Friday, April 15, 2011

From Managua to Jalapa: Nicaragua

On March 27, we took a 7 hour bus to travel from the Costa Rica Center
to Managua, the capital of Nicaragua. Sadly, on Monday, as we were
about to begin the activities for the week, we found out that Peter´s
mom was in the hospital on life support. Our morning activity was
cancelled, as the whole group was shaken by this news. During the
afternoon, most of the students went to a museum in Managua, while
Peter waited on news about his mom. During the evening, we found out
that she passed away, and Peter left that night to return to the
United States and be with his family. Needless to say, the whole
group was deeply affected by this death and Peter´s departure. Please
keep Peter and his family in your prayers as they go through this
difficult time.

The next day, Tuesday, we began to follow the normal plan for the
week. In the morning, we visited a community made of members affected
by the agricultural chemical Nemagon. This chemical was used by large
U.S. agricultural companies such as Dole during the 70´s and 80´s
throughout the world, and it was known to have many harmful effects on
those who used it. The individuals in this community had all been
affected by physcially by the use of this chemical, yet have never
received compensation or justice. The next day we met with
individuals from PAC, a development organization started by World
Relief that continues to work in Nicaragua. Here, we learned about
PAC´s efforts to help farmers through financial services and training.
Additionally, PAC ensures that all their coffee producers are fair
trade certified, and they help with the exportation of the coffee.
That afternoon (Wednesday), we visited the U.S. embassy in Managua.
There, we discussed many different things with the embassy
representatives, including Nicaraguan politics, immigration, violence,
and free trade. On Thursday we talked with an official from the FSLN,
the political party that currently controls the presidency in
Nicaragua. We also met with an agency that promotes business
investment in Nicaragua, and a representative from an organization
working to stop the spread of AIDS in Nicaragua.

Following our time in Managua, we spent a few days living at a farming
cooperative near the city of Grenada. On our way there, we stopped at
a beach and had a talk with an important author whose son and brother
died under the repression in Argentina. She moved to Nicaragua at the
start of the Sandinista revolution in the 1980´s in hope of the change
that this revolution brought. At the farming cooperative near
Grenada, we learned about many of their efforts to combine sustainable
living practices with ecotourism. They also put on a cultural
presentation for us, and many of us spent hours dancing afterwards
with the people of this rural Nicaraguan village... it was truly a
moment of cultures blending together, and quite entertaining to watch.

We are currently staying in Jalapa, in the northern part of Nicaragua.
Jalapa is located at the foothills of a coffee-growing region, and
here, we are learning more about the work that PAC (mentioned earlier)
does in Nicaragua. Tomorrow we will be leaving for our next
destination... all this traveling is keeping the group busy and tired,
but we are excited to see new things.

Aaron Korthuis

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