Building on the relationships we have established, we returned to Nicaragua April 12 - 20th to check in on previous projects and explore how else we may be able to help farmers and their families in need. We are happy to report that overall the economy is performing well and increased foreign investment is evident in the many new factories that have be been built in the free trade zones. Formal employment options, albeit at low wages, have increased considerably, but subsistence agriculture remains the reality for many Nicaraguans.
In the coming weeks we will profile four communities where we think we can make a difference in rural Nicaragua by giving a hand up, not a hand out. They are:
1) Investing in a Successful Team: The Self Help Group of El Triunfo
2) Get Your Hands Dirty: Join in the Refurbishment of Two Classrooms at Ciudalela San Martin
3) A Promising Community with a Water Problem: El Jicarito
4) Navigating Community and Individual Interests: The Next Phase for Pedro Arauz
For each community we will introduce the people and explain their stories in words, pictures and video. Our goal is to raise awareness and modest funding to support the priorities that have been established by each community. Our contributions will include financial support, expertise, donated materials and equipment and labour.
Many people have expressed an interest in participating in a service trip. Some of the opportunities we present are well suited for a team to travel to Nicaragua by a small group. Based on the level of interest and success with fundraising, we envision a trip, suitable for families, in the November/December 2017 timeframe.
The family pictured above is that of Digna and Eduardo Castillo who were featured in the film The Best of What We Are. We are happy to report that that things are improving for them. After participating in the welding training provided by Winds of Change, both Digna and Eduardo have been hired to help construct the metal framing at the new adobe school at El Jicarito and build metal doors for the school at Ciudalela San Martin. In addition, their small farm has become a model in their community with a new irrigation system, designed by students at the University of Toronto, supporting low impact, organic farming. They are also in the process of implementing a "Bio Digester" that will turn manure into fertilizer and gas for cooking - thus reducing the need to gather wood for cooking. While visiting with them we discussed the potential to plant the remainder of their land with fruit trees and hardwood to help feed the family and provide a retirement income down the road.
Their gratitude for the assistance provided by Winds of Change was evident in the warm welcome they provided us. Their tenacity and resolve is evident in their eyes. They are a strong, determined family, and a wonderful representation of the families we continue to meet in Nicaragua.