January 18, 2019

Thank you! How you’re making a difference

Dear Friends,

A little over a month ago, I was in San Juan de Limay, Nicaragua, calling on people in their homes.  I saw, firsthand but not for the first time, how people’s lives are changing because of Casa Baltimore/Limay’s programs.  Generous people like you are making a difference in Limay.  Thank you!  Please keep up the great support as we enter our 29th year of friendship there.

Your tax-deductible donation to this appeal before the end of 2013 will be matched, 1:1, up to a total of $9,000, by a supportive major donor.

You can click here to donate to our projects.

Tranquilino Garmendia, chair of our Limay counterpart committee, was my guide for the house calls.  Our first visit was to Silvia Chavarría Arosteguí.  Silvia is 29 years old; she was only a year old when our friendship-community started.  Now she has two children, ages nine years and eight months.  Here is a picture of her holding the baby:

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Silvia is one of our 30 scholarship recipients.  She is in the fourth year of a five-year program of studies to become a licensed schoolteacher.  She also works part-time teaching adults to read, and she says she is reaching her goals one grain of sand (un granito de arena) at a time.

I met about 20 other scholarship students during my time in Limay.  They are happy about their opportunities for a better future, and every one of them asked me to thank the people of Baltimore.

These students receive an average of $150 per year for a partial scholarship, or $12.50 per month.  A full scholarship is $300 per year.  Will you consider supporting a scholarship, in full or in part, for a young person in Nicaragua?

Click here to donate to our projects.

Scholarships for college and technical school are only one of Casa Baltimore/Limay’s programs.  Collaborating with our counterpart committee in Limay, we do a lot on a budget under $35,000.

♥ During my Limay home visits, I met four recipients of our food packets.  You can “meet” them too, people like Filomena López, in the photo just below.  Each month we provide food staples to 200 elderly and disabled people who have no family support.  Few Nicaraguans have pensions, so the elderly without families are vulnerable.  The packets mean food security for people who have so little.

Your donation of $85 will buy a year’s worth of packets for one person; $7 will pay for one packet.

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♥ In November I encountered Víctor Rodríguez, a thin elderly man living near the village of San Lorenzo.  He and his brother received a milk cow two years ago; the cow gave birth in April, and the calf will go to another family when it’s mature.  Víctor is benefiting from our program of milk cows, chickens and beehives for poor families, with the animal offspring and new hives passed along to others.  It is another example of the food security we support.

Poultry are an especially valuable gift for many poor families, because hens and roosters don’t need a pasture and can be kept near the family home.  Eggs augment a family’s diet with vital protein, and extra eggs can be sold for income.

Will you promote food security in Limay?  Six hens and a rooster for a family cost about $100.  Fencing and a chicken coop for these birds will cost $180, or a pledge of $15/month.

Click here to donate to our projects.

♥ We subsidize CENIC, a preschool nutrition and education center for about 55 children at risk of malnutrition and stunted development.  They get breakfast, lunch, and preschool classes five days a week.  I visited CENIC in November and took a picture of the very cute kids you see below.

Will you help them?  Our share of the CENIC budget is about $85 per child for a year, or $7 a month.

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♥ I also visited with Irlanda del Carmen Bonilla Acuña.  She is a beneficiary of our medical fund which paid for her travel to Managua for treatments.  In addition to travel to medical appointments outside of Limay, the fund pays for prescriptions for people who couldn’t otherwise afford them, for those medicines not carried in the government health clinic.

Like our food security programs, the medical fund can mean a huge improvement in people’s quality of life in Limay – at times even the difference between life and death. 

Will you support life and health in Limay?  $125 pays for one month of our total medical budget.

I hope these descriptions help you feel what I experienced in Limay.  Our ongoing work there affects people who are important to us.  Through our programs, folks have more food to eat, people’s health is enhanced, and youth have a chance to contribute to Nicaragua’s future.

So I ask:  Please give now, if at all possible.  Your gift will be matched 1:1, and it will help us plan our budget for Limay projects in 2014.  I hope you’ll dig deep, honoring 28+ years of friendship.

With grateful thanks,

Barbara Larcom, for Casa Baltimore/Limay

P.S.  Your donation is tax-deductible.  You can click here to donate.  If you prefer, you can mail a check to Casa Baltimore/Limay, c/o St. John’s Church, 2640 St. Paul Street, Baltimore, MD 21218.  Thank you!!

 

 

Notes from Tom Hyatt’s Journal, July 2005

These are a few excerpts from the journal I kept during the July 2005 trip to San Juan de Limay.

The Bus.
The bus, an old American school bus, yellow, large. Along the road, Nicaragua is green and beautiful, calm and empty, almost treeless. A scttering of towns, houses, farms, people walking along the road. We stop at a village, a single woman gets on with a bag of some sort of bread. She walks down the aisle selling her goods as the bus moves on. With no takers, she goes to the front, comes back again with bottles of drinks. The driver’s helper later walks down the aisle collecting money from the passengers. It costs 45 Cordobas, about $2.70 for the 80 mile express bus trip from Managua to Esteli. Everyone we talk to, when we tell them we are going to Limay, they say “Ohhhhh….es lejo” as if we are traveling off to Antartica.

Esteli
Sitting at the bus station in Esteli. With our massive amount of luggage, we are an object of curiosity from the folks sitting on benches waiting for their buses to arrive. The 24 large suitcases and duffle bags of aid that we brought along with the bags of our own are all stacked like a small mountain in the middle of the outdoor waiting area. I talk to an old man sitting on the bench near us who looks at the heap with questioning eyes. “No son ropas”, I tell him to assuage my own fear that he thinks we are rich tourists loaded up with a change of clothing for every day.

Everyone here is friendly. Folks say Limay is a poor village and that they have many needs. A man gives me a pat on the shoulder and says, “I don’t know who you are but you are a good man for doing this.”

Limay

… we walk back to the SIR, toward the place where we left our 24 bags. The smell, the sounds, the dirt road, houses open to the air, sky, mountains, all full of that bizarre mix of old and new, modern and ancient. Crude mud and stick houses with a TV glowing inside, an outhouse sitting next to an old Russian jeep, oxen pulling wooden carts, a Pepsi sign high above an old pulperia, bicycles, pigs, cows, chickens, school children in blue uniforms, cowboys and children on horseback, a cell tower seeming to hover over the town.

…. it is hot here – hot like a constant kitchen cooking the land. Rain, sun returning, wet air, then dust, smoke, all against a backdrop of green hills – but the green only makes it seem hotter, as if it should be as cool as the color of those far off mountains.

…. the fiesta at the Cabana was so different than I expected. So much loud music, young people dancing under strobe lights, throbbing city music in the middle of the pueblo. It was, as many things have been, such a wild contrast, making it hard to comprehend, this small town making so much noise that it can still be heard now, floating and bouncing eight dark blocks across the town to the closed door of my bedroom.

…. two little boys play “toro” in the streets. One has two sticks that he holds up to his ears, a stick in each hand, like the horns of an underfed bull. The other, with a torn piece of cloth, plays the matador. They move gracefully in the rocky street, one boy crouching low and ominous, moving in circles, while the other swooshes his cloth and spins around, avoiding the thrust. Over and over they play. It seems like a game they play often.

…. I talk to a young boy and his sister sitting atop a horse. He tells me he knows how to speak some English. He begins to tell me what he knows but after several attempts at working to make me understand, I finally ask him to tell me in Spanish what he is trying to say. “Don’t put water in the car.” he tells me.

…. everyone here smiles. I have never seen so many people have such a spontaneous smile as folks in this town. Walking past the adults, there is a little bit of question in their eyes, but as soon as you say hello or smile, they light up and say “Adios” or Buenos” and give out with a big smile.

…. we headed toward the river, toward “La Bruja” on the Rio Queso. Almost everyone ended up in the wonderful water. It was a spectacular location – a broad river with a grand vista toward the green, green mountain, the water rushing through the huge rocks forming huge pools and rivers of churning water. Ancient Indian carvings were visible on the rocks, left undisturbed, as they have been for centuries. Kids from Limay were sliding down the waterfall, into the deep pool of water at the bottom. They showed me how to do it. Molly and I went over to where the mayor was, in her bright yellow shirt, sitting under the falls. We all lay under the forceful water laughing and frolicking….

Evening in Limay
Sunday night. Writing in the dark in my bed. The lights have been out in the town all evening. We ate our meal at Don Rafael’s El Preferido by candlelight. Eggs, fried bologna, cheese, gallo pinto, eaten in the soft light bouncing around the painted walls. Hard to describe how wonderful, how different this place is.

On the walk back home, fireflies high in the sky looking like small shooting stars, flickering off and on in the absolute dark. The world is inky black. Sounds from doorways of people we could not see. “Buenos….”, we offer to the shadowy shapes. Low voices, an occasional candle, shoes thumping against dark rock, puddled water, the rich smell of evening, the billiards bar the only light in town, the noise of their generator interrupting the town’s dark quiet.

Now, suddenly the lights come back on. A little cheer rings out along the street. Jose turns on the light in the front room. A cool wind passes through, blowing the curtains. Smoke smells waft in.

El Zapote
Rain comes and goes here. A little, a lot. So far never a downpour, but enough. Especially when you are riding in the back of a pick-up truck. Our umbrellas make a cover of sorts. Olidia with hers open, mine, Fred’s, a canopy only a wind away from destruction. Crammed in the back of that truck, then hiking on the path through the coffee fields, past bananas trees with bunches hanging down, past the young boy, bandana tied around his face, machete in hand, crossing streams, past huge cedar trees, the valley stretching out below the mountain, on and on, up and up, until we reached the village.

Dozens of people came to meet us. We sat in the house of what seemed like the head of the village. We talked about the coffee harvest, the need for the latrenas, about the needs of families living in houses made of plastic bags or ancient wooden planks, mud as cement. We are fed muscular chicken, wonderful rice, rich sweet coffee. We leave the food we brought with us for lunch as a gift to the villagers. This dark house, dirt floor, the power of being here, the deep eyes of the people, the music of the brothers with their huge guitar, the sound of their singing as we walk along this mountaintop…..

Leaving
Our last night in Limay. …We polished off a big Brahva, Barbara, Anne, John and I. It was a night of some sadness. Almost all of the families came to wish us a farewell. Leonardo’s wife made a pineapple upside down cake. Such wonderful things said by everyone. All of the delegation stood up and said some words of thanks to the families. There were many tears shed. I don’t think anyone wanted to leave.

So much need here. The problems in some ways so obvious, so much on the surface. Other needs perhaps more complicated, deeper. What to do with all this…..?

The First Delgations

Sent by Howdy Burns

The 1988 delegation was the first official delegation to Central America from the Catholic Archdiocese of Baltimore. Casa Baltimore cooperated with that delegation by coordinating the visit of the Archdiocesan delegation to Nicaragua and Limay.

In contrast, the January 1986 group was the first delegation organized by Casa Baltimore of St. Johns UMC at 27th & St. Paul Sts in Balt City. It is important that you realize that St. Johns was the center of most Central American peace efforts in Baltimore City at that time. As I was very deeply involved in most of those efforts, I was also involved in the formation of Casa Baltimore at St. John’s, and thus became an integral part of its first delegation.

But I was also working hard within my own parish — St. V’s — to establish a parish to parish connection between St. V’s and San Juan de Limay Parish.

NOTE WELL that St. V’s, including me, Dan Gage, Chuck Frascati, Barbara Vanden Bosche, Anne George, Kay Donahoe, and others, had chosen San Juan de Limay completely independantly of Nan & Phil and St. John’s efforts that led them to make the same choice.

So, when I went with Casa Baltimore’s first delegation, I had a separate mission to establish contact between St. Vincent’s and the parish of San Juan de Limay. To do do, Dick and our Peace Committee thought it best that we establish official communications between St. Vincent’s and the local, presiding Bishop. And so I did, I think with the help of Paul Fitzpatrick, a priest who I met as part of the Casa Baltimore delegation.

Anyway, in 1988 a lot of the delegates’ notes were typed up because we wanted to submit a formal report to the Archdiocese. Whereas the only notes of mine from the 1986 delegation that were transcribed were those of the meeting with the Bishop so that I could submit them for the review of the Parish Counsel.