I heard they were coming: an infamous group of overtly affirming and joyful people who visit the Cultural Center of Batahola once a year. The board of the Friends of Batahola (FOB), along with other friends, are faithful supporters of the mission of the Cultural Center. This year ten people came for almost five days–observing in the classes, participating in activities with Scholarship students, holding meetings with the staff, touring Managua, and watching a cultural presentation here.
Above all, they come to love on people here–especially supporting the higher-up staff that is usually much of the caring for others. Everyone here at the Cultural Center is stressed, whether with dedication to their work, health problems, or other personal issues. One board member, Herb, does free medical checkups of staff and Scholarship students every year, and also offers acupuncture for the staff.
On Sunday, the entire staff (almost forty people) gathered in another space for a spiritual retreat which the FOB led.
I found the group to be incredibly dynamic, visionary, and hilarious. Good food, drinks, and jokes are a key part of their trip. As volunteers (Sam, Jeni, and I) we got to translate for the entire trip and partake of the amazing food. Amanda Otero, who leads International Communications at the Center, organized the entire delegation.
The Friends of Batahola say that their trip is open each year to anyone who is interested in supporting the Cultural Center, learning about Nicaragua, or just curious about what’s going on over here.
More detailed history about the Friends of Batahola, a registered NGO, from their website:
“In 1983, Sr. Margarita Navarro, CSJ, originally of Cincinnati, OH and Fr. Angel Torrellas, OP, a missionary from Spain, founded the Cultural Center of Batahola Norte. In 2000, Sr. Margie learned of her terminal illness. She asked Sr. Helen Prejean, CSJ to help keep the Center functioning. Sister Helen gathered together several mutual friends and in 2001, the group became the Board of the Friends of Batahola. They organized under United Stated federal law as a not-for-profit education organization for the strict purpose of raising funds to support the Cultural Center. The Board has since expanded to include members from various cities and professions. The Friends of Batahola has no paid staff and Board members cover all their own travel and operating expenses.”