Local sale of international handicrafts helps prevent cancer

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FARMINGTON – Hundreds of hand-crafted items made by women from Africa, Brazil, Guatemala, India, Palestine, Peru and Vietnam will be on sale Saturday, Oct. 25 from 9 am to 2 pm and Sunday, Oct. 26 from noon to 3 pm in the Bass Room at Franklin Memorial Hospital.

Proceeds from the sale will provide women in the remote mountainous regions of Nicaragua with access to preventive screenings for cervical and breast cancer, said Dr. Connie Adler, a local obstetrician who has been working for years with the Maria Luisa Ortiz Women’s Cooperative Clinic in Mulukuku to provide health care to families living in rural Nicaragua.

It’s the third year Adler has worked with Babbie Cameron of Wilton to raise funds for the Nicaraguan health clinic. It’s the first year they have extended the “World Marketplace” to two days, Cameron said, who has spent her life as a fund raiser for social justice projects from around the world.

Cameron notes that the handcrafted items being sold – baskets, beadwork, batiks, lacquered bowls, clothing for adults and children, jewelry, olivewood candlesticks, table linens, toys and much more – are made by women who receive a fair wage and work under humane conditions – conditions that are approved by the Fair Trade Federation. (See: www.fairtradefederation.org )

Dr. Connie Adler, third from left standing, and the clinic staff after they received money for the ambulance following the first fund raiser.

“Not only is the rate of cervical cancer in Nicaragua higher than the rate of breast cancer, it is one of the highest among women in Central America,” Adler said. While cervical cancer is a disease that kills 290,000 women a year worldwide; it is a disease that is almost always preventable provided it is caught in time and treated, she added.

The fund raiser coincides with screenings for cervical and breast cancer available to insured and uninsured women in the Farmington area on Saturday, Oct. 25 from 9 am to 2 pm in the new medical office building adjoining the hospital. Jennifer McCormack R.N. of the Healthy Community Coalition, which is co-sponsoring the screenings with Franklin Memorial Hospital, says to schedule an appointment for that day call 779-2405 or 1-800-398-6031.

“By holding the two events on the same day in neighboring locations, we are hoping to attract more women to our twice yearly women’s health day,” McCormack said, adding that the coordinated events can’t but help increase awareness of the preventability of the disease.

Adler noted that despite the fact that the population of adult women in Nicaragua is only about twice that of the state of Maine, the rate of death from cervical cancer in Nicaragua is 10 times that of Maine. (Of the 55 women diagnosed with cervical cancer in Maine annually only 15 die; of the 809 diagnosed annually in Nicaragua, 354 die.)

In the past, proceeds from the event went toward the purchase of an ambulance for the clinic in Mulukuku, a town the size of Farmington. Last year the proceeds enabled the clinic to serve villages which are only reachable by horseback or on foot.

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