Pearl Rotarians initiated the new year on January 8 by hearing plans to develop a new working partnership in Nicaragua with Green Empowerment (GE), a Portland-based group that has advocated “village solutions for global change since 1997.”
The presentation was led by Jordan Weisman, chair of the Pearl International Committee, and Andrea Johnson, GE executive director. The discussion of collaboration in Nicaragua was part of a multi-faceted “new year assembly” for Pearl Rotarians to discuss their goals.
GE has a 20-year record of working with communities around the world to improve life in local communities, including Bolivia, Columbia, Ecuador, Malaysian Borneo, Myanmar, Peru, and the Philippines. It forms partnerships with other non-profits to advance such environmental issues as new water quality standards, water treatment design, chlorine concentration, and solar power.
Nicaragua is a natural site for village solutions to troubling social conditions. It has a long, continuing history of political conflict. Poverty is severe; the Population Reference Bureau estimates per capita income in 2018 was $5680, compared with $60,200 in the United States. GE reports that more than 1.3 million Nicaraguans (in a population of 6.3 million) lack access to electricity.
The Pearl-GE project would primarily involve improving the water and sanitation facilities for a community of 150 families in the northern part of Nicaragua, near the border with Honduras. A positive feature of the possible project is a supportive Rotary chapter in Managua, the capital and major city. GE already has experience in Nicaragua in encouraging improved water supply and electrification.
The project would involve joint financing between GE and Rotary. Andrea was quite positive about the potential of the project, noting that her organization and Rotary “share many of the same values.” Rotary support would have to be drawn from a Rotary Global grant and from the large number of Rotary chapters in the northwestern part of Oregon. Specific plans for the project seem to depend on the availability of funding. A completed proposal for funds is expected during the coming year.