A little girl runs along a hot, sunny beach at low
throwing parched starfish towards the sea.
An adult, observing that there are thousands
of marooned starfish, tells the girl,
“There are too many for you to make a difference.”
Picking up one more starfish, the girl answers,
“I will make a difference for this one.”
Nicaraguan School Children Project
Paul’s oldest sister Susan (there are eight sisters in all), raises money to send impoverished children to school in Nicaragua. When she first began, it cost $75 for each child. With experience, she has gotten that cost down to $50 for each child, including uniforms, shoes, and supplies. The average daily wage is only $4 a day, so most families struggle to send even one child to class.
We donate all of the Botrytis Riesling tasting fees ($2.00 per taste) and also 33% of the gross sales of the Botrytis Riesling. With your help, we raised $5000 in 2005, 2006, and 2007, and over $7800 in 2008. We have a goal of over $8000 for 2009. If you are interested in donating directly to the project, please make checks payable to “IHCenter/1 Starfish” and send them to our winery address below or visit www.1starfish.org for more information.
A few of
our customers have come up with their own way of helping us with 1 Starfish. We
have entire classrooms here locally that raise money for kids in
We also have had a wedding where they chose to make donations to in honor of their guests who attended the wedding. Each guest received a "thank you" card at their seat which explained who the donation was going to, and how that donation effected the lives of a child. They displayed our information and website address on each thank you card and they are hoping that many of their guests take the time to look at our site. They cannot express how touched the guests were that by simply attending the wedding that they had made a difference in the life of a child.
Another customer has decided to give a "year of school" on behalf of each of her grandchildren in lieu of a birthday present to them. They have much and she would like to foster a sense of giving early on in their lives.
Our sister's son, Dylan, created a video of this project based on video he shot while visiting down there with his mother last January. Click here to view that video: vimeo.com/7014795 We think he did a great job of introducing and explaining the project through pictures. Dylan and his family also raised money to help someone build a house (watch the video, it is amazing).
Susan pays all of her own expenses, overhead, and administration costs so ALL of the donations go straight to the school project. In 2006 we bought sewing machines and began producing all the uniforms. Now two women have full-time jobs and are earning triple the average Nicaraguan wage and we cut the cost per child by one third.
In 2001, when Susan started this project, she outfitted 25 kids. We were able to outfit 126 kids for the 2008 school year and 360 for 2009. This year the fundraising is on target to reach 400 kids and provide a third job. The eventual goal is to ensure that all 1000 children in San Jorge will be able to go to school.
Here is a letter from Susan regarding her project:
you for your help and generosity. In 2009, to your credit, 360 impoverished
In addition, two local women are now employed sewing uniforms, earning four times the average national wage. All of their children are in school and three are now in college on scholarships provided by our supporters.
It is heartbreaking to personally know 6-year-old children who spend their days hustling chewing gum and bottled water in the street so they can buy their next plate of rice. Without school and help to make that possible, these little ones have no chance.
With continuing help from you, our goal is to make school a reality for 400 students in San Jorge for the next school year which begins in January, 2010.
From the 360 students this year, "Amor y abrazos" (Love and hugs)
Director, 1 Starfish
More detailed information
The mission is to equip all impoverished children in San Jorge, Nicaragua, with school uniforms and supplies so they can attend school and to create sewing jobs within the same community.
Nicaragua, the second poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere, has free public schools, but families must provide basic supplies like clothing, notebooks, and pens. It costs about $50 per year to outfit one child, which for many people is more than one month's salary and therefore an insurmountable obstacle. Currently an education is an impossible dream for about half of the children in San Jorge (pop. 5000). The purpose of this project is to ensure that all San Jorge children can be equipped with the basic supplies necessary to attend school and to stimulate the local economy by creating sewing jobs.
The goal of the project is to raise money and then purchase and distribute uniforms and supplies at the start of each school year in January. In 2001, the first goal of sponsoring 25 students was attained. Fundraising has grown and it has been possible to outfit more kids each year. We outfitted 126 kids for the 2008 school year. Future goals are to sponsor 300 students in 2009 and 400 in 2010.
So far, the project has raised an average of $5,000 a year from family and friends. In 2005, it was possible to purchase sewing machines and construct a sewing shop with a special donation designated for job creation. We currently employ two San Jorge women who make all of the uniforms. As the project expands, we hope to create more sewing jobs as we approach the goal of outfitting 1,000 kids for school. All purchases of materials are made as locally as possible with the idea of recirculating donated money within the community as long as possible.
My interest in conditions in Nicaragua developed when writing my University of Washington undergraduate thesis on the Nicaraguan Contra War. In 1999, it was possible to spend the year as an orphanage volunteer for Nuestros Pequeños Hermanos in San Jorge. It was appalling to learn that many children in the community did not attend the free public schools because they could not afford the required clothing and supplies.
San Jorge is a community of approximately 5,000, half of whom are under 15 years old. Due to lack of industry, there are few jobs and widespread, extreme poverty. The main hopes for improving individual lives and increasing options for the community are education and job creation (i.e. more seamstresses).
As the project grows, literacy will increase and there will be hope for a better future. For example, living standards have improved dramatically for the families of both of our seamstresses. All of their children have enough to eat and attend school. One of the older girls is a first-year university student.
This project also has an important and growing impact on my own community in Washington State. Many friends, family members, and business owners are involved in advising, planning, fundraising, and implementation. Some of the San Jorge students are matched with particular donors and this has encouraged activism in a very personal and satisfying way.
While working in San Jorge as a volunteer at Nuestros Pequeños Hermanos orphanage in 1999, I saw a specific need that could realistically be met. Upon returning home, I began developing a modest plan to help all the children of the orphanage employees. With a lot of assistance from 20 generous individuals, the plan became a reality and we outfitted 25 children for the 2001 school year.
In subsequent years, the program grew to include more students, local uniform manufacturing, and local purchasing of supplies. In 2005, we contacted people with other sewing projects in Nicaragua. With a group of San Jorge seamstresses, we were able to visit two projects with the goal of obtaining a more specific vision, personal connections, and local expertise. We received encouragement and advice from the projects’ personnel in Cardenas and Santo Tomás. There has been incredible support from the people of San Jorge who have shared their expertise, their homes, and their lives with many of those who have worked on this project. It has been a privilege and a lot of fun becoming involved, so much so that in 2006, I quit my job and sold my house to make it possible to devote enough time and resources to the project.
Thank you to all of you for being so generous with our charitable project.
And thank you very much for buying our wine!!
Come taste the wines of Paradise!
Paul & Barbara
Paradisos del Sol