Monday, December 7, 2009


Let me introduce you to a big project I am working on to fix the Casa Materna where I work. I need the financial support of all of you back home to make this project happen, so I would like to tell you a little bit about the project and how it works. This is my casa materna, where approximately 450 rural women come during their last month of pregnancy each year. The Casa Materna was constructed to help encourage women to give birth in the health center instead of at home on their dirt floor. There was an extremely high maternal mortality rate here, but the casas maternas have reduced that significantly. The CM provides a safe place where the women can have supervision of midwives, free healthy food and daily checks from the doctors. They stay until they are in labor and then they go to the health center. It is also a refuge for women who have been raped or abused or are fleeing family violence. The service here is absolutly free and we often find that the small amount of funds that we recieve to keep this place running don´t come.
This is the main area.Another view of the main area, this is the first view the women get when they arrive. This is the only entrance to the CM, which is often flooded with water and mud. The women who are 9 months pregnant and the elderly midwives who work there step on those small stones when it´s full of water.Here is the back area, where we did our beautiful mural, but you can see that its not an enjoyable or even remotley attractive place. We would like to put a garden here with benches to sit on. This is an example of all the trash that gets left around or has accrued. This is pretty much how the CM has been for the last 15 years or so. It is dangerous to walk on and the midwives report that there are currently 2-3 slips, trips or falls each week!! I myself have tripped several times. There has never been funds to fix this problem, but the first thing midwives asked me when I arrived was for a garden. When I became aware of a way to get funds through the Peace Corps Partnership Project, we decided to do it.

We decided that we would like to cover all the area that is dirt with a stone and cement flooring that is leveled to correctly divert water out of the CM. We would leave deliberate garden spaces where the workers can plant ornamental plants to make the CM a more inviting place, and hopefully encourage women to use it instead of giving birth in their home which could be hours and hours from a doctor. We would replace all the bad dirt in these gardens with new dirt. In the back space, in front of the mural, we would like to leave rows where vegetables can be planted. It would have a drip irrigation system so it does not dry out in the summer. These are some examples of what we are shooting for.

The way the project works is that the community has to put forth 25% of the total project costs and they have done this! We busted our trousers and raised more than the required 25%, and this from an extremly poor community! Then after hours and hours of grant writing, and presentation before the board here in Nicaragua, the project is sent to Washington DC where it is then approved and given a website. I provide the names and contacts of all my friends back home and you help to donate the other 75%. These projects cannot exceed $5000, and indeed, we are only asking $1652 U.S..

This is where you come in, we need you all to help donate what you can to make this happen. The problem is that I can only start the project when the total has been reached. If this does not happen fast, we will not be able to finish this project before we go home in 3.5 months and it will have to be aborted! That means all our hard work and the donations that the community has already made will be in vain.

If you are thinking of doing something nice for someone else this holiday season, this would be a perfect gift. Please donate what you can, I know for some that will be small, but the sweet girls of Matagalpa and the kind midwives who have looked after me these past two years, would be very much thankful to recieve this gift that they have wanted for so long.

Please help us out by going to the official PCPP website and making a tax-deductable donation BEFORE CHRISTMAS!

If you get lost on there, go to Nicaragua, and look for my name (Heather McKinnon) or you can type in the project number which is 524-075.

It will be A LOT FASTER if you make payment by credit card or electronic payment. Checks are slow and if we have already met our goal by the time your check makes it to Washington, it will go to another project.

Thanks for being part of our service. You have no idea how much all of you support us, by keeping up on our blog, sending us chocolate and taking care of things for us while we are away. This is the part that we absolutley cannot do without YOU. We will keep you posted on this blog of the project success, IF we get the funds on time and can start the project. If you have questions please email me or call me.

Merry Christmas!
Heather McKinnon

PS, if you didnt see the last blog entry, its pretty good...


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Mateo said...

An excellent project! I hope that you guys get the funding you need, I will try to spread the word.