Newsletter Summer 2011
Friends of Springtime Compas de Nicaragua Newsletter
A Special Starfish Ekanem Narcisso was a special starfish who shinned out among many other stars at Women in Action. She was the kind of person that made you smile and lifted you up when you were feeling down. Dona Marling and Ekanem’s whole family would like to thank you all for your support and love during Ekanem’s illness. Marling says, “if it wasn’t for Compas and their supporters, Ekanem would not have been with us as long as she was. Your help allowed Ekanem to live longer and while we wish she was still with us, God had a bigger and better plan for her. We miss her terribly but know that she is in a better place. Life must go on. We must always move forward and not lose hope. That is what Ekanem would do and what she would want us to do.” Ekanem Narcisso was born in the city of Bluefields, the capital of Nicaragua’s South Autonomous Atlantic Coast Region. Her mother abandoned her and her older sister, Aisha when they were young. She was raised by her grandmother, Marling Putchie, one of the original members of Women in Action. Ekanem’s father, Guillermo, (Marling’s son) was
Promoting cultural exchange and improving lives
never really involved in Ekanem’s life. She moved to Managua with Marling and her step grandfather, Harry Wilson when she was thirteen. Marling and Harry went to Managua in search of work, because Harry had lost his job as a boat captain on the Rio Grande.
Harry and Marling went to Managua with very little. They heard about some families who were forming a community along Lake Managua in a “green area” (government owned land) of the La Primavera neighborhood. They arrived there and negotiated a plot for their house with the other settlers. They built a one-room tin shack. Ekanem became a member of WIA shortly after arriving in Managua. She quickly made friends with the other members of WIA, gaining their trust through her openness and trustworthiness, and winning them over with her spirit and fun-
Newsletter Summer 2011 loving nature. Ekanem was a staple show for visiting service trip groups, never missing an opportunity to perform a dance from the music of her beloved Atlantic Coast. Ekanem learned the art of carving gourds and became one of the best artists in the WIA group. She was part of the sponsorship program and received support for her studies. She began secondary school in Managua and finished high school last December to become the first member of her family to graduate. She was taking a computer class and dreamed of becoming a nurse and using her skills to help people in her community. She realized another one of her dreams when she was chosen by WIA members to be part of the 2008 WIA dance troupe that visited the U.S. She had the star moment of the show, performing a solo number to the May Pole music of the Atlantic Coast that showed off her incredibly quick dance movements. It was a once in a lifetime experience for her and something that she described as the best moment in her life. Some of the highlights of her trip were dancing in a Boston discotheque, playing laser tag, successfully completing a challenging ropes course at UNH, and the many host families she was able to meet and become friends with. Ekanem was a favorite among the many volunteers who have visited Women in Action. Many of the friends she met kept in touch with her via e-mail or by phone. She was also loved by Women in Action members who have fond memories of Ekanem. Yadira remembers Ekanem as full loving, and friendly. “She was a real leader in our group. She brought a real spark to
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www.compas1.org our group and we all miss her dearly. She taught me to dance!” Leslie says that Ekanem was a lot of fun and a good friend. “She gave me a lot of advice that has helped me in my life. I visited her house often and we sometimes talked into the early hours of the morning. She always made me laugh. She was the best dancer in our group and loved to perform for the service trip groups.” Lizeth says that Ekanem was one of the most active members of WIA. “ We d i d m a n y things together and were great friends. We went to computer class together. We shared many intimate things about our lives. I remember once during a service trip group visit when Ekanem had a water gun that she was using to get everyone wet. We miss her good humor and fun-loving spirit. It is not easy to forget.” Ekanem will never be forgotten by all the people who her life touched. Compas is collecting donations in honor of Ekanem. All donations received for this memorial fund will be used to support other Women in Action members with illness.
Please click here if you would like to make a contribution in honor of Ekanem. 2
Newsletter Summer 2011
Internship Update Compas currently has four interns in Nicaragua who will be working this summer on several initiatives with WIA and the farmer’s coop in La Paz. Interns will be creating backyard gardens that will utilize composting and vermaculture. The gardens will feature sweet potatoes, a native crop to South and Central America, but one that is underutilized. Sweet potatoes are one of the most nutritious vegetables, according to the USDA. The garden project has included workshops on composting and nutrition. In visiting several backyards within the Women in Action settlement, the interns have seen that the women already have some knowledge of gardening and enjoy growing plants. The workshops and initial presentations to the women concerning the gardening plan emphasized the importance of growing green, leafy vegetables and particularly sweet potatoes and what they contribute to the family diet. Women in Action members are excited about this project and the positive effects that the gardens will have on their family’s health.
Interns are carrying out weekly English classes with children, designing and presenting weekly health workshops (including topics such as composting, STD’s and birth control, exercise, menopause, and stress control), revamping the Compas blog to make it more user friendly and to include an interactive component that will include interviews with Women in Action and Coop members. Finally, the interns are working on our”Plan Techo” program which goals are to replace all of the dilapidated roofs of WIA homes. We have already completed 8 houses! If you would like to know more about the efforts and experiences of our interns you may read about Laura Till’s internship experience, their first sexual health workshop, and the intern’s account of an interview with WIA member, Lesly.
The interns are also spearheading a grassroots fundraising campaign for Compas that will incorporate “potluck” dinners as a way to raise money, educate, and keep our supporters involved. Please see below for more info. Promoting cultural exchange and improving lives
(Please visit the Compas de Nicaragua blog at www.compasdenicaragua.wordpress.com to read bio’s for the current interns)
Newsletter Summer 2011
the hat” at the end or collect a $5 donation at the door).
Compas hopes to begin organizing regular potlucks, as a form of community outreach, in order to broaden our local constituency and raise awareness about pressing social and environmental issues and our important work in Nicaragua. The potlucks will provide an opportunity for former Compas volunteers to connect with people with similar interests, share pictures and experience, practice Spanish, and to engage in discussions around issues that are occurring locally and globally.
The summer interns are working on a “Potluck How to Guide,” that we will be sending to our friends and supporters. We hope that you will consider organizing a potluck for Compas and for your community. If you are interested, please contact Compas at firstname.lastname@example.org
Potlucks might include the showing of the Compas video or a timely political film. They could also be organized as a Spanish speaking group. We hope to raise awareness about the interconnectedness of our local and global community, and to deepen the understanding of the interdependencies that exist between the two. The potlucks will be used to stimulate conversation, encourage reflection, and to inspire people to get involved. In addition, the potlucks could include an action component. Potlucks could be used to help Compas sell organic coffee from the farmer’s coop, to promote an upcoming service trip, or as a fundraiser (organizers of the potluck may “pass
Fall Dance Tour Compas has decided to put off the WIA Dance Tour to the fall of 2012 to give us more time to organize. However, Compas co-directors, Ana Narvaez and Michael Boudreau will be touring New England during the month of September to talk about their life and work in Nicaragua. If you are interested in hosting them in your c o m m u n i t y, p l e a s e c o n t a c t C o m p a s a t email@example.com
Request for Pictures, Articles, and Writings Have you traveled to Nicaragua through Compas? Please help us promote our work by sharing your pictures and writings with Compas to add to our website and Facebook page. Please send to firstname.lastname@example.org
If you would like to make a donation to any one of Compas’ projects please click here! THANK YOU!
Thank you for you support! Together we are making a real difference!
Please check out our new sponsorship blog! AND Find us on Facebook! Promoting cultural exchange and improving lives