Kate is one of CAFOD’s gap year and is currently based with Just Youth in Salford. She has been visiting communities supported by CAFOD in Nicaragua, from where she has sent this blog:
This week we had the chance to work closely with ASOMUPRO one of CAFOD’s partners out here in Nicaragua, they are an Association of Women Producers working out in the most rural areas of Nicaragua to give employment and strengthen the hope to the women of Nicaragua.
The slogan of ASOMUPRO is “LAS GAVIOTAS” translated into English it means “Seagulls,” it could be seen as a very strange slogan, however there is a lot of meaning behind it.
And the meaning is that everyone working for ASOMUPRO are like geese, they work in a V formation. The idea behind this formation is that the front bird leads and when they get tired they set themselves back and someone else takes up their place. Geese all stick together and drive themselves forward. ASOMUPRO are a team, they work together, share common values and are lifted by the enthusiasm and energy of each other. This is why this is the slogan for ASOMUPRO. This was by far the overriding theme of the week. The women we met gave up their time to talk to us about the work of ASOMUPRO and how ASOMUPRO have greatly helped their lives.
We were introduced to Dona Helen who through ASOMUPRO had been able to get a loan to buy a pig, this pig went on to have three different litters which she was able to sell on but keep two sows. This small initiative has helped Dona Helen with her children’s study and also gave her some income in her home.
We were also introduced to the Natoso community who by day are housewives and in their free time tend to thirteen beehives they have up and running. In 2014 alone, this small community of ten women, produced 102 litres of honey!!! Not only was I taken aback by these women’s love for their bees, I was really blown away by the pride they had in ASOMUPRO, Darling, one of the 10 women said “ASOMUPRO has helped us as women, learn how to value ourselves as well as boost our self-esteem. ASOMUPRO takes women into account and all benefits go directly to us, the women.”
We also visited seventeen women in San Fernando who work together as a collective on small kitchen gardens, through this they have been able to grow fruit trees such as Passion Fruit as well as Onions, Chaya and Chilli. ASOMUPRO have planted a seed, which is about to blossom. This is only the beginning for this community, they have bigger plans to rent land and have a communal allotment to grow market produce which they can sell in order to make an income, at the moment the Kitchen Gardens are for their own household consumption.
Lastly we visited Mozonte, an isolated indigenous community. We had to cross four rivers alone just to reach them in the midst of the afternoon sun. Mozonte is very cut off from the rest of the world, they are 17km away from the nearest town and with limited forms of transport to get them anywhere, it’s a day’s walk. ASOMUPRO has provided 35 families with water storage tanks and vegetable gardens.
However, climate change is a massive issue for Mozonte. Last year they had a completely dry winter so there was no harvest and the production for maize and beans was so minimal that they now have to buy them in. This has meant that it has been difficult to produce food and their water sources have started to become scarce.
This is why the work of ASOMUPRO is so important, it brings about positive change in order to empower women. But not only does it provide economic initiatives to the women of Nicaragua, it also provides them with training on certain issues such as self-esteem, first aid, disaster risk reduction as well as domestic violence. This has stemmed from Law 779, which came into effect in 2012 and criminalises violence against women and gives the women of Nicaragua some form of protection against domestic violence. ASOMUPRO is a truly amazing organisation that is really making a difference to the lives of women in rural Nicaragua, and I hope it continues to flourish and grow.
I came away from this week completely blown away by the sense of community and love that was shown between all the groups we were lucky enough to meet, I would have loved to stay longer and meet many more. However it was an absolute privilege to meet all involved and I wish them every success.