Dear Family and Friends,
Our time in Nicaragua is winding down, but there is still a lot going on at the CCBN! We are in the midst of making all the preparations for Greta and Amanda (they are arriving in 2 weeks!) and getting their orientation ready. We’re also busy wrapping up loose ends on our different projects. Here are a few highlights from the past weeks:
Micro-Lender Fair at the CCBN:
As one of my last projects in the area of Micro-business Development, I recently organized the first ever Lender Fair at the CCBN. On May 23 seven different micro-finance organizations came to the CCBN to give presentations about their financial products to CCBN students and graduates. Many students who participate in the Center’s Cooking, Beauty, Styling, Natural Medicine, Small Business Administration, Sewing and Handicrafts classes either have small, in-house, businesses or are interested in starting one. The Fair gave our students an opportunity to learn about their different financial options and a chance to compare and contrast different organizations. The Fair was very successful! About 100 students attended… passing from table to table picking up information on the different financers and talking to bank representatives. The Center hopes to host a similar event next year!
Visit from Immaculate Heart of Mary parish:
This past weekend, high school students and parents from Immaculate Heart of Mary parish in Cincinnati, Ohio arrived at the CCBN to meet our students, and experience first hand the work of the Center. Immaculate Heart of Mary has been a long-time supporter of the CCBN, funding the majority of the Center’s scholarship program. Each year, a group of IHM parishioners led by Friends of Batahola member Sue Keefe, come to visit the Center. This year, the group enjoyed and participated in many activities, including a Folkloric Dance class, hair-dos from the Beauty class, tours of the Center’s murals and classes, a dinner with all the CCBN’s staff, a puppet show (see picture!), a Field Day for all the Center’s scholarship students and a Mass where the Batahola chorus sung the “misa campesina”. The weekend was enjoyed by all as a time to form relationships – sharing our different cultures, histories, and reflections. Laura and I enjoyed working as translators and accompanying the group in their time with the Center.
One of the highlights for me occurred at the end of Mass on Sunday night. In May, when two of the CCBN’s staff visited IHM in Cincinnati, they were presented by a quilted wall hanging by IHM’s Elementary School, representing the work and people of their school and parish. Jennifer and Daisy brought the wall hanging back to Batahola, where it will be hung as a testament to the friendship between IHM and the CCBN. Here in Batahola, the women’s quilting group (which I’ve been accompanying for the past 2 years) and various painting students also worked on a wall hanging to present to the IHM delegation upon their arrival. After months of work on the project, the wall hanging was completed and the women’s quilting group was able to present it to IHM after the Mass. The wall hanging portrays the history and current work of the CCBN, as well as all CCBN staff. CCBN painting students painted 12 images representing the Center: Sr. Margarita (CCBN founder) with the first sewing class, Fr. Angel (CCBN founder) celebrating mass, books for the Basic Education class, folkloric dancers, the Batahola chorus, and more. As a border, each CCBN staff member personally embroidered their name making the wall hanging a truly communal effort. The members of the women’s quilting group and the painting students all did a wonderful job. The wall hangings give an excellent testament to the solidarity and friendship between the CCBN and IHM.
Recently the CCBN has had many reasons to be proud. One of the CCBN’s scholarship recipients, a 22 year-old university psychology student Abril García, has written a powerful play entitled “Extinguished Lives” or “Vidas que se Extinguen”. The play, extremely serious yet at times witty and humorous, tells the story of a poor Nicaraguan candy vendor, Erlinda. who is convinced to enter a prostitution house in order to help her family. Abril weaves the story of Erlinda, her neighbors who convince her to enter the house, her friend Sofia who accompanies her, the woman who operates the house, and Erlinda’s mother. The play ends tragically as Erlinda is murdered by one of her customers, leaving the audience with the harsh reality of the toll prostitution takes on individuals, families and society. The play has been shown numerous times at the CCBN to different groups of high school students from Managua. Verónica GuidoTraña, who taught theatre in the CCBN in years past, directs the play and leads discussion questions after the performance. The audience is given a chance to respond to the play, identify the themes presented, and discuss how the play speaks to their reality. The performers, many of them students of the CCBN, are also involved in the discussion sharing their feelings about performing their different roles and providing their own reflections on violence, especially sexual violence. Abril has aided the CCBN’s psychologist with many workshops for youth concerning self-esteem and violence prevention, and felt in writing the play that the topic of prostitution and the need for humane work is a very pertinent topic for today’s Nicaraguan youth. Congratulations to Abril and all the actors who have participated in the performances of “Extinguished Lives.”
In the coming weeks Laura and I will continue making preparations for the arrival of Amanda and Greta. In July we will be giving them trainings on Teaching English as a Foreign Language, Small Business Development, group formation techniques to use with the Youth Movement and Quilting Group, control of FOBV finances, and blogging… amongst many other things! Throughout the process, we’ll keep you updated!