In January, I spent a week on the east coast of Nicaragua, where our local partner Accion Medica Cristiana (AMC) is working with remote Indigenous communities. After investing seven years of work in the area with AMC, our purpose on this particular trip was to help envision and plan out the next phase of how we can work together. During the week, we met with focus groups and heard some amazing stories. Later we visited with several people who welcomed us into their homes and showed us their fields and gardens.
We had a great conversation with Olga Barrow, who is a local elementary school teacher and a single mother of six children. She shared how AMC encouraged her to start a garden at her school. The success of the project prompted her to start a garden at her home. The tomatoes, cabbage, and beets helped to complement the rice and beans she grew. We noticed that two of her neighbors had gardens, and Olga shared how they had approached her to help get them started with their gardens by sharing some seeds and simple advice. Olga then took us to see her bean field, where her 19-year-old son Jason was preparing the land for a bean crop. To our surprise, alongside the river there was also an emerging rice crop, cultivated out of season. AMC had shown Jason how to grow a second crop of rice during the dry season by using the natural fertility and moisture from the river bank. In a culture where food scarcity has traditionally been the norm, the story for Olga and her family is changing.
Floris Baptist, a 21-year-old young man, proudly showed us his field of plantains. He had over a thousand plants in rows and in varying stages of maturity. AMC had trained him in how to cultivate and market his plantains directly to a wholesaler in a town 70 km away and across the border in Honduras. He jokingly called his business “Floris’s Exports.” In an area where there are few employment opportunities, especially for young people, this has changed Floris’s story.
Although AMC’s work has been primarily geared to raising agricultural productivity, we heard many other stories that were not agriculture or food related. We heard of how women were being empowered, how young people were staying in their communities instead of migrating to find work, and how domestic violence was being addressed and prevented. Lots of stories are being changed.
The AMC staff have a lot to do with this story changing. Trying to change a story is hard work and can be very frustrating. But as Hendri Reyes, one of the agricultural promoters, enthusiastically stated, “This is much more than a job for [the AMC staff], they really see themselves as ‘story changers’ for the people of their culture.” Please pray for AMC as they move ahead with their planning process.
To change a story is often the result of many people working together. Thank you for being part of changing this story in Nicaragua.