Nicaragua Visit: The Sweet Taste of Partnership

Brother Albert Haugen is a Dominican Brother studying for the priesthood at St. Dominic’s priory in St. Louis, MO. He traveled to Nicaragua as part of the Global Fellows program.

Oscar raised the pole to the top of the tree. The saw blade at the tip of the pole sliced neatly through the stems and two large coconuts fell. The Global Fellows welcomed the dull thud of the heavy fruit hitting the ground with cheers. In short order, Oscar sawed open the coconuts, and the group enjoyed the sweet milk within. The sun shined, the smell of fertile fields filled our nostrils, and Oscar joyfully shared the fruits of his labor.

Nicaragua coconut

Oscar works to cut down coconut from his coconut tree. Sebaco, Nicaragua. Photo by Mikaele Sansone/CRS

Today the Global Fellows visited some of the sites benefited by ACORDAR. This project within CRS focuses on helping small farmers through skills training, acquiring small loans, valued-adding chains (i.e., linking farmers, processing services, and sellers, directly with one another to increase the profits and eliminate the “middle man”), farming supplies (e.g., fertilizer), and—most importantly—providing farmers like Oscar with the means to support himself. I could not help but to be proud of my brother for what he has done for himself.

Later, the Fellows visited FEM—Foundacion Entre Mujares (Foundation Between Women). These women took it upon themselves to form an alliance, to support one another, to take hold of their own lives and futures, and go into business for themselves. Inspired by their love for one another and love of creation, these women endeavored to create a coffee that respected not only the Earth, but one another. They explained their business plans, their mission, and their accomplishments (even the compost pile!), with smiles and glinting eyes. I could not help but to be proud of my sisters for what they have done for themselves.

I was very proud of the Catholic Church that day, and even more proud to be a part of the accomplishments of my brothers and sisters. Through the grace and teaching of Jesus Christ the Body of Christ, through the agency of CRS, reached out to Oscar and the women of FEM. I delighted that these gifts were freely given, with only the concern for the ability of my brothers and sisters to live and love. Though I gave neither the seed, the financial advice, nor the labor (for not all parts of the Body perform all tasks), through my own support of the Church I reached out to my brothers and sisters. I have prayed for the family of Adam, and God answered those prayers through CRS.

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