By: Ashley Rerrie, Country Director
The Casa in Managua, on top of being a physical space, is my home. Over the past ten months it has transformed into a space that I can call my own and a place where I've welcomed friends and family. Everyone in the neighbourhood knows where the Canadians live and stay. The Casa is also a place that's full of history and the unique footprint of each of the previous coordinators who have lived here. Although things have changed, you can feel the presence of all of the dedicated staff who have spent time in the Casa working alongside Nicaraguans for social justice and compassion across borders.
The Casa is also crucial to the functioning of Casa – Pueblito in a number of ways. From having a home base to facilitate and monitor our community development projects to being a hub where community members, travellers and young Canadians can meet, the Casa is a space where we always collaborate and learn from each other.
Our Casa is making a difference in Nicaragua by:
1. Facilitating community projects: The projects, of course, are one of the biggest benefits to the communities. The Casa Managua team is able to facilitate, monitor, and evaluate the projects that go on in communities here in Nicaragua to the benefit of community members.
2.Establishing relationships: The office in Managua allows staff to visit our community partners more often. This means that we can establish a more horizontal, closer relationship with the community organizations and members that we work with.
3. Understanding local challenges: Our staff understands the realities in Nicaragua as they encounter them on a day-to-day basis. The Managua team spends more time in the communities, which enables them to ask about the challenges and triumphs of each community, and how we can support community members more effectively.
4. Provides timely support: The Casa Managua team’s proximity to the communities allows them to support the communities when they are writing their proposals, when they have concerns about the projects, and when they want to consult with us.
5. Brings partners together: It also allows us to be a point of reference for communities in Nicaragua. Casa – Pueblito has helped facilitate collaboration between many of our partner communities: UCA Tierra y Agua is now working with Jiñocuao, and the women of Santa Julia are joining forces with Podcasts for Peace in Managua.
6. Office Space: The space itself is vital. The office in Managua has provided space where members of communities can stay when they have meetings with other organizations and when they want to collaborate with one another.
7. A home for Canadians: Casa Managua is also a point of reference for Canadian travelers who are interested in social justice and solidarity in Nicaragua, a home for brigades that come to visit, and a source of knowledge for other Canadian organizations that want to do development work in Nicaragua.
8. Education: Finally, through our Global Education program, we also give communities and young Canadians opportunities to meet one another and exchange perspectives and experiences. This mutual sharing and learning is at the heart of Casa – Pueblito’s mission.