Letter from the Director
It’s been nearly six months since
we sent out the last CEN newsletter, and while I apologize for the
delay, I’m pleased to report that the delay was due to significant
progress in most of the top priorities we announced in our
Partnerships With Larger Development Organizations
mentioned in our last newsletter, CEN has been exploring partnerships
with larger organizations with established funders where we can
contribute our knowledge of strengthening soft skills. To this end, I
spent a month in Washington, D.C., in late March to meet with relevant
development organizations. While many expressed interest in our work,
they had limited flexibility in designing their programs, as the
framework for their programs is often closely specified by funders,
such as USAID. We concluded that such partnerships will still require a
significant investment of time and resources, likely requiring our
close interaction with the funders ourselves.
Meanwhile, we became aware of a growing recognition among social
services in the Puget Sound area that stronger soft skills can help
address many of the problems faced by at-risk communities in the
region. Therefore, we are currently meeting with social service
agencies in the Puget Sound, including Native American groups, to
explore the feasibility of collaborating with them to build the tools
they need to evaluate and strengthen crucial soft skills of the
populations they serve. Doing so would provide an opportunity to
significantly expand the benefits of our work for a comparatively low
cost. It can also offer a viable path to support the cost of our
continued work in the Brazilian Amazon, as well as the investments we
will need in order to partner with larger international development
organizations over the long run.
Evaluation of the Banco da Mulher Rotating Savings Fund
completed a first draft of our Banco
da Mulher evaluation. Through the research and writing process, I
interviewed many of the fund’s members. A few weeks ago, I met with
fund co-founder Eunice Sena while she was in the U.S. to solicit her
thoughts and comments on the report, and we’re now putting on the final
touches. Next month, we look forward to presenting the evaluation to
members at the fund’s first membership meeting in many years. Read more >>
We continue to support several
community-led initiatives, including the Rural
Family Home (CFR) Artesian Well Project and the Suruacá
School Electrification Expansion Project. Since last writing you,
the CFR has used the donations we already received to successfully excavate the well. Read more >>
The CFR still needs just under $3,000, however, to purchase a pump and
complete the well, and approximately another $4,100 to install the
pipes it needs to provide clean water directly to the school, as well
as the homes in the community where it is located. In addition to
online fundraising, we’ve been seeking local corporate sponsors. Mark
Harding, who worked closely with corporate social responsibility
initiatives before retiring from alcoholic beverage giant Diageo,
recently joined our efforts.
We are anxious to make notable progress toward both of these goals
before the middle of October so that I can personally deliver the
donations when I visit. This will allow us save the bank transfer fees
to have more impact on the ground.
campaign is currently underway, running from Sept. 1 to Sept. 15.
All funds raised will be used for the Rural Family Home Artesian Well
Project, which will bring clean water to the school’s staff, students,
and community as a whole. We encourage you to contribute
on the Bonus Day on Sept. 9. All donations made that day will be
matched, making contributions go further. Read more
I welcome anyone who would like to join me for a week or more on my
upcoming trip to Brazil in late October or early November. The trip
will include visits to several communities that CEN works with in the
Amazon. Read more >>
Also, be sure to check out our volunteer spotlight on
one of our newest writers, the well-traveled Kaelyn Lynch.
I’d like to express my gratitude for your ongoing support, be it
financial or moral. Thanks to you, we’re able to continue our work
empowering communities in need. We welcome any questions about our work
or how you can help.
CEN Founder and Director
Sept. 9th is GlobalGiving Bonus
Maximize Your Impact on the Lives of Youth in the
by Stephanie Long
CEN is participating in the GlobalGiving
challenge to assist the Rural
Family Home (CFR) of the Amazon’s Eixo Forte in raising the funds
it needs to complete its artesian
well project, which will bring clean drinking water to the staff,
students, and members of the Santa Maria community. The area is one in
which youth often must leave their home communities and search for
economic advancement elsewhere – a problem the CFR seeks to solve by
providing vocational programs that teach young adults living in rural
skills they need to develop sustainable livelihoods.
With a GlobalGiving Bonus Day coming up on Sept. 9th, a portion of
funds donated on that date will be matched, stretching the impact of
those donations. Contributions will improve the education
opportunities, along with the health, of students who are seeking to
improve their own quality of life, as well as that of their community.
Please maximize your impact by making
a contribution on Sept. 9th, and then help us spread the word
by challenging your friends and family to give as well!
Watch this video for more information about the
impact your contribution to the CFR’s artesian well project will have
on youth in the Eixo Forte.
Your donations of any size will make an
Rural Family Home Well Construction
Continues to Progress
by Bob Bortner
continues on the artesian
well project of the Eixo Forte’s Rural
Family Home (CFR). As of last month, CFR has successfully excavated the well
but has had to cap it until they can raise the approximately $3,000
needed to purchase a pump and complete the well. The entire project
will require an additional $4,100 to install the pipes directly into
school facility, as well as to the homes in the community of Santa
Maria where the CFR is located.
The Rural Family Homes (CFR), a three-year
vocational programs for rural young men and women, has a proven track
record in many other parts of the Brazil for improving the quality of
life and opportunities for sustainable livelihoods for local youth. The
CFR in the Eixo Forte, however, has not yet been able to realize its
true potential, because it lacks badly needed basic infrastructure,
including access to clean drinking water for its staff and students.
When completed, this project will:
- Provide clean water to the staff and
students of the CFR, and to over 200 residents of Santa Maria
- Improve the staff's ability to
provide a quality educational experience
- Better the CFR's ability to recruit
students to enroll in the program
- Build and connect modern latrines to
- Be a critical step toward building a
permanent facility for the CFR and realizes its full potential.
Grassroots Development Strengthens
Communities’ Ability to “Own” Their Own Development
by Sarah Allen
Many impoverished individuals and
communities worldwide lack control over the factors and decision-making
processes that shape their lives – perpetuating the cycle of poverty.
This lack of control undermines self-sustaining development and
sustainable positive change, regardless of the amount of resources
CEN empowers communities by strengthening their grassroots capacity to
manage their development process from the bottom up, so that it
coincides with the culture, values, visions and aspirations of the
community. By developing community ownership of the process – and
enabling residents with the skills and confidence to bring their plans
to fruition – long-term sustainability is more attainable. Read
CEN Empowers Residents to Build
by Sarah Allen
In many rural areas of the world, residents
eke out a meager subsistence as small stakeholder farmers. For
example, in the Brazilian Amazon, many individuals support their
families by raising manioc, a starchy root that is a local staple in
the diet of residents of the region. However, growing manioc is very
labor-intensive and generates very limited income for the amount of
effort required to grow it.
CEN helps small stakeholders like these to build sustainable
livelihoods, such as producing agricultural products with higher value
than traditional crops, value-added agriculture, services, and
handicrafts. For example, through the Couro Ecológico project, we have
helped residents convert sustainably harvested rubber latex into
stylish women’s handbags that are being sold in boutiques in Brazil and
other countries. Read
Report to Help Other Local Groups to
Learn from the Banco da Mulher’s Experience
by Lindsay Jordan
In the lower Amazon, most residents have few
accessing capital to help them build viable micro-scale
businesses. The most common sources of entrepreneurial funds come from
their own savings and/or money borrowed from family members. These
options are very limited, which undermines microenterprise growth.
da Mulher, one of the few such funds in the Brazilian Amazon – and
the only rotating
savings funds in the region around Santarém – made loans between
2003 and 2008. The projects these loans made possible resulted in an
increase in income, as well as sense of security and personal
empowerment for borrowers and even those who never took out loans.
Several years ago CEN Director Bob Bortner met personally with many of
the fund’s members to conduct in depth interviews about the Banco da Mulher, as well as its
impact on their lives. Using this rich trove of information, as well as
access to the fund’s financial and operational records, CEN is putting
the final touches on a comprehensive report that documents and
evaluates the operations and performance of the fund, as well as offers
recommendations for improvement. With this report we hope that the Banco da Mulher can become a
framework for other groups in the region to establish similar programs.
Recently we learned that the regional women’s group AOMT-BAM, which is
the Banco da Mulher’s parent
organization, has restructured and in October will host its first
membership meeting in many years. We are planning to share our findings
and recommendations with members at this meeting, and that it will
serve as a catalyst for revitalizing the fund and the AOMT-BAM. Read
Join CEN Director Bob Bortner in the
Amazon This October
by Stephanie Long
With CEN Director Bob Bortner planning to
head to the Brazilian Amazon this October to visit the communities with
which our organization works, we invite you to join. You’ll get an up
close and personal look at the projects we support, as well as the
opportunity to visit vibrant areas, participate in a cultural program,
and see progress on the various projects. Read more about this
Volunteer Spotlight: Kaelyn Lynch Seeks to Tell
Stories of International Communities She Visits
by Marisa Fang
As the end of summer draws closer in North
America, the southern half of the hemisphere is bidding farewell to its
winter season. There, Kaelyn Lynch, one of our newest CEN writers, is
looking forward to warm weather. She lives in Western Australia and
works as a divemaster, leading groups of scuba divers.
Since childhood, Kaelyn says she loved reading National Geographic and
all types of science books. That early interest sparked her desire to
“experience everything there is to explore in the world.” After
graduating from the University of Miami in 2014, she set out to do so,
and along the way, she’s been making an impact through extensive
Kaelyn traveled to Indonesia after college to work on sustainable
ecotourism, and community development projects. She implemented a
marine education and dive guide training program to promote
environmental stewardship and bring benefits of tourism to the
community. She also taught management, budgeting and communication
skills to the local people to help better protect their native land
from destructive activities. Prior to her time in Indonesia, Kaelyn
also spent six months in South Africa helping to establish the
Sisters4Sisters organization, a nonprofit that works to rehabilitate
women who have been affected by domestic violence.
In reflecting on her experiences, she says that she’s always wanted to
use her passion for writing to help tell the stories of these
communities. She’s also seen herself grow immensely. In the past, she
described herself as someone who planned down to the exact minute. Now,
she has become much more adaptable and flexible when plans change.
She’s learned to rely on her instincts and be confident in new
situations. When she initially left for Indonesia, she thought it would
be a six-month stint, but now, 15 months later, she’s living in Western
Australia with no plans to return to the United States anytime soon.
She says, “I have no idea where life will take me and things have
changed, but all for the better.”
Needless to say, Kaelyn will be a great asset to the CEN team in that
she has seen firsthand many of the issues and challenges that CEN works
to overcome. She hopes to contribute this unique perspective in
parallel with her passion for writing to help tell the stories of the
While in Australia, she hopes to brush up on her surfing, photography
and gardening skills. She also hopes to apply for a storytelling
fellowship with National Geographic to go back to Indonesia, where she
would be tasked to highlight the lives of the people there. She says it
would be a great way for her to dive deeper into the local people’s
stories and see how the community has changed since she was last there.
Welcome to the team, Kaelyn!
How You Can Help
Contribute to CEN’s GlobalGiving
Help satisfy the region’s youth’s thirst for
CEN is participating
in the GlobalGiving
Challenge from September 1 to September 15 to raise the remaining
funds needed to complete the Rural
Family Home Artesian Well Project, which will continue to upgrade
the school’s facilities and improve the community’s access to clean
Your continued support is crucial to the education and health of Rural
Family Home (CFR) students, staff, and members of the community. Please
help provide clean water for the school by donating today.
GlobalGiving will match a portion of all donations
made on the September 9 Bonus Day,
stretching the impact of your support.
Attention Fred Meyer Shoppers (WA,
OR, ID and Alaska)
Earn money for CEN just by linking your Fred
Meyer rewards card with us!
still earn your rewards points, fuel points, and rebates, just as you
Do you shop at Fred Meyer and have a rewards card?
If so, you can earn CEN a donation from Fred
Meyer every time you shop, just by linking your rewards card to CEN.
It’s very easy and doesn’t cost you a dime. Here’s how the program
- Sign up for the Community Rewards
program by linking your Fred Meyer rewards card to CEN at www.fredmeyer.com/communityrewards.
You can search for us by our name or by our non-profit number, 83204.
- Then, every time you shop and use
your rewards card, you are helping CEN earn a donation!
- You still earn
your rewards points, fuel points, and rebates, just as you do today.
- If you do not have a rewards card,
they are available at the customer service desk at any Fred Meyer
Use our Amazon.com Link Whenever You
Shop on Amazon.com
Every purchase you make supports our projects.
Help support us, simply by
purchasing from Amazon.com! Go to this link or click the
Amazon.com image to the left to get started. A portion of your purchase
will be donated from Amazon.com to CEN with no additional cost to you.
Last year CEN earned over $300 through the program!
By using the link http://endruralpoverty.org/amazon
every time you purchase items from Amazon.com, Amazon pays CEN as much
as 10% of your order – without costing you a penny more.
Book this link to use for all
your Amazon.com purchases year-round!