JustHope and Federated began a partnership the end of 2011. JustHope submitted a proposal for the establishment of a project called “Stitching Hope” for Chacraseca, Nicaragua. Mission and Outreach accepted the proposal and this project was the recipient of the 2011 Christmas Eve offering. 

Federated’s Brenda Grauer helped design the first JustHope initiative, Stitching Hope. Implementation has begun and is well under way. This was to be just the first of what is planned to be multiple initiatives in Nicaragua with JustHope. 

Future initiatives may encompass 

• Educational opportunities 
• Clinical medical staffing 
• Agricultural production 
• Arts education and training 
• Infrastructure development 
• Small business training 

Relational Partnerships – A New Way Understanding of Mission - JustHope and Federated planned on an extended relationship of five years or more. It is based on a partnership with the people of Nicaragua that benefits all of the parties. A longer-term mission partnership enables time to create transformational change in the lives of all of its participants. This model fits well with the grassroots ministry style our governance structure encourages. It enabled Federated members and friends to choose from many ministry options and engage in any for which they have a passion.

The Stitching Hope project

The objective of the “Stitching Hope” program is to assist women in Chacraseca, Nicaragua in the development of a multi-faceted enterprise which will enable them to work together creating both fabric art articles for export and utilitarian items for local sale. It created a center where women work with quality machines and adequate materials. It also provides training for the women, equipping them with the business and financial tools they will need to market their products and run their business. 

Five goals of Stitching Hope: 
1. Provide opportunity for up to 30 women per center to work part time creating fabric art items and/or sewing items for export/local sales; provide additional jobs for an administrator and night guards 
2. Provide training for women in financial and business management 
3. Provide women a place to gather and engage in creative thinking and expression 
4. Provide capital for other women-focused projects 
5. Empower women; increase self-esteem and deepen women’s sense of self-worth, dignity, and capacity. 

More on Stitching Hope:

This women’s sewing enterprise in Chacraseca, Nicaragua was established with support from Federated’s 2011 Christmas Eve offering.  In 2017, Martine Scheuermann convened a small group of experts and previous participants to review the Stitching Hope project and process and to identify opportunities and challenges. With gratitude the group acknowledged the work of Bob Doxey as the original business coordinator as he retires, after more than eight trips to Nicaragua. Brenda Grauer, the teacher/founder of Stitching Hope continues her work at Ghost Ranch in New Mexico but remains involved on a limited basis as the women’s enterprise develops new product lines. There is lots of opportunity for Federated to continue in engaging and supporting this fledgling business.

Leslie Penrose, Executive Director of JustHope sends the following news: The women of Stitching Hope were busy all of January making uniforms for schools in Chacraseca. They were able to meet about half the needs with good quality work and hope to do more next year. They had to lower their price to compete with the sweatshops of Managua, but the local leaders want to buy from them. The women now have some training in silk screening so are able to do simple silk screening, putting school logos on gym clothes and making fun aprons. They have created beautiful painted t-shirts and identified screen print designs that will make them very marketable. Partners will be working with them all season to design T-shirts for various groups, plus general T-shirts that can be sold to groups of tourists in the nearby town of Leon. Right now they have a very effective partnership going with a local screen printer who is giving them a great price -- just $1 per shirt for one color prints. They are also wanting to try and learn to do this themselves.

Stitching Hope workers are exploring new fair trade products that might sell in the US that do not involve the challenges of size and style. These might include home goods such as tablecloths, runners, placemats, napkins and aprons. Making connections with outlets and tourist sites within Nicaragua as well as making sure partners are able to purchase some goods at semi annual-sales in Chagrin Falls are planned. Steady work means steady income, so that is an ongoing challenge.

If you feel called to find your place in this mission or travel to Chacraseca, please send a note of interest to Jim Squire, or Diane Tuuri,