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.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Nicaragua Study Mission

Greetings from sunny and WARM Nicaragua (31 C when I and my bleary-eyed travel companions arrived here at 2 p.m. Sunday compared to -28 C when Roger Harrop left his dairy farm in Fergus, Ontario at 2 a.m.) We are here for the next 11 days to witness first-hand the positive difference Canadian Co-operative Association-supported credit unions and co-operatives are making in one of Central Americas poorest countries.  It promises to be an amazing journey.

Since this is my first entry, I should introduce you to my teammates on this development education study mission. We are an eclectic group, reflecting the diverse and dynamic character of the co-operative movement in Canada.

Roger is one of two Ontario dairy farmers I am travelling with. Dirk Willemsen, of Milverton, On. is the other. Both Roger and Dirk are members of the Gay Lea Foods Co-operative.

Dirks wife Betty will join us. She has been in Nicaragua for the past two weeks working with a co-operative here as part of a church mission.

Marie-Claude Jette is with the Metis National Council. She looks forward to meeting members of a co-operative that her organization helped to establish in Bilwi. The co-op delivers health care and other related services to indigineous women in northeast Nicaragua.

Western Canadians in our delegation include: Tony Dawson, of the Okanagan Tree Fruit Co-operative; Vera Goussaert of the Manitoba Co-operative Association and Assiniboine Credit Union; Myra Kormann, of the Calgary Co-op; Bill Lee, United Farmers of Alberta and Nicole Woelke, of Confido DS and Red River Co-op.

CCA staff members on this mission are Lise Boissonneault, CCA project assistant, International Development Department and Karen Timoshuk, CCA Development Education Co-ordinator, Prairies.

I look forward to getting to know my fellow co-operators on this mission and telling their stories.

Before signing off, I would like to give a shout out to the credit union managers who are in Ghana over the next few weeks, sharing their expertise with their African counterparts. We spent three days together in Toronto for cultural training last week and we had so much fun I was tempted to stow away on their plane. These managers are truly ordinary men and women doing extraordinary things to make the world a better place through credit unions and co-operatives.

It will be interesting and exciting to see the impact of CCAs international development work in Nicaragua.


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