Update from the Field: Board Member Gretchen Lands in Tipitapa


In April, after visiting Tipitapa twice as a board member of Dos Pueblos, I made the somewhat spontaneous decision to live here for six months.

Both of my previous trips had given me a fascinating insight into how our local volunteers run our projects on the ground, and as a former student of international development I really wanted to take a closer look and support the communities in making them happen. Having new friends here made the idea of gaining further field experience more appealing, while the low cost of living and some frequent flyer miles made an extended stint as a volunteer possible. All that was left was to get down here and get to work.

After arriving on June 14, my first order of business was to deliver some of the school supplies donated by families at Brooklyn’s Poly Prep Country Day School. Luke Asente, a 13-year-old student who had traveled with Dos Pueblos to Tipitapa, had collected a whopping 300 pounds of donations from fellow students.

I brought down the first installment of supplies, to be shared between the libraries in Oronte Centeno and Ciudadela. While some materials such as air-drying clay were tucked away to be used for group projects, other smaller pieces were handed out as part of a raffle for the children who came to the libraries to borrow books.

Being able to attend the raffle in my Tipitapa neighborhood was a great experience, as it gave me a chance not only to see the fruits of Luke’s labor, but also to meet some of my younger neighbors. There was Moises, a 4-year-old boy who loves to sing, Marcia, a little girl who wants to be both a pastor and a ballet dancer, and several children who wanted to hear all about flying in an airplane. I’m hoping that in the coming months, just like my little neighbors, I’ll be able to visit my local library on Fridays to borrow books (there are plenty for adults) and chat for a while.

My next priority is helping Rosa, our local coordinator and community leader, to prepare for the arrival of Dr. Andrew Suseno, a physical therapist who recently contacted Dos Pueblos to volunteer his skills and time. Andrew will be providing a series of workshops in Tipitapa to train and assist caregivers of children with various mobility disabilities, sharing basic skills in rehabilitation and cardboard construction techniques to address the children’s adaptive equipment needs. Everyone will have the chance to participate, and we are excited to be working with Andrew on such a sustainable model, one which can be shared among the communities and which uses equipment which is locally available. Stay tuned for updates and photos from the workshops!

Meet Our New Intern!

To the inspiring Dos Pueblos community:

I’d like to introduce myself as Dos Pueblos’ new Development & Communications Intern! I’ll be working with Lupe, Helen, and the Board over the summer months on grant applications and appeals, as well as outreach and social media (perhaps you’ve already seen our new Twitter account!) and anything else they may need as Dos Pueblos works to extend its great work to new communities.

A little about me: I’m an International Development student at McGill University in Montreal, Canada, as well as a journalist and yoga instructor. The story of my passion for international development may sound familiar to many of you: it all began in Nicaragua.

When I was fourteen, I went down to Nicaragua on a service trip with Bridges to Community, an organization very similar to Dos Pueblos. Working alongside a team of Nicaraguan masons and community members, my group built two houses and laid pipes for the organization’s new water project.

It was an experience like no other. The poverty that I saw there shook me to my very core, and I couldn’t imagine leaving the people I had come to love so much. I felt inspired and discouraged all at once: by the end of the week, two families had safe, sturdy, and secure homes which they could proudly claim as their own, a huge improvement to their standard of living. And yet, these homes were probably only a bit larger than my bedroom, and there were thousands of families who still lacked proper housing.

The culture shock I felt upon my return was also daunting, as the next night I attended an extravagant, over-the-top sweet sixteen. To say I was horribly disappointed and disillusioned with my peers would be an understatement. Over time, however, I came to see alternatives to such cynicism. I told as many people as I could about my trip to Nicaragua, trying to communicate just a fraction of what I had seen and experienced there.

And I kept going back. Over the next four years, I went to Nicaragua six times, working alongside familiar faces and learning something new every time. In my junior year of high school I even led one of the trips myself.

My experience with Bridges to Community was a wonderful introduction to sustainable development. Local committees dictated community needs, local people were empowered to start their own businesses and projects through microfinance, and through cross-cultural exchanges volunteers were inspired to promote change in their own communities at home. In short, it was about solidarity, not charity.

It is because of these qualities – sustainability, community ownership, and collaboration – and the people who believe in them so strongly, that I was drawn to Dos Pueblos. My first day on the job was the day of the Spring Fundraiser, and the mixture of passion, solidarity, and joy in the room was infectious. I look forward to learning more about Dos Pueblos’ great work over the next few months, and to getting to know many of you better, whether online through blog posts and social media or in person.

That’s all for now—you’ll hear from me soon!


Annie Shiel

Thank You for Making our Event a Success!

When we are blessed with good weather for our Spring Fundraiser, we know that no matter what, it's going to be a good party. With its beautiful garden, the cool, airy house of the Kerwin family is a wonderful place to spend a summer evening, and so everyone was already in high spirits for the Dos Pueblos Spring Benefit. By the time the entertainment started, and Board Member Steve invited the crowd to sing along, everyone joined in to 'sing for the future of Tipitapa.' Donors, friends and families mingled together, putting in bids at the silent auction or learning a bit more about our projects through our photos. Wah, the karaoke DJ, kicked off the karaoke with a fantastic cover of Adele's "One and Only," which eased some members of the crowd into the idea of also having a go!

Gretchen Craig, who just celebrated her one-year anniversary on the board of Dos Pueblos and has recently returned from Tipitapa, gave a moving appeal which reminded us all that local volunteers in Nicaragua are ready to make the most amazing changes in people’s lives - they just need to be given the opportunities. Luke Asente, who attended a delegation to Tipitapa last year (and at 12 years old, was the youngest participant to date), shared his reasons for supporting Dos Pueblos, and explaind how, after seeing children looking for scraps in dumps in Tipitapa, he returned to Brooklyn and went on to collect 300 lbs of  school supplies through his School, PolyPrep, for the Dos Pueblos libraries. Combined, the speeches brought energy and hope to the room, and we know that the generous support of those present will also bring energy and hope to many in Tipitapa.

Young Volunteer Combines Theater and Community Service at Poly Prep


The price of admission to Poly Prep’s Middle School musical Grease, which was performed May 11 and 12, was backpacks, school supplies, and books in Spanish, which will be sent to children in Tipitapa, Nicaragua.

It was seventh-grader Luke Asente, who played Eugene in the musical, who suggested the nonprofit Sister City organization Dos Pueblos as the beneficiary of the musical.

Asente shared with the school that his mother, Monique Luchetti, is good friends with the Executive Director of Dos Pueblos, Lupe Ramsey,  and that his whole family had joined Lupe and Dos Pueblos on a delegation to Nicaragua in January 2011.

When Asente visited Tipitapa with his family in 2011, he was the first and only youngster to travel with the 15-person delegation, and he said he was “astounded” at what he saw. His mom had the same reaction. “We were blown away by the poverty we witnessed in these small villages,” Luchetti said. “And also by the incredible Nicaraguan people and the strong, generous, community leaders we met. People are hungry, social services are non-existent, there is no infrastructure, no stores or businesses, dogs are starving and children are growing up in the worst of circumstances.” But it is certainly not a place with hope, she says, “Despite all this, the community leaders working there with the help of Dos Pueblos are able to change lives and make a difference to the people living in Tipitapa every day.”

Read the full article here

Come Enjoy an Evening of Song and Dance!


You’re invited to the Annual Dos Pueblos Garden Extravaganza!

Please join us for a fun evening of song and dance in the

beautiful Upper West Side home and garden of Brian and Jeanne Kerwin.


Yes! I am attending the Dos Pueblos May 31st Spring Extravaganza to support clean water, preventive health and education programs in Nicaragua.

Can't attend the event but still want to send your support?

All contributions are 100% tax-deductible.


Bringing Water to an Entire Community

Community volunteers
Community volunteers

Last week I got back from my first trip to Tipitapa.

My time there was packed with so many amazing activities—drives out to over a dozen rural communities, visits with young people involved in our libraries and softball programs—that it’s hard to pick what to write about. But for now I’ll focus on just one community, Marvin Salazar, we visited to follow up on a water project.

After turning off the highway and driving down a bumpy dirt road for a spell, we pulled up in front of an open air church to meet with members of the Water Committee and greater community.

The wind was picking up, so we moved our meeting to a small building beside the church to hear how local organizers put together a water project that delivers water directly to households in their community. As the committee’s president, Juan de Fuentes, described their work, I was wowed by the level of organization this project involved.

Water Pump in Marvin Salazar
Water Pump in Marvin Salazar

Community members standing next to their new electric pump.

After having organized to get electricity in their community last year, community members used support from Dos Pueblos to install a large electric pump that can deliver water directly to people’s homes. Each household bought into the water system by purchasing the piping for their units (about $13 each), and in an effort to make the process as transparent as possible, the Water Committee made a point to manage paper, not money—collecting receipts that showed each household had made its contribution to the project. Finally, in an effort to better manage their water supply and maintain their pump, the Water Committee split the community into four sectors and installed switches in the piping system so that water delivery goes sector by sector, with each receiving two hours of access at a designated time each day.

Sector key
Sector key

Water is provided to each sector of the community for two hours at a time using this key.

As we walked through Marvin Salazar, we got to see their new infrastructure at work, stopping at the sector switches and watching as people took advantage of the outdoor taps at their homes. It was inspiring to see so much good come from such a small investment of resources. As a first-time visitor in the area, I felt hopeful that our partnerships with local organizers can make a tremendous impact in people’s lives. But as a volunteer in the US, I also felt compelled to do more to meet the level of work being done by volunteers in Nicaragua. Walking through the most remote area of the community, where more than 400 houses are still waiting for piping to be installed, I looked forward to the next few months of work, and to my next visit, when the piping trenches will be filled in, and the water will be flowing in every home.

Access to Water is a Basic Human Right

That is why much of our work focuses on getting clean water to the neediest in Tipitapa. Potable water protects the most vulnerable, children and elders from water-borne diseases, and frees residents, especially women, from the endless daily task of obtaining what they call “el líquido vital.” It is one of the most powerful – and cost effective – ways of helping communities organize around meeting their basic needs to break the cycle of poverty. In the last eight years, our partners in Nicaragua have coordinated many projects bringing clean water to growing communities (over 20,000 families). With support from our individual donors and the generosity of the Cottonwood Foundation, our experienced volunteers lead the way by providing technical expertise, and the communities always contribute the ?sweat equity‘ to install the refurbished wells. Once the basic necessity of water is met, our volunteers continue to engage the communities in addressing local health and education needs.

The bad news is that the Cottonwood Foundation is closing its doors in May. The good news is that they have recognized our work with a final Legacy Grant to provide healthy water to 10 new communities. This grant will allow us to reach the most rural regions in Tipitapa – those that are most excluded from society – so that they may play an active role in protecting their health and their families. In other words this means child mortality is reduced, schools are built, water pollution is decreased, and economic opportunities begin. Help us provide these basic rights to Nicaraguans. We need your support more than ever to continue this important work. Please don‘t forget to make a generous donation today.

Update from the Field: a Microfinance Success Story

On my last trip to Tipitapa, I was honored to meet Jacquelyne, a mother of three who received a Dos Pueblos microloan almost two years ago. A resident in Oronte Centeno near the center of town, Jacquelyne requested a microloan to help her small business making bags and fixing clothes. The leftover fabric never went to waste, since her skills on the sewing machine allowed her to stitch and darn every last piece of material into something to sell to support her family.

With the loan, and some family support, Jacquelyne sells and sews not only in Tipitapa, but also sends her cousin off to Matagalpa in the north of Nicaragua every month with a batch of bags to sell there, and he always comes back empty handed. Meanwhile in Oronte Centeno, the word of her work is spreading and she has new visitors all the time. "I'm the only person in this community who mends clothes", Jacquelyne says, "I think that's why work is always busy". That and the fact that her bags are beautiful, fully lined and even zipped to keep all your things safe. We'll have some for sale at our Fall Fundraiser on November 7th. Come along and see the bags for yourself and support Jacquelyne!

John McCutcheon Benefit Concert - Nov. 7th


Join Dos Pueblos to celebrate 24 years of solidarity with the people of Nicaragua and to benefit our work in Tipitapa. This enjoyable evening will feature John McCutcheon, one which will "reach into human doings and find strings that tie all of us together."


*All donations go to our communities in Tipitapa so please join us!


    Monday, November 7th, 2011
    Church of St. Paul & St. Andrew
    263 West 86th St. (corner of West End Avenue)
    New York, NY 10024



Food, Drinks, and Music RSVP: info@tipitapa.org, or 917-776-4246


Marina – a Volunteer Against All the Odds

Marina and Emanuel, one of her pupils
Marina and Emanuel, one of her pupils


Life has thrown its lot at Marina Garcia Hortado, one of our dedicated volunteers from Chilamatillo, Tipitapa. Despite all the odds, Marina has always taken it upon herself to improve the lives not just of her children, but of her entire community, providing support such as education on birth control and workshops for women so they can start their own businesses. Not to mention that she’s a fantastic cook!

Her volunteer life began in 1985, when she taught at the local preschool in her community. There was no funding for paid teachers, but Marina understood the importance of free education for all from as young an age as possible and immediately offered her services. However, diseases such as malaria meant many children could not attend school, and in larger families children had to spend their time pitching in to put food on the table. Marina attended courses on malaria and diarrhea so she could share her knowledge back in Chilamatillo, and started working with ‘Profamilia’ who provide programs and services on family planning.

When Marina’s husband Jose lost his sight and could no longer work as a mechanic, Marina took a job at the local primary school to support the upbringing and education of her four children. But this did not impede her volunteer work, and her experiences as a teacher gave her the skills to teach adults how to read and to give private classes to children with special learning disabilities. And since improving the lives of the women in her community was her main priority, she continued to share her family planning knowledge, riding around the community on her bike to distribute contraceptive pills to as many women as she could.

Through working with Rosa, our community leader in Tipitapa, Marina is now assisting our microfinance program, and learnt many skills so she could assist the women along the way – cooking, sewing, handicrafts, even beauty classes! She is our main cook when we head down to Tipitapa on a delegation, and even does a hot plate of ‘gallo pinto’ (beans and rice) better than anyone else. When asked of her dreams for the future, Marina replied “To always have the opportunity to help the people in my community. And perhaps one day to be able to thank the donors of Dos Pueblos in person!”

Spring Benefit Art Auction and Raffle

Sandro Chia Nancy Graves
SandroChia.com NancyGravesFoundation.org



Friday May 6th, 6pm 


Great Art  Good Fun  Tasty Bites  Music Fabulous People

For a $200 donation you are guaranteed an original work of art that will benefit our programs in Nicaragua

Our Spring Benefit Raffle & Auction will be held in the beautiful Upper West Side home and garden of Brian and Jeanne Kerwin

Raffle tickets will be drawn at the event to determine the order of selection

Preview & party begins at 6pm and raffle starts at 7:30pm.  A Silent Auction will end at 8:00pm.

Check participating artists and images of their beautiful artwork NOW on our website.


To RSVP or request more details please contact: lupe@tipitapa.org or helen@tipitapa.org, or call 917-776-4246

Mail checks to:

Dos Pueblos 155 W. 72 Street, #402 New York, NY 10023


An Update from the Field: our Health Center is Secure!


By heading to Tipitapa a week before the 2011 Tipitapa Delegation in January, I was lucky enough to really see community work in action with our Health Center Security Fence in Ciudadela San Martin. The entire fence was built in just over a week, all with the labor and support of local volunteers and Rosa, our local community leader and organizer, supervising the project from start to finish. Whether this meant following up on deliveries of supplies or bringing the working team fresh fruit for lunch, Rosa was always present making sure that the fence would be ready in time for the delegates to see, and in time for the planting of our family vegetable patches in the grounds.

With barely a shred of construction knowledge, watching the fence go up was a learning experience. It was also an opportunity to learn some very specific vocabulary (‘malla’ is Spanish for wire mesh fencing). On the day we transported the ‘malla’ from Masaya to Ciudadela, the accelerator pedal in the hired truck gave way. Never an issue in Nicaragua – our driver threaded a rope through the engine, under his feet and into his hand, and just pulled to pick up speed.

Each day saw new progress, with women, men and children helping to create cement mix, chop down weeds blocking the path of the fence and solder the iron tubes in place. The community was supported by CPC (the Citizen’s Power Council) and CAPS, the National Nicaraguan Potable Water Committee on this project, partnerships which can only serve to strength the work we do.

Now our recently renovated Health Center is secure, and the enclosed family gardens are already sprouting radishes and lettuce. Here, parents and children with special needs are working together to grow sustainable and healthy food to support good nutrition, and we also hope to begin workshops in this secure space to teach preventive health. This one, simple project has brought together so much, from community spirit to health and education.

Reflections on Tipitapa


Yolanda Mayo decided that a delegation to Tipitapa, Nicaragua, would be an exciting and moving start to retirement. It was a pleasure to have Yolanda on our trip, and we do hope she will join us again, even if breakfast is still an overflowing plate of rice and beans! Here are Yolanda’s thoughts upon returning to New York.Of the many experiences I had planned for retirement, Tipitapa turned out to be not only the first one, but the most challenging! Having travelled in Central America before and speaking Spanish, I did not feel the need for preparation. As a social worker for over 30 years, I have dealt with poverty, cross-culturalism, and most types of human needs. Yet, this short trip opened new windows of experience and brought me friends in two very different sister cities. First, the experiences of Tipitapa prompted a true understanding of the old Native American adage: Do not judge your neighbor until you have walked three moons in his or her moccasins. Learning from these experiences and directly sharing life limitations on a daily basis made a lasting change in my life. In seeing the strength, of the people, their daily challenges and struggles, their ability to laugh, love, and give of themselves (and what little they had), has left a profound impression on my life, leading to my questioning who actually has more, those The Tipitapa experience, as a human experience, is probably replicated daily in multiple countries around the globe, yet it has led me to re-frame the question of how best I can be of help to others. This, I thought, I knew well from my professional training. I have since questioned what are real priorities in the scale of human needs, how I can help others voice what they would want to say, what aspects of others’ culture is not to be touched by me, and how do I best understand other views. Critical to me has been questioning how I can develop true equity in a world of differences and commonalities.

“Pero todo no fue reflecciones serias y trabajo.” There was also fun! I met a fantastic and dedicated group of people who accepted my differences and led me to see myself somewhat differently. Everyone in the group, including Luke (the youngest), was a trooper.

From Luke’s reading to the children, to Arlene’s salsa dancing, and to everyone tolerating my food fetishes and difficulties in eating rice and frijoles for breakfast, my fear of worms when gardens are planted, and in making do with whatever was at hand. The group was superb, I learned to “let go,” laugh at myself, and accept that I am melindrosa. The next time I will be better armed with acceptance and openness in the true spirit of these concepts!

Community Hope - a report from the Dos Pueblos delegation, January 2011


We've just returned from our latest delegation in Tipitapa and everyone who took part agreed that the progress we witnessed on the ground was astounding. Not only were we able to watch members of the communities work as volunteers to build a fence, a library and provide their villages with potable water, but we also met so many dedicated and passionate community organizers that we can return to New York safe in the knowledge that our projects are taking great steps and are in safe and caring hands.Our first report comes from Scott Woods, who joined our delegation from Phoenix, Arizona. This was his first delegation with Dos Pueblos and we were honored to have him as part of our group.

“No mas no more, we must stop the dirty war, compañeros compañeras cry out, no mas no more.” While the lyrics from this School of America Watch song(written by none other than our great friend and supporter, John McCutcheon) are more relevant to Colombia, El Salvador, and Honduras, Nicaragua too has fallen victim to failed international policies and internal strife. The civil war in Nicaragua ended decades ago resulting in a relatively peaceful society, one with promise, but one that still faces social challenges. The recognition of positive peace, in which the society experiences social systems that serve the entire population, is still a dream for many, especially the residents of communities in and around Tipitapa.

An ongoing interest in Latin American culture, governmental systems, and global policies affecting Central America, specifically Nicaragua, initially drew me to Dos Pueblos. In researching the history of the organization, I learned quickly of the many successful projects and contributions that Dos Pueblos has made to the communities of Nicaragua. The January 2011 delegation was not only an opportunity to gain a breadth of knowledge of the challenges facing Nicaragua, but also, witness the successes of Dos Pueblos and the “faces” of the various communities supported by Dos Pueblos.

Last year, I was involved in a campaign to bring attention to the displaced people in Colombia. The campaign used “faces” and personal stories in an effort to humanize the displacement of campasinas in Colombia. The people of Latin America are often forgotten as a whole when it comes to United States governmental policy and U.S. corporate actions. NAFTA, CAFTA, and the pending Colombian trade act fail to take into account the “faces” and the broad reaching ramifications of many policy actions.

As I disembarked Managua’s Augusto Sandino International Airport, and until my tearful departure eight days later, I was always greeted by warm, caring, happy, and smiling Nicaraguan people, perhaps even more so, from those living in situations of extreme poverty or with physical/cognitive disabilities.

With Nicaragua being the second poorest country in the western hemisphere, a considerable level of financial despondency was expected. It was emotionally disquieting to witness the pain and suffering, but more disconcerting is the fact that much of this suffering results from a lack of compassion on the part of distant political and corporate leaders. I witnessed the many successes and happiness that Dos Pueblos and other NGO’s have brought to the various communities; on the other hand, I would be remiss if I failed to share some of the less favorable situations and the affected faces.  The economic strife witnessed was broad reaching within the areas of human rights, nutrition, health, and education.

Day one of the delegation brought us to the community of Santa Marta.  I learned that at one time, the area around Santa Marta was home to sugarcane fields and a state-run sugar processing facility that employed many people in Tipitapa, which was subsequently privatized in the 1980s and eventually closed down. They have been replaced by many sq km of fields filled with rice paddies. This seems like a perfect fit until you learn that the co-op responsible for the rice uses nearly all the available water, leaving a well in the community of 200 plus families nearly dry.

While the pain I witnessed was heartbreaking, the projects supported by Dos Pueblos and this delegation, however small, do make a huge difference. It is difficult to say which project has or will have the most impact. A well project from last year enables 200+ families to have potable water. However, the community has no school, and the nearest community with a school, San Benito, does not have the resources to support students from other communities’ even if they could afford the bus fare.

Various micro-finance projects allow women to prosper and contribute to the community. While nearly all micro-finance projects have contributed greatly, the children’s smiles indicated that the expansion of a small community store to include the sale of ice cream (Eskimo) was particularly welcome and successful.

The delegation with Dos Pueblos to Nicaragua and the delegates have made a lasting impression. Kicking a football on a dirt street with the kids, watching a young boy roll an old bicycle tire with a stick, smiling the entire time, and the smiles on the children’s faces at the library will forever bring a smile to me.

The people of Nicaragua will always be close to my heart and in my thoughts. I will continue to share my witness and will return soon in hopes of contributing to more growth and opportunity for the people of Nicaragua. I cannot express how proud I am of the children and their contributions to their communities and families, and how sad I am that often they do not have the opportunity to just be kids.

Come With Us To Sunny Nicaragua!


January 22-29, 2011

Roll Up Your Sleeves and Work Side by Side With The People of Nicaragua. Join Dos Pueblos in Grassroots Strategies For Change Where You Can Help Empower Communities in Tipitapa.

On This Trip You Will Have The Opportunity To:

Join a team of concerned citizens to explore the healthcare and education needs of Nicaraguan children and their communities.

  • Engage in programs that address health, children’s literacy, and women’s economic empowerment by working side by side with local families.
  • Participate in meetings with local government officials and community volunteers to address current local issues.
  • Visit artists and tour Nicaragua’s beautiful colonial streets, or hike a volcano!
  • No Spanish? No worries, translators will be provided.

Cost: $700 (double occupancy) $875 (single occupancy). *Airfare, departure taxes, tips and personal expenses are not included. $200 Deposit due Dec 1st .

What’s Included:

  • Local hotel or home stay
  • Two meals per day—breakfast and lunch
  • All local transportation in air conditioned vehicles
  • Tour leader, guides and translators
  • Workshops
  • Pertinent written material

Space is Limited. Contact Lupe Ramsey: info@tipitapa.org or call 917-776-4246.


Join our Delegation and see Nicaragua!

Roll Up Your Sleeves and Work Side by Side With The People of Nicaragua. Join Dos Pueblos in Grassroots Strategies For Change Where You Can Help Empower Communities in Tipitapa. On This Trip You Will Have The Opportunity To:

Join a team of concerned citizens to explore the healthcare and education needs of Nicaraguan children and their communities.

  • Engage in programs that address health, children’s literacy, and women’s economic empowerment by working side by side with local families.
  • Participate in meetings with local government officials and community volunteers to address current local issues.
  • Visit artists and tour Nicaragua’s beautiful colonial streets, or hike a volcano!
  • No Spanish? No worries, translators will be provided.

Cost: $700 (double occupancy) $875 (single occupancy). *Airfare, departure taxes, tips and personal expenses are not included. $200 Deposit due Dec 1st .

What’s Included:

  • Local hotel or home stay
  • Two meals per day—breakfast and lunch
  • All local transportation in air conditioned vehicles
  • Tour leader, guides and translators
  • Workshops
  • Pertinent written material

Space is Limited. Contact Lupe Ramsey: info@tipitapa.org or call 917-776-4246.

Little New Yorkers Make a Big Difference


In Tipitapa, where clean drinking water and electricity are in short supply, one might think that books and learning materials are secondary, but when you see the impact of Rosa’s children’s lending library you realize this is not the case. The library is the only place where children can borrow a book, and for some it is the only opportunity to read at all. More than one parent told us that children who take out books each week and participate in group activities such as reading classes, repairing books and teaching others to read, are going to be the future leaders of the country – we know they’re right! What makes the library so important is that it is not just a place for education, it is also a safe haven where children can spend time with friends, learn about hygiene for better health, and a place where they can get moral support that they may not get at home. Our delegation brought five 50 lbs bags of school supplies and Spanish children's books, kindly donated by PS87, a public grade school on the Upper West Side of Manhattan for the children of Ciudadela San Martin. Given the success and demand for Rosa’s existing library, Rosa has started a small library here that serves handicapped children and the children who labor at the local dump.

The big day for the delivery arrived and we were told, “some children will be waiting for you”. As we approached the red gates of the school, a group of policemen stood in the street. Were they waiting for us? Our thoughts were soon confirmed as we turned into the school to see around 200 cheering children sitting in the sun with their teachers and parents. We were suddenly confronted with five times the children than we were expecting. Everyone was excited about the gifts from the students at PS87, but the idea of handing out the materials was now impossible – Rosa’s meticulous inventory of all supplies down to the last pencil for 30 children had to be rethought. She was also surprised, and remarked that as funds and resources have become scarcer, word travels fast around the communities, and parents (mostly mothers) do their best to provide educational goods for their children.

We thank our little New Yorkers at PS87 for contributing to Rosa’s dream of making education a reality for so many children, especially for handicapped children who are often forgotten, and are a source of shame for families in places like Nicaragua. Through school supplies and books, Rosa is able to show parents their children’s talent!

The Strength of Women


This June, board members and volunteers visited our sister city.  This delegation took place during a difficult time - as Nicaraguans recognize that wealthy countries can’t provide the same levels of support due to the global economic crisis. The US nor the EU will fulfill their levels of aid to Nicaragua in 2009, and the Millennium Challenge Account created by G.W. Bush cancelled its remaining $60M amid allegations of fraud in local elections last fall.  Money sent back to families by Nicaraguans who have emigrated north has also fallen dramatically. We were impressed that upon arriving at the airport in Managua, all passengers were screened for swine flu with a thermal camera before being allowed in the country. Nicaragua also launched a major public health campaign to prevent the H1N1 virus from affecting its population, dispatching thousands of health brigadistas to educate people and detect any new cases. This theme of good organizing in the face of financial scarcity was repeated throughout our trip.  With the help of community organizers, we saw these realities in Ciudadela San Martín when delivering much-needed school supplies. Next we visited the community water well to see their plan for new pipes to bring potable water for 120 additional families. We also looked at a location for a feeding center, as lay-offs at the free trade zones continue to idle employees as jobs leave for China.

Mayor Cesar Vazquez and Vice mayor Ligia U. Santana informed us that Tipitapa continues to grow. Ligia took us to a new settlement Cristo Rey, where cardboard, plastic and aluminum sheets serve as new homes for the latest residents. We were glad to hear that all property titles in this community were only being given to women, but the good news ended here as Ligia informed us that with the swell of thousands of residents in less than a year, and no electricity, water, or social services, the risk of disease and crime is high. I asked if she thought that only a woman could pull this community together. She asserted, “women do this kind of hard work everyday around the world, and get nothing for it. Here we are giving them property for the hard work that is involved in keeping families together, especially in these impossible circumstances.”

The women of Nicaragua have become the beacon for change, and we were glad to hear this from the halls of the mayor's office to the communities women serve. The fight for most women is twice as tough – not only do they need to earn a living but they must also provide family care, and run a household. They are survivors of war, economic and sexual exploitation – yet they refuse to give in to despair. Instead, they teach us how to organize, to build health clinics, nutrition programs, schools and literacy campaigns. Women such as Rosa, a community organizer who helps over 200 children, and Lucia, a mother of 6, who built her own home and installed pipes to bring water to her family illustrate the power of women.

We left Nicaragua filled with hope but sobered by the increasing poverty we saw. We returned home ever committed to the struggle for health, nutrition, equality, and an end to economic injustice. Please join us in supporting these women and their strength in making this world a better place.