Etta Projects Connect South Kitsap to Bolivia

Tomorrow, a group from South Kitsap will take off for Montero, Bolivia, on a humanitarian aid trip that keeps alive the memory of Etta Turner, a South Kitsap teen who died while she was an exchange student in Bolivia. The trip will, among other assistance, provide dental care to children and adults who have never sat in a dental chair in their lives. The story will run tomorrow in the Kitsap Sun.

Etta Projects is a nonprofit organization established in memory of Etta Turner, who died in 2005 at age 16 while traveling with friends on a bus. The driver fell asleep, and the bus went off a cliff. Etta and six Bolivians were killed.

Etta Turner

In 2003, Etta’s mother, Pennye Nixon-West, helped establish a feeding center for impoverished children in La Floresta, one of the poorest neighborhoods in Montero. Comedor de Ninos Etta Turner operates with help from Etta’s family and friends, Rotary clubs in North and South America, and the Salesian Catholic Church in Montero whose priest was also Etta’s principal. Etta II opened in 2005 in Pampa de la Madre, a rural section of Montero. Together the two centers feed 240 children daily and train their mothers in skills that lead to gainful employment.

Among the aid provided by Kitsap residents traveling to Bolivia, some group members – including features editor Barb Willock – will teach mothers of the children arts and crafts. Barb, who is a weaver when she’s not putting together the features section, will teach knitting.

Handicrafts are more than just a hobby for the women of Montero; they’re a source of livelihood. In an economy where a few dollars a day can mean the difference between chronic hunger and adequate nutrition, learning to knit can help a mother feed a family.

The group is undeterred by a travel advisory issued for Bolvia in September by the U.S. State Department. Protests against the central government have led to clashes between authorities and protesters. Nixon-West, who has a house in Bolivia, has updated the group on developments, recently deeming it safe for travel.

Safe trip to you all. Feel free to send e-mail updates to me at chenry@kitsapsun.com.

For more information visit Etta Projects Web site.

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