We left Mindelo for Praia, the capital city of Cape Verde, on the island of Santiago. Our hotel--and, the beach across the street—and, Kennedy, (we call him Mr. President) one of the nicest young men you could ever meet. Kennedy served his mission for the LDS Church in Praia two years ago. He had just finished the Work Skills Workshop and hopes to help other young people prepare for employment. One of the trials young people like Kennedy face in Cape Verde is lack of employment. Hopefully, the workshop will help these young people stand apart from “all the rest” as they seek the few jobs available on the Islands. Another advantage is speaking English. Ashby and the Church also offer English classes for young adults who wish to learn.
The LDS Chapel in downtown Praia is not the most attractive building around, but it is one of the most interesting. Upstairs, above the 2nd floor meeting house for two Branches, is the “Fishermen’s Association.” (There just may be some irony in that title.) And, just pass the entrance ---in the lower level-- is a gymnasium. OK, this may not be one of the most attractive church buildings, but once inside, it is everything the members need. But things are about to change. Just ten minutes away is a new building, almost completed. The members hope to move in at the end of October. A third building is scheduled to begin in 2009 about 30 minutes outside of Praia. A fourth and fifth building are about an hour away, near the center of the island.
In Praia, people line up for miles to sell their fruit and vegetables. Many sell clothes shipped to them in barrels from a family member in Europe or the U.S. Venders out number buyers fifty-to-one. Actually, we saw only a hand full of people who were buying anything. But, this is the way of life here. Venders sit all day, waiting for one or two customers. This lady, a member of the LDS Church, mends used clothes on her antique, peddle Singer Sewing machine, to sell at the market. She receives clothes from a family member in the U.S., mends them, and displays them on a blanket around her. An important marketing skill in Praia is finding the right location. There are “prized” stalls and spots in the many rows of displayed goods. A good business person will save enough money to rent a more prized stall. In Mindelo, Ashby Foundation has developed a project to ship containers of used clothes from the U.S. for women to buy at a minimal price. This room in Mindelo shows the clothes that are available-- waiting to be purchased and prepared to sell. Ashby’s goal is to provide a space within this small apartment for two sewing machines and laundry facilities, so a selected group of women can mend, clean and iron clothes in preparation for the market. They plan to select women with little or no income, to use the facilities and machines to start their own businesses. Ashby hopes to teach these women business skills, while helping them learn to save money and care for their families. The young woman above runs the facility and teaches other women business skills. Ashby hopes to take this idea to Praia. This project is sensitive to the culture of the islands and designed to help women develop their own small businesses while learning skills to help provide for their families. That’s why we like it. It teaches self-reliance practices that fits their culture. In Praia, we visited and chatted with older members of the community. Elder Durrance won the hearts of these three women while I took pictures of our friends below. They called me the “magic lady” when they saw their faces on my small digital camera. We visited three more schools to pass out school kits to some of the cutest children on earth--almost as cute as our grandchildren. Sister Neves, the Mission President’s wife, and Elder & Sister Lopes—helped present another 130 kits. To everyone who contributes to the Humanitarian Program, “Thank you.” You’re the heroes who made all this possible.