Our hospital project begins... Cindy's blog Nov 1 2017


Building our hospital.

Since all of you reading this are actively involved in spreading the word,  I thought our blog readers would like an update. On Wed. Oct 25 we hosted Calstone’s kick-off events for the fundraising project to build the hospital in Nebaj. The two people spearheading the project in Nebaj are Dr Juan Pablo and his wife Carolina Astorga and they were being hosted in Toronto by Missionary Ventures Canada’s Brad Wilson and Bob Pauw (who has been to Nebaj to build 9 times!).

They arrived at Calstone early in the morning and we were very excited to have them for the day. After we got to know them over coffee, Jim toured them through the manufacturing facility and Carolina was immediately drawn to a sample lift desk we had in the showroom. She got so excited, as many of the women in her community are so tiny that a standard table is too high for them. She told us that right now, if the women want to sew, they sit on two chairs stacked on top of each other-not a great solution!

After the tour Juan Pablo and Carolina sat down with Annie, our designer, and we discussed what furniture Calstone could supply them with now to be used in the old clinic or for the sewing rooms and eventually be moved into the new hospital. For these humble people who are used to having nothing, watching them realize that we could provide them with what they need and have only dreamed about was just wonderful to experience with them.

Carolina could have sat all day and described what furniture would be needed but a lovely lunch awaited them so Annie decided we had enough to get started with and would work on our first shipment to Guatemala.  Waiting for them at lunch was all of the office staff, the Stronks family, who started Calstone on this mission and Jeff and Jerry from Dehnco, our partner in this venture.

After lunch,  Jim and Jeff both gave speeches on how excited Calstone and Dehnco are to be partnering with Missionary Ventures Canada and how our staff and customers are embracing the project. Carolina and Juan Pablo were presented with our initial cheques and to them it must have seemed like a fortune. Carolina assured us that now they would be able to pour the rest of the first floor to complete it. Once that was done, they could build walls!!

Carolina and JP then gave us a presentation on life in Nebaj. It was eye-opening. They described the local culture.  The men and women still wear traditional clothing. Hand-weaved huipils (blouses), cortes (skirts) and faja (belt) for women, and the traditional traje for men (which includes colorful pants with a mismatched and equally colorful ‘skirt’ or ‘apron’ around the waist.) You can tell what city or town a woman is from by the design of her blouse. Spanish is their second language — with an indigenous Mayan language such as kaqchikel or K’iche as their first (over 21 Mayan languages are still spoken in Guatemala). Many of the people speak at least three or four languages

Poverty in Guatemala is widespread and severe. About 75% of the population lives below the poverty line. Many patients do not wish to seek care from public health providers due to: cost, mistrust of the provider and poor quality of services. There is a great need for medical services, especially for young children as 16% of infants suffer from low birth weight and 50% of all children are malnourished.

There is hope and JP and Carolina are leading the way!  The hospital is needed and Calstone and Dehnco will do what it takes to get it completed. We are going to talk to our customers and associates and see what they can bring to the table and all the cash they raise will be met by both our companies. Annie is working on our first container of furniture and we will use it to see how much red tape is involved it getting it all the way to Nebaj. We have already started talking about JP and Carolina’s next visit. They want to see snow but don’t realize how winter can mess up a tight schedule!.

In the meantime, I will keep you posted on all of the developments. I hope to have pictures of Calstone’ furniture sitting prominently in a completed first floor one day very soon!