Friday, October 15, 2010

Our first project---rejected!

Just kidding! Really it was rejected, but only because we were trying so hard to stay in our budget. Our projects go into the European Humanitarian Specialist in Frankfurt. They have given us a budget for the rest of the year....then in January we get a new amount to start spending. This is a budget for area projects, not including the churches major initiatives, wheelchairs, vision, neo-natal, food and clean water.
   We submitted a project this week for our local hospital. It was built during the time that Croatia was part of Yugoslavia and under Communism. It's old, ugly, depressing and I'm quite sure that people go there to die, not to get better, It's all socialized medicine here, so the government is suppose to supply the hospitals with basics, but according to the head nurse, "bed sheets are always on the back of the list, they should be at the top of the list, but they are not". They asked for 800 sheets, That was way more than we could afford with our tiny year end budget, but we told her that we would do what we could.
   First step, find out where to buy bed sheets and then how much do they cost?  We found a vocational high school that has set up an amazing factory as part of their program. It's right here in Varazdin. They make good high quality bed sheets. As part of their programs they integrate  disabled kids. In the sewing program they have about 17 disabled people that work for a wage, they also hire one on one aides to help them and they produce amazing products. Not just sheets, but uniforms for police, firemen, medical personnel, environmental friendly handbags, florescent vests for the school children here to wear on their way to school, and environmental friendly diapers. We were given a tour of the whole facility and were very impressed. They quoted us about $10.00 a sheet. The very best quality material that will withstand many washings. We put in a request to Frankfurt  to buy 150 sheets. Immediately they responded with a rejection. We will only approve this project if you increase the amount to 300 sheets. We will find the money somewhere! Can you believe it! We were so excited! I can't wait to go back to the hospital and tell them that we can put the order into the school. It's such a win, win project. The hospital benefits, the school benefits and we are absolutely thrilled with our first little area project!
   We also submitted another project for the Banja Luka, Bosnia, Red Cross soup kitchen. The church put in a new commercial grade refrigerator and a huge gas soup cooker for them last year. When we went to see how they were doing with a wheelchair project that is coming up here soon we asked if we could see the soup kitchen. We discovered that the stoves were thirty years old and pretty much they were functioning on two or three burners. They were pretty much a mess. We tracked down a local supplier of commercial restaurant equipment and negotiated a price. Then we wrote the project and submitted it to Frankfurt . It was also approved! So now we are really official with two projects moving forward!
This is the Red Cross Director (dark hair in back) and the cute cooks that are the real back bone of the kitchen.

These stoves are thirty-plus years old. The ovens haven't worked for years. The one in the back with stuff on it hasn't worked at all for the last 10 years. We are replacing the one in the back with a new electric commercial stove with an oven. Then we are putting in a new gas stove top to replace the ones in front. There is always more need than money, but they are so grateful for any thing we can do! These people serve over 250 FAMILY MEALS a day! For some it is the only meal they get all day. 
   Also this week we had a tour of some of the Caraitas facilities. The director was so pleased to show us all of the work that they have done. And I think we have found a good solid partner. We saw a day care facility for disabled people. It is a newly built, modern facility, with hydro-therapy, individual study areas for teaching, a beautiful room for relaxation a calming therapies. He called it their "Pearl" and it really was an amazing place. They didn't need any help. They were doing just fine with that one.

Jim and I with the President of Catholic Relief Organization Caratis.
This is their beautiful "Pearl" It really is a lovely facility. I see why they are so proud of it!
 We went to a drug store that they run, it isn't so much prescription drugs, socialized medicine, but an over the counter type store that supplies things that they can get without a doctors prescription. They serve about 5,000 people a year, including many Roma. They needed wheelchairs, canes, walkers and cash donations. We can help with wheelchairs, canes and walkers, but the church typically does not do cash donations. Then we went to the soup kitchen. It is in the center of Varazdin in a very old and dilapidated building that was probably built in like the 1700's or something...really old! They serve almost 300 meals a day out of the kitchen, also they distribute food boxes. The people have a choice. they can stay and eat their or they can take the food home and share it with their families. We have one member that eats there every day. He said he gets a small pension from the government, it covers his housing costs and leaves him about $30.00 a month for food. We hear this story from others..over and over. These pictures I took will tell the rest of the story. Lot's of work to do here. This year we hope to get them a new potatoe peeler and a new stove. On Monday we are going to Zabreb to a restarant supply place to get a quote. Maybe we will have to choose. One or the other depending on cost.
This is the potato peeler in Varazdin soup kitchen. It's thirity plus years old.

Caritus cooks in the soup kitchen.

One of the cooks here in Varazdin... the stoves are VERY old. We want to do whatever our budget will let us. 

This is one of the cute little volunteers that goes and picks up fresh fruits and vegetables.

More of the soup kitchen in
Varazdin. They get bread donated by local bakeries We would love to buy them a commercial grade oven, but I'm afraid
that it won't be on this years budget.
   We got interviewed by the police last week for our Visa's and yesterday we got what we think is a notice to come in and pay money and get the Visa stamp. It's all in Croatian, so we aren't really sure. So today we went into the police station again, paid $200. and each got a stamp on our passports! We now are official and have our Visas. It feels really good to have that done.  The interview went something like this. "So, Mr. Erickson, what have you done all your life in America?" Jim...long list of his jobs,  Da, Da, Da,  yes,yes yes, Mrs. Erickson, what have you done? Well, we have eight children and for the last 38 years I've taken care of my family. Never worked outside of our home....His jaw dropped and shock registered! How strange it is for them that we would first have 8 children, and 2nd that Jim was able to support that large of a family without a second income. People here have maybe 1 child and mom and dad both have to work full time just to provide the neccecities. We are a strange animal to them! How blessed I've been in my life!
   We are looking forward to a fun Preparation day with our friends that are the office couple in Slovenia. They are coming and staying overnight and then we are going to do some sight seeing tomorrow. It will be nice to visit with them, we are very excited that they are coming! Yeah! People that really speak ENGLISH!!! 


cynphil6 said...

Hooray! It sounds like you are having a great time! I am so happy this dream has been realized for you and Jim!

laurie said...

Keep up the great work my friend! Miss you!

Noemi said...

Hooray for approved projects! I'm glad you're getting somewhere. Keep up the good work! :)