Intern Ashley's First Blog Post

I’m two weeks into my three months in Nicaragua, so I figure it’s time for a blog post. I’m living in Esteli, Nicaragua, and working with Cooperativa Christine King, an organization here that has a lot of different programs. The cooperative has dance, art, and music classes for kids. The music program is called Sones Segovianos, and they teach piano, as well as guitar, trumpet, trombone, violin, and wind instruments. I’m volunteering with the cooperative two days a week so that I also have time to work on my research. So far I’ve been helping out with the dance and art classes, which have been great. I’ve been learning some traditional Nicaraguan dances alongside the kids, who are from 3 – 8. And who I’m sure think I’m absurd. That being said, I’ve learned some basic steps, and I’m okay with being a little ridiculous. Next week I start working with the ICES project at the cooperative, which runs workshops in different communities for women about self-esteem, sexual and reproductive health, and domestic violence prevention. I’m excited to know more about the communities surrounding Esteli! 

The heat. The heat!! Esteli normally isn’t this hot. Last year there was a bad drought in Nicaragua, so I’m hoping that the rains come this winter. They should start in a couple weeks. There have been huge waves and flooding on certain points along the Pacific coast, as well. The general consensus is that climate change is the problem – and it’s a serious problem. I was talking to someone from Managua the other day who mentioned that Nicaragua was one of the most vulnerable countries in the world to climate change. Nicaraguans are already feeling the effects. Now, Nicaragua is one of DFATD’s development partners in Latin America. I question how the government of Canada can say Nicaragua is a development partner and supposedly work toward the development of communities and people here while simultaneously continuing to ignore the huge threat posed by climate change both nationally and internationally. Our refusal to act and do something about the environment is directly endangering other nations who are more vulnerable to the effects of climate change, even those who we call our partners. 

I’ve been thinking a lot about solidarity and partnership and I wonder how we can claim to be standing in solidarity with others if we are complicit in processes that harm them. Of course I understand that global processes are complex and never straightforward, but I’m wondering how I can be a better ally to Nicaraguans while I’m in Canada. The election is coming up soon – who’s planning to do something about the environment? There’s lots I can do, from composting and recycling to writing MPs and showing the government that they need to act now to do something about the changing climate. 

I guess this is a bit rambling and perhaps not directly related to my work here with Casa Pueblito, but I think it’s relevant and important for Canadians to think about. 

Everyone so far has been incredibly welcoming. I’m living with a lovely 70 year old woman named Esperanza, who is a huge Sandinista revolutionary. I hope she’ll share more of her memories with me over the course of the summer. I’m enjoying the Nicaraguan food once again, from plantain and fresh fruit to rosquilla and tortilla. The time so far has been flying by, though, and I can already tell that this summer is going to go by really quickly. I’m enjoying every day, though, and spending time getting to know the people and children at the cooperative. 

The telenovela that Esperanza and I are watching is about to start, though, so I’m out. Another post soon!