La música reggae y el amor hacen posible un sueño//Reggae music and love make a dream possible

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Hace unas semanas tuvimos un grato encuentro cibernético con un grupo de mujeres madrileñas amantes de la música y legado del Reggae.  Amorosamente buscaban una buena causa para apoyar a través de un maravilloso concierto en Madrid y encontraron en nuestro trabajo lo que buscaban.  Inmediatamente se identificaron con los procesos de formación y educación que se están llevando a cabo a través del Proyecto Ilori para contribuir con el desarrollo físico, emocional, espiritual y socioeconómico de las mujeres, niños y niñas en riesgo social de la comunidad de La Carpio, San Jose, Costa Rica. María Martins, una de las organizadoras, nos escribió e inmediatamente hubo una conexión más allá de las palabras.

El concierto se llevó a cabo el 23 de setiembre 2011 y la motivación fue rendir un tributo a todas la Queens que han dedicado su vida a expandir el mensaje del Reggae (One Love).  En palabras de María “¡el concierto fue fenomenal, mágico!, se llenó de gente y de buenas vibraciones, ¡puro amor! Todos se entregaron por completo y el ambiente que se respiraba era de felicidad, esperanza, fuerza y elegancia… ¡el poder de la unión! Consecuentes con este profundo mensaje decidieron beneficiar a los niños, niñas y mujeres del Proyecto Ilori, con los ingresos generados en este evento.

María nos cuenta que casi medio centenar de excelentes músicos interpretaron un repertorio de más de dos horas para un gran público. Algunas de las participantes fueron Kati Dadá (Desakato Dadá); Mary Jane (Emeterians); Alana Sinkey (Cosmosoul); Rory Garzet (Freedonia), Astrid Jones y Yolanda (The Sweet Voices), así como el grupo madrileño Emeterians.

Gracias a María, a las demás organizadoras y todas las y los participantes en el concierto, así también al maravilloso público que asistió. Actos como estos refuerzan en nosotras la convicción de que  en la unidad del amor está la fuerza para construir un mundo más justo y equitativo.

Reggae music and love make a dream possible

A few weeks ago we were contacted by a group of women in Madrid who love Reggae music, its message and legacy. They were planning a wonderful concert in Madrid and were looking for a good cause to support.  They identified with our work at BienDeMujer, especially with the Ilori Project training and educational programs, which contributes to the physical, emotional, spiritual and socioeconomic development of women and children at risk in the community of La Carpio, San Jose, Costa Rica.

The concert took place on September 23rd, 2011 and the idea behind it was to pay tribute to all the Queens who have dedicated their lives to spread the message of Reggae (One Love). In the words of Maria Martins, one of the organizers, “The concert was phenomenal, magical!  It was filled with people and good vibes, pure love!  The atmosphere was one of happiness, hope, strength and elegance … The power of union!”  In accordance with this profound message they decided to donate the proceeds generated from this event to the children and women of the Ilori Project.

Almost fifty excellent musicians performed for a large audience for more than two hours. Some of the participants were Kati Dada (Desakato Dadá), Mary Jane (Emeterians) Alana Sinkey (Cosmosoul) Garzet Rory (Freedonia), Astrid and Yolanda Jones (The Sweet Voices), and the Madrid group Emeterians.

We are deeply grateful to María, the other organizers and all the participants of the concert, as well as the wonderful audience that attended. Acts such as these reinforce in us the conviction that the unity of love gives us the strength to build a more just and equitable.

Casa del Sol teaches Granos Solidarios how to cook using solar energy

Last Saturday, Bien de Mujer staff and 17 women from Granos Solidarios traveled all the way to Casa del Sol in Guanacaste (a 4-hour drive) to learn how to cook with solar panels.  The women sang the whole drive there!

Casa del Sol is an eco-tourism project of Sol Verde—a cooperative formed with the support of Sol de Vida and the Central American Solar Energy Project—which represents 15 local community groups, presents the annual “Fiesta del Sol” event, and operates a small solar restaurant with “delicious home cooking.” Sol Verde is headquartered in the Casa del Sol, which houses a permanent demonstration facility for solar applications with emphasis on solar cookers.

Operating in the Santa Cruz and Nicoya counties of the Guanacaste region, Fundación Sol de Vida takes a holistic approach to expanding the use of renewable energy.  The proj­ect not only promotes the use of solar power for cooking, but also seeks to build women’s capacity for other development activities through the process of constructing and using solar cookers.  Therefore, our group of women was warmly welcomed by the Casa del Sol head of staff, Fatima, and several other local volunteers.

In addition to learning about solar cooking, our group participated in guided tour of their resource center.  They learned about different mod­els of solar cookers, about solar water pumps, were shown solar heaters and solar dryers, as well as photovoltaic panels for lighting—all the different ways solar energy can be used to make their lives easier and cheaper!  They were guided through organic gardens; given priceless healthy growing, eating and cooking tips, and eventually, prepared their own meal, using a solar panel!

Casa de Sol even donated one solar panel cooking structure to Granos Solidarios, to be used at our women and children’s center in La Caprio.  It was a beautiful day, on many levels, and we are grateful to the everyone at Sol de Vida and Casa del Sol who made this an informative, fun and unforgettable experience!

For more information about this project please visit here!  And for more photos of our day at Casa del Sol, visit our FaceBook page!

Tamale Tuesday in La Carpio

Every week, Bien de Mujer hosts holistic, educational playshops as part of our Ilori Children’s Education program—which seeks to nurture the mind, heart, body, and spirit of each child living in La Carpio, the slums of San Jose, Costa Rica.  This past Tuesday, March 29, we had a full house of enthusiastic kids, as well as a group of hard-working women, from our Granos Solidarios women’s group, cooking up tamales to sell throughout the neighborhood.

Each Ilori playshop usually begins with songs and some yoga or dance, and this week, we continued to use Wise Heart Books as a tool to teach values to the kids.  They read “Captain Grimy”, “Manny the Mouse” and “Annie the Ant” together, followed by games and exercises to reinforce the lessons in the books.  If you visit the Bien de Mujer/ Women’s Wellbeing and Development Foundation FaceBook page , you will see some videos taken by a volunteer.

While the children were busy doing art work and playing games, the women of Granos Solidarios were busy making home-made tamales, to sell, and thus raise funds for the Granos Solidarios group business fund.  The Granos Solidarios are working to develop their current tamale-making micro-business into a larger, sustainable business; while at the same time, they are learning business skills 101, basic finance management, and how to work efficiently as a team.

The women of Granos Solidarios are so enthusiastic about this growing tamale business that the women had to be separated into two working groups, so each group alternates, each month.  To further support our children’s educational programs or the work of Granos Solidarios, please send us a donation at

Thank you again for your generosity of spirit!

Celebrating International Women’s Day with the women of Granos Solidarios

In honor of International Women’s Day, a global celebration of the economic, political and social achievements of women past, present and future, held every March 8th, Bien de Mujer organized a special outing to celebrate the women of our Granos Solidarios group.  To read about the history of this women’s group–all their projects and activities, please visit our previous blog.

At 9 am, on March 19th, 50 women from Granos Solidarios packed onto a bus from La Carpio and headed, singing all the way, to Parque del Este for a day of fun and relaxation.  The day started off with yoga in the park, swimming in the park pool, and some group games and exercises.  After lunch, the women were serenaded by a Nicaraguan folk singer, which became a sing-along and much dancing!

For many women, this outing was the only time they had been away from La Carpio, or away from their husbands and families.   It was truly a special day for the women of Granos Solidarios, to see all the photos from this celebration of our women:

Women helping women in La Carpio, Granos Solidarios

Created and supported by the Women’s Wellbeing and Development Foundation/Bien de Mujer (WWDF/Bien de Mujer), Granos Soldarios seeks to empower women living in the slums of San Jose, Costa Rica, to utilize their economic, social, intellectual, and spiritual potential to achieve personal growth and the integrated development of their communities.  Granos Soldarios began as one small group of women, mostly living in La Carpio, gathering to pull their economic and personal resources together to make sure all their families had food to eat and to address emergency needs.

Over the past few years, this single group of dedicated women has bloomed into two groups of women:  currently, 63 women living in La Carpio and 35 women from San Juan de Dios, an equally poor neighborhood in San Jose.  The majority of these women are unemployed, single parent, refugees from Nicaragua; with low levels of education and large families.  Several of the women are living with HIV and other chronic diseases.

Operating like a co-operative, for 8,500 colones ($17 USD) a month, each Granos Solidarios member gets 10kg of rice, 1 liter of oil, 3 kg of beans, 2 kg of sugar, and 250 gr of coffee for their family, per month.  In the event that a Granos Solidarios member is unable to meet the group monthly food investment of 8,500 colones, the other women chip in to help.

In addition to pulling their economic resources together for food, the women have created a peer support group; actively fundraise for emergency family expenses; and have started their own businesses:  making and selling tamales, and selling second-hand clothes.  The women’s groups also regularly participate in life skills, parenting skills and health education workshops organized by WWDF/Bien de Mujer, and they voluntarily assist with WWDF/Bien de Mujer’s Ilori Children’s Education programs.  (For example, Granos Solidarios prepared and distributed lunch to the 200+ guests at the Annual Children’s Christmas Party, last December—click here for photos of this amazing party!)

Each Granos Solidarios group has elected a peer leader and each group meets once a week:  the La Carpio group meets every Friday at a member’s house, and the San Juan de Dios group meets every Thursday at Parque de la Paz.  Ercy Mendez, a trained counselor and educator who works for WWDF/Bien de Mujer, oversees both groups.   As soon as the women and children’s community playground and education center is ready, Granos Solidarios will be meeting and working out of the center in La Carpio.

This month, the women of Granos Soldarios are busy putting together an action plan for 2011.  This plan will include workshops, starting some more group income-generation projects, and assisting in the renovations and development of the women and children’s community playground and education center in La Carpio.  We will keep you posted!

For photos of the Granos Solidarios Christmas party, last December, please click here.

*If you have some talents or skills you would like to share with the Granos Soldarios, please do not hesitate to contact Ercy Mendez, at . To contribute to the Granos Solidarios: