Boa viagem…..

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A final wave from Rosalba as she and Joe (VinB Chair) begin their journey to North East Brazil.

Martin our volunteer who has worked so hard to get the micro loan project up and running is leaving Cristino Castro in the near future and returning home to the Czech Republic. Timely, VinB trustees thought, for Joe to meet the families who  have received loans, find a successor to Martin and set up a support group to oversee and develop the scheme. During the visit they will have the opportunity to assess and  oversee repairs to the storm damaged Boa Esperanca, which is used by VinB volunteers. Before making the ten hour coach journey to Cristino Castro the pair will spend a few days in Teresina relaxing and catching up with family and friends.

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Great start with a VinB micro loan

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As you can see brothers Valdglan and Valdgley have  wasted no time in using their  VinB loan to get their chicken rearing unit  up and running. Martin ( VinB loan co-ordinator) visited them recently and it is good to know that the brothers are getting support from the local agricultural college and have set a high standard for the welfare of their chickens.

It’s wonderful to see our young entrepreneurs with smiles on their faces!!

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Much more than green shoots

It’s always a delight to catch up and experience again  the warmth and enthusiasm of Fabiana and Similde. Join them as they  walk us round their impeccable market  garden and discuss their ideas for further development.

A few months ago they used a VinB micro loan to install a mechanical irrigation system on their market garden,which  enabled them to increase  production and  improve the standard of living for  themselves and their two young daughters.

If making a difference to families in this way appeals then you can learn more about how the micro loan system works, and contact us if you wish to get involved.

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Changing lives the VinB way

The latest micro loan project update arrived in the VinB office this week.  This always causes a great deal of excitement as staff are keen to follow the progress of the smallholders that are fast becoming part of our family.

… some projects are running smoother than others; some are faster and others slower. We have to treat each case individually. Although there are some delays at some projects, we have to understand that nothing is quick in Brazil! We have to be patient and encourage the recipients to do their maximum to repay a loan on an agreed date. In my opinion, the micro financing is definitely changing the lives of local people!  

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Smallholders that we are supporting:

Miguel used his loan to purchase a small herd of cattle.  Despite the setback of a grass fire last year, Martin reports that Miguel is confident that he will repay the loan in January, 2014.

Similde and Fabiana used the loan to install a mechanical irrigation system on their vegetable plot;  greatly improving  productivity.  They told Martin that one of the advantages is that they now  have  more time to do things with their two young daughters!

Neto,  an  experienced  chicken farmer used his loan to create a purpose built  chicken rearing unit closer to the family home.

Raul is using his loan to extend his chicken rearing unit. The increased income is vital to paying to support his two sons at university!

Brothers Valdglan and Valdgley and fellow student Denis from the local Agricultural College are using their loans to develop chicken rearing units as part of their college studies.

Find out more about how VinB operates the micro loan scheme in North East Brazil.

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Helping hand for brothers

Our latest micro loan is particularly exciting because it is the first loan to support students of the College of Agriculuture in Cristino. The loan is for £700.00 and will give Valdglan and his brother the opportunity to learn the ins and outs of running a small commercial project that hopefully will develop into a sustainable income. At the same time the college will provide support in the practical aspects of animal rearing.

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It gladdens the heart

Its wonderful to see that Similde and Fabiana have lost no time in using their micro loan to get their irrigation system up and going.

Children from St Mary’s school in Chipping have lent a helping hand with a micro loan and are busy growing their own vegetables and learning, through the contact with Similde and Fabiana, about the challenges of gardening in a very different climate!

I was wowed by the incredibly neat beds with not a weed in sight.

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Denis is ready to go….

Currently studying at the Agricultural College, Denis is the first student to receive a Micro Finance Loan. Here a rather  nervous Denis talks with Martin, our Coordinator, about himself and how he will use the loan.

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Raul receives a helping hand from the Slovakian community

Despite the extreme climate Raul works hard to make a living for his family through mixed farming which includes producing honey, growing beans and husbanding a small herd of cows and sheep.  He is about to receive a helping hand from a micro loan raised by the Slovakia community in London and as Raul is already registered with Caritas he has a regular outlet and will receive a fair price for his eggs.

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Micro loans making a difference

Neto is making great progress with the construction of his chicken shed, that will enable him to extend his flock and increase egg production on the farm. He had raised most of the finance himself and just needed a helping hand to finish it off. That’s were the students from Longridge High School came into the story. Inspired by the plight of farmers in North East Brazil and wanting to help they did some fund raising to support Neto and his family. Here he talks with Martin about his strategy for making the  shed last.

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New thinking helps farming communities

Escola Família Agrícola, translates to  Family School of Agricultural and is a new idea for supporting families  in rural communities. It also  plays an important role in the VinB volunteer programme in Cristino.  Once volunteers are accepted for a placement the agricultural school  acts as the guarantor and prepares the visa documentation, in return volunteers such as myself  teach English to the students.

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The college has a non-traditional approach to timetabling and to developing a supportive relationship with student and their families. The students alternate between two weeks of residential full time education and two weeks of home study. As the school name suggests this is to sustain the bond with home and family and provides the time and space for students to apply and share the skills and knowledge back on the home farm.

Though the focus is on agriculture and  animal husbandry (with some  agronomy),  the
students  learn  Portuguese, mathematics, geography and  chemistry and the  course concludes with an obligatory internship with an  agricultural company.

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The  school opened in 2008  and like other agricultural schools  belongs to the community and though  salaries and some funding is paid by the state, the  college  is always short of resources and looking for partnerships. As a relatively new school it is also working to build its reputation and to increasing student numbers. It is an initiative to support and encourage youngsters to stay and farm in  rural areas.

VinB’s  micro loan scheme is another initiative that contributes to the sustainability of farming in the rural areas around Cristino.  As co-ordinator I am excited to be involved in helping students to prepare business plans for a micro-loan.

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