Update from Nicaragua as the Pandemic Arrives

by Susan Bramhall, New Haven/ León Sister City Project

In March and April, as the world began to face the historic public health crisis caused by COVID-19, the Nicaraguan government flagrantly ignored recommendations of health and human rights organizations by encouraging mass gatherings and requiring school attendance. During the April holidays, people were encouraged to celebrate semana santa as usual with trips to the beach and large gatherings. As of this writing, there are still no recommended social distancing measures and professional sports events continue to draw fans.

In the last few weeks, reports of the coronavirus illness have begun to emerge in the larger cities and there is now an outbreak in Chinandega – not far from our Sister City, León. There is still no acknowledgment that the pandemic is the cause but hospitals are reporting many cases of atypical pneumonia and a rise in sudden deaths from heart attack and stroke. Nicaraguans are reporting that when patients die, the bodies are buried immediately, often before families are notified. Testing, treatment and results are kept secret leading to more fear and suspicion.

The staff of the New Haven/León Sister City Project are currently healthy and trying to work from home but it is difficult to do social distancing or self-isolation. It is common for homes to contain large extended families and multiple generations and often a small store open to the public. During March and April, our staff was able to continue visiting the rural communities bringing some protective gear (masks) and, most important, information about the facts of the situation. As the community has begun to hear of the cases in nearby areas they are becoming more fearful of people from the city and our staff are now doing as much as they can from their homes.
Our León Director, Erendira Vanegas, reminds us that this is a new crisis within the existing crisis created by the 2018 crackdown against protest and the devastating effect that was already having on the Nicaraguan economy. The crisis created by the pandemic on top of the economic challenges already in play have been overwhelming and has created increased food insecurity. Our Nicaraguan team advises that an urgent need is enhanced access to food for the rural population. The Sister City Project has long been supplementing the meal that children get at school – a meal they may miss if they are not in school. We are currently researching organizations we can partner with to ensure food security for Goyena and Troilo.

If you would like to make a special donation to bolster our programs please visit our website at newhavenleon.org/get-involved/give.

As always, muchisimas gracias to all our supporters in the area.

What You Can Do About Climate Issues II

by Chris Schweitzer, New Haven León Sister City Project

Join the Rock to Rock Earth Day Ride, New Haven’s biggest Earth Day celebration. On April 27, 1,200 cyclists will travel between West Rock and East Rock, with celebrations on both sides of the city. Along the way, they will eat tasty food, hear great music, and explore the city’s parks. In 2019 there will be five rides: the 5-mile family-friendly parade and ride; a 12-mile adult ride; the 20-mile ride; the 40-mile ride; and a metric century (60+ miles), all traveling through scenic and park filled routes in the New Haven region. Live music at various stops and at the end at East Rock will be provided and include performances by local musicians. The event closes with a state-wide Climate Rally organized by 350 CT. All proceeds from Rock to Rock support over 25 high-impact environmental groups and projects. For more information go to www.rocktorock.org.

Help Puerto Rico Recover with Solar Power!

Arnaaz Khwaja, New Haven/León Sister City Project

The Elm Energy Efficiency Project and New Haven/León Sister City Project are launching a new project called the Solar Solidarity Project. Its aim is to raise money to build and install solar panels in Puerto Rico using home energy savings from the New Haven area. We would like people to lower their energy usage and redirect their energy bill savings to help give Puerto Rico clean, renewable energy.

This project also addresses the ever pressing issue of climate change and helps Puerto Rico become less dependent on a power grid, in prepar-ation for future natural disasters.

You can learn more about the project, how to get involved, and how to donate at our website: http://www.elmenergyproject.org/solidarity-solar-project. If you are a teacher or student interested in having your school involved in this project, please email us at solarsolidarityproject@gmail.com.

Thank you!

 

Let’s Talk About Climate Change in October

by Chris Schweitzer, Director, NHLSCP

Climate change effects us all, so let’s talk about what it means, how we’re feeling about it and ways to respond. Healthy City/Healthy Climate Challenge (HCC) invites you to hold a discussion this October as a way to support a wider response to this new challenge. HCC has organized great resources for holding discussions.

There are many different ways that you can support climate discussions:

  • Organize a climate change talk at your organization or home.
  • Promote online discussions and blogs.
  • Watch and share videos (suggestions in our resource kit).
  • Print and hang up the posters (provided in our resource kit).
  • Create a series of Facebook posts related to climate change throughout October.
  • Get speakers from environmental organizations to come talk (HCC can suggest possible ones).
  • Participate in any of the HCC-sponsored climate change discussions this October (more details to follow).

Our resources include global warming videos, websites, articles, letters, visual tools, activity ideas, posters and graphics, so be sure to check them out! Let us know if you organize a discussion or have other ideas on how to engage people. We’re excited about this chance to get people talking…AND taking concrete steps to create a healthier future!

Contact Chris at nh@newhavenleon.org or (203) 562-1607.

New Haven/Leon Sister City Project works to promote social justice, education and sustainable development in Nicaragua and Connecticut. For more information see newhavenleon.orgwww.facebook.com/newhavenleon; email nh@newhavenleon.org; or call (203) 562-1607.

Want to Be on a Delegation to Nicaragua?

Chris Schweitzer, Director, NHLSCP

New Haven/León Sister City Project has sent over 1,200 area residents to Nicaragua since 1984 to learn about development efforts there and support social justice. We are now organizing two new trips including an Educators Delegation, which will focus on education challenges in rural Nicaragua; strategies for improving quality; teacher training and curriculum support; and a cooperative project with the community, set for July 2016. Contact Chris at  cscschweitzer@newhavenleon.org, (203) 259-5760.

Also there will be a Women Rights Delegation in 2016. The focus will be on domestic violence; legal responses; community based advocacy; self help groups and building individual and collective power; sexual and reproductive rights; national realities, challenges and movements in Nicaragua; and will include a cooperative project with the community.  We will set the dates  (7 to 9 days) based on your availability. Contact Megan at mfountain@newhavenleon.org or (203) 562-1607.

Ride Rock to Rock Earth Day Ride, Saturday, April 25!

by Chris Schweitzer, New Haven León Sister City Project

1500 cyclists will travel between West Rock and East Rock, with celebrations on both sides of the city. Along the way, they will eat tasty food, hear great music, take on environmental challenges and service projects, and explore the city’s parks. They will travel along the Farmington Canal Trail and official city bike lanes, pass through many of the city’s beautiful neighborhoods, and make stops in Edgewood and Beaver Pond Parks on their way between the Rocks. In 2015 there will be five rides: the 8-mile family-friendly ride; a 12 mile adult ride; the 20-mile ride; the 40-mile ride; and a metric century (60+ miles), all traveling through scenic and park filled routes in the New Haven region. Music at various stops and at the end at East Rock will be provided by CT Folk and with include performances by local musicians.

When you collect pledges, you choose to support any one of 20+ great organizations, all working to create a greener and healthier community. Check out all the 2015 Rock to Rock partners at www.rocktorock.org. For more information, call (203) 389-4333, ext. 1214.