Thursday, August 25, 2011

Expanding Art & Creativity

Three of the 70+ children who learned to make their own jewelry last Saturday in Batey Aleman

Proudly showing off their new creations and skills!

Every hour we would teach jewelry making classes of 10-15 children
Look what I made!
 Last Saturday, with the help of a few of the daughters of the women in the co-op, we took on the challenge of teaching jewelry making classes to more than 70 children in Batey Aleman.  It was a huge success!  Leading up to the classes there was a sign up sheet posted for all interested children and we had as many as 16 names each hour from 9:45am to 5:30pm. Each child was able to make at least two pieces of jewelry, learning 2-3 different jewelry making techniques each!

New handmade, stylish beach totes offered by the Batey cooperative
The children's sign up sheet for jewelry making classes, offered all day on Saturday in the Batey!

The women learned the Herringbone Weave jewelry making technique

Using the Herringbone Weave jewelry making technique, the women learn to design earrings, bracelets and more!

Matt, our fabulous Nest field rep, who lives in the Dominican Republic working with the women, took a quick jaunt home to visit family!  He was able to bring back some additional supplies donated by Dragonfly Designs…with these supplies, we’ve been able to continue to teach increasingly advanced jewelry making techniques to the women in the co-op. Unfortunately, we continue to experience road block after road block in obtaining the donated materials from customs.  The package has been in country waiting since early August!  I’ve been promised that tomorrow is the magic day…we’ll see, but I have faith.

We head back to the US next Wednesday, August 31st and we have much to accomplish before that day! More soon about our final days...we have even been invited to be on a local TV station on Monday, talking about our work with Batey Aleman!

New beautiful and stylish beach tote offered by the women's co-op!

The women and children continue to increase their jewelry making skills and knowledge working with different materials

The women learn to make paper beads and intertwine them with glass and shell beads to create beautiful designs

Showing off newly aquired advanced jewelry making skills

Showing off their creativity bliss!

Each day the women are SO proud to wear the jewelry that they learned to create and designed themselves!
Last Saturday, with the help of

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Our Work Continues

Sadly, I’m finding that my time is dwindling rapidly here in the DR and there is so much more I’d like to accomplish before making the trek back to the US.

The women in the co-op have made incredible progress in their jewelry making skills as evidenced by the photos of their work and this is only after 1.5 weeks of practice! They are so excited about the prospect of including this newfound skill to their repertoire.

The entire Batey community is waiting in vain for the arrival of new materials purchased on their behalf from our generous donors.  To date we’ve funded $690.00 towards our goal of $1,425.00. Unfortunately, we’ve had to spend far too much time going from government office to government office to have the materials released from customs without paying exorbitant taxes (double the cost of the goods.) If only I could spend the precious time I have left working with the community instead of being caught up in bureaucracy, but such is life and my expectations are set to exactly where they should be. 

Luckily, my girls, Giana & Bryn, are still able to carry on in my absence from the community and we have high hopes that tomorrow will be the magic day when we can pick up our much-desired supplies!

On a high note, we have completed a very professional “look book” advertising the newly designed beach totes and jewelry line that will be presented to hotels and gift shops around the island that cater to the tourist industry.

In addition to the new jewelry skills the women are learning, they also have a desire to expand their business skills and understanding of how to price, design and market merchandise. We’ve already begun some classes to increase their understanding and business skills. The women will be presenting these skills to the Pujols Family Foundation (the co-cponsor with Nest for the women’s co-op) in early September and we are helping to prepare them.

I wish I could adequately express how many people are eager to learn the skill of jewelry making.  It’s VERY expensive to obtain the necessary materials here in this country, and people see this as a viable skill to make a living. They are so grateful for this opportunity that we are presenting.

People in the Batey do not have running water, the walls and roofs of their homes are made from corrugated tin and they have dirt floors.  It rains and floods here often with frequent power outages. 

Please remember that You can make a real difference in the lives of these women and children of the Batey Aleman community.  Dragonfly Designs will donate a pair of our sterling silver style #199 earrings for each $20.00 gift of jewelry making supplies to the Batey.

How can YOU help?

More soon on additional progress that we are making in Batey Aleman!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Accomplishments to Date

We’ve been here for a little more than a week now, so what have we accomplished and what’s on the agenda for the remainder of our trip?

Well, I’ve personally learned that my Spanish leaves much to be desired, but hey, somehow I’m getting by on the same vocabulary used over and over again and I’ve learned to drop the letter “s” from everything I say!  As our  Nest field rep Matt likes to say, “These women speak faster than a machine gun shoots bullets” it’s mind bogging! Aside from that, we are hoping to complete our 700th conference bag for The Pujols Family Foundation by Thursday, and save for the 10 inches of rain that Tropical Storm Emily is threatening to bring along with her, that just might be possible.

At this time the co-op does not have any pending production orders. The women are excited to learn the art of jewelry making and we will now have the opportunity to begin our classes on Monday during the regular co-op hours with the supplies that I brought with me!  We’ve also purchased the materials to design new beach totes and a handbag that we’ll be marketing to the upscale hotels around the island. We hope to have the initial designs completed today as we are spending the weekend in the capitol city of Santo Domingo, where will be visiting hotels and museums during our stay to attempt to build partnerships with our cooperative. (We are also going to sneak in the Harry Potter movie as it just opened here TODAY!)

Dragonfly Designs, my company, will be placing an order for custom designed totes because they are beautiful, painstakingly made works of art and to keep the women employed as we try to develop a long term strategy for additional local business.  We hope to be able to post photos of the new totes soon and will be taking orders from the public for the new bags which I plan to bring back to the United States with me (to save on the normally excessive shipping rates) for distribution.

We’ve had the opportunity to introduce jewelry making to the children of the Batey and they absolutely love it. In fact, I’ve been approached to teach jewelry making classes to the entire Batey community as there is such an intense interest.  Dragonfly Designs offers a class in the United States called “Jewelry Making for Budding Entrepreneurs” and we will use this curriculum to teach business and jewelry making skills to the women and children in the Batey Aleman community. The cost to supply the entire community with sufficient tools and supplies (including shipping costs) is $1,425.00 dollars. To date, we’ve raised $330.00. Please help us fund this project and teach the art of jewelry making and the ability to sell it to promote self sufficiency, business acumen and self esteem to an entire community living in poverty. Our website accepts donations in $20.00 increments and Dragonfly Designs will send you the thank you gift of your choice!  Please help us spread the word by sharing this project with your friends as well! Together we CAN make a difference!

How can YOU help?

More soon on additional progress that we are making in Batey Aleman!