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Friends of Colombian Orphans


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After a couple of board meetings, we decided that the marketing and sales of items HAD TO happen in Colombia. The cost of shipping to the US is prohibitive, and we also run into customs duties, etc. and a mound of exporting paperwork, something I had not thought about when I first decided to pursue this project. So we phoned the administrator of Hogares Club Michin and talked about "what next". They had been very positive about the work we are doing there, and their dream was to expand the program some day. When I left Colombia after my January visit, I felt good about it. And it has ALWAYS been our goal for Colombians to take over the program. So below is a summary of where we are now and where we are going....

 

Hogares is willing to take over not only the workshop but also marketing and the future of the program. They had taken our idea of a coop to apply to their other training programs. So far they have been trained in 'group economy' which is what rules the economy, marketing and setup required for coops. She said she did not understand why the coop idea had not been theirs to start with, they think its excellent! They plan to expand the space next year, which means more machines and more students. Right now there are 5 machines with morning classes for kids to try it out, and afternoon classes for students who commit to learning this skill.

 

They are looking for a designer who will advise on what the girls should be knitting. Baby stuff just does not fly there, there is no market for it in Colombia, so they are going to focus on finding this person so he/she can tell them what to knit, what colors, what the trend is etc. She said the girls can knit just about anything they set themselves to and that Dora is capable of figuring out how to do things.

 

We told her our problem was marketing, administration and communication with the program in Colombia and that we are tired of the struggle, sending money and not really knowing what was going on and that we really did not have anything new to show our donors and in order to get more donations we had to have something to show for it.

 

They said Dora is excellent and they will keep and encourage her. Our manager will be terminated as of October 1: he won't be needed now: we will now deal directly with Michin to keep the lines of communication open. They have the experience, the connections and a vision for the future of the kids.

We will cancel our Colombian nonprofit to save the cost of administration (attorney, auditor and accountant ).Our expenses literally become half of what they are now.

 

We are committed to pay for Dora's salary for a year and to continue to pay for supplies and FOCO will remain owners of the machines and equipment. We are willing to help in the future with anything we can if we can get more donations.

 

And if there are any other institutions that want to start a knitting cooperative, we will be able to supply them with machines, yarn and an instructor.

 

So our start up is a SUCCESS! We have passed the baton of management and marketing to COLOMBIA. Thanks to our hard work, and our donors' faith in us, this program is going to the next level.

 

I'm really happy about this.

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  • 2 months later...

One of the girls from Michin had an interview at a knitting company....or a place where they hire people to knit for them: compania de tejidos.

 

She does not know yet if she will get the job but just the fact that they interviewed her is great!

 

Fingers crossed that she gets the job: it will be our first success story!

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  • 3 weeks later...

I am going to Bogota in January to Hogares Club Michin . Our knitting program is there. We want to buy school supplies in Bogota (for the onsite school) - pencils, notebooks, etc. since Feb.1 is the start of their school year. Please take a look at the sweet kids on their website, and, if it moves you to donate, go to Friends of Colombian Orphans website and donate $5 which will totally go towards school supplies. I shall post a photo of the shopping cart filled with purchases, when I return. Our target goal is $200 for this mini-fundraiser...Thank you so much.

Hogares Club Michin

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  • 3 weeks later...

I have $300 for school supplies. Considering they need an huge amount of stuff, it won't go as far as it needs to. Here's part of the list:

 

BLOCK FORMATO DIN A 4 UNIDAD 100

BLOCK CARTA BLANCO UNIDAD 30

BLOCK CARTA CUADRICULADO BLOCK 50

BLOCK CUADRICULADO OFICIO UNIDAD 50

BLOCK OFICIO BLANCO UNIDAD 50

BLOCK RAYADO CARTA UNIDAD 50

BOLAS DE ICOPOR · No. 10 UNIDAD 100

BORRADOR DE NATA UNIDAD 120

CARPETAS DE PRESENTACION UNIDAD 50

CARPETAS PLASTIFICADAS UNIDAD 80

CARTON CARTULINA PLIEGO UNIDAD 15

CARTON PAJA OCTAVOS UNIDAD 50

CARTON PAJA PLIEGO UNIDAD 20

CARTON CORRUGADO UNIDAD 10

CARTUCHERAS GRANDES UNIDAD 100

CARTULINA EN OCTAVOS X 10 UND PAQUETE 40

CARTULINA EN PLIEGO UNIDAD 40

CARTULINA NEGRA PLIEGO 20

CARTULINA NEGRA EN OCTAVO UNIDAD 30

CHINCHES CAJA 10

CINTA ENMASCARAR 18MM * 40M ROLLO 40

CINTA TRANSPARENTE ROLLO 30

CINTA TRANSPARENTE ANCHA ROLLO 35

 

And that's just the beginning. So..........

 

If any of you have: scotch tape/masking tape/#2 pencils/ protractors/ L-squares (angle rulers), pencil sharpeners or pencil bags to spare, stick them in a puffy bag and mail them to me. Message me if you can help. Stuff does NOT have to be new...merely functional. This way I can save the $300 for notebooks, etc. etc.

Thanks so much.

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  • 4 weeks later...

http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7163/6756845531_a043ccbb4e.jpg

 

This semester's group of knitters. We signed an agreement with Hogares Club Michin to pay the salary and benefits of Dora, the instructor, for one year. Hogares is working to buy a building where the vocational training programs can have a home: they do exquisite woodwork and bakery, as well as the knitting. They are also working with a textile designer to source cotton yarn, as well as acting as a consultant as to what is currently fashionable and saleable in Colombia and abroad. We are also opening up the program to their battered women program. All we need is a building for the coop and funds to keep this going. Our dreams are all on the same page.

 

http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7016/6756845639_c17a68a619.jpg

 

 

And once again, as hard as I try to post photos, it is apparently a skill beyond my capabilities.

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I raised over $300 for school supplies which we bought in Bogota,(475 notebooks for example) and took a suitcase weighing 50 lbs, filled with donated pencils, pens, crayons,protractors, compasses, etc. with me as well. The photo shows a mere sampling of everything we brought. Karen donated a digital camera so that we can get frequent updates and photos for fundraising.

http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7172/6756932293_92b2281461.jpg

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  • 7 months later...

I'm hoping there are some of you out there who still enjoy these updates.

 

We have the opportunity to partner with a small UK business Elephant Branded which would carry our knitted scarves and hats. In order to do that, we have to buy a knitting machine that knits "bulky" yarn. I don't want to spend our operations money on the machine, so I'm fund raising. The machine costs $1200. The beauty of this is that it will be a two fold advantage for the program: not only will the program have an outlet for sales of the garments, but also the teens will have the opportunity to learn how to knit on this specialized machine, which is also used extensively in Colombia.

 

In August, Hogares Club Michin held a fashion show, showcasing the knitters and their work. You can see the photos here. Every time I get photos like these, it motivates me anew.

Go to FOCO News

If any of you feel inspired to donate just $10, it will help us. Yesterday we raised $175 toward our goal of $1200. Thanks, and enjoy the photos.

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  • 2 months later...

Yup. Still doing this. Tomorrow is Giving Tuesday and your donation to Friends of Colombian Orphans through Crowdrise will be matched by the Case Foundation. Even a $10 donation helps. (Crowdrise will add a $1 charge to your donation.)

 

FOCO on Crowdrise

 

 

In addition, we have SERIOUSLY cute holiday cards: for a donation of $25 (this will be live on Dec. 1 on the website) we will send a card anywhere in the world to the recipient of your choice. It beats having to box up bath salts and stand in line at the post office. So keep us in mind, please.

 

Onward....

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Posted on behalf of foodie52:

 

Here is an opportunity to gift a friend or family member in a meaningful way. We have had holiday cards made, highlighting the joy and confidence of our student knitters in our program in Bogota, Colombia. They made their Santa hats, posed for us and are proud of what they are accomplishing. We will send your special recipient a card, honoring them, and signing your name to the card. For a minimum donation of $25, we will mail cards anywhere in the world. Guaranteed arrival by Dec. 20th.Thank you, and happy holidays from all of us, in the US, in England and in Colombia.

 

534099_10151222922607550_174108073_n.jpg

 

http://www.friendsofcolombianorphans.org/

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