Summer 2010 - The Harvest Center in Nicaragua
I spent two weeks in Nicaragua visiting churches and projects. Heavier than normal rain has made access difficult to some areas. Here are some highlights:
River trip to the Miskitu Indian community of Tungla for water project planning and to deliver a “Proclaimer” New Testament recording in Miskitu. I was really glad to learn that they hear the radio broadcast we sponsor even as far up river as they are. The community has a natural spring which supplies drinking water during the dry season. We plan with the community to install a small tank to allow them to use the spring water more efficiently and hygienically.
Working out of the base site distributions of: food and school supplies to the children’s ministries, hygiene kits to the prison in Granada. These goods go out to support ongoing ministries of local churches here. It is a big encouragement to them to receive help that compliments their ongoing ministries. One of our rules of engagement is to always enhance local effort, not replace it!
Also at the base site worked on housing bathrooms and the road access. The goal is be able to house at least a few volunteers there as soon as possible as well as continue to make the site more useful for storage and distribution.
Valeria Lopez and her crew continue to work with women’s sewing groups. The group of five in Managua is cranking out ladies handbags and working on a marketing plan to sell them in Costa Rica and the USA. They have improved the quality and the design greatly in the last few months. Look out Gucci! There are three groups in the rural communities around Somotillo. Valeria and I met with one of the preachers they sent to Managua with samples of the clothing that they are making. They are making mostly simple children’s clothes for local use. Valeria and her team will visit these groups in September to continue with a series of Bible studies and training activities.
Digging a Little Deeper
One of the things that has impacted me most on this trip traveling out in the tribal areas is how quickly the tribal lands are being sold to settlers from the Spanish speaking part of Nicaragua. It is the tribes themselves that are doing this of their own free will. The Miskitu have traditionally lived by hunting, fishing, and tending small plots of traditional crops. Although some of them are hard workers their culture generally doesn’t include a work ethic that would push them to get very much production out of the land. So the temptation to sell land and move to town is very great. Legally they can’t sell the land since it is owned communally by the tribe. In reality if they fence off and area and accept money from Mestizo settlers the local authorities won't kick the new arrivals off due to lack of resolve or fear of reprisal. I am surprised at how quickly the settlers are replacing the tribes. We need to be sure that we are reaching out to the new settlers as well without getting caught up in ethnic or boundary disputes.
Donations to Nicaragua
The year’s second big shipment of donated food, school supplies and equipment is on its way! The 40’ shipping container left the warehouse in Highland, Illinois and should be out of customs in Nicaragua in mid October. Included are 60,000 meals for children that will be served at churches and schools throughout Nicaragua. Big thanks to all who donated and packed to make this possible.
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