for basic human services, but also as a way to continue with the community's ideas and momentum in order to provide for sustainable development in a grass-roots, community-driven way.  Not as something another group or outside agency was telling them was how it should be.  And, based on my varied educational background and connections to different individuals and resources, I have been volunteering my time and money to help get this initiative going.  This will definitely be a lifetime commitment on my part, but I view myself as largely working in the shadows, gently nudging an already burgeoning community-led initiative for sustainable development.

This initiative can be viewed in part as an asset-based community development.  This strategy for community-driven development has been used in both urban and rural communities in North America as a method counter to the typical "needs-based" approaches used by governmental and non-governmental agencies.  This approach works by enabling or empowering already existing assets within the community in order to assist communities in driving the sustainable development process themselves.  The theory is based on the idea that social assets and social capital can be extremely powerful in enabling community development where financial capital may be limited (for more information, check out Mathie & Cunningham, 2003).

While the community does not have money to put into this initiative, they do have several assets, including donated land.  The center will be built on land that a family in the community donated for that purpose.  The location of the land is ideal, as it is in the center of the community and not far from the primary school.

View from slightly above the donated land, looking down toward the primary school

Another asset the community has is talented builders who will be able to help with all parts of the construction of the center.  Additionally, the president of the community is friends with an architect, so he is assisting with design plans for free.  And the list of non-financial assets goes on.

Using a "bottom-up" approach to development is likely to be much more sustainable than alternate approaches of many NGOs (Altieri & Masera, 1993).  And, these community-based initiatives can lead to income generation for the community, that is done in a way that is sensitive to the culture and the environment of the area (see Ruiz-Ballesteros, 2011 for example).

More on this in later posts.....  Please feel free to ask questions!  And, thanks again for your support!!

Monday, February 27, 2012

End of Day 9: $1985.00

Thank you, thank you for your continued generous donations.  We are so close to being over $2000.00 in donations.  Please help however you can!  Think $5 is too little?  Think again!  Every little bit helps get closer to the goal!  Check out how you can donate too!  Or, check out these upcoming fundraising events if you would like to help out by going to one (or more) of them.  As always, please feel free to email me if you would like to help organize a fundraising event, have an idea, or just a question for me.

Exciting news today!  This fundraiser was featured in the Wisconsin State Journal.  Check out the article, if you haven't already!  And, check out the "Press" tab for more stories or blurbs on this fundraiser.

The response to the article has been wonderful.  Not only did several people step up and donate today ($120.00 donated- yay!), but several individuals reached out and offered help with fundraising, or collecting school supplies, or toys for sending down to Ecuador.  Thank you all for your interest and enthusiasm!  Please continue to pass along information about this fundraiser (and thank you to all of you that did that today, and have been doing that), and please help me reach this fundraising goal.  I know that it is really hard right now, but even $5 can (and will) help out!

Look for Facebook event pages for some of the upcoming fundraisers, as well as posters, registration forms (for the Zumbathon), and more in the next couple of days.

Please also feel free to ask questions or post comments here on the blog.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

End of Day 8: $1865.00

No new donations today, but, seeing as there is no mail on Sunday, and if you were in and around the Madison, WI area, you should have been outside today, and not on the computer, it is understandable.  However, with the workweek starting again, now is the time to donate if you haven't!  Even if you only have $5 to give, don't be shy, please consider donating!  Or, if you are more interested in eating out, dancing, or bowling to help out, then check out these events!  Or, want to help plan a fundraising event or presentation in your area?  I will gladly help- just email me!  Thanks!!

(Repeat from yesterday, but worth stating again) Remember, 100% of the money being donated is going toward sustainable development in rural Ecuador, with the primary focus being construction of a community center that will also act as a sister neighborhood center to Madison, Wisconsin's Meadowood Neighborhood Center.  The center is being designed by the local community, on land that was already donated by one of the families living there, and will be both a meeting place, location for educational and health services, and a facility to assist in income generation, and cultural exchanges for local community members.  Any additional funds raised will be used to help complete a potable water project left incomplete since 2009 when the local government failed to provide the matching funds to the Rotary International project.

I have been asked a number of times about the currency in Ecuador.  As of March 13, 2000, the official currency of Ecuador became the U.S. dollar.  Prior to that, the national currency was the Sucre.  The Sucre was named after Antonio José de Sucre, who was apparently a good friend of Simón Bolívar's (extremely important figure in Latin American history of independence), and, like Simón, a Venezuelan independence leader.  Apparently Antonio José de Sucre participated in the battles for South American independence from Spain, and is buried in Quito, Ecuador.  The U.S. dollar was adopted as the official currency after the exchange value of the sucre drastically decreased during 1999.  Sucre notes were exchangeable for U.S. dollars at the rate of 25,000 sucre to 1 U.S. dollar.  Before the sucre (used from 1884 to 2000), the currency of Ecuador was the Ecuadorian peso.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

End of Day 7: $1865.00

Awesome work for the first week!  However, now is the time to donate if you haven't!  Even if you only have $5 to give, don't be shy, please consider donating!  Or, if you are more interested in eating out, dancing, or bowling to help out, then check out these events!  Or, want to help plan a fundraising event or presentation in your area?  I will gladly help- just email me!

Remember, 100% of the money being donated is going toward sustainable development in rural Ecuador, with the primary focus being construction of a community center that will also act as a sister neighborhood center to Madison, Wisconsin's Meadowood Neighborhood Center.  The center is being designed by the local community, on land that was already donated by one of the families living there, and will be both a meeting place, location for educational and health services, and a facility to assist in income generation, and cultural exchanges for local community members.  Any additional funds raised will be used to help complete a potable water project left incomplete since 2009 when the local government failed to provide the matching funds to the Rotary International project.

View  of the primary school from the hill next to the donated land for the community center

 Community members participating in a river clean-up

 A lot of garbage was collected in the same river that is used for drinking

 The kids in the community participating in a community clean-up

 Clinton showing off a bunch of garbage he found

 Some of the kids participating in the community clean-up, posing with me


Friday, February 24, 2012

End of Day 6: $1865.00

Thanks again for another generous $30 in donations today!  Are you interested in donating too?  Check out how!  Also, check out information on upcoming fundraising events to see other ways you can help.

There is a lot of bamboo, or caña growing in and around Camarones.  One of my friends there makes beautiful lamps, hammocks, beds, and other crafts out of the bamboo.  He has even made one lamp that stood 8 feet tall and was one of four he was asked to build that size.  He is very talented and extremely detail-oriented- see for yourself!
Bamboo
 He makes several different sizes of lamps, and also different fabrics for the lampshades

 Bed frame made out of bamboo

 Workshop and giant lamp

Bamboo hammock

Thursday, February 23, 2012

End of Day 5: $1835.00

Hey everyone!  You may have noticed that the total is the same as yesterday.  Yes, that's right.  No monetary donations came in today, but, a lot of great things still occurred.  With the help of friends, I have finalized plans on two additional fundraisers, happening in two different states.  Also with the help of friends, people are spreading the word and offering their support and enthusiasm.  For that, I am very thankful!


However, to help toward the fundraising goal, please consider donating or passing the information along to others you think may be interested.  Thanks so much!


Tomorrow or over the weekend I will make a separate page for the fundraising events that are confirmed, but for now, I'm just going to list them here so you can see other ways to get involved/help out:


1.  Bowling Fundraiser:  Thursday, March 1st.  6:30 to 8:30 p.m.  4 Seasons Bowling, at 322 SE Washington Street, Hillsboro, Oregon.  $16 includes 2 hours of bowling and shoe rental and $8 of that goes to this fundraiser!  Also, 15% of any food/beverage sales goes to the fundraiser.  So, if you happen to be in the area, go get some strikes for charity!


2.  Pizza Fundraiser:  Monday, March 5th through Thursday, March 8th.  All day.  Pizza Pie Café, 25 E 1400 N Logan, UT.  25% of all food sales will go to the fundraiser!  Fliers will be available in the ENVS office, and on this blog for printing as that's how the restaurant knows which purchases go toward the fundraiser.  They even have gluten free!  So, go enjoy some pizza one, or several nights that week!


3.  Dine to Donate Fundraiser:  Monday, March 19th.  11 a.m. to midnight.  Applebee's, 660 S. Whitney Way, Madison, WI.  15% of all food and beverage sales will go to the fundraiser!  Applebee's is putting together fliers, and they will be available on here, as well as various locations in Madison for bringing with you when you go to eat out.  This is the last day of the fundraising drive, and what a delectable way for it to close!


I am also still working on details for a Zumbathon here in Madison.  Stay tuned for details!


Thanks again for all of your interest and enthusiasm!  All of this talk of food fundraisers makes me hungry....  look for some recipes and stories about making a few Ecuadorian foods in future posts.  For now, enjoy a few pictures of yummy goodness.


 Dulce de papaya

 Shrimp ceviche

Tortilla de maiz

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

End of Day 4: $1835.00

Thanks again for another $200.00 in generous donations!  And thanks for continuing to help get the word out!  Look for additional pages to be added soon with details for specific fundraising events, and, as always, check out how you can help.

For anyone out in the Hillsboro, Oregon area, stay tuned for information on a bowling fundraiser happening soon (thanks to a friend living in the area- yay!).  Watch for specifics on all of the upcoming fundraisers to appear here over the next couple of days, after details are finalized, but do remember to mark your calendar for the Dining to Donate culmination event on March 19th at the Applebee's at 660 S. Whitney Way in Madison, WI.  Interested in helping to coordinate a fundraiser in your area? Email me so we can try and work out the details!

Some of you may have noticed a little blurb in the Wisconsin State Journal the other day about a bus that ran off a cliff in Ecuador, killing 29 people.  Unfortunately, traffic accidents (especially involving the buses) are fairly common there.  Some of this has to do with road conditions, but I have heard that a large part also has to do with the different bus companies, with some being more lenient than others.

I enjoyed the times that I rode the bus in Ecuador, but mostly because of the music, bright seat patterns, and sometimes the appearance of guest, non-human, animal passengers.  The open-air buses were my favorite, with such an open view of the countryside.  For the most part, my bus adventures went off without a hitch, except for one afternoon when a tire blew out, or something happened, which caused us to pull off the road and be stuck for a while.  There was great commotion to see what was happening, but no announcements made, nor ideas about what was wrong.  We watched for a while as the drama unfolded.
A giant board was used at one point to try and give some leverage.

And then there seemed to be a bit of confusion as to what to do.

And then one brave soul was under the bus working for quite some time.

At one point, not too long after we pulled off the road, another bus went by and a bunch of the passengers (smartly) ran off and switched buses.  Not being in any real hurry at this point, we decided to wait it out.  However, after waiting for quite some time, with no responses as to how much longer it might be, we ventured with another couple of groups and caught a ride on a flete driver's trunk and headed off, leaving the broken down bus behind.  I am not sure what was wrong, or how long it took to fix it, but it wasn't there a week or so later when we went by the same area.  So, if you are traveling in Ecuador by bus and it breaks down, it's probably a good idea to follow the majority of the passengers if they run to another bus, unless you really have nowhere to be anytime soon.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

End of Day 3: $1635.00

Thanks again to the generous donors helping raise another $200.00 today!  Thanks also for continuing to get the word out and pass this along to anyone and everyone you think could be interested.  Please check out how you can help.

Some more exciting news today!  I am currently working on organizing a Zumbathon here in Madison!  Stay tuned for details, but it's looking like it will be Saturday, March 17th.  So, dust off those hips and get ready to move for charity!

Ah, dancing.  The bailes (dances) that start around 9 or 10 p.m. and last until 7 in the morning are not unique to Ecuador, but I experienced a number during my stay.  This was how I earned my reputation, but not what you might think.  My reputation came from my sweating, not my dancing.  I sweat (or is it "perspire"?) a fair amount.  Even though I lived and worked in Hawaii for almost a year doing fieldwork for my PhD, and I was born and raised in the humid and muggy midwestern summers, I do not acclimate.  Oh, I tried to fight it, or disguise it, but it was fruitless.  In the end, I realized that eventually people would stop saying to me in Spanish "oh, you sweat a lot", because they already knew.  And, when I thought that the sweating could be used to take a break from dancing for a bit, the gentlemen caught on and told me that it didn't matter, "let's dance!"  When's the last time you've danced till dawn and wanted to do it again the next day?


Dancing with Don Ernesto with my chicken arms in the purple shirt, but loving every minute of it

Monday, February 20, 2012

End of Day 2: $1,435.00

Thanks for another $275 in generous donations today!  You guys rock!  Thanks also to everyone for spreading the word and helping to get the message out to anyone that might be interested/able to help.  Seriously, every little bit helps!  Again, if you're interested in helping check this out.

Some exciting news today!  On the last day of the challenge (i.e. March 19, 2012), Applebee's in Madison, WI (660 S. Whitney Way) will be hosting a dine to donate event where you bring in a flyer (that I will post online), and then 15% of food and drink purchases go toward this fundraiser.  What an awesome way to end the fundraiser!  Look for more details on here soon!

Also, the Pizza Pie Cafe in Logan, UT will be hosting a fundraiser for a week in March where 25% of food and drink purchased during that week will go toward this fundraiser for anyone bringing in a special business card (that a friend is picking up for me and we're figuring out where/how to distribute).  How exciting is that?  Look for more details on here soon.

If you have any other ideas for fundraisers and want to help, feel free to email me.  I'm working on a bowling fundraiser out in Oregon, and a few other ideas as well.  Stay tuned!

Recently, a conversation with a friend made me think about two individuals in Ecuador who I affectionately refer to as my "abuelitos Ecuatorianos", or my Ecuadorian grandparents.  All of my grandparents are no longer alive, and I often miss the wisdom and humility that comes with having lived a certain length of time on earth and experienced a variety of things.  All of my grandparents were tremendous advocates of education, and I feel so fortunate to have had the opportunity to have pursued an advanced degree.  I also feel fortunate to have known, and learned from, my grandparents for a large part of my life.

While I was in Ecuador, I adopted some grandparents, or, rather, I think they adopted me.  Don Ernesto and Doña Carmen taught me more in the moments we shared than any textbook could have.  This is what I miss most about my grandparents, and this is what I loved about them.
Don Ernesto, Doña Carmen, and Me (I'm 5'2", but I tower here)

Doña Carmen taught me the true meaning of being a "diabla".  Literally, "devil", but in this case, a very sarcastic, quick witted, wise woman.  You might imagine the kinds of jokes she was spouting as I was helping to make blood sausages for the first time (which, at one part includes blowing on the very well cleaned intestines to check for leaks...).  It was over pig's blood and intestines that we first bonded...

video
Video recording of me checking for leaks in the cleaned intestines before stuffing them to make sausages.  Video taken and commentary by Kelly (another volunteer)

Don Ernesto is an amazing farmer.  He has a very nicely maintained farm and is very generous with his produce- from bananas to papaya, lemons, limes, oranges... you name it, he probably has it.  Additionally, I think he was my favorite dance partner of all.  I really felt like I looked ridiculous (and probably did most of the time), but I couldn't help smiling, laughing, sweating, and generally enjoying life while dancing with him.

Me dancing with Don Ernesto

I am thankful to have met such interesting and wonderful people and look forward to the chance to learn more from my adopted abuelitos when I return to Ecuador.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

End of Day 1: $1,160.00

The official Day 1 of the 30 day challenge to raise $30,000 is off to a great start!  Thanks to generous donations, the end of day total is $1160.00   If you are interested in helping out, and haven't already, please check out this description for how to donate.

And, check it out!   $30,000 Before 30 in 30 Days For a Rural Community in Ecuador is a featured Guest Post on GringosAbroad

There was a question on the GringosAbroad Facebook Page in response to the Guest Post asking where Camarones is located. I answered briefly on the Facebook page, but thought I would include some pictures here.  Please keep the questions coming, and look for more pictures in the 29 days to come!

Camarones is located just south of the equator, approximately halfway between the small coastal towns of Jama and Pedernales.


View Larger Map


View Larger Map

From the main road, it takes about 30 to 45 minutes by foot, and involves crossing the river multiple times, in order to enter the community.

Entrance from main road

View from upper part of the town
 View of a Church and a few houses

 One part of the river crossing from the back of a flete (pick-up truck for hauling people and cargo to and from Pedernales)


One of the river crossings during the dry season.  It is the rainy season now and flooded.


Saturday, February 18, 2012

End of day total for day 0.75

Thanks to a generous donation today, the total for day 0.75 is $1110.00.  This is a great way to actually kick-off the fundraising tomorrow, as official day 1!  Another $10 is awesome!  Donations of any amount are welcome.  Put another way, if 2,889 individuals are able to contribute just $10, the goal will be met (can you tell I like numbers and was on math team when I was younger?).

If you aren't able to financially contribute, think about passing on the blog to those who might be able to.

Thank you again for all of your contributions and messages!  Thanks also for passing along the link to people you think may be interested.

With tomorrow being the official kick-off to the 30 days, look for more pictures of the community, and other information about living in Ecuador.  Please also feel free to ask questions about Camarones, nearby communities, or other things of interest.  Or, if you've traveled to Ecuador and want to share your story, please do.  Have a great recipe from those travels?  Even better.  I love cooking!

Friday, February 17, 2012

End of day total for Day 0.5

Today was an exciting day! Another $100.00 raised! Thank you!!

I also may have found a restaurant to host a fundraising dinner on the culmination of this challenge (i.e. 3-19-12), where a percentage of the profits will go to this challenge. I will post details on here as soon as I have them. In the meantime, I appreciate hearing ideas from you guys (either comments on here or by emailing me).

Thursday, February 16, 2012

End of day total for Day 0.25

Technically, I'm starting 4 days early (official 30 days would start on 2-19), so I'm calling this Day 0.25, but it's an exciting start!  With a generous donation of $1000.00 I am off to a great start and optimistic about reaching my goal! 

Why should I donate?

One of my friends asked me "What is so special about this community? Why should I donate to help them?" While I can go on and on about good reasons, I'm not blind to the need across the globe. However, the thing that I find extra moving and more unique about this community than some is the fact that the community has already banded together to donate land and will volunteer to help with construction. There is high need in this community. Camarones, Ecuador is located about 3 hours from Quito via bus. The geography of this community is unique, so it is not as developed as surrounding communities. Camarones is surrounded by mountains and rivers, making it difficult to receive phone signal, transport materials and people, or to communicate with the outside world.


Approximately 70 families, composed of roughly 80 men, 64 women, and 160 children, reside in the community, most of whom live well below the poverty line. There is no schooling beyond the 7th grade within the community. There are very few jobs within the community for young people, resulting in many individuals moving to the larger cities, such as Quito or Guayaquil, in order to study or search for jobs.


The name of the town, Camarones, is Spanish for shrimp. Shrimp can be found in the river running through the community, which you have to cross 3 or 4 times in order to enter into the town from the main road.


In 2009 there was a potable drinking water project started by a Rotary Club, but funding from the municipality fell short, and the project was left incomplete. Currently, community members use the water for washing clothes, bathing, a bathroom, and also drinking. Many of the homes do not have any mechanism or system set up for filtering the water. As such, when I was there volunteering, I, not surprisingly, came down with giardia. Because of the dependence on water in this community (just like anywhere), I am also working on raising money/soliciting help from Rotary Clubs and other agencies to help complete this potable water project and enable there to be safe drinking water for all of the members of the community. I am also working with the Wisconsin Water for the World group to provide assistance in developing environmental educational programming for individuals in Ecuador and then connecting with individuals back in Wisconsin.


When I was volunteering in the community I also participated in a community-led initiative to clean up the river. The goal was to bring awareness to the problems with disposing of waste in the same river that's being used for bathing or drinking.


The community members are extremely friendly, genuine, and wonderful people. Even though they are living in poverty, they are willing to share meals and time with anyone interested. I learned how to make many wonderful Ecuadorian dishes, including making blood sausages from a pig killed for a baile (dance) celebrating a family of volunteers that was leaving; improved my Spanish while teaching kids and adults in the local school; and learned a lot about organic farming and coffee making from various community members.






And, well, while all of these things are wonderful, and help to explain why I fell in love with this community, you may still be asking, but why should I donate to help them build a community center? I believe this community is primed and ready to take the community center and use it for sustainable development and income generating projects in the community. With current income being generated, in part, from deforestation of an area that is considered by many as one of the most bio-diverse regions in the world, or through shrimp farming practices that have resulted in depletion of ecologically important mangroves, as an Ecologist and Psychologist I am especially interested in finding ecological and socially relevant solutions to community development. I believe this community will be successful because the community has already donated the land, has requested our help in soliciting donation, but has continued to work with me as we developed the NGO and call even though it is really difficult to get to a phone, and has the energy and people to take the space and be successful. I view the Camarones Community Coalition, and my role, as assisting in this process, and then taking the process and enabling it to be a model for other communities interested in sustainable development projects, or community developments in their community.

So, what are you waiting for? Help me reach my goal! Thanks!!

How can I donate?

So, after reading through my long post, you may be wondering, how can I donate?  Several ways:

1.  By sending a check or money order to:  Camarones Community Coalition, 5810 Suffolk Rd., Madison, WI  53711

2.  By directly transferring funds to the Camarones Community Coalition's bank account, email for details.

3.  By donating via Paypal:
The Camarones Community Coalition is legally incorporated as a non-stock corporation (not-for-profit) in Wisconsin.  We are listed as a Charitable Organization in Wisconsin (No 12417-800), and our FEIN:  45-3303506.  We have filed for 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status, and have been told that will be granted, but there is currently a backlog.  Your donations will be considered tax deductible for 2012, and we will provide letters to all donors who provide us with either their email or mailing addresses.

What's this "30 before 30 in 30 days"?

Most of us are familiar with the "30 before 30 list".  For those that are not, it is usually a list of 30 things an individual wishes to do before they turn 30.  In the last couple of years, a number of my friends have already surpassed this landmark, which had me thinking about things I might include on my list.  While I originally had a few minor things like "be able to do at least one pull-up unassisted" (yes, even though I can do 50+ full pushups, I still had not been able to do a full pull-up, but I was getting close...), they never really felt right, but, with my birthday getting closer, I revisited this list idea.

After volunteering for 3 months during the summer of 2011 in a rural community in Ecuador, my friend and I co-founded a non-profit organization, the Camarones Community Coalition, along with the president of the rural community, in an attempt to assist in raising money and providing assistance in building a community center that has the potential to generate income into this rural community, provide jobs for the local people, house much needed health services, and serve as a meeting place and location for various programming for adults and children in the community.  While our NGO is very young (formed in September 2011), we already have partnerships with the Meadowood Neighborhood Center, Wilbooks, and the Wisconsin Water for the World.  We have also been working on forming alliances with other NGOs in the area, as well as service learning coordinator faculty at several universities, in order to continue brainstorming future activities in the community.

Additionally, I have been working on writing grants for sustainable development projects and educational programming in this community in Ecuador, as well as the potential to expand to other communities.  We have also been working with the Meadowood Neighborhood Center as a "sister neighborhood center" where we are working on ways to provide for cultural exchanges and unique educational programming for participants.

However, while I have limitless ideas for collaborations to be made, projects to be done, and programs to be developed, one thing is missing:  the actual community center!  For this, I am asking for help.  While we have already received some very generous donations for our efforts, we have a long way to go to reach the $30,000.00 needed to build the community center.  So, this got me thinking.  Would it be possible for me to try and raise the $30,000.00 in the 30 days left before I turn 30 (i.e. March 19, 2012)?

And here's where I need your help!  Over the next month, I am aiming to raise roughly $1,000.00 a day. Seem impossible, or even crazy, when everyone is penny pinching and when there are so many worthy organizations to donate to?  Quite possibly, but then all of my friends and family already knew I was crazy!

So, over the next month, I am asking you to try and help me raise money- ask your friends, church members, family, neighbors, or offer to help me with various fundraising events I will post on this page (from zumbathons, to dining to donate programs at various restaurants, to bowling events).  Follow the progress on here daily, and help me raise 30K in the 30 days I have left before I turn 30!  I will post updates on the total amount raised so you can keep track of progress.