“An Evening of Stories” Celebrates 30 Years of Nicaragua Sister City, 5 p.m. Oct. 18

by Megan Fountain, NHLSCP

In 1979 after 40 years of a brutal dictatorship and additional years of a bloody insurrection, the people of Nicaragua vanquished the Somoza family and established a new government headed by the Sandinistas. The response of the Reagan administration was to accuse the leaders of being Communists, to justify covertly supporting the counter-revolutionary forces against the duly elected leaders of the country.

People from around the world, including the U.S., under the established vehicle of Sister Cities, began a non-violent movement in solidarity with the people of Nicaragua. In 1984 New Haven citizens became a part of that movement with the establishment of the New Haven/León Sister City Project (NH/LSCP).

Today, the news from Central America reminds us that we are still connected and still experiencing the legacies of brutal U.S. interventions and civil wars. Current headlines warn of farmers’ livelihoods destroyed due to drought, climate change, policies created by unfair trade agreements and the power of corporations such as Monsanto and land takeovers by mining and energy companies.

While many US-Nicaragua sister cities have closed their doors, the NH/LSCP has moved with the times and the needs of the people of Leon. Since the late 1980s, the Project has had staff in Leon and New Haven; since the late ’90s, the Leon office has been staffed by Nicaraguans giving local people greater leadership in the Project.

Over the years delegations from New Haven have been an important way of maintaining the ties between the two cities. More than 1,300 people from the New Haven area have traveled to Leon, including groups of high school and college students, public school teachers, builders, theater artists, arts therapists, PTSD professionals, environmental activists, church groups and members of a synagogue.

Delegates from across the decades will share a story at the NH/LSCP’s 30th anniversary celebration. Among the story-tellers will be Aaron Jafferis, a local playwright and poet who first traveled to Nicaragua as a student from Hillhouse High School. Since then, he has returned to Nicaragua on two theater delegations, creating theater workshops and a documentary film with Nicaraguan youth.

All are invited to attend this celebration, “An Evening of Stories,” at 5 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 18 at 700 Hartford Turnpike in Hamden (the Unitarian Society of New Haven). There will be food, entertainment, a silent auction of beautiful framed photographs from Nicaragua, and storytelling from world travelers new and familiar.

Whether you’ve traveled to Nicaragua with us or are considering a future journey, feel free to bring your own story, and bring an old or new friend. All proceeds will support NH/LSCP’s Education Fund to sustain our preschool and after school programs in rural Goyena. For tickets and information, visit newhavenleon.brownpapertickets.com or contact NHLSCP at (203) 562-1607. Thank you in advance for your friendship and generosity!
NHLSCP is a grassroots, binational organization that promotes social justice in Nicaragua and Connecticut. Get involved! www.newhavenleon.org or call (203) 562-1607.

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