Sunday, March 29, 2009

Thank you, Nicaragua, Humbly yours.....

I just returned from a week in Nicaragua on an immersion trip with colleagues from my university. It was a powerful experience and one that is not yet finalized within me. I was overwhelmed and humbled by the laughter, openness, spirituality and wisdom of the people living in and around Managua, Matagalpa, and Masaya. They gave of their precious time to fourteen professors and administrators from Seattle. I have much to think about as I remember the experiences I had. At this point I have just returned from a long trip, little sleep, hot, hot weather, and what, on the surface, appears to be vast differences between a small country in Central America and a city in the US. But over the next few weeks as I sort through my notes and journal, photos and videos, I will return to this journey again and again. Tonight I am too weary and spring quarter begins tomorrow so I will be brief with a few ramblings. We can't go into countries such as Nicaragua (the second poorest country in the Western Hemisphere) and save anyone. We are not the experts. The poorest women from Matagalpa joined together to form the Union of Organized Women of Yasica Sur (UMOYS). Over twenty women walked to meet with us, many walking for more than an hour during the hottest part of the day. They generously shared their story. More than 300 women strong just in the Yasica Sur basin area, these women talked of their work to better the lives of women and families by assessing the needs of their communities. They need roofs to keep the rain out, medical care, shoes for their children so they can attend school, peace in the home. They talked with us for over an hour, sharing how they have built a strong and sustainable organization. A woman said that, because of her work with the UMOYS, "I now feel free, liberated. I did not know what was out there. We are poor. But now I can talk to anyone." I will listen.

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