Tuesday, December 13, 2011

You are still making a difference those who contributed....

Dear Contributors to the Massage Program at InanItah~

I admit, I didn't do a fantastic job of following up with photos or videos of the program. 

"Just because I didn't call doen't mean I'm not thinking of you."

In other words, the program is going really well and I want you to know you have made a real difference in the lives of many a person with your contributions and generosity from last years fundraiser.  THANK YOU!

Here is a link to the website and a video of some of the participants.  If you don't speak spanish, they are saying how grateful they are and how much more open they feel from doing the course.  And that they are super excited to be doing massage. 


Now, a year (and a month) later, we have 3 therapists who are working with InanItah at the hotels locally and doing clinics here for our community every week.  I am back here working with them and we just completed the 4th training together, exploring more deep tissue work! 

It's very fun for me to share and very fun for them to learn.  We are doing great together and I am seeing progress in their capacities as therapists. 
This year, in March, we will have a 200 hour training!!  More on that to come...
Thanks for all you are. 
Valerie Hope

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Two week training completed!

I am having a hard time believing that our class has ended, and that I'm not just having another Saturday between weeks of intensive coursework.
The entire thing went off without a hitch.
Twelve people of mixed backgrounds, languages, levels of education came together in a sacred space to learn the art of healing touch. And, they did...quite well. I don't know how they did it, but after just 65 precious hours together in a temple/classroom, they each have learned to give a full body swedish style massage freckled with some trigger point, reflexology, and thai yoga massage. I'm very proud of my creations (smile).
The photo here is taken from above on the roof of the temple. This is the formation we made with the tables everyday to practice.
The graduation ceremony was during the last hour of class yesterday. We circled around a table, which had 12 certificates of completion named for each of the participants, placed face down. There was a plate of handmade chocolates, one for each of us that had been prepared by some of the members of our community here at Inanitah. They toasted the cocoa pods and ground them down, added tapa dulce (something like raw sugar), and other tasty ingredients and WOW! instant chocolate high, pure and simple. Anyway, I digress.
Each of the participants turned one of the other certificates face up and presented it to them along with a chocolate. We danced, hugged, laughed and cried (ok, I was the only one who cried).
If the local participants are going to go further with the work, they will come here tomorrow and Gaia and I will detail them on the next steps before getting placed for work positions. We are thinking they will have to do around 20-30 clinic hours to continue practicing. This will mean that Gaia will arrange bodies to receive inexpensive massages. (think $3-5./hour). The piddly amount by US standards is actually an almost dangerously high amount of money for Ometepe residents. The standard working wage for physical labor, construction for men or washing clothes for women is about $1-3/hour. Once the students complete their clinical hours, complete with feedback forms, they will be placed at one of the hotels here that is looking for regular massage therapists. There, they will be able to make as much as $6-8/hour. Gaia asked me to return to teach more in the late winter/early spring and I am planning on it.
Now that we have tables to work from, there's lots of possibilities. Thank you.
Justin, our videographer, has taken lots of really cool video of the training and of the local students speaking to you in Spanish saying thank you. I am looking for a place to post these and will hopefully do so shortly.
Love pouring from my heart to yours.
Valerie Hope Cherrin

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

December 1, Day 8 of 10

I am blessed to be able to be a part of this experience. The students have quickly picked up on a full body Swedish style massage in 5 days. They became familiar with a combination of techniques in a pre-made protocol and have memorized and utilized them to give wonderful, relaxing hour long sessions. Days 7 & 8 were the beginning of deep tissue work. Day 7 went into working on the hips and low back, getting into specific points. Day 8 (earlier today) we did the shoulder girdle the same way. Pointing out specific techniques to open the shoulders and allow release. They were all so excited for this work, as so many of us carry deep stuff in the shoulders.
Tomorrow we will do some thai table work and if there is time spend an hour or so on some basic reflexology. Friday, our last day will be an opportunity for them to do a clinic, working on people outside of the class. New bodies! These people will mostly be workers around Inanitah, local men and women who do a lot of the construction and chores working for Paul and Gaia. At the end of that day, we will have a closing circle and "graduation" where they'll get certificates for the course and we can eat chocolate! :)
Justin is taking interviews with some of the students, which we will post either here or a link to it from here so you can see what they have to say about their experience.
Waves of gratitude coming your way...

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Week One Completed

This week has been a truly fulfilling experience for all involved. We have spent 8 hours a day, for the past 5 days in a sacred space of learning and connection. The intimacy that arises out of such a training is one that transcends the cultural and linguistic boundaries that often keep us separate.
There are 5 Nicaraguan folks taking the two week training who are on a scholarship. Then there are 5 estranjeros (foreigners) that are taking the course, and either paying full or partial work trade. Paul and Gaia, whose creation is Inanitah, and this cross-cultural massage course, are also participating. Two of the volunteers here at Inanitah, Angela and Justin, did an extensive interview process with many local people who were interested in participating. They chose the 5 that they thought would be the best fit for the course, based on reason for participation, willingness to work with and on strangers, availability for the class, and general vibes. The students who have been chosen are: Neftali, a 34 y.o ex-military guard for the president who now teaches Taekwando and guides tourists up the volcano. He is our class clown. Yolanda, 32 y.o woman who works for a wealthy dutch family as a nanny and has a 2 y.o of her own. She has a strong sense for the work, as if she's been doing it for years already. Ceinida, 28 y.o woman who is a gem of a person with a bright spirit. Roberto, 25 y.o man who want to find something steady for work. He seems to have a knack for massage as well.
Analicia, 18 y.o woman who is looking for something to forward herself.

The people they chose are so excited to be here and they will be asked to do somewhere between 25 and 30 clinic hours before being placed at local hotels. We are working out details of what's needed to make this a good experience for everyone involved. I won't be able to monitor most of the clinic hours, but I will probably be able to come back in April and do some more work with them after they've been practicing for a few months, and maybe start a new training as well.

The estranjeros who are in the course are: Angela, 25 y.o mexcian-american woman who is translator and living at Inanitah with her partner, Justin as the outreach coordinator. Simonea, a Swiss woman who is the gardener here at Inanitah and has been traveling for a year and a half throughout south and central america. Erika, a 30 y.o american woman whose been living here at Inanitah for 7 months as a volunteer. Pete, an 28 y.0 Brittish guy from one of the Islands in the channel who is also traveling indefinately, and James, an australian traveler with shoulder issues. Oh, and Paul is German and Gaia is American, but they've been living here in Nicaragua for the past 2+ years!
It's a really fun merging of folks.

The days look something like this: 7:30 - 8: yoga and meditation
8-9:30: topic of the day
9:30-9:45: break
9:45-12: Anatomy and Demo of practical work
12-1: lunch
1-3: Practice

The agreements we've made to create a sacred space are as follows:
*Honor one another and our differences
*Manage personal energy and take responsibility for oneself
*Listen with your heart to each person speaking
*Communicate with integrity, give clear honest feedback
*Begin and end on time
*Stay interested and ask questions
*Stay open
*Enjoy our co-created journey together!

I am learning so much spanish, and this is the most challenging aspect of the course; not being able to directly speak with the students. I mostly need a translator. I think I speak spanish least of anyone else here.
Ok, time to get a massage from one of my students.
With love,

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Massage Training day 3, pictures taken by Justin. Left corner, James and I working on Neftali.
Right top corner, the temple space where we are working. The view from inside the temple is of Volcan Conception. Below: Left: Me doing a demo for the class on shoulder work. Below Right: Shoulder work with Analisa on Angela. Last on bottom: Analisa massaging Angela.

**More stories and pics of the training coming soon. Internet connection here is hit or miss and uploading files takes a large bandwidth. Things are going really well. I find myself amazed by the sheer amount of information and attention that is given and received inside this space in the days we've been together. I am so grateful for having the opportunity to do this beautiful work.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Day 1: Massage Training @ Inanitah

We gathered inside the temple close to 8 a.m this morning. Angela, our primary translator for the course had walked to a nearby town to meet some of the local participants and guide them here. One of the men, Neftali, comes from Alta Gracia, about a 45 min walk from here. Most of the local participants have about a 30 min. walk to class. The folks from Inanitah were already standing around, chatting and waiting.
I was nervously walking between the temple space where the course would be held, the kitchen where people were gathered and the bathroom in attempts to get myself and the space together. When all of us came together, we were 13. We stretched, meditated and then went around the room introducing ourselves. The excitement in the room was palpable. Everyone was really happy to be taking their journey into the body.
We began with learning Thai yoga massage on floor mats. I felt elated just to watch them practicing with grace and ease by the time the class ended at 3 p.m.
I have discovered that my training for this class is going to be learning spanish!
Why did we start with Thai massage on the first day of class? The tables still weren't here. Customs has put them through a last minute "random check", which left Paulo, our hero who traveled the 3 hours to Managua to pick them up, S.O.L. They promised him that for the extra $100., they would make the check quicker. So today, they arrived on a truck in Rivas, the closest port on the other side of Lake Nicaragua. Currently, we are waiting for Paulo to arrive with a taxi full of massage tables at the bottom of the hill. It's dark, raining (has been all day), the roads are muddy, and everything is wet. Can you tell I'm not looking forward to hauling those tables up a muddy cobblestone hill in the dark, rain, and wind? As daunting as the task is feeling right now, I will be very relieved to have them arrived here safely. Tomorrow we can begin using them! And, those of you who donated the tables, the money, and the energy into making this happen will have arrived here with us.
I will be posting pictures soon. Sending gratitude and love your way. Muchos besos y abrazos~
Valerie Hope

Sunday, November 7, 2010

The start of something really cool!

Dear Generous Ones~
If you are reading this, it's because you have contributed in some way to making this project possible. It may have been financially, although it could have been some other action, or idea that you contributed. No matter how that contribution showed up~ Thank you!

Our project, and this is OUR project, launched out to you all on September 27th via email. From that day on, the response was like a waterfall of abundance! We have collected $1475.00 USD, 6 massage tables, and a lot of excitement! Kudos.

A special shout out goes to Wayne Dawson, massage instructor at Harris School of massage here in Wilmington for organizing a fundraiser with his students. They combined chair massage and pizza sales over a 3 hour night class to raise nearly $300. Great team work!

The tables were shipped off, with the help of Mark Rosenblatt (in the photo below) and his crew, to the FedEx depot in New Castle, DE and made their way to Miami, FL by truck. Then they were shipped by cargo freighter to the port in Managua, Nicaragua. From this point they will soon be picked up by Gaia and Paul, owners of InanItah: http://www.inanitah.com/ where the training will come to life.

The dates of the training are scheduled for the weeks of November 22-December 3. I will be doing my best to take pictures, write about the class, and if possible take video footage for you to experience the process virtually.

Where has the money gone so far? It cost about $675. to ship the tables FedEx. I have received word that the tables are being held at customs for the sum of $650. additional. Fortunately, you have contributed just enough to cover this unexpected cost. This is a learning process. None of us expected to be charged so much in customs fees. However, we will still have enough to purchase sheets, lotions, holsters and perhaps have a little extra to help pay for lunches during the course. More on the customs issue as it gets resolved.

In order to continue to receive updates on this blog, it's easiest if you will create a user account and "follow" the blog. If I'm doing this correctly, it means when I post something new, you will receive an email letting you know. I have one week left until I ship myself off to Nicaragua (or fly, rather) on November 14th. Till then, sending you lots of gratitude for being an empowering force in my life and the lives of all those I will teach, and the lives of all those they will touch.
Valerie Hope