For those who choose to try to, “live a life that takes away the occasion for war,” Nicaragua continues to offer many opportunities, and ProNica continues to pursue them.
First of all, we are appealing to everyone reading these words to seriously consider joining us for a week or so as we do our work. Pam and I are going in December along with some other Friends, and we’d love for you to join us. A very important part of the ProNica mission is to educate North Americans about our country’s relationship with Nicaragua. To get the message out, we publish a newsletter, we present at conferences, Quaker gatherings, and we occasionally stop unsuspecting strangers on the street. I certainly hope everyone has read or heard the message; but nothing compares to a personal visit. Just your presence provides a little extra hope in place where hope is too often in short supply. At the same time, you can expect to be deeply affected.
What a delegation can mean is exemplified by a recent group of “Healers,” who joined us in Nicaragua, and interestingly were sponsored by the Peace Committee of Sandy Spring Meeting near DC, along with an organization named, “Just Peace Circles.” While there, they focused on trauma healing, community building, and hands on healing body work. The delegation was a great success. Perhaps someday we can send Friend John Calvi to do his healing work there as well.
ProNica’s intern program is available for students who want a deeper immersion experience than short-term trips can provide. We are pleased to report that in early August three Haverford College interns finished a six-week week stay where they worked with our project partners on a variety of educational activities. No doubt their lives will never be the same.
When the need is great, community organizations must prioritize. For example, personnel security, food, and shelter often precede education. In ProNica’s case, it has always been women and children first. For this reason I am pleased to report that our beloved project partner, Los Quinchos, despite desperate financial constraints, started a program of courses in carpentry, electrical repairs, and other skills for young men trying to escape gang life in Managua. A generous ProNica donor contributed $10,000 over a period of two years to help launch this program.
In another area of Nicaragua, far from Managua, the women living in the village of Rio Blanco are suffering under increased levels of violence. Community organizers are helping, but it is a growing and horrifying need. Please hold these women in the light. While it may not help the women far away in Rio Blanco, ProNica has long dreamed of supporting a new domestic violence shelter near Managua that currently sits idle. The facility was built with money from a Spanish aid agency, but when the bottom fell out so did the funding. The shelter now sits unused, waiting for money to fund its operation, and justice remains in short supply.
And then there is the canal. When someone comes up with an idea that will change the ecology of an entire country, one would hope that more information regarding planning would be available in the United States. Yes, there is information, but it is more difficult to find than one would hope. Fortunately at ProNica we have a politically astute couple serving as our co-directors in Nicaragua, and several members of our Board are very well informed on the subject. I am anxiously awaiting our next Board meeting for more information. It is interesting that it is a private Chinese company supporting the project. I will be interested to see if current disruptions in the Chinese economy will dim the possibility of construction.
Friends have long expressed interest in ProNica’s ever diminishing reserve funds and how to best put them to use for the lives of Nicaraguans. Currently ProNica splits investments among the Vida Fund which provides low interest loans to cooperatives and small businesses in Nicaragua, a microloan organization focused on Central America, and Friends Fiduciary Fund. Following the lead of other Quaker organizations, we have also transferred some reserves to a socially responsible money manager who is versed in Central American investments. Informed members of our Board wrestle with the ideal balance of the reserve accounts, and we continue to work hard on it.
Saving the best for last, we were blessed with a video project performed for us by three young and talented filmmakers, one of whom has a very well-known last name. The film highlights the work of the beauty school—and is itself beautiful. Please visit the ProNica YouTube page to watch La Belleza: Merari’s Story and find out just what that famous name is; and don’t forget the donate button.
—Herb Haigh, ProNica Board President