Young volunteers reflect on their work

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Hilton High School sponsored its third trip to Nicaragua to work on the 4Walls Project this summer. Seventeen students, accompanied by staff and other supporters, raised the funds and built houses for the families of Francisco Jose Lopez and Ana Cecelia Rivas.

Brenna Francisco

Senior Brenna Francisco talked about the emotional difficulty of the trip. She cried when she saw the badly calloused feet of a tiny boy named Michael. He had never owned shoes. She cried at the farewell dinner when she said goodbye to her family and to Alejandro, her translator. “He was wearing sunglasses,” she said. “But I know he was crying, too. We got really close to our translators and told them we will be jealous when another group comes to work!” Brenna said her dad is already saving money so he can return to El Sauce with her next summer. He wants to meet Ana Cecelia Rivas and her family and to build another house.

Nicole Bansbach

Nicole Bansbach

“The people are so caring, so friendly,” Nicole Bansbach, another senior, told us.

“The kids were super curious and smart. One asked me if I ever saw snow. He wanted to know what snow was like. We didn’t know how to explain it,” she said. “The kids were so happy when they ran into us on the street. ‘Hola, hola,’ they would yell to us.” Brenna talked about Ana’s family business of making manuelitas — cheese-filled crepes, Nicaraguan style — which they sold on the street for a dollar. Ana’s husband poured and fried the batter while Ana prepared the fillings and rolled the crepes.  (See the kitchen facilities for making the manuelitas in Ana’s photo below.)

Ema Stadtmiller

Ema Stadtmiller

“I loved the mountains!” said Ema Stadtmiller, a junior at Hilton. “Our translator was really interested in building up his English vocabulary,” she told us. “Somehow he needed to know what a rug was. I told him it was a little like a sweater. He was just staring at us and then I remembered he didn’t know what a sweater was.” She said the translators were great. “Alejandro made sure we didn’t get bored in the evening. He took us to play basketball and volleyball. Then these really cool kids just showed up and started playing with us.” Ema has decided to sponsor Ana’s daughter through the Ciudad Hermana scholarship program. 

Noah Neale

Noah Neale

Noah Neale was pretty confident his Nicaragua trip would be a good one. His sister had visited El Sauce and worked on the 4Walls Project twice. “She loved it! From talking to her, I had a good idea what to expect. I wasn’t nervous. I got to practice my Spanish, especially the day we went to Ocotal. I translated for one of the coffee farmers.” Noah liked riding horses up the mountain. He told us the unexpected parts of the trip were the most fun — like the pickup basketball games. “I wish we could have stayed longer and I hope I can go back,” he said. “I want to visit other parts of the country —  check out the volcanoes.”

"The work was hard, but it was fun!"

“The work was hard, but it was fun!”

All the kids agreed that the work was hard, but fun. Standing in the hot sun, wetting the bricks was Ema’s favorite job. Nicole’s was mixing the mortar, la mezcla. The mason showed Noah how to spread la mezcla between the bricks. “Then it felt like I was really building,” Noah said. They wished they could have stayed to see the roofs go on the houses. “But at least we saw the walls and windows.”

They were homesick in the beginning, but that changed. “As a group we got really close. We didn’t really know each other before the trip. The hardest thing was leaving. We all cried our eyes out,” they told us. “None of us wanted to go.”

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Thank you, Hilton High School!!

¡MUCHÍSIMAS GRACIAS! to our long-time supporter, Hilton High School

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Cheaper, quieter, better roofs

The 4Walls Project is thrilled to have been selected by an industrial design team at the Rochester Institute of Technology to be its test case on their showcase project.

Their challenge was to design a roof that was cheaper, quieter, and more insulating than the zinc roofs currently used on 4Walls houses. Preferably they would design one that could be made locally in El Sauce, thereby creating jobs and spurring a little economic development.

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Read more in the Fingerlakes Biochar newsletter.

 

News from the field

Brittany and Gem

Brittany and Gem

Brittany Bennett-Allis is a senior in the social work department at Buffalo State College. She will be going for her masters in the fall. She is interested in international social work and plans to join the Peace Corp. This was her first experience in another country.

Geminis Ramirez is also a senior in the social work department at Buff State. Her first language is Spanish. This was Gem’s second time traveling out of the country. Last summer she visited her family in Colombia. Gem wants to work in the field of domestic violence.
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A different kind of Christmas

 

The Parker family from Blacksburg Virginia heard about 4Walls through Journeys of Solutions. They decided to spend their Christmas helping families in El Sauce. Bob Parker with his wife and kids donated enough cash for two houses.

Here is part of 15-year-old daughter Sarah’s account of their trip.Sarah's Newsletter2_final_reduced
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Roofs of the future?

Meet Cindy, Adrian, Peter, and Jamiya. They are students in the Industrial Design Program at the Rochester Institute of Technology, who have adopted the 4Walls Project to test their ideas for improved roofing materials.

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Cindy, Adrian, Peter, Jamiya

“We are very grateful to have them know about 4Walls and to create an energy and vitality that may offer sustainability,” says Bonnie.

 

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generosidad

gen·er·os·i·ty  | ˌjenəˈräsədē/  noun  the quality of being kind and generous.

Laurie DiProspero poured us a big cup of generosidad this month.

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Laurie DiProspero

Laurie once again has named the 4Walls Project as charity of the month for Union Coffee Roasters, her business at 900 Jefferson Road in Rochester.

4W: Tell us more about Union Coffee Roasters.
Laurie: We opened about two years ago — in May 2013. I had worked for a long time at a big commercial roaster. I learned a lot and wanted to apply it to small hands-on batch processing. Our store is a family-run operation.
4W: How did you learn about 4Walls?
Laurie: I met Sally and Bonnie when Java Joe imported coffee from the farmers in Ocotal. That really was a special coffee. It got rave review. We couldn’t get any this year because of the coffee rust fungus. Customers were really disappointed. We all hope there will be Ocotal coffee next season.
4W: Tell us more about your charity of the month.
Laurie: We choose a small, local organization that touches our heart. We feel connected to Nicaragua because of the coffee and we love what 4Walls does to help the families there. People come in for a free cup of coffee and can leave a donation for our charity of the month.
4W: What else should we know about Union Coffee Roasters?
Laurie: We are open to the public, selling both retail and wholesale. Our store is in the Genesse Valley Regional Market on Jefferson Road. Stop in for some awesome coffee.
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¡Fiesta!

Everyone welcome at this event to celebrate all the successful journeys to El Sauce, this year and in the past. Bring your friends and family. Bring your stories!

Sunday November 1, 2015
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