Tuesday, July 22, 2008

¡Hola amigas y amigos!

Greetings from the sunny (as opposed to rainy!) cool breeze environment of Managua. I’m sitting in my office with all three windows wide open and enjoying the beautiful greenery in front of me! The last time I wrote it was our Fourth of July and yesterday we celebrated the big liberation day of Nicaragua. The 19th of July in 1979 was the triumph of the people over the dictatorship of Somoza. There were LONG speeches and lots of horn blowing and music. Everybody took a break and enjoyed the day so important to them.

Since I last ‘blogged’ I have had a variety of experiences which included a couple of days of vacation during which I actually saw the Pacific Ocean for the first time since I’ve arrived. I also came to know two representatives of our Spanish benefactors. The folks who generously support us with grants for projects usually come to visit to appreciate what’s being accomplished. This group has a Jesuit base and is called ALBOAN. This word is Basque (northern Spain) and means ‘walking at the side of’. Now that certainly fits! They indeed do walk at the side of sisters and brothers who are growing and developing their own future. I was particularly pleased by the way Fernando explained how spirituality fits into our entire program. That’s what I’ve been working with!!

Javier and Nora were delightful to be with, and last Sunday we made our way to a rural community, Las Parcelas, where we met in the one room school and the folks shared the projects they were pursuing. We had a very good “snack” which was more like a meal and then went to visit the seventeen beehives that several of our young people manage. We stayed at quite a distance!! These bees are African bees and get ‘irritated’ pretty readily!! Next month, we have fifteen folks from France coming to visit us. We’re very international!

One of the more ludicrous things that happened occurred when we picked up
some of our folks as we were going to our monthly meeting of our community leaders. You’ll remember that I mentioned the pregnant cow, chicken and seed projects last time I wrote. Well,there’s another aspect to this program and it has to do with pigs.

They’ve worked at improving the breed
of pigs and when mama pig has her litter, they are weaned, shared and/or sold to others in the community. The new owners in turn keep the project going when they have a litter. Well, it seems that the last of the eleven pigs, one named Muneco (Doll), of Mama Pig was being taken to our rural community to be shared with a young, single mom. Of course, Muneco traveled with the folks in the bed of the pick-up truck. He had been scrubbed to within an inch of his pink existence and the owner was not about to have him soiled upon arrival so she diapered him, put him squealing and screeching into a sturdy bag and then hoisted him into the truck. I felt bad for the little critter! Here he was being taken from his mother, tied up, embarrassingly diapered and then ‘sacked’! Well he arrived clean and quiet, and then proceeded to lay down refusing to move for most of our meeting. One never is quite sure what each day will bring!

It’s not at all boring and I’m enjoying the novelty of each day. There is no “usual” day! Well, enough for now. Will check in later. Feel free to comment or ask questions when you read the blog. I’ll be sure to answer!

Thanks for your support and interest.

Your sister,


Friday, July 4, 2008

Feliz Dia

Well, today is the Fourth of July and I can just imagine the celebrations of my ‘blog followers’ who are citizens of the United States of America. Hopefully, wherever you are, the weather is being gracious and you’re enjoying a relaxing long weekend.

Here in Nicaragua my colleagues are aware of the day and have been wishing me a “feliz dia”. The weather has been cooperative today so far. That means that so far it hasn’t rained. I managed to get my clothes washed and dried this morning which is a good thing and not always easy to accomplish during this season here.

This evening we will be celebrating at our conference center which is a short distance outside of Managua. It is a “despedida” (farewell) for a group of art therapists from the States who have been here for three weeks and have been working with our children, youth and teachers in the city and rural areas. They’ve been staying with families in the area where they are contributing their services. These folks – 14 artists and 2 leaders - are from all over the U.S. Everyone is so pleased with what they’ve been able to accomplish during their short time here. The children have produced wonderful paintings and most recently they have painted murals on the outside walls of the schools. I’ll try to send some photos of their work in the near future.

The coordinator of this endeavor, Lynn Kapitan, has been doing this for several years. She teaches art therapy at a college in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. She’s a great woman and it has been a joy to have her with us. She did a four day workshop on Spirituality and Leadership. It was super! Another woman has joined her, a former member of this endeavor, and will accompany the four artists who are remaining for one more week, as Lynn is also leaving tomorrow. Creusa is Brazilian who has lived in Montreal, Canada, for ten years. She speaks incredible Spanish, English, Portuguese and French!! She too, is a lovely woman and so easy to be with.

As we celebrate our Independence, Day I’m so aware of how ‘unfree’ some of us still are. In some ways my Nica friends, though they lack a great deal of what we consider important, have a freedom about themselves that I don’t always witness in myself and others who are of ‘the land of the free’. They dream of a better life and go about trying to accomplish this, albeit with the amount of poverty that exists, it’s very difficult. However, their hope won’t quit and their joy in the midst of the struggle is admirable. They encourage us and together we keep on walking toward a better future.

Most recently I received news of the death of an elderly friend who had struggled with many physical limitations all of her life. Lois’ spirit was incredible and she joyfully made her way through life with the help of crutches, leg braces and a white cane to indicate her very limited eyesight.

When she died she had $1,000.00 in her bank account which she wanted to go to ‘the hungry’. This money will be used for purchasing: a pregnant cow - a set of 5 chickens, 1 rooster, fencing and screen – 100 pounds of bean seeds and 100 pounds of corn seeds! Yes, the hungry will be fed and poor farmers and their families will share what they have and also move into the future with a bit more hope, because seeds multiply, pregnant cows give birth to calves, calves grow up and produce more calves and chickens produce eggs, meat and more chickens etc. etc. etc. And so life gets a little bit better!

Adios for now!

Your sister,