14 days. 7 projects. Countless friendships.
As we reflect on our 2020 delegation, what stands out is the steady determination and resourcefulness of our Nicaraguan partners. Working on a wide range of issues-- economic development, women's rights, education, sustainable agriculture, conservation and climate change-- our partners empower the most marginalized and build sustainable communities in this beautiful country that they love.
But as they welcomed us into their homes, offices, schools and gardens, our partners also shared their fears and challenges. Ongoing political tension, rising poverty levels and decreased funding for the region have led to depleted resources and program cuts. The support of our PeaceWorks community is needed more than ever before.
And so we invite you to to share our journey, to be inspired, to get involved. People to people. New Jersey to Nicaragua.
FEDICAMP: Rural Farming Project
FEDICAMP works with rural communities in Northern Nicaragua, helping create potable water systems and providing support in sustainable organic agriculture and irrigation, reforestation and mitigating the impact of climate change. Highlights from our visit included:
- Touring the new well water distribution system being constructed in Rio Abajo to bring safe water to 120 families.
- Delivering $25K for water projects.
- Learning about new sustainable farming techniques being piloted in Riito Abajo and Ducualí Abajo, including experiments in crop diversification and organic pest management.
- Meeting with the FEDICAMP team to discuss possibilities for a solar powered riverside irrigation system in order to offset high electricity costs.
"The success of FEDICAMP's program is all the more impressive given the difficult environment. Almost all of its local funding has disappeared. With this, and European funders focus continuing to shift from the Americas towards Africa, funds from groups like PeaceWorks are even more important. More impactful still is the solidarity – the fact that we are in this together for the long run, in good times and bad." --Guy Talbot
Padre Fabretto Artesan Co-op and Cusmapa Community Development Association
PeaceWorks has a special relationship with these artisans who weave the exquisite pine needle baskets we sell at our events. In a region with intense poverty and few employment opportunities, the association helps harness growing tourism opportunities to provide livelihood for residents. Highlights of our visit included:
- Delivering $3000 for much needed housing repairs for association members.
- Discussing the group's plans to attract tourists to the nearby scenic outlooks, including furnishing an ecolodge and meeting space.
El Porvenir Coffee Coop
54 families form this organic coffee coop located high in the Maribios mountain range. In spite of countless challenges-- rough, sometimes impassable mountain roads, isolation, limited tools and electricity, no irrigation system and the disrupted weather patterns that come with climate change-- coop members continue to amaze us with their resourcefulness. Highlights of our visit included:
- Seeing that the coop has cultivated almost 120 acres, making organic fertilizer to increase production.
- Discussing a potential reforestation project to provide shade for some 24 acres of new, drought resistant coffee plants to be transplanted in June.
- Visiting the Jim Burchell Health Center, which provides basic services, including gynecological care, birth control, pediatrics, asthma treatment, and dental care when possible.
- Delivering $500 for the clinic.
- Discussing urgent need to repair and upgrade the health center's solar power system.
Juan Venado Sea Turtle Conservation
This conservation project protects the endangered sea turtles that nest on Nicaragua's Pacific Coast, while providing employment by hiring local families to monitor the beaches and bring vulnerable eggs to the turtle nursery. Highlights from our visit included:
- Hearing about recent successes-- the turtle nursery hatched and released 16,185 turtles last year!
- Taking a boat ride through the mangrove forests and learning how this vital ecosystem is being restored and protected.
"On the day of our visit, we met one hatchling. It was amazing to hold her and feel her instinctual pull toward the ocean. We set her down and watched her determined progress to the water. The waves pulled her in and threw her back a few times, but finally, she was gone." --Susan Steiner
Inhijambia Project for Street Kids
Inhijambia works with the children that live and work on the streets of Managua, providing educational, social and recreational opportunities as well as basic necessities, like showers, clean clothes and healthy food from their farm project. Highlights from our visit included:
- Seeing Inhijambia in action as we visited children and families in Managua's huge Eastern Market.
- Visiting Inhijambia's Center and being treated to dance and choral performances by the children!
- Hearing about the desperate need for housing among many of the youth and their families. Inhijambia is hoping to raise enough money to build six small houses on land they've just acquired.
- Visiting the farm project, now in its fourth year with steady harvests of corn, peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, sweet potato, papaya and melon. The farm also produces poultry, and has started to raise tilapia, which provides an important protein source for the children.
- Hearing about plans to increase chicken and egg production and construct tilapia farming tanks to provide added nutrition and extra income for the project.
"Because children produce income for their families, a material incentive is needed for them to allow their children to attend Inhijambia and school. One family sells fried plantains at a stall in the market and Inhijambia is working with them to allow their 9 year-old boy to come to their program but he cannot go until his work is done. This little boy was in tears as he told us that the best time he had is when he is at Inhijambia." --Maggie Joralemon.
Chispa de Vida Center for Children with Disabilities
Located within a beautiful, forested nature preserve, the center provides physical and occupational therapy and special education for children with physical and developmental disabilities. In an area with few public services, Chispa de Vida provides desperately needed help and hope. Highlights of our visit included:
- Visiting the center, which provides services and special education for 40 children. Additional therapies include riding the project's rescue horses and weekly pool visits.
- Visiting the special education classes and being treated to a children's performance with vibrant costumes, singing and dancing.
- Discussing items needed in the next donation shipment, including wheelchairs, riding helmets, walkers and swim gear.
Axayacatl Women's Collective
The Axayacatl Women’s Collective in Masaya, promotes gender equality and women's rights, while supporting and empowering survivors of domestic violence and sexual abuse. Women in Nicaragua are particularly vulnerable to violence and often have little hope of being protected by the justice system. The Axayacatl team provides a life line to these women and their families and empowers women economically through their rural development program. Highlights of our visit included:
- Touring the beautiful new Women's Center, which will provide office space, an emergency shelter area, classroom space for workshops, and a calm environment for a range of therapeutic services.
- Visiting the rural economic development projects where women have learned gardening skills and have received seeds, tools, pigs and chickens to helps support their families.
- Learning about the current political tensions impacting Axayacatl and other women's groups. Increased government scrutiny and distrust has led to delays in programming and decreased funding.