Board Spotlight: Carl Melvin on his 21 years with Casa - Pueblito

Name: Carl Melvin
Role: Board President
# years involved with Casa – Pueblito:   21

Why and how did you get involved with Casa – Pueblito? 

Having been transformed in my general outlook on life during 3 years of brigades in Nicaragua in the 1980', I felt a void in that life with the collapse of the solidarity movement in Canada following the electoral defeat of the Sandinistas in 1990.  The creation of Casa Canadiense in 1992 opened the door to re-connect with the people of Nicaragua and with like-minded folks in Canada. 

My first visit to the Casa in Managua in 1996 was inspiring and my subsequent travels to areas of Nicaragua I had worked and lived in years earlier showed the ravaging effects of the return of right-wing government focused only on the rich.  Whereas in the 80's shelves were bare due to the devastating economic embargo inflicted upon the people by the U.S. government, now stores popped up selling anything and everything.  The catch, you needed money or credit.  The expats returning from Miami had that.  But, looking behind the facade of progress, the have-nots had nothing. 

This reinforced my belief in maintaining solidarity with those who had cast out a ruthless dictatorship, staved off the most powerful country on the planet – all the while expanding literacy, access to healthcare and land reform on a Gross Domestic Product equivalent to the annual budget of the Metropolitan Toronto Police force. 

I continue to be inspired and uplifted by the amazing people of Nicaragua.  While sitting next to a Nicaraguan businessman on a flight from Atlanta to Managua recently, he commented on how he regularly sees foreigners on this flight coming to Nicaragua to help his people.  I replied, "Well, I'm not one of them."  He was perplexed.  I explained that I come to learn from his people.  What I do is but a paltry tuition for the life's lessons I have gleaned over the past 30 years.

What is the best thing about being a part of the Casa – Pueblito community?

Being in the company of inspiring individuals and communities both in Canada and Nicaragua.

If there’s one thing people should know about Casa – Pueblito, what would it be?

Solidarity not charity