The people in the village of El Triunfo, Nicaragua have built a community garden, irrigated by a system designed by students at the University of Toronto under the direction of Professor Amy Bilton. Preparations were supported by Courtney Lang and Sebastián Martínez with Seeds of Learning. Funding for materials was provided by Winds of Change, thanks to generous donations in Canada. Food from the garden will be shared by the school, community centre and community members who pitch in to help.
Welcome to the last issue of In Focus for 2017. It’s hard to believe I just wrote those words as it feels like we were just welcoming this eventful year. As always, CEF has been a rich full experience for everyone involved. This year saw Board members coming and (unfortunately) leaving. Thanks to the dedication of those who decided to join us and those who have moved to other commitments after making a valuable contribution to CEF. We have recommitted to existing partners and started a relationship with two new partners.
These partners are the Frances G. Cosco Foundation working in Ethiopia, and Winds of Change working in Nicaragua. We have taken up some exciting goals on generating revenue in new ways and completed some wonderful shoots in Canada, Spain and the UK this year. All in all, we are very excited about the year just ending, and the years to come. Thanks to everyone involved in volunteering, and to Getty for their ongoing and steadfast support. Best of the season to everyone in the Compassionate Eye family.
--Dan Rogers, Chair, CEF Board of Directors
For more information about Compassionate Eye, click here
On Saturday we returned from a week in Tipitapa, Nicaragua as part of our Winds of Change initiative. I won't try to recap the whole trip, but will say that we had an amazing time. Thank you to each of you who supported our efforts. Highlights included:
- Repaired and painted three classrooms in the village of Ciudelala. The turnout and support from the local community was amazing. We had kids and teachers by the dozens all helping out. Thank you to Tracey McCarthy and other volunteers for the huge donation of school supplies we were able to leave behind!
- Water samples and sites were assessed for the February Capstone trip by engineering students from the University of Toronto. Winds of Change has been awarded the #1 Capstone project at U of T the last two years so the pressure is on this year's teams to three-pete. One team is working on an improved micro-irrigation project. The other on a low cost water purification system for drinking water. Good luck for great success!
- Repaired and upgraded the windmill installed last year in Pedro Arauz
- Met with members of the community of Pedro Arauz where Winds of Change is funding two instructors to teach and coach community members on computer skills and handicrafts. We also played baseball and left them donated equipment from families affiliated with the Oakville Angels Softball Association.
- Delivered 14 used laptops generously donated by Seasons Retirement Communities. These will be delivered to 14 teachers on a waiting list maintained by Seeds of Learning. This program is growing quickly, so demand will increase.
- Met with the community leaders in El Triunfo where Winds of Change is funding the creation of a community garden, and the operation of community resource centre (including its internet connection). While there we learned how to make tortillas, learned about their micro finance loan program and played baseball with the local team. The equipment and uniform donations were greatly appreciated!
- Amidst all that work we had a lot of fun going to the market, eating, playing cards, learning about Nicaraguan history and politics, visiting a volcano, a fort/prison, and immersing ourselves in local culture. All good.
FUTURE TRIP(S): We have begun to discuss our next trip with SOL. Tentatively, we will travel to Mesa De Acicaya, a village in the mountains, to begin construction of a new school. Due to the remote location, the group will stay in the community, likely in tents. We will organize the work week so we can visit a volcano and a fort at the start and still spend some time in Granada at the end. The tentative dates are April 21 - 28th, 2018. This is timed just after most university exams to allow some of the families who have expressed interest. If you know someone I should add to the email distribution, please let me know. This link describes the first project that SOL has been doing in the village.
Thank you for your continued interest in Winds of Change.
Let me know if you are interested in joining our next trip in April!
647 972 2641
Update on our Winds of Change fundraising efforts.
As of October 28th, we have raised $11,050 toward our goal of $18,000 before we leave for Nicaragua on November 25th. Many thanks to the generous donors, including our fifteen volunteers who will be repairing a school. We will also have two fourth year UofT engineering students join us as part of their capstone projects related to irrigation and water purification. Tax deductible donations can be made at https://www.canadahelps.org/en/pages/winds-of-change-2017-fundraising-school-repairs-in/
Since 2014, Winds of Change has been working with our local partner in Nicaragua called "Seeds of Learning" (SOL). Volunteering with a Seeds of Learning Work Group is a transformative and life-changing experience.
A “SOL work group” is a team of volunteers who travel together to Nicaragua to learn, share and serve in partnership with local communities. North American volunteers spend 6-9 days together, working alongside of Nicaraguans to share in the construction of a school, learning center, garden, or other educational project. The transformative work group experience is designed to promote solidarity and cross-cultural understanding between people of the global north and global south through hands-on community based projects, face to face meetings, and active participation in SOL’s programs, in order to better understand and reduce poverty and inequality in the world.
- SOL has 25 years of experience and has hosted over 3,600 volunteers.
- We build lasting relationships with communities.
- We don’t just build schools; we develop long-term, sustainable programs alongside local communities. [. . .]
- Itineraries are customized to group preferences. View a sample itinerary here.
- A full immersion experience working side by side with locals.
- Educational focus in all aspects of the trip; service work, [. . .]
- Nicaragua is the second most economically impoverished country in the Western Hemisphere.
- There is a great need to improve quality and access to education.
- Approximately ha [. . .]
Interested in connecting with an impressive group of women with a proven track record for making a difference?
World Vision does a lot of great work in Nicaragua. We have seen the signs on many infrastructure projects including schools and water systems. But they also invest in people - and have done so successfully with a group of women who call themselves "The Self Group of el Triunfo". With an introduction from our friends at Seeds of Learning, we recently met with six members of the Self Help Group to learn about their vision for the community.
Many of the men of el Triunfo commute daily to minimum wage manufacturing jobs in the free trade zones outside Managua. Left on their own, we learned that these woman have stepped forward to lead a number of community initiatives including:
1) Funding and building a learning resource centre (shown in the picture above). They now take turns running educational programs daily at the centre.
2) Creating a managing a very successful micro-loan program for members of the local community. Loans of up to $150 are made to community members who submit loan applications. The criteria for acceptance are feasibility of the business plan, repayment history, and value of the activity to the community. Unlike many other micro loan programs they have a 100% repayment history. That is remarkable!
When we asked the team about their future plans for the community they acknowledged that their needs are many, but would like to focus some attention on women's health and empowerment. Longer term, they envision building a community hall and potentially sleeping accommodation for visiting service groups. This could provide an additional source of much needed income to help fund future community projects and make their community attractive to NGOs, like Seeds of Learning, who sponsor service trips.
This strikes us as a group who will be successful in whatever they collectively decide to do. If you are interested in working with an inspiring group of women with a passion to make their community a better place, we encourage you to pledge your support to the Self Help Group of el Triunfo.
Mount Sinai/Jicartori: The site of the new adobe school is impressive. It looks like it has been a great project. Freddie and the community appears very engaged and enthusiastic. They will meet and gain consensus around how they might address their most pressing shared concern: water. It is an interesting and challenging situation with three quadrants in need of water, and some interesting infrastructure remaining from the plantation that could be used more broadly. It is a complex challenge that will require more assistance. We look forward to hearing more from the community.
In the short term, they have asked for assistance with clearing the newly drilled well on the site of the school building. We will discuss as a WOC team if we can fund that immediate repair (~$1000) to provide water to support the completion of the construction and for shared use by the school and local community.
This week five of us will travel to Nicaragua to check-in on the progress with the windmill in January 2016 and irrigation systems installed this past February. But its not the equipment we're eager to see, its our friends. Four out of group have been before - Erin Paul, my kids Andrew and Sarah, and me. For Erin's daughter, Alexandra, it will be a first, not only travelling to Nicaragua but her first experience in the developing world. At the age of twelve I suspect it will be an impactful trip - as it was for Sarah and Andrew in 2015.
Working locally with the team from Seeds of Learning we will visit three villages in need of assistance: El Jicarito, El Triunfo, and Ciudadela San Martin. Projects include school construction & refurbishment, community gardens with windmills and irrigation, and related training. We will profile these projects in upcoming blog posts and will call upon our friends and family to support us in any way you can.
Seeking used laptops. On April 12th, #ErinPaul and I are returning to Nicaragua with our kids to plan the #Windsofchange projects for 2017. Our friends at #SeedsofLearning (SOL) have asked that we bring used laptops for use in the community centre. Now that they have internet access demand for computers is increasing. If you have a used laptop you wish to donate, please let me know. Ideally we will take five with us in April.
The #WindsofChange team has completed its first installation of a newly designed irrigation system near Pedro Arauz in Nicaragua. Professor #AmyBilton, #JohnShoust, and the team of student engineers from UofT made the trip in February. They installed systems on two family farms including a tank, tower, PVC tubing, irrigation hosing and an electric pump for backup. Irrigation allows families to grow vegetables year round.
We hope to help local farmers install 5 - 7 more in 2017. Want to join us?
While there the team also upgraded the prototype windmill we installed last year at the community centre.
With a new start to the school year underway Winds of Change has now formed two more student teams to tackle the new challenged observed on previous trips. Our new teams will focus on two key areas in the 2016/2017 projects.
The first being the cost reduction of the windmill itself. While the original design was mindful of cost and performance, additional modifications can be made to further reduce the overall costing. The team will be looking at the overall dimensions of the windmill vs performance and other areas that can be redesigned for a reduction.
The second of our team will be engineering a low cost, packaged irrigation system for use within this and other communities. Low cost / hands-free irrigation is a vital part of survival in these harsh conditions and will often make the difference between a successful vs failed growing season.
More news to come as the teams continue their pursuit!
July 11-15, 2016
The WOC team will be heading back to our community to continue work on the existing windmill and evaluate additional projects within the community. While we worked hard to get our first windmill up and running earlier this year we recognize that this is only the first step in a long partnership within the community.
On this trip we will be conducting repairs and upgrades to the existing structure as well as proposing additional projects to community leaders.
Look for additional updates in the weeks to come!
GREAT NEWS! The first Wind Mill from Winds of Change is in place. There were some moments of excitement, but it's up! Congratulations John Shoust, Amy Bilton, Wayne Scott, Julian Guevara, our friends in Pedro Arauz and the great team of engineers from the University of Toronto.
Over the past seven days the team from University of Toronto has worked along side the people of Pedro Arauz to turn basic materials from the local hardware supply store into an innovative new way to irrigate the community garden. When the water began to flow from the pipe there was a collective cheer and sigh of relief. As the wind was quite strong we were also able to witness the newly designed automatic break kick in an disengage the rotor when the wind hit the threshold.
While there is still work to do to prove that the design can sustain its performance over time, we can enjoy success at this important milestone!
On January 13th, the Winds of Change team will arrive back in Pedro Arauz, Nicaragua to construct our first windmill. If things go as planned, on January 19th water will be lifted from the village well using the existing rope pump - but now the pump will be fitted with a windmill designed by Mechanical and Industrial Engineering students from the University of Toronto. The initial design, done by four members of the class of 2015, has been refined and improved by two teams of four students each from the class of 2016.
The mission of Winds of Change is to bring innovative, cost-effective technology and support to help impoverished farmers in rural Nicaragua. Newly designed windmills will be used to pump small amounts of water from existing wells to support sustainable farming practices including micro-irrigation. This will help families to grow more food, particularly in the dry season. Doing so will help provide needed nourishment and income to lift them from poverty. Our friends in the village have already constructed the water tank into which the water will be pumped, and the community garden that will be irrigated.
Our fundraising efforts have been successful. Thanks to friends and family, donors via our Indiegogo crowd funding campaign, and a generous corporate donor we have raised over $23,000 in the past four months. We will share more about our corporate donor soon. The funds will pay for:
- Tools and materials in Pedro Arauz to be used in the construction of more windmills for the community
- Development of training materials and an honorarium for an instructor to teach agricultural methods to members of the community
- Welding training for the people of Pedro Arauz to increase productivity and quality when building more windmills
- A local camera operator and a translator to support the filming of a documentary film
- Offsetting a portion of the travel costs for the student team in January
This project has been about eighteen months in the making. We're pumped! (pun intended). A big THANK YOU for all of the support! Watch for more updates as the trip approaches.
Rob & John
On September 15th about thirty people gathered at Laurier's Toronto office to learn about Winds of Change. They heard from Julian Guevara who was visiting from Nicaragua as well as the Winds of Change leadership group: John Shoust, Wayne Scott, Amy Bilton and Rob Scott. Many thanks to the team at Laurier and the great people at Students Offering Support for all the assistance!
This video provides a quick summary of our trip in May 2015 when we built the foundation for the first windmill.
Welcome to Toronto Julian!
This is a reminder to join us on Tuesday, September 15th from 6:00 - 8:00 pm for a brief reception and presentation on the initiative we call "Winds of Change". As you may know, this not-for-profit initiative will bring innovative technology from the University of Toronto to rural Nicaragua to help farmers irrigate small plots of land in order to grow more food.
At this informal session you will hear from the Winds of Change founders, John Shoust and Rob Scott, and from our special guest. We are thrilled to welcome to Toronto our good friend and partner, Julian Ramon Guevara, Managua Regional Director for Seeds of Learning, the NGO with which we are working in Nicaragua. While he is in Toronto we want to introduce him to the community supporting Winds ofChange.
We are being generously hosted by Wilfrid Laurier University at their downtown Toronto office located at:
130 King St. West, Toronto at York Street
Ontario, Canada M5X 1C9
Main Floor, Exchange Tower
RSVP by reply email. Attendance is limited to about 30 people so get your name, and that of your guests, on the list. For those who are interested, informal drinks may follow nearby.
Please join us on Tuesday, September 15th from 6:00 - 8:00 pm for a brief reception and presentation on the initiative we call "Winds of Change". As you may know, this not-for-profit initiative will bring innovative technology from the University of Toronto to rural Nicaragua to help farmers irrigate small plots of land in order to grow more food.
At this informal session you will hear from the Winds of Change founders, John Shoust and Rob Scott, and from our special guest. We are thrilled to welcome to Toronto our good friend and partner, Julian Ramon Guevara, Managua Regional Director for Seeds of Learning, the NGO with which we are working in Nicaragua. While he is in Toronto we want to introduce him to the community supporting Winds of Change.
We are being generously hosted by Wilfrid Laurier University at their downtown Toronto office located at:
130 King St. West, Toronto at York Street
Ontario, Canada M5X 1C9
Main Floor, Exchange Tower
RSVP by reply email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Attendance is limited to about 30 people, so get your name, and that of your guests, on the list. For those who are interested, informal drinks may follow nearby.
What is Winds of Change?
In collaboration with the University of Toronto, Winds of Change is a not-for-profit initiative that as designed a windmill for small scale irrigation. Windmills can be built from locally sourced materials and assembled on site for a cost of less than $500 CDN.
The approach of Winds of Change is to offer the design, engineering assistance and micro-loans allow farmers to deploy and maintain windmills on their land. Windmills will be used to pump small amounts of water from existing wells to support sustainable farming practices including micro -irrigation.
- We will collect charitable donations in Canada to create a funding pool.
- Farmers will apply for a small loan to pay for a windmill, either on their own or in cooperation with a neighbour
- Re-payment of the loan will be made possible through the sale of surplus fruits, vegetables and eggs at the local market
- The revenue from re-payments will be managed by our local NGO partner, Seeds of Learning, to fund other projects in the community, creating secondary benefits
Before we can start accepting donations to fund windmills we need to install the prototype
near the school and community centre in Pedro Arauz. The community well is fitted with a simple hand operated rope pump made with a bicycle wheel (pictured above). In October, together with our local friends, we will build the prototype on a foundation we built last May. Once installed, the windmill will pump water into an elevated storage tank, currently being built by the community, from which the community will irrigate the shared garden.
This campaign will help offset travel costs for our team of students from the University of Toronto, Faculty of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering. We currently have wo student teams f four students each hat are refining the design and testing the innovative braking and power transfer systems conceived by the 2014/2015 team. We need to raise $5,000 to subsidize our next trip to Nicaragua with each student personally contributing $600. Costs include airfare from Toronto to Managua; food and lodging coordinated by our local partner; and materials costs for the first windmill.
Once the design has been proven, Winds of Change will work towards becoming a "100% Charity". This means that 100% of charitable contributions will go to the local community. Through our partnership with a Canadian based charity called Students Offering Support (SOS), donations will be tax deductible in Canada. Ongoing overhead costs, including travel expenses, will be paid by the founders and select private donations.
Call to Action:
The crowd funding campaign is hosted by Indiegogo - its easy to use. It will end on October 17th.
1) To donate, click on http://igg.me/at/windsofchange/x/11531
2) If you have suggestions for media coverage, and others who may be interested in helping us promote our efforts, please let me know! Lets spread the word.
3) Please promote us on social media, including Facebook, and Twitter