Saturday, April 6, 2013

Lo Bueno Cuesta

A month ago we returned from Nicaragua. We took the students there for a week to learn about history, politics, culture, and development efforts. It was my first time being back since my own study abroad trip there two years ago. By the end of the week, I had the same sentiment as my first trip. I didn’t want to leave.
                                          One of many Nicaraguan volcanoes, on our way to Leon.
Nicaragua is the second poorest Latin American county, following Haiti. Its history is wrought with violence and oppression.  The basics are this. There were 50 years of one family ruling with a heavy-handed dictatorship. In 1979, a revolution triumphed, led by a group called the FSLN (the Sandinistas). After they took power, contra-revolutionary rebel groups violently fought against the new government.  Serious human rights abuses were committed by the Contras against civilian groups such as healthcare workers and teachers. These contras were illegally funded through the Iran-Contra Affair.  

This war “ended” after the first woman president was elected. Two of her children were Contras and two from the FSLN, so she was looked to as a mediator. Various presidents have served since then, but currently Daniel Ortega of the FSLN is in power. While there are accuses of corruption, Ortega has favored the poor in his policy. With over 40% of the population living below $1 a day, poverty is a stark reality that needs to be addressed.
                                          The largest cathedral in Central America in Leon. 

Despite a violent past and a reality of poverty, Nicaragua has made crucial steps forward. One area I think is fascinating is their police force. The most popular public figure in Nicaragua is National Police Chief Aminta Granera.  Once a novitiate, she decided to not take her vows as a nun but rather join the Sandinistas during the revolution.  Since her election as chief in 2006, she has targeted corruption and organized crime. Her work in the country has allowed the Nicaraguan people to place trust in their police force, a trust that does not exist between security forces and civilians in neighboring countries such as Honduras.

I have titled this blog, “Lo bueno cuesta”. This quote was shared with us by a Nicaraguan who works for a mission home to girls coming from the neighborhood of Managua’s largest dump.  His message was that working for what is good is costly, but worth it. And this is the message of life, of the journey that we are all on. Our circumstances, our histories, our stories—they are not perfect. But it was not designed this way. Pursuing the good in life is hard. Especially when all we can see is pain, violence, and oppression. 
                                              Pottery lesson from a famous craftsman.

Several of you mentioned to me that it had been awhile since I wrote for my blog. It’s true. It took me awhile to put together my thoughts about my time in Nicaragua. It is a country I really love and feel at home at. And to be honest, I can’t tell you exactly why. Perhaps it’s the relationships that I have been able to form there. Perhaps it’s the culture, the language. I can definitely say I am drawn to the daily work of reconciliation that is demanded in a country with a past so ravished by violence and injustice. Life is still hard for Nicaraguans, but amidst it all there is so much good. I cling to these pieces of good as truths placed by God to show that in a world that is so rough, there is hope. I truly believe that.

My time in Nicaragua re-instilled in me a desire to continue work related to the Central American region. It re-affirmed that I need to continue to seek what I am most passionate about, the people and places and jobs where God most calls me to serve. I should take this moment to share that I have decided to not stay here at the Costa Rica Center for another year. My decision was extremely difficult. My time here has been full of many wonderful experiences, yet I believe I am ready to move to the next stage. I am currently in the process of applying for various jobs and internships in both Washington, D.C. and here in Central America. I hope to find new experiences that will help me discern more what type of further schooling I would like to complete. Until then, I am enjoying beautiful Costa Rica and the awesome staff I am blessed to work with! I return home to Colorado at the end of June, and from there—only God knows!

May God richly bless you in the weeks to come, and may you pursue the good, though it may be costly. 
         Seeing my dear friend Laura, who is working for the Jesuit Volunteer Corps in Nicaragua!
           I also saw my dear friend Kacie, who is working for the Peace Corps in Nicaragua!

1 comment:

  1. Gracias por compartir, Tay. Mis oraciones están contigo, y pienso en uds casi diariamente. Bendiciones, hermana.