Mark VanderWees

Mark VanderWees has been working for World Renew since 1991. Originally from Canada, Mark and his wife, Nancy, enjoy living cross culturally. Their first 11 with World Renew were in Haiti. There, three of their children: Jesse, Lisa and Kaitlyn were born. Their two youngest children, Jesús Joshua and Justin, were born in Nicaragua.

Mark thrives being part of Nicaragua's dynamic country team. He has a background in agriculture and management. Nancy is a trained occupational therapist who volunteers her time in numerous ways while balancing her time with two active kids at home. Jesse is working as an engineer for a firm in the  Netherlands, Lisa is in her fourth year studying nursing at McMaster University in Hamilton, and Kaitlyn is in her second year at Queen's University in Kingston.

May 8, 2019 by Mark VanderWees

God is Faithful & Always Holds Us

For many Nicaraguans, the effects of the past year's political violence, upheaval, and uncertainty here were traumatic....We join the many who also say “God is faithful and will get us through this.

Nov 9, 2018 by Mark VanderWees

Urban Transformation in Nicaragua

NICARAGUA - For many Nicaraguans, the last six months have been marked by injury, unexpected migration, business closings, jobs disappearing, economic retraction, relationship breakdown, even loss of life. Many Nicaraguans don’t know what the future holds for them and their families.

May 2, 2018 by Mark VanderWees

Restorative Justice on the Streets of Nicaragua

Living in urban Nicaraguan neighborhoods can be intense. Multigenerational families live together in small houses, where thin walls, open windows, and shared streets are the norm. Everyone is aware of what their neighbors are doing whether they want to know or not. In our urban transformation work, we have to take this into consideration.

Mar 20, 2018 by Mark VanderWees

Twenty Seven Pounds of Beans

(NICARAGUA) Let me tell you a story about Martha Adilia and her twenty seven pounds of beans. Martha lives with her teenage daughter Meyling in the community of Pitahaya, located in the foothills of the mountains in central Nicaragua. I met Martha while on a field trip with World Renew’s local partner, Asociación de Jóvenes Cristianas (ASJ). During the past year we had been working on a pilot project there to promote conservation agriculture.

Nov 14, 2017 by Mark VanderWees

A Dream Realized

(NICARAUGA) I remember quite vividly watching the the CBC documentary series The National Dream in the early 70’s. I was about ten years old and mesmerized by the enormous feat of building a railroad across Canada that linked the east to the west.

Sep 25, 2017 by Mark VanderWees

Victor's Soda Shop

(NICARAGUA) Entering Victor Solano’s house in rural Nicaragua, you might think you are walking into in a soda shop. Big plastic soda bottles of every brand — Coke, Pepsi, Sprite and several brands local to Nicaragua — line the exterior walls of his home.

Jul 10, 2017 by Mark VanderWees

$30: the difference between life and death

Thirty dollars. That’s Rosa Chavara’s savings goal for this year. In January, Rosa decided to try to save two dollars a month, and challenged herself to save double when she could. Rosa lives in the community of Santa Gertrudis, Nicaragua, at the end of a winding, dirt road three hours from the capital city of Managua. Her family has lived there for years, eking out a living on their small farm, surviving both drought and torrential rains. It’s not the best place to have a farm. Life is hard in almost every respect. Rosa and her husband, Modesto, have four children; the youngest, Jasmari, is just eleven months old.

Jun 23, 2016 by Mark VanderWees

Justice for the Vulnerable

World Renew certainly does that, from earthquakes in Katmandu to forest fires in Fort McMurray, Alberta. Some others immediately think of longterm agriculture, health, and infrastructure projects in far-off countries. A few even use the word “transformation” in their understanding as they pull in the complexities of leadership training, community organizing, and gender empowerment. World Renew’s five-year strategic plan affims all this, and I have shared with you how this is taking place in Nicaragua through newsletters over the years.

Mar 14, 2016 by Mark VanderWees

The Fruit of our Work in Nicaragua

When I arrived in Nicaragua 13 years ago, my pre-decessor, Dr. Darryl Mortenson, was retiring after a lifetime career in overseas community development on four continents. Darryl supplied a wealth of knowledge for developers like me, and everyone I met had a great deal of respect for him. We worked together in transition for about three weeks, and during that brief time I became very aware of what big shoes I had to fill.

Mar 20, 2015 by Mark VanderWees

A Bag of Dolls

(NICARAGUA) It’s one of the oddest sights. A huge sack of used dolls, dozens of smiling faces and bodies pressed against the side of a transparent plastic bag with an assortment of loose appendages settled at the bottom.