By Tina Romenesko
OK. We’re heading for Jubilee House – part of the Center for Development in Central America – and there is some confusion going on in the front seat. I hear jubilado which means ” retired” and I’m wondering if we might be somewhat off target, when we arrive, after numerous twists and turns, at the old folks home! Hardly the fair trade, conscious community we were hoping for. I point out the false cognate and after a rather circuitous conversation it is confirmed that Jubilee is NOT Jubilado. We are instructed to head for the green gate and are back on track. Ahhhh words. I love them and all their nuances and confusion and what’s important is that we are here and looking forward to connecting with a DFW project from 2006 . Live and in person. Zona Franca Masili. This sewing cooperative is associated with the Jubilee House – a conscious community committed to grass roots projects that facilitate positive change and support for this very poor, rural Nicaraugan community known ironically as Nueva Vida. This area was created by the government in 1998 after Hurricane Mitch flooded out many lives and communities along the shores of Lake Managua, and was promptly abandoned by that same government. When Mike – the director of Jubilee House started quoting the Prime Directive from Star Trek – I knew we were in good hands. The commitment to support and never interfere with the native culture is impressive and obvious from the get go. Education. Health care for everyone. Fair trade cooperatives based on true cooperation on all levels of being – and an amazing composting toilet which I experienced first hand – as an example of appropriate technology – doesn’t even scratch the surface of what this group is accomplishing.
So – back to the Sewing Cooperative – our main reason for circuitously arriving. Words can’t describe the emotion in our fearless leader Patricia Anderson’s heart, when she realized the experience of connecting directly with Ruth, one of the original 60 women that started this cooperative. Completely displaced and forced to work in so called fair trade SWEAT SHOPS, these women hoped for something more. A place to work, and create, and support their families in a healthy environment that allowed them time to take care of their families AND earn a living. ” It is an honor to stand here with you – arm in arm – and see my donation making a difference. Woman to Woman.” said Patricia – to which Ruth replied ” Many hands make light work.” So inclusive. So important. So simple and yet so complex to get to this point of completing the circle.
The rest of the day was equally amazing, beginning with a grand tour of Managua by our excellent guide, emphasizing the merging of Sandino and Dario – of revolution and metaphor – a powerful brew that has created the motto we see everywhere. Seguimos Cambiando. We continue changing. Isn’t that true for all of us, when we pause to acknowledge it?
Volcanoes, por todas partes. Side trips to Roberto Clemente baseball stadium (Nicaragua’s national pastime, too!) and a side trip to San Juan del Oriente to visit a casa cermica, full of family pride and beautiful pottery. The day ended in Catarina – peering into the crater lake at sunset and counting our blessings. There’s so much more to say. Around our delicious candlelit dinner, made only more incredible by the power outage that signaled our arrival in Granada, Patricia asked each of us to share our ” magic moment” of the day. I was duly impressed by the depth and breadth of the stories shared by this very special group of women – looking forward to sharing right back when we get to our Leon. I encouraged each participant to write – so look for more blog posts in the near future – from a variety of sources!
Day two tomorrow – are you kidding me? We’re kayaking the isletas in Lake Nicaragua. Hopefully I’ll figure out how to post photos by then!