March 2013

During my most recent journey to document the story of the Rama community in Nicaragua, I also had the privilege of meeting the wonderful people of Bluefields - a small town near the Caribbean coast, and home to about 44-thousand people.

Bluefields, a vibrant and lively town, was the OYOW base camp during my visit where, due to delays with respect to my departure for Rama Cay, I had the honour of speaking with and getting to know some of the amazing people who live there. Their stories where both sad, and inspiring.

Few people will remember (or perhaps even know) that Bluefields was devastated by a category 4 hurricane in 1988. “Joan” made landfall there and, expect for a few concrete buildings, destroyed the entire town. Reports state that about 250 people died, though locals told me there were many more.

Today, almost 25 years after the hurricane, Bluefields is practically rebuilt...but despite having roofs over their heads, the community struggles with a high rate of unemployment and therefore, poverty. There is still no water-system in Bluefields, creating both health and environmental hazards.

I was interested also, to hear about the community's experience since the hurricane given that Nicaragua tends to be a popular destination for international “non-profits” seeking to assist one of the poorest countries in Central America. As you'll hear, Dr. Ralbert Brooks Hamilton says – while the intentions of NGOs are good, organizations need to rethink how aid is delivered in order to truly achieve sustainable and long-term solutions to help people as they struggle to overcome hardship.

- Maggie Padlewska /
TWITTER: @maggiepadlewska

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