Author Archive

Is Rap More Dangerous Than Rape?

Last month, a priest in Kenya, Father Paul Ogalo started his year-long suspension, his offense: rapping during Mass. In an attempt to connect with the youth in his area, Father Ogalo began using the art of rap music to “attract a young people to his church and using it to spread the message against drug abuse.” Although Father Ogalo has been using rap to bring community members “closer to God” for some time now, it was only recently, when a video of him rapping in his robe went viral, that it caught the attention of his boss, Bishop Philip Anyolo, causing him to lose his position in the church. When interviewed about the situation Bishop Anyolo stated this: “We have just barred him from preaching using rap music to allow him time to change his ways.”  

The speed with which Father Ogalo was punished is remarkable in comparison to that of the priests and bishops who have committed or been accused of sexually abusing members of their congregation, whose punishment has been administered very slowly. So slowly in fact that it’s almost non-existent. In the latest sexual abuse scandal, an Australian archbishop was sentenced to home detention for covering up sexual abuse incidents committed by a fellow priest forty years ago; by covering for the priest, the archbishop said he “was protecting the church and its image.”  But even with his disgraceful actions and the conviction, the Vatican continues to allow the archbishop to keep his position; although he is no longer the head of the archdiocese, he still has the title of archbishop. Why hasn’t the Vatican reacted to this issue in a more just manner?

All religious institutions have standards and models of integrity and the Catholic church is no different. But when comparing the two stories one must ask: is rap music really more dangerous than rape? What kind of model is the Catholic church promoting if they punish clergyman for rapping but not for being involved in sexually abusing individuals? These questions definitely need answers. 

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Silencing Victims, Condoning Abuse: Trump, ICE, and 287(g)

Prince Gbohoutou, Marta, and Alejandra.  These are the names of a few publicized individuals whose presence was not silenced by ICE, thanks to community support. They shouted loud enough for the world to hear and send their “thoughts and prayers.” But their concerns are not 5-minute TV segments that we can switch when we want to watch something different. These are real stories of abuse, abandonment, and mistreatment at the hands of U.S. government agencies that believe that escaping a world of hardship is a crime that should be met by physical abuse, harassment, and imprisonment. We each have someone in our life who comments on our actions without living through our pain. This current administration is degrading asylum seekers without understanding the environment they are coming from. An environment they themselves couldn’t/wouldn’t even survive. In fact, they probably would not be able to survive the most impoverished neighborhoods in America. Ask yourself this: have those who are verbal abusing immigrants at mandatory weekly check-ins at the 24 ICE offices around the nation or affiliated ISAP offices ever been persecuted? Have they ever had to fear for their lives? Or do they relish in the fact that they make up rules to apply to “the other,” mainly people of color, in order to create fear and chaos to keep their power?

At the end of the day, the Trump Administration is feeding off of ignorance and those who comply with these cruel human rights violations are just as guilty. For visualization purposes, let’s draw a parallel between employees compliant in this behavior and the #MeToo movement. In this movement, stories came out about how employees of the abuser created an environment (through the help of assistants, etc.) that allowed for their bosses to sexually assault women and men. The Trump Administration and the Department of Homeland Security are the abusers and ICE and local jails that are part of the 287(g) program are the employees that are helping to solidify an environment of abuse.

Treating this issue as a TV segment feeds our fear and ignorance, but we can change that. To address fear as well as ignorance, band together with sanctuary organizations in your community such as ACLU-People Power, Central Virginia Sanctuary Network, Sanctuary DMV, and the like to build a strong community of support; to end fear, fight to end the presence of 287(g) in your communities.

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287(g) and the Community

In an effort to become more effective advocates on questions related to immigration, several team members at the Quixote Center have joined Sanctuary DMV as trained acompañantes. Accompaniment involves showing up to support our immigrant neighbors when they must engage with government authorities – or even private contractors – to comply with their immigration proceedings. For those neighbors, anything can happen when they reach the ICE office for their check-ins, including being detained in prison, being forced to wear an ankle monitor, driven to an airport and forced onto a plane out of the country, or leaving unscathed only to undergo this ordeal again before the month is over. 

Accompaniment is bringing us closer to the everyday realities lived by immigrant neighbors and one such miserable reality is captured in the legalistically labeled “287(g)” program.

287(g) is a program authorized under the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigration Responsibility Act of 1996 that allows state and local police officers to collaborate with the federal government in the enforcement of federal immigration laws. This collaboration consists primarily of renting out jails and prisons to house immigrants and allowing deputized officers to question and arrest alleged non-citizens if they believe that an individual has violated federal immigration laws (American Immigration Council). According to ICE, there are currently 78 local law enforcement agencies in 20 states that have a 287(g) agreement, including three counties in Maryland: Anne Arundel, Fredrick, and Hartford.   

The 287(g) program allows the federal government to intrude on the sovereignty of states while also exposing the public to the enormous risks of racial profiling. Moreover, if immigration violations fall under civil law, why are all sorts of immigrants (including those with green cards, seeking asylum, etc.) being arrested and treated like criminals? Yet these abuses are a consequence of law enforcement officials – whether intentionally or not – viewing “others” through a racist lens that perceives any non-caucasian who lacks an “American” accent as having entered the country illegally and who may therefore be subject to detainment. 

ICE officials and their “deputies” (aka local law enforcement) are rounding up immigrants, particularly Latinx migrants, who are being branded by this administration as a threat. They are forcing them to wear ankle monitors not only to keep track of them but also to publicly brand and shame as well as ostracize them. They are utilizing propaganda and the politics of fear by calling them criminals and “animals” to garner public support for policies that justify their abuse. And they are separating families and sending immigrants to forced labor camps or prisons

287(g) has become a conduit for the continuation of America’s racist history and local governments involved in this program risk paving the way for genocide or ethnocide. We can stop this from happening by ridding ourselves of this toxic program. The 287(g) program is allowed because communities allow it, as a local option, but not a mandate, which is why your voice is so important.

Here’s how you can take action against 287(g) in your community and nationwide:

Locally – Strongly urge local law enforcement agencies to terminate their 287(g) agreements with ICE. Law enforcement agencies are not being forced into these agreements.

Nationally –  Reach out to your representatives and encourage them to support the PROTECT Immigration Act of 2017 (H.R.1236/ S.303) as well as the Detention Oversight Not Expansion (DONE) Act (S.2849).

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Fewer Books for Maryland Inmates

Research shows that education plays a major role in reducing recidivism rates. Whether through the GED programs being offered in prisons or the presence of libraries, access to education is an important element of self-development for individuals, including prison inmates. 

In an effort to keep prisons “safe” and to decrease drug smuggling, however, correctional department officials in Maryland have deemed it necessary to limit inmates’ access to books. When asked how often drugs were smuggled into Maryland prisons via books, J. Michael Zeigler, a Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services deputy secretary, was unable to report that information. This form of inmate control is nothing new and was implemented recently in New York.  

“Books are important for everyone, but access to books is crucial for prisoners. Inmates have no or very limited access to the internet, so reading is a way to stay connected to society, if not to just pass time. Policies on book access for prisoners are widely divergent, and sometimes bafflingly inconsistent, across state, federal, and private prisons.” (Quartz Media)

Prisons have the opportunity to use tax dollars to benefit society as a whole, but instead they want to waste money by decreasing educational opportunities, which will send newly released individuals back to jail (because they’ve gained no other skills) only to start the cycle over again. Currently, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is examining the legal remedies needed to stop this action.

As mentioned in Proverbs 16:27, “Idle hands are the devil’s workshop,” and that same saying can be applied to one’s mind. 

Describing a 2014 RAND study on correctional education, Lois Davis, a senior policy researcher and co-author of the comprehensive report, said, “it really, for the first time, dispelled the myths about whether or not education helps inmates when they get out. Education is, by far, such a clear winner.”

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Inspirational and Influential Women of the World: Dorothy Day

Part VI of the Inspirational and Influential Women of the World Blog Series

“Don’t Call Me A Saint.” – Dorothy Day 

To call Dorothy Day a saint would be to dismiss her and her life’s work too easily, according to Ms. Day (Catholic Education). Born in New York City in 1897, Dorothy lived a balanced life of freedom and service until her passing in 1980 in New York City. She was the middle child in a family of seven in a two-parent Protestant household. Her mother was a homemaker and her father was a sports writer, which caused the family to move twice until they landed in Chicago where they stayed for over a decade. 

An intelligent young lady who enjoyed the liberal arts, Dorothy enrolled in college at the University of Illinois at the age of 16 to study journalism. Her collegiate life was short-lived and only lasted 2 years but had a huge impact on her life moving forward by exposing her to different social conditions.

“There was a great question in my mind. Why was so much done in remedying social evils instead of avoiding them in the first place? . . . Where were the saints to try to change the social order, not just to minister to the slaves but to do away with slavery?” (The Catholic Worker)

She soon left the University of Illinois and moved to New York where she continued to practice journalism while immersing herself in socialist ideology. She was only 18 years old.

The Bohemian

Being young in New York and living in free-spirited Greenwich Village allowed Dorothy to be immersed in art and activism. She began living a very passionate life as a “progressive activist and an artistic bohemian.” Her journalism surrounded her with anarchists and free thinkers and various types of liberals overall who were motivated to change social conditions, “She reported on protests, the ‘bread riots’ against the high cost of living, strikes, unemployment, and the many forms of human misery.” (The Catholic Worker) Writing captivating stories, being arrested for protests, and having lovers was nothing new for her during this segment of her life. It was through one of these lovers, writer Lionel Moise, that Dorothy became pregnant and, in an effort to keep Moise, had an abortion. He still ended up leaving her. 

Her writing as well as her commitment to social justice took her to Europe, Chicago, New Orleans, California, and eventually back to New York. It was during this time that she wrote and published her book, which was eventually adapted into a screenplay, called The Eleventh Virgin. And with money from the book’s sales, she bought a beach house on Staten Island which remained in her possession until her death.  

Catholic Worker Movement 

Although immersed in a Bohemian lifestyle, Dorothy’s view of God never faltered. As life went on in her beach house, so too did her writing and activism. It was with her partner at the time, Forster Batterham, that she became pregnant again. Not wanting to live with the regret she experienced with her past abortion, she decided to have the child, a daughter by the name of Tamar – her only child. With the birth of Tamar, Dorothy became more in-tune with the Catholic Church. And after her daughter’s baptism, converted to Catholicism in 1927.

She became a devout Catholic and continued to write but felt that she had more to offer. It was during this time, the Great Depression, that she met Peter Maurin. Peter encouraged Dorothy to start the Catholic Worker newspaper as a way to encourage people to apply Catholic social teachings to everyday life. It was from the newspaper that the Catholic Worker Movement came to be, which is what Dorothy Day is most known for helping to co-found. From the movement was the establishment of homes known as Catholic Worker Houses, in which simple living was practiced and hospitality was given to those in need,

“Her basic message was stunningly simple: We are called by God to love one another as He loves us.  If God was one keyword, hospitality was another.  She repeated, again and again, a saying from the early Church, ‘Every home should have a Christ room in it, so that hospitality may be practiced.’ ‘Hospitality,’ she explained, ‘is simply practicing God’s mercy with those around us.’” (Catholic Education)   

Conclusion

A writer, activist, Bohemian, devout Catholic, and mother, Dorothy Day was many things and lived many lives. To call her a saint would dismiss her too easily because she was more than that, she was a human being.  Her three autobiographies, The Long Loneliness, From Union Square to Rome, and The Eleventh Virgin all capture Ms. Day’s many lives. I find it odd that so many people want to canonize her because it was clear from the way that she lived her life that she never wanted to be glorified. It seems the best way to show appreciation for her and her work is to continue to show compassion and mercy to those around us.

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Is The Catholic Church A Lost Cause?

Should we give up on the Catholic Church? From the lack of equality, to the silence about the mistreatment of minorities, to the decades-long sexual abuse, one might ask, is there any hope for the Catholic Church?

On March 8, the Voices of Faith Conference was held at the Aula of the Jesuit Curia in Rome. The conference was originally supposed to be held at The Vatican but the speakers, who included Ssenfuka Juanita Warry and Mary McAleese, didn’t fit the ideal Vatican event, as described in an astute commentary authored by three Catholic female leaders in the National Catholic Reporter:

“Since 2014, Voices of Faith has marked International Women’s Day (March 8) with an event that examines how the intersection of Catholic doctrine and practice impacts women globally. This year, the Vatican denied the women the use of a hall inside its walls due to Voices of Faith’s selection of speakers, including former Irish President Mary McAleese and Ugandan lesbian activist Ssenfuka Joanita Warry. Voices of Faith held its forum a short distance away at the Jesuit Aula.

We applaud the decision to stick with speakers who would address issues in a way that challenged Vatican authority, instead of replacing them with more ‘acceptable’ individuals in order to be inside the walls. It is a sign of growth and integrity for Voices of Faith and a signal that our movements will not be dismissed or stopped.”

On the other hand, a letter published earlier this month by The Buffalo News responded to the same gathering in a totally different way:

“While there is serious damage done to individuals, in this case, the reportage is out of proportion to the damage to the community. In fact, this over-the-top sensationalism does damage of its own, eroding the morale of good Catholic priests (the majority of them) as well as faithful parishioners. Enough already.”

Enough already? Were not the children, boys and girls, that were molested by church leaders, these pillars of servitude and sanctity, saying “enough already” to these priests? Are not the children, now adults, who were sexually abused by priests and forced to live with the memories of betrayal and confusion, saying “enough already” to the praise and glorification of these priests? And are not the women of the church, who continue to be overlooked for priesthood, saying “enough already”? What about the cries of the marginalized such as African-Americans, Latinos, immigrants, and the LGBTQI community? Are they not saying “enough already” to being ignored?

The Catholic Church is broken. The patriarchal and misogynistic attitudes of the whole institution are causing major cracks in the religious foundation. The Catholic Church needs women leaders. Church leadership needs to be at the forefront of confronting social injustices; they need to hold themselves accountable for the wrongdoings of their clergymen because at the end of the day:

  • Women priests have just as much to offer as any male priests
  • The church should not sit idly by and watch injustices, such as the mistreatment of marginalized groups, occur
  • The church needs to stop preying on children while praying over their heads

Many Catholics who are proud of their faith want an end to the hypocrisy. How can they go to church and listen to church leaders, priests, bishops, archbishops, and/or the Pope say the homily with such compassion and understanding and yet find no faults with the Roman Catholic Church? They only wish to see and hear what will validate their continued privileged existence, but fail to hear the truth from those who lack their privilege.

To answer my opening question, giving up on the church is not an option because so many injustices continue to occur. In the words of Mary McAleese: “We are here because we care, because I care” (CRUX). Because of the effort and organizing and attention of so many strong women (and even a few men), things will change for the better as long as the broader community of the faithful continues to support this critical work. As a young Catholic, I will continue to support positive, progressive change because the Church becomes a lost cause only if we turn our backs and say nothing.

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Inspirational and Influential Women of the World: Wangari Maathai

Part II of the Inspirational and Influential Women of the World Blog Series

“Some of our human rights is environmental rights.” – Wangari Maathai

We all know that the #FutureIsFemme 🙂 but we also have to take a step back to acknowledge the remarkable women who helped paved that way. One African queen, in particular, is Wangari Maathai, Kenyan activist and founder of the Green Belt Movement.

Madame Maathai was born in 1940 in the rural compound of Nyeri, Kenya. An environmental scholar that studied in the U.S., Germany, and later Kenya, Madame Maathai returned to Kenya to receive her doctorate degree in veterinary anatomy in the late 1970s. She was the first woman in the East and Central African region to earn her doctorate. Her work as a department chair and professor for the University of Nairobi was short-lived in comparison to her grassroots environmental activism which began in the early 1980s and lasted until her death in 2011. She began her activism by being an active member (and later chairwoman) for the National Council of Women for Kenya. It was in this position that she informed members and communities about the importance of planting trees. Her commitment to the environment and the people of Kenya as a whole was relentless and no one, regardless of wealth or power, was immune to it:

“In the 1980s Maathai led a courageous fight against the construction of a skyscraper scheduled for construction in the middle of Uhuru park, Nairobi’s most important public space. Her vocal opposition to the location of the proposed complex led the government of President Daniel Arap Moi to label both Maathai and the Green Belt Movement ‘subversive.‘ She was vilified in Parliament and in the press and forced to vacate her office of 10 years with 24 hours’ notice. Nevertheless, thanks to Maathai’s opposition, foreign investors withdrew their support for the Uhuru Park complex and the project was canceled.” (Goldman Prize)

Madame Maathai founded the Green Belt Movement, with the premise of paying local women to plant trees in their community. An organization which started off with an environmental focus soon elevated itself to a human rights organization. She allowed people to see their growth and power by planting trees which made her a threat to the Kenyan government but ultimately a hero to not only the people of Kenya but all over the world. She worked with communities, mostly women around different parts of Kenya, to plant at least 20 million trees while she was alive (Nobel Prize). Today, the number of trees planted has surpassed 51 million (Green Belt Movement). Her work soon spilled over to neighboring countries in which tree planting initiatives began in Tanzania, Uganda, Malawi, Lesotho, Ethiopia, and Zimbabwe. In 2004 she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize because of her human rights and environmental conservation work.

In 2011, Wangari Maathai, passed away from ovarian cancer. She was an author, politician, environmentalist, professor, activist, but ultimately a visionary who saw that in order to properly help ourselves, we must help our environment.  Her impact continues to resonate across generations and countries because she was a fighter for justice; in fact, in Washington, D.C. there is a community garden named after her called Wangari Gardens. Today, her legacy continues to remain intact because of the continuous work of the Green Belt Movement which is still a positive force within Kenya.   

“Today we are faced with a challenge that calls for a shift in our thinking, so that humanity stops threatening its life-support system. We are called to assist the Earth to heal her wounds and in the process heal our own – indeed to embrace the whole of creation in all its diversity, beauty and wonder. Recognizing that sustainable development, democracy and peace are indivisible is an idea whose time has come.”

Wangari Maathai 

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Activism in Retrospect

During the last two weeks of February, the Quixote Center was involved in actions of solidarity for Dreamers and the people of Honduras. I attended the Honduras Awareness Tour (Feb. 22) and the Catholic Day of Action for Dreamers (Feb. 27) and was equally moved by both events that called us to be a catalyst for change. Below are my reflections on these experiences.

Honduras Awareness Tour

On February 22, I attended the Honduras Awareness Tour in its final stop in Washington, D.C. The three-city tour was an opportunity for Honduran journalists and human rights activists, Joaquin Mejia and Claudia Mendoza, to update the public on the current conditions of Honduras. It was only befitting that the tour ended in our nation’s capital since both speakers emphasized the destabilizing role the U.S. has played in its foreign policy towards Latin America, in particular, Honduras, starting with the Obama administration’s legitimization of the 2009 coup in which democratically elected president Manuel Zelaya was ousted from power by the Honduran military (NCR). For a country that claims to promote democracy and is even considering punishing other countries for not upholding democracy (as seen, for example, in the NICA Act), the U.S. position to dismiss democracy in Honduras by engaging with the Honduran military speaks volumes about the continuation of foreign policies that disregard the plight of the people of Honduras.

The event began with disturbing news reported by the event host, Oscar Chacon (Executive Director of Alianza Americas). He told the audience that Mejia’s family was still receiving death threats for his role of using Radio Progreso to discuss the conditions of Honduras. We also heard that one of Mendoza’s loved one’s passed away from an illness the night before. There before us stood two fearless people, determined to bring a message despite personal loss. The message, simply put, is that Honduras is suffering. Their democracy is being choked and as U.S. citizens we need to hold our government accountable for these actions and demand change. Why is our government still sending military aid to Honduras, a country where activists are met with death (#BertaVive)?.   

Overall the event provided a much-needed update on the conditions in Honduras. This is a U.S. concern as well since the people of Honduras need us to stand with them. They need us to raise our voices to a level that demands change in U.S. foreign policy. We need to support avenues of authentic journalism like Radio Progreso and the many other organizations in Honduras being harassed in an effort made to silence them. Now more than ever it is important to stand with the people of Honduras.

Catholic Day of Action for Dreamers

The final Tuesday in February was a day of both hope and sorrow. On February 27, Quixote Center staff took part in the Catholic Day of Action for Dreamers, a peaceful protest in Washington, D.C. that encouraged Catholics and non-Catholics to elevate voices in support Dreamers and demand their right to stay in the U.S. The first year of the Trump administration has been a disaster for immigrant families. The administration’s dehumanizing rhetoric and willingness to use families to create a deal for a misconceived border wall is, frankly, disgusting. 

QC staff: (left to right) Mfon Edet, Jessica DeCou, Jocelyn Trainer

The protest was an opportunity to stand with our neighbors, families, and friends who are Dreamers, during this stressful time in their life. Have you ever been in a situation when you didn’t know where you were going to live or have to face the possibility that your family could be split apart? The amount of stress those types of concerns come with is too heavy to bear alone. We need to support immigration reform that leads to paths to citizenship for not only Dreamers but all immigrants who have built lives here.

The number of people that showed up in support of Dreamers was beautiful to witness. There was mass in the morning at St. Peters on Capitol Hill and a rally in front of the Senate building in which different activists spoke about the much-needed change in our immigration policies. The protest eventually moved inside of the Senate building where protesters met in the rotunda to pray. Soon after the prayer, the protest ended with the arrest of approximately 40 nuns.

After the arrest, I saw protest participants walking directly into their state representatives’ offices to discuss the need for a path to citizenship with better immigration reform legislation. I also saw families around the rotunda crying and it dawned on me even more that this is their reality. They are in limbo and it’s SCARY. With our members of Congress failing to support positive immigration reform, and with the current injustices of ICE raids, the voices of immigrants are being ignored.

Overall I’m glad to have been a part of this protest. As a Catholic, a person of color, a first-generation American, and an activist, seeing the nuns being arrested coupled with the families crying made me take a step back to look at the conditions of this country. In the words of Daniel Neri, one of the speakers at the rally, “We are not criminals, we are not rapists, we are good people” (NCR). 

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Tackling the Justice System

The U.S. criminal justice system can be quite overwhelming to say the least. From the complexities of the laws and policies in place to understanding the roles of the myriad agents involved in sentencing, getting a handle on the criminal justice system is daunting. The following diagram from the organization, Prison Fellowship, provides a simple yet detailed diagram of the system.

This graph helps map the formal system, but it doesn’t include social implications such as poverty, racism, and corrupt political agendas. The manner in which these social forces create inequities in the system, as well as the inhumane practices within the criminal justice system itself, has led to increasing calls for reform, and even rethinking what we mean by justice. We want justice that doesn’t profit off of the number of bodies in jails and prisons; justice that actually reduces crime; justice that looks beyond the criminal act and address the factors that are causing criminal activity (i.e. poverty, racism, limited access to education, increased access to drugs).

In order for justice to occur, local advocacy and reform need to take place. And of the different aspects of criminal justice system, prison reform itself needs to be reformed. At the Quixote Center, we don’t have all of the answers for reform, but we do have the necessary passion needed to see change come about. The primary focus of this blog series will be to explore prison reform on the local, state and federal level. We will look at reform through the lenses of government officials such as mayors and state delegates, from the perspective of formerly (and currently) incarcerated individuals, the presence of proactive (or harmful) legislation, as well as examine the different factors affecting recidivism such as lack of housing and discrimination in the work force.

At the federal level, the Department of Justice is led by known racist, former Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions. It is imperative that we keep an eye on the DoJ as well as legislation submitted to the House Judiciary Committee. Keep the following numbers close so when it’s time to advocate for or against certain bills, you will be able to reach out to your state representatives! To contact your house of representatives and state senators call 202-224-3121.

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Adventures in the “Land of Lakes and Volcanoes”

It has been a little over a month since we got back from the “land of lakes and volcanoes,” ‘aka’ Nicaragua, a delegation of six individuals from different lives who willfully spent a week together in another country where language was a barrier for some. It was like a social justice version of MTV’s The Real-World. And, unlike the 90s tv show, it was both a positive and eye-opening experience.

Oftentimes when people from the States go to other countries in the Americas, like Nicaragua, in which not everything is manicured, they talk about a “humbling” experience. But “humbling” seems very pompous and arrogant and overall comes off as if to say, “Oh, look how the poor live. I’m glad I’m not poor.” When humbling is a description of an experience that stems from viewing poverty, it just doesn’t seem appropriate to me.

So Nicaragua, to me, wasn’t humbling; it was different yet familiar. Nicaragua, in particular, Managua, represents a simpler time when people weren’t ruled by technology or social media. Yes, there are phones, internet and all those things related to the technology age but the Nicaraguan people had limits. They enjoy each other’s presence; they converse. And so, naturally, did our delegation. Being the youngest in the group and an admitted Instagram addict, talking to strangers, using my phone to actually make phone calls instead of using it like a computer, going on long car rides to rural areas and simply enjoying the beauty of nature were all a little odd, but refreshing. Being in Nicaragua, I felt like I could breathe freely without being (or watching) a screen. It was great!

The purpose of our trip to Nicaragua was to catch up, face-to-face, with our local partners: the Institute of John XXIII (the Institute) and FEDICAMP. Although we’re in contact via email and Skype from our home office in Maryland, being able to see the work being done and directly talking (in Spanish) to the families affected by such work was fantastic.

We got to see homes being built and spoke to multiple families about the experience of having a safe place to live and raise their family. I was excited for the families  but also because I saw strong community connections developing due to the way our Homes of Hope program responds to the different needs and conditions of the communities in which it is carried out.

The journey to Esteli provided another opportunity to bond with other members of the delegation as we travelled the open road. Once in Esteli, we were able to visit a number of families impacted by FEDICAMP’s work with the community. We spoke to students, families, and women entrepreneurs who are very active in addressing sustainable agricultural needs (such as access to water) for the greater community.

The Institute and FEDICAMP, along with the communities they serve, think like a team and move like a team, because they are one. So, too, was the Quixote Center and our delegation. We looked out for each other’s well-being. Seeing that theme present throughout the trip made me really proud to be a part of the delegation, to be a staff member at the Quixote Center, and to be associated with great partners such as the Institute and FEDICAMP.

I definitely saw some beautiful lakes (not so much the volcanoes) but surrounding those natural elements were the beautiful people and their fight for social change. Nicaragua made me realize even more that I have a responsibility to take care of the planet. On top of that, I have a responsibility to work alongside different communities because, although we may look different, at the end of the day we all want a safe place to sleep, good food in our bellies, and an opportunity to have a positive impact. Overall my trip was great. I highly recommend Nicaragua as your next adventure. Come join us on the next delegation!

 

**Photo: Fertility statue common in Nicaragua.**

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Contact Us

  • Quixote Center
    7307 Baltimore Ave.
    Ste 214
    College Park, MD 20740
  • Office: 301-699-0042
    Email: info@quixote.org

Direction to office:

For driving: From Baltimore Ave (Route 1) towards University of Maryland, turn right onto Hartwick Rd. Turn immediate right in the office complex.

Look for building 7307. We are located on the 2nd floor.

For public transportation: We are located near the College Park metro station (green line)