Nicaragua: Know Your Rights

“When I come into Nicaraguan airspace I can feel my soul re-enter my body.” Those of you who’ve been there will resonate with those words of Nicaraguan author Gioconda Belli. I felt something similar when 
I returned there in February, co-leading the recent Amos trip." Peter Bone shares his thoughts about his return visit to Nicaragua.

Since I first heard about Nicaragua back in the 1980’s, I’ve been fascinated by this little country that somehow overthrew 3 generations of brutal dictators and replaced them with a government of poets and priests.

Hearing Gustavo Parajon, founder of (Amos partner) CEPAD, speak at Greenbelt Festival, only furthered my resolve to go. 

I went on the first Amos trip to Nicaragua in 2000. By then the political climate had changed, and the revolutionary Sandinistas were out of power. Yet the joyous mixture of creativity, practicality and theology I was hoping to see was clearly visible in the work that CEPAD was doing.

On the last day of the trip we were supposed to go on a brief tour of a couple of their projects, but that’s not how Nicaraguan time works: from bottle recycling projects to micro banking, and half a dozen brilliant projects in-between, we were still going five hours later. We only just caught our flight. 

The work we support in Nicaragua is Amos through and through. Creative? Grassroots? Liberation Theology? Check. But nonetheless, it’s always been challenging to describe. Perhaps, like Palestine, you just have to go — then you’ll get it. 

I went on the first Amos trip to Nicaragua in 2000. By then the political climate had changed, and the revolutionary Sandinistas were out of power. Yet the joyous mixture of creativity, practicality and theology I was hoping to see was clearly visible in the work that CEPAD was doing.

So it was a real pleasure to be back in Nicaragua this year with a great group of Amos supporters. We were visiting every community in the Teutsepe region, to get to know how CEPAD’s 5-year community 
empowerment projects work on the ground.

With every new place we went, every new conversation we had, we started to get it. We started to get how radical it is to try to live out Gustavo Parajon’s mission statement in one of the poorest countries in the world: “We walk with a community until it has the skills to claim the rights it did not know existed.”

To visit these isolated rural communities we drove on roads that simply didn’t exist before. We ate Rosa’s sumptuous homegrown vegetables, sitting in her bountiful garden, lit by newly-connected electricity.

The work we support in Nicaragua is Amos through and through. Creative? Grassroots? Liberation Theology? Check.

Previously, to feed her family, she’d have to travel to the nearest town to buy food in the market twice a week. She’d have to walk most of the way because the road wasn’t good enough for the bus to drive on.

Nowadays the bus can drive through her community, and she takes it to the same market every month to sell her surplus vegetables. This is what can happen when a community claims its rights.

It’s been heartbreaking to see the slow unfolding of terrible news from Nicaragua since we returned home. The government’s violent crackdown and killing of peaceful protesters has ushered in a new, uncertain chapter for the country. 

We at Amos, like CEPAD, have always been broadly supportive of the Sandinistas. But CEPAD has always remained fiercely independent of any government. They’ve kept on working for the poorest in their country, regardless of who is in power and whether the country was at war or at peace. 

Nowadays the bus can drive through her community, and she takes it to the same market every month to sell her surplus vegetables. This is what can happen when a community claims its rights.

So right now they continue working to empower the communities they serve, despite the new economic turmoil, roadblocks and violence. Please support them and please keep them in 
your prayers.

To download our new Nicaragua resource pack, please visit amostrust.org/nicaragua-resource-pack

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Update:


At the moment CEPAD can still get through to the communities of Teustepe but their finances have been severely affected by cancellations of supporter trips and an increase in their costs. You can read more about the current crisis on our website. If you can donate to CEPAD at this difficult time — simply visit our Water For Life appeal page — thank you.




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