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Thursday, June 4, 2020

Future Fridays: Black Lives Matter

Black Lives Matter.

Mothers losing their sons to police brutality.  Sisters losing their brothers to White Supremacy members.  Children losing their fathers to war.  How can we continue to let family members lose their loved ones?  But there is more…


Our society so often forgets the abundance of gifts that are lost when a Black life is taken.  Children who are left behind without a father may never find their potential, which means that we as a society lose a potential scientist, theologian, inventor, doctor, and the list goes on.  COVID-19 might have a vaccine if a child in the inner city had been able to go to Cornell.

Remember Hurricane Katrina?  Remember how the poor neighborhoods were completely obliterated with flood waters?  Remember how most of the poor were in Black neighborhoods?  



Think of all the musicians that could not grow to find their beat, could not learn to play an instrument when Hurricane Katrina tore through New Orleans.  We might have more virtuosos playing for us.

The poor, who are mostly made up of brown and black people worldwide, are suffering not only from police brutality and poverty, but also climate brutality.  When tornados, hurricanes, droughts, and floods hit areas where poor people live, these people die more often and have a much more difficult time recovering.


Climate change will hit low-income communities the hardest as it takes a toll on the U.S. in general, says a blockbuster government report released on Friday.

Low-income communities in both urban and rural areas will be disproportionately impacted by climate change relative to other communities, according to the assessment, which was created by a team of over 300 experts from the government and the private sector to analyze the impact of climate change on the country.

Those communities already have higher rates of many adverse health conditions, are more exposed to environmental hazards and take longer to bounce back from natural disasters. These existing inequalities will only be exacerbated due to climate change, according to the report, which is known as the Fourth National Climate Assessment.

What kind of future are we as a society giving to all our children?  Are we giving them one in which to flourish and grow… giving them possibilities to help save us from ourselves?  Or are we giving them the dismal future of the abyss?

Black Lives Matter.  Not only for black people themselves who lives are brutally snuffed out, but also for their families, communities, and friends; as well as for our society as a whole… which is something we choose to forget to our own demise.  

We, as a society, NEED everyone living to their potential.  We have climate problems galore that can only be solved working with one another using all the brain power we can muster.  When a black person dies… part of society dies as well.  We, white folks, need to remember that.

-Kathleen

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Donate here to the ongoing work of the CDCA with the poor in Nicaragua:

Monday, June 1, 2020

Offering a Model: Witness for Peace

In 1985 when I made my first trip to Nicaragua, I came with a Witness for Peace group (WFP).  We were about 60 or so women who came to witness first-hand the war that was happening here in Nicaragua.  It was extremely powerful.  I learned1  and grew volumes.  

On that trip my heart broke again and again.  There is no way I can convey the horror and the pain that my government was causing, as well as the strength of the Nicaraguan people:  those fighting and those not.

It is from that personal experience that I propose that another Witness-for-Peace-type organization be formed or the existing one expand its focus… to include the horrors being perpetrated by local police against people of color in the United States.  

Witness for Peace was a great model.  They had long-term U.S. volunteers2  who went into Nicaraguan war-torn communities, living with people and documenting human right abuses and stories.  They hosted short-term volunteers in delegations who went into war zones to try to stop the violence by just being physically present.3
  
These volunteers, like me, listened to stories told to us by mothers who had lost their children, by community leaders who told of people being executed, and on and on. 



I am putting forth WFP as a model to white people who want the police brutality and killings to stop.  Organize people to go live in communities particularly at risk of the police.   Listen to mothers, young people, and community leaders and start compiling documents of human rights violations.  Bring short-term volunteer delegations into powder-keg moments to act as barriers between the police and the protesters.  Have these volunteers talk to mothers and fathers, young men who have experienced atrocities, and community leaders, in order to lobby and bear witness to their stories.  Don’t depend on the media to tell the truth.

Last night on PBS, I listened to three white men talk about what was going on across the U.S.  I do not doubt that they were telling the truth as they saw it, but racism is not about them… and yes, I do see the ridiculous irony in me, a white woman, writing this blog, but I have always found that sitting face-to-face with those suffering has broken my heart, as opposed to watching people on television.

I also acknowledge the irony of me, sitting thousands of miles away with white hair and wrinkles, proposing this.  I had an idea.  Many of you who read our blogs have been here and know how seeing with your own eyes changed you.  Many of you live in the U.S. and want the brutality to stop.  

I beg you to organize to stop the war that is going on in our own country.

-Kathleen
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1   One of the many things I learned was to not completely trust the media, because none of the journalists would go into the war zones but rather talked to people in Managua and reported from the nicest hotel in the country.  For example, I saw an event with my own eyes and then after going home, read a small blurb about the event in a trusted paper.  The account was skewed and made the event ugly and awful, when what I saw was gentleness and compassion.
2  Like our Kathy …who was a WFP long-term volunteer
3  Those aggressors in the Contra War were funded and advised by the U.S. government as well as including some U.S. soldiers that crossed the border and international law…as well as mining a Nicaragua port.  The leaders of the aggressors did not want to kill U.S. citizens, have that reported, and lose their support.  They did kill one U.S. citizen. Ben Linder, (https://jhc-cdca.org/projects/casa-benjamin-linder/history-of-benjamin-linder/), and then there was a huge backlash in the States.

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Thursday, May 28, 2020

Future Fridays: A Call to Christians

In the United States, white evangelical Christians are the bedrock of the Trump candidacy.  They see Pres. Trump as honest and morally upstanding.1   I know and love many white evangelicals and - for the life of me - I cannot see how they can focus only on one issue…abortion.  All of those whom I know and are white and call themselves evangelicals believe that abortion is considered murder and as such should not be legal.

Knowing the Bible as I do, I do understand the sanctity of life.  But for so many of them, abortion is the only Right to Life issue.  Most do not believe the facts that scientists present about climate change, which is now killing mothers with unborn babies, children, and adults…people innocent of the crime of destroying our biosphere.  Most applauded Pres. G.W. Bush when the U.S.A. waged war in Afghanistan and Iraq, again killing the unborn right along with the born, the vast majority of whom were innocents of the crime of 9/11.  And now with the coronavirus most white evangelicals think that Pres. Trump is doing a great job, while the people dying the most are of darker skin tones, the poor, and the vulnerable…the invisible ones to too many of us Whites.  



Pres. Trump, along with too many in power, lies. There are people in all areas of government, science, history, and his administration fact checking what he says.  He is not up-standing.  Donald Trump adopted the pro-life stance, when it was needed to get the Republican endorsement.2   

What are our responsibilities as Christians in all of this?  

I truly believe we are accomplices when we allow a different set of rules for the powerful than we do for the least powerful.  We are collaborators with the rich, including the ultra-rich billionaires and trillionaires,3  when we allow them to accumulate and accumulate while people are hungry and live in poverty.



Have we forgotten what we were told by our Leader, Jesus Christ?  We are to be servants to each other.  We are to take care of our earth, not abuse it.  We are to care for the poor, the oppressed, the sick, the vulnerable, the hungry.  Can we ignore these basic tenants of our faith when we enter the voting booth, as well as when we live the rest of our lives, thinking the planet, the poor, the sick, etc. are ours to exploit or to ignore?  No, we cannot.

Because when we do, then we start lagging further and further behind the One we are supposed to be following and who – I can hear shouting at me, “For the Love of your God, catch up!”  

-Kathleen

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2Fear: Trump in the White House by Bob Woodward, published 11 September 2018 by Simon and Schuster

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

COVID-19: When is it Time to Hunker Down?

As of today the 26th of May, Nicaragua has had 885 confirmed cases of COVID-19 with 35 deaths and 370 recovered cases.1   We now have community transmission and though those are the confirmed cases, we suspect that there are many, many more.  The Nicaraguan government predicts that the next three weeks will be our peak.2

All our doctors are out sick with fevers and respiratory issues.  Our general physician and our pediatrician3 have confirmed COVID-19 cases.  Our general physician has lost 30 pounds and both are having difficulties breathing.  Our radiologist (and our main physician) is sick but has not been tested…as far as we know.


Also, among the clinic staff, both cleaners, Xiomara and Luz Marina, are out sick, as well as our health promoter, Emir. Our nurse, Isamar, and our intern nurse, Reyna are so far ok, but we worry about them all as well as the two other clinic staff members who are on permanent leave: Jessenia and Petronila; both are at high risk of death, if they get the virus.



Although we have asked our patients to go to the Ministry of Health clinics to get tested, few have.  Two of our 140 chronic care patients4  have died from unknown causes in the last week.  Respiratory issues are spreading through our poverty-stricken communities like wild fire.  All the clinic staff members have been very afraid.

As a result of all of the above, we have now told all the CDCA’s staff to shelter at home for the next three weeks, with office staff only working as possible from home. 



After June 15th, we will reevaluate…with one exception… 

This Thursday, two of our pharmacy staff, Josefa5  and Danelia, will drop-off June’s monthly medicines outside each of our chronic care patients’ homes.  Rogelio, our construction guru and all-round-wizard, will drive them around the Nueva Vida community and the rural communities in our truck.  We do feel strong obligations to our patients and our chronic care patients are the most at risk of death from COVID-19. 



We have tried to think of ways to keep our staff safe and continue to work in some areas, but we cannot.  The best place for them is to shelter at home. Even with the protective gear that we made or bought, none of it was obviously working well enough.  Besides protecting our staff, we surely do NOT want to infect our patients or others.

Our staff are dedicated to this work.  Most are making a living wage, if they live a simple lifestyle which they do; but most, also, support extended family, which means many of our staff live in poverty.  Their biggest concern has been would they get their full salaries?  

We are committed to paying the staff’s full salaries during these uncertain times and while they are sheltering at home.  We depend on donations.  In other words, we depend on people like you to meet the budget.  Our electricity will be lower with projects on hold, as will all other bills.  But we will still need to pay staff not only their salaries, but their benefits as well. We will also need the funds to buy medicines for the chronic care patients, about $4,000 U.S. a month. 

If you are able and willing to help, please do.  We know needs are high across the world and with every little bit we receive, we promise to use to its maximum.

-Kathleen

NOTE: If you are reading this blog using the mobile version,click on "web version" to see the full blog with all the features including "subscribe to blog by email".  

Please join us and also share on your social media.

Donate here to the ongoing work of the CDCA in Nicaragua:

1John Hopkins COVID-19 map reflects Nicaragua’s MINSA weekly update.
2The government release a 75-page document yesterday on its response.  I will write a blog on this after I wade through it.
3Both of these doctors also work for the Ministry of Health, so they could have picked up the virus there and brought it to our clinic.
4Chronic care patients mostly have diabetes and hypertension, though some have chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, Parkinson’s, HIV, and thyroid conditions.
5Also Clinic Administrator.

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Future Fridays: the Positive Side of the New Norm

As we listen to the evening’s news from the United States, COVID-19 continues to absorb most of the reporting as well as the question of “when will we get back to normal?”

We may need to rethink normalcy in our time of isolation, because it may not be what the world’s population, including all flora and fauna, need.  

Here in our CDCA work in Nicaragua, we are looking at ways to adapt to the new norm.  Wednesday we held a Zoom Live Event hosted by Megan Quinn from East Tennessee University.  Sarah did a power point presentation and about 75 people attended.  Folks joined in from all over the United States and even a dear friend from Belgium, who stayed awake to attend.  Becca and Sarah finished up the hour answering questions.



Dr. Jorge Flores, one of our clinic doctors, was going to attend with Becca translating, but he is home with fever and aches...COVID?  Maybe.  But if he had been able to attend, what a new perspective he could have brought to the 75 attendees!

Besides missing the chance to hug people and enjoy their company, the good news for the earth is that no airplane flights were required for the presentation.  No driving needed to attend the presentation, whether in Washington State, North Carolina, Iowa, Pennsylvania...well, you get the idea.  The meeting happened with technology keeping the carbon footprint low.

None of us WANT this to be the norm exclusively.  For us living in Nicaragua, we miss our children, grandchildren, siblings, parents, nieces and nephews, as well as good friends who live abroad.  In 2019, Mike and I made four trips to the States... a record for the two of us... and such a delight it was to be with family. Over our history we each usually make an annual trip north.

Our work raises a great deal more funds when one of us is talking and sharing the hopes and dreams in person.  Sarah frequently raises $40,000 each spring, and Becca over $15,000 each trip north.

But in a year or so, as we approach the possibility of a vaccine that allows safe travel for us, may we look at how to keep the carbon footprint down.  And until then, we will continue to fund-raise, spread the news, and visit virtually.  Please help as you can.

-Kathleen

NOTE: If you are reading this blog using the mobile version,click on "web version" to see the full blog with all the features including "subscribe to blog by email".  

Please join us and also share on your social media.
Donate here to the ongoing work of the CDCA in Nicaragua: