As in the previous two years, Counterpart International and USAID co-hosted the third annual New World Handicrafts Central American Trade Show. The event, organized by the Guatemalan Exporters Association’s (AGEXPORT) Arts and Crafts Commission, was held at Casa Santo Domingo in Antigua, Guatemala on September 8th and 9th, 2010.
This year’s show featured:
- A showroom filled with 100 stands selling high quality handicrafts from all over Central America;
- Seminars hosted by international experts covering topics such as “Participation in International Trade Shows,” “Fashion Trends of the American Market,” and “AZO Dyes and their Implications for the Export Market”; and
- Seven conferences held during the trade show that touched on important design trends and market intelligence topics, in order to provide market intelligence information to artisans and exporters.
The two day event generated on site sales worth $350,000 for the 100 artisans, while sales from negotiations and orders following the event are projected to generate well over $700,000.
Each year Counterpart introduces innovations to the Trade Show based on feedback from artisans and exporters. This year, Counterpart included workshops in the months leading up to the Trade Show, in order to better prepare artisans and exporters on event expectations and what types of products and commercialization materials to showcase to increase revenue. Each year the event becomes increasingly popular, which has allowed Counterpart to better tailor the show to the vendors’ needs, thus maximizing the experience for all.
The Trade Show provides a boost for local Central American handicraft producers, securing a more stable livelihood. The producers can also use this opportunity to extend their reach, linking their small business in Central America to larger, international designers and buyers. For example, this year, Counterpart and AGEXPORT provided technical assistance in design improvement and process mainstreaming to the Association of Parents and Friends of Handicapped People (ADISA), a special group from the Lake Atitlan region in Solola. ADISA is a group of disabled young men and women who have endured different challenges due to their condition and, after completing basic education, generate income for the organization and their families through handicraft production. Through Counterpart’s support, a group of international designers worked with ADISA members to produce a new line of products, which was showcased at the New World Crafts and other trade shows by local exporter and now partner in business, La Casa Cotzal.
Counterpart has been working in Guatemala since 2003, teaming with local communities to create economic opportunities around tourism – one of the country’s key drivers. We work closely with AGEXPORT, international design firms, local universities and handicraft designers and exporters to produce and sell new products in international markets. Counterpart’s programs have helped create more than 2,100 jobs, train nearly 5,000 people and strengthen 800 tourism businesses and organizations.
For additional information, you may visit www.nwcguatemala.com, or read about Counterpart’s Community Tourism Alliance in Guatemala on our Web site.
On October 20-22, 2010, Counterpart International joined with Latter-Day Saints Charities (LDS Charities), Women of Georgia and the Coalition for the Disabled to conduct Training for Trainers sessions for rough-rider wheelchairs manufactured in Georgia.
Rough-rider wheelchairs are inexpensive, yet durable wheelchairs designed for rough terrain. They are rugged and repairable, ideal for bumpy, city streets or mountainous, country roads.
Counterpart’s team in Georgia provided a training facility - conference room with kitchen and bathrooms - and helped to manufacture several benches and foot stools for the sessions, as well as transporting many of the disabled persons to the training site. Counterpart involved eight of our partner organizations in the training session and organized all their transportation and training arrangements.
Trainers arrived from Salt Lake City, and after providing intensive training for three days, rough-riders were distributed to 40 physically active disabled persons.
The physically disabled must endure a variety of issues, such as a lack of mobility, the inability to financially support themselves and their families, a lack of access to social services (health care, education, etc.) and the general stigma that they are no longer contributing members of society.
Now, with rough-rider wheelchairs, these persons can enjoy increased and dependable mobility and an enhanced sense of pride and self-reliance.
After the distribution of wheelchairs, representatives from LDS Charities presented Counterpart’s Country Director, Irakli Saralidze, with a plaque for our successful cooperation in humanitarian activities in Georgia.
Learn more about our global humanitarian commodities distribution.
The Galavani Community, located in the Mtskheta-Mtianeti Region of Georgia, has two main water collectors on the slope of the mountain to supply its villagers with water. These collectors were significantly damaged by recent floods that ravaged the area; they were collecting only 40 percent of the available water resources. The main 460 metric-ton capacity water reservoir, located at the bottom of the mountain, was also in need of serious repair and cleaning. Pipes were corroded and leaking. Without sufficient funding, villagers had improperly installed a water distribution tank, and it quickly became unusable.
What We Did
Through the Department of State’s Small Reconstruction Project initiative, Counterpart purchased and installed a 25 metric-ton capacity water reservoir with distribution tank and valves, replaced 1,850 meters of rusted pipes. With additional funding provided by Latter-Day Saints Charities, fences were installed around the reservoirs, the main district pipes were replaced, an additional 6,600 meters of rusted pipes were replaced with new PVC pipes and the new reservoir was covered with a thermal insulator. The Mtskheta-Mtianeti Governor’s office helped to rehabilitate the clogged 100 mm water pipe connecting the new reservoir with the main water collector and provided grader equipment to even and fix excavated roads.
Now all 400 village residents have access to clean and safe water. The residents will also be able to use the water to irrigate their vegetables throughout the summer to supplement their income and better provide for their families.
To learn more about Counterpart’s Small Reconstruction Projects throughout the Former Soviet Union, visit our Web site.
By Maggie Farrand
Counterpart International’s Ethiopian Sustainable Tourism Alliance (ESTA) collaborated with the Forum for Environment (FfE) to organize the first national Media Award as part of the fifth annual National Green Awards Program.
As patron of the program, His Excellency, Ethiopian President Girma Wolde-Giorgisoffered the keynote speech at the September 28, 2010 awards ceremony held at the Addis Ababa Sheraton. Approximately 200 people, including high level government officials, parliamentarians, NGO representatives and religious leaders, attended the event.
Ethiopia's rural degradation
Over 80 percent of Ethiopia’s population lives in rural areas, and environmental degradation continues to challenge development efforts in Ethiopia.
Threats to biodiversity are threats to people, as the natural resources provide income and nourishment. Local journalists and the media possess the unique ability to influence even the most rural communities, yet environmental issues are an often overlooked topic.
As an incentive for increased emphasis and coverage of issues related to environmental protection and sustainable tourism, Counterpart designed and kicked off the first national Media Award.
Encouraging conservation journalism
The Media Award recognizes individual journalists and media organizations that contributed to this learning process through exemplary coverage of issues relating to conservation and tourism in the past year.
Acknowledging that human interest is a prerequisite for successful information sharing, awards were given based not only upon quality and depth of research, but on creativity, conviction and ability to promote awareness.
Selected by an independent five-member jury, eight award recipients received cash prizes and trophies while being decorated by H.E. President Girma, the Deputy Director of the USAID Mission to Ethiopia, Jason Freser, and the ESTA Chief of Party, Bedilu Shegen. Awards were given in three categories: print, radio broadcast and television.
With over half of Ethiopians being illiterate, radio broadcast makes information accessible to those otherwise overlooked in the age of rapid information technology. ESTA and FfE are striving to reverse this trend by providing an incentive for increased media coverage, ultimately helping to empower communities to better manage the natural resources on which they depend.
Learn more about Counterpart's ESTA program on our Web site.
By Maggie Farrand
On September 15th, 2010, in the village of Boyuk Bahmanli, playful laughter filled the quiet air of the newly reconstructed kindergarten. The walls of this kindergarten in the Fizuli region of Azerbaijan hadn’t heard laughter since 1992 when the village became a battleground during the conflict with Armenia.
“I always believed that the day would come when our kindergarten will be full of my little villagers again. What can be better than seeing happy and smiling faces of children?” asked Gudrat Aliyeva, the Boyuk Bahmanli School’s headmaster.
“I am thankful to Counterpart, as this organization gave a second wind to our kindergarten,” she said walking from room to room and proudly looking at the children playing with their new toys. “I just want to forget the times when our kindergarten was in ruins.”
Providing better kindergarten education
Counterpart began its partnership with Boyuk Bahmanli in April 2009, as part of the 12-month Children's Education in IDP Communities Project (CEP) funded by the Bureau on Population, Migration and Refugees (BPRM), U.S. Department of State started in October 2009.
Counterpart rehabilitated a dilapidated kindergarten for the largest settlement of internally displaced persons (IDPs) in the Fizuli District of Azerbaijan. In addition, Counterpart strengthened the capacity of IDP community-based organizations and municipalities in three villages of Fizuli (Boyuk Bahmanli, Ashagi and Yuxari Kurdmahmudlu) to improve children's education.
As a result, more than 30 teachers have been trained on a special early childhood development program which will help raise the quality of education in kindergartens of three villages.
More than just reconstruction
Throughout the project implementation, Counterpart engaged in dialogue and closely coordinated the activities with the local community as well as the National Advisory Committee, established specifically for this project, comprised of representatives of the Cabinet of Ministers, Ministry of Education, US Embassy, USAID and State Mine Awareness Agency.
On September 14, 2010 the members of Boyuk Bahmanli community gathered together to celebrate the opening ceremony of the newly rehabilitated kindergarten. The red ribbon was cut by Nabi Mukhtarov, Head of Fizuli Executive Power; Brigette S. Buchet, Political Officer; and Ryan Campbell, The Second Secretary of Embassy of the United States of America in Azerbaijan.
Now, thanks to this reconstruction project and the capacity strengthening that accompanied it, more than 100 children have access to valuable pre-school education. The kindergarten features a new playground, and modern furnishings, toys and educational materials. It also has a new heating system, its own medical office, kitchen and laundry.
The Children’s Education for IDP Communities project is funded by the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration of State Department and implemented by Counterpart International. The goal of the project is to provide access to pre-school education for children aged 3-6 for successful transition into schools in IDP communities in Azerbaijan. Learn more about Counterpart's Children's Education in IDP Communtiies project.
Read this story's coverage in Azerbaijan's national newspaper.