Welcome to CCA’s international development blog page … the sights and sounds, the people and places as experienced by credit union and co-operative volunteers on the frontline of development.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Nicaragua Study Mission – Day 3

Krukira – Paradise Lost

Today we became the largest group of people to ever visit Krukira, an indigenous community of 3,500 northeast of Bilwi.

Devastated by Hurricane Felix and ignored by the region’s central government, the Mesquitos live a hand-to-mouth existence. In fact, it was only three months ago that their homes were connected to Nicaragua’s power grid.

And yet they look to the future with optimism because of the generosity of Canadian co-operators.

Krukira was a paradise lost until it was found by the Canadian Cooperative Association. Through the agricultural cooperative CECAMPO, CCA provides financial assistance to Krukira’s fisheries co-operative, which in turn allows its 32 members to fish to feed their families and earn incomes.

Needless to say, our arrival here on day three of our mission in Nicaragua, caused a great stir among the Mesquitos up and down the Caribbean Coast.

Not since this community was settled in 1825, has Krukira welcomed a delegation our size (12 in total). And a heartfelt welcome it was.

“We never imagined in our wildest dreams that we would see today the friendly faces who helped us in this room,” co-op vice president Franklin Florez said in greeting our group. “It is a blessing from God that you have this good heart in you. Now we are happier and stronger. Now we are going to ask for things without fear. Because now we have seen the faces of our brothers and sisters.”

The co-op members share one boat with a 9.9 horsepower outboard motor and two dugout canoes which they use on a rotation basis (about once a month for each member).

The introduction of electricity to Krukira back in November means the fishers can purchase a refrigeration unit to keep their catches in safe storage. A small hangar, purchased with the help of CECAMPO, will serve as a processing plant. “The community is finally understanding the benefits of joining the co-operative to store their product and take it outside and sell it,” Mr. Florez said. And that’s just the beginning. The co-op hopes that its office, which was also built with the assistance of CCA through CECAMPO, will eventually be filled with grain and rice to market. “We realize we just can’t live off of fishing. We need other means of survival.”
Former president Ralph Washington also spoke of the tremendous potential the co-operative holds for this community and surrounding Moskito communities. “Our dream is to go from small scale to industrial. He said thanks to their “family” in Canada “everything is within our reach.”

Before bidding farewell to our team, Mr. Washington highlighted the significance of our visit to Krukira. “We will always remember this day. We will record this moment in our lives forever.”

We returned to Bilwi with a few extra passengers on our bus, including a young malnourished mother and a five-month-old baby that was born premature. They had travelled by boat for one hour after word reached her community north of Krukira that we were meeting with the local co-op. Her hope was that she could hitch a ride to Bilwi to get medical attention for her child. She told us that she had been trying to get help for her son, who was suffering from a respiratory ailment, for three months. We took up a small collection to buy medication and vitamins for her and her son.

In Krukira, there is one nurse, but she has no medicine to treat patients, except for 100 painkillers she receives monthly to distribute among 3,500 residents.

The co-operative, like the green shoots springing up around the trees that were toppled by Hurricane Felix in 2007, represents one of the few hopes the Moskitos have to meet many needs.

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