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Participant Luciene with apparel she made

With only 4 months to go before the end of the pilot for Phase 1 of the cCLEAR program in the communities of Maguary and Jamaraquá on east shore of the Tapajós River, we've decided to cut 3 of the 7 initial participants.  We haven't been as successful as we had hoped in motivating  them to dedicate the energy they need in order to be successful with the program.

The three participants we're cutting are Elso Alves (known as Sunta), Rui Fonseca, and Donildo Lopes (Guido). While they are interested in gaining more skills, they want to see immediate impact on their individual projects, and are not committed to invest enough time and energy to improve basic skills such as critical thinking, problem solving and others which they don't completely understand.

We recognized this risk when we started working with Sunta, Rui and Guido at the end of last year. Although all three of the individuals already have achieved some degree of success with their ventures on their own, we feel that they lack some of the basic skills necessary to serve as a foundation for sustained growth. For example, although Elso is very motivated and has a strong sense that he can achieve success if he works hard, he makes rash decisions about starting new ventures, and doesn't always display the discipline required to execute many of his ideas to fruition.

Rui showing a visitor how to make a backpack out of palm leaves

When we started the pilot for Phase 1 of the cCLEAR program, we had a goal of signing up 15 participants in Suruacá and another 15 split between Maguary and Jamaraquá.  It proved more difficult to enroll participants than we had hoped and we were only able to enroll 8 in Surauca and 7 in the communities in Maguary and Jamaraquá. This was largely because many community members were not willing to invest time and energy into a project that doesn't guarantee immediate impact, such as increased income, or doesn't give resources directly. We're hoping that it will become much easier to attract Guido, Rui, Sunta and other participants once they witness tangible impact from the success of our first participants.

The remaining participants in the cCLEAR phase 1 pilot from Maguary and Jamaraquá are Derlei Pedroso (Pipoca) , Dejalma Lopes, Arimar Feitosa and Ney Feitosa. Coincidentally all four participants work with producing products made with natural rubber. Pipoca and Dejalma both hope to create products from Tekbor, a natural rubber cured through a unique process not requiring heat. Ney is the current Director of Couro Ecologico, a producer association that makes purses from natural rubber.  Arimar, who is Ney's brother, was one of the founders and chief visionary of Couro Ecologico, but left the venture to produce other products, including sandals and little rubber animals.

As for Sunta, Rui and Guild, although they will no longer participate in cCLEAR - at least for now - we do plan to continue to involve them closely with our Unveiling the Amazon trip to the communities. Sunta and Rui are both actively involved with tourism in their communities and would benefit tremendously from working with the visitors we bring. For example, Rui is trying to improve tours available in Jamaraquá and could learn a lot from visitor insights. Guilo produces honey and although doesn't offer as much potential for involvement during the visit, we hope to set up at least a day of activities where he could explain bee-keeping in the community, and perhaps even get some help building new hives!

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Lauren Mehl - one of Team CEN's runners.

Two thumbs up and thank you to everyone who did their part in the Run to Fight World Poverty!

CEN would like to thank all those that donated and supported our runners in Seattle's Rock and Roll Marathon in June! We are still accepting pledges through our pledge list or by donating online. Help CEN get "one step closer" to ending rural poverty!

A big thank you to our runners Colleen, Larry, Eileen and Lauren for making Run to Fight World Poverty 2009 a wonderful success! You helped us raise over$1000 and increase awareness of ending poverty through empowerment and self-reliance.

We hope you can partner with us again next year! Please contact Bob Bortner if you're interested in running, walking, pledging or sponsoring CEN's team in June 2010.

CEN still accepting pledges for the Run to Fight World Poverty 2000. Please visit our pledge page to learn more or to pledge today!


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By Elizabeth Thelen

Despite what may seem like insurmountable obstacles in her life, Regina Souza is a highly successful participant in the cCLEAR program. Through persistence, hard work, and most importantly, enthusiasm, she has made steady progress in setting up a sewing business.

Dona Regina  (the term Dona is a title of respect in Portuguese) has faced many challenges in her life. Unable to complete school past the fifth grade),  Dona Regina has worked as a domestic laborer, a farmer, and currently produces farinha flour with her husband. Twenty-five years old, she lives in unfurnished house recently provided by the government with her husband and three young children. Although Dona Regina seems shy and timid when you first meet her, her true courage is revealed in her determination to start her own business and improve her economic standing.

Dona Regina had dreamt of establishing her own crocheting and embroidery business and joined CEN's cCLEAR program to make this dream a reality. Eventually, she hopes to earn 500 Reais a month (about US$250), which is more than triple her current earnings. Getting started was the largest challenge that Dona Regina faced; when CEN started working with her in September last year, she had no sewing, knitting or embroidery experience, nor did she have the money to purchase basic supplies. Although CEN generally refrains from providing supplies to cCLEAR participants, an exception was made for Dona Regina and she received crochet and embroidery needles, some thread, and magazines on how to crochet.

“I love selling my products in the and enjoy the independence of earning my own money”

Regina Souza

A month later, Regina had taught herself to crochet and had started to make several sewing and needlework projects that she could sell. She had used ideas from the magazines and had also sought out the help and advice from seamstresses in the community. Regina made clear goals for herself and had selected to start by making small projects that were also readily marketable.

Since last fall, Regina has continued to make impressive progress toward establishing an independent sewing and needlework business. Regina is innovative in her product design and has a good sense of local market demands. Through her participation in cCLEAR, she has learned to keep accurate records of her earnings and expenses and how to price her products appropriately. She has also developed a new mindset that she can solve problems for herself, and the skills to do so. Currently, she is working with other cCLEAR participants to build a market stand that they can use to sell their products in other towns. When asked recently what she likes best about her participation in cCLEAR, Regina said she loves selling her products in the markets and enjoys the independence of earning her own money.

Read More cCLEAR Participant Profiles

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Posted by on in News

Our cCLEAR (Creating a Culture of Learning and Empowerment in the Amazon Region) program has been going strong in the communities of Suruacá, Maguary and Jamarquá since May of 2008. Phase 1 of the program teaches basic skills in leadership, critical thinking, management, problem-solving, evaluation and confidence. Phase 1 concludes soon in Suruacá and later this year in the other two villages.

These Phase 1 skills are an essential foundation. Phase 2 of the program builds on that by taking participants one step further, teaching them to apply the skills to more complex projects. We are seeking Phase 2 funding and hope to launch it by early 2010.

In the meantime, we have begun two new initiatives to support strong projects taking shape in these communities: Rubber Products and Ecotourism. The rubber products initiative supports one participant to rebuild a local association that produces handbags and other crafts made from locally harvested rubber. With this support, members learn how to produce stunning original designs and sell the bags through the CEN website and other retails. (Visit the Products section of our site later in May to start shopping!)

The Ecotourism initiative supports sustainable visitation to the communities. The villages get carefully managed infusions of visitors while tour members experience the incredible Amazon region and participate in CEN activities that help community members build skills. The first tour, called Unveiling the Amazon, is this summer! To learn more or to reserve a spot, click here.

We're very excited about these plans and the power the cCLEAR program is already bringing to participants. We know that, as people buy their handicrafts and participate in their sustainable tourism activities, these communities will thrive as never before.

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Posted by on in News


Juice: A Modern Global Dance Party

Benefit for non-profits including the Community Empowerment Network

DATE: Saturday, January 24th

TIME: Doors at 9pm

LOCATION: Lo-Fi - 429 Eastlake Ave Seattle

21+ only

MORE: on myspace or on Facebook
JUICE is a one of a kind dance party in Seattle.  DJ Darek Mazzone (KEXP-Wo'Pop) and DJ Rhythma spin the freshest tracks from around the world.  The proceeds from the cover charge are donated to global/international charities, including CEN.
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