“Speaking to you makes me a little nervous, ” said Miguel Marin, the Executive Director of the Nicaraguan Federation for the Development of Rural Farmers, FEDICAMP. Afterall, Miguel was standing before 60 elementary school children in New Jersey — quite a jump from his job as an agricultural engineer in rural Nicaragua. And then wondrously, he told the students at the Global Charter School in Jersey City about what growing up is like in rural Nicaragua.
“They don’t have computers or cell phones?” one incredulous child asked, “…but how can they talk with their friends?”
In the hour-long exchange Miguel sounded off responses like, “the kids often must walk each day to bring water for the family,” or “Yes, getting an education is really hard.” When the conversation turned toward environmental issues Miguel even addressed climate change, “With the drought from El Nino, survival itself is an issue for the whole family.”
The inquisitive children were engaged, energized and full of questions. Miguel connected with them — and there’s even talk about continuing the conversation by Skype, getting the students in New Jersey together with children whose families work with FEDICAMP in Nicaragua.
The Global Charter School was only the beginning of a week full of cultural exchange and global understanding.
At PeaceWorks’ November 14th Dinner Forum, Miguel shared the story of Nicaraguan farmers with a variety of folks who gathered over a delicious meal and to home-baked desserts. But he had also spoke at Rutger Preparatory School, Columbia High School in Maplewood, Don Bosco Prep, Wilson Memorial Church, First Presbyterian Church of Rahway, Cranford Presbyterian and Rutgers University. And after Central Jersey, he got on a train to Trenton and then on to Baltimore to meet with other groups eager to learn about the magnificent beauty, and challenge of living in remote communities.
Miguel informed and inspired us. In spite of the enormous fight for the survival of the Nicaraguan farmer, we find Miguel and FEDICAMP to be highly accountable, well grounded and very well run. At PeaceWorks, we heard it in his voice, we’ve seen it with our own eyes over more than a dozen visits to Nicaragua and we’ll see it again in our Januray 2016 delegation.
We’ll continue to see how FEDICAMP is lifting up the lives of 290 rural families in tiny, impoverished communities throughout northern Nicaragua. Fedicamp organizes small farmers to preserve precious water supplies, build cisterns and irrigation systems, diversify crops, consume less wood and enhance the quality of life for its members. This is absolutely critical work as the families are learning to build resiliency to a nagging five-year drought.
The small investment PeaceWork made to bring Miguel up has also paid off with our community’s generosity – the visit helped consolidate $8500 in donations. He inspired and helped orient two delegations heading off to Nicaragua in January. He urged upon us all the vital importance of continued generosity so that the hardworking and entrepreneurial farms of northern Nicaragua can not only survive, but prosper and bless their children so that in turn their children can bless the world.
Brooks Smith, PeaceWorks
Meet Miguel for yourself! Watch this short interview: