I imagine that the majority of you reading this are sheltering at home, as many of us are here in Nicaragua. Unfortunately, most Nicaraguans do not have the luxury of working from home, so many of the people that we work with in San Ramón have to continue to expose themselves daily as Covid-19 slowly encroaches. To protect our employees, we have temporarily closed our San Ramón office, but we continue to monitor the situation in hopes that we will be able to resume our work soon.
In the meantime, I wanted to share some news from March, before the first case of Covid-19 was confirmed here in Nicaragua. On March 16th, (what seems like eons ago), we held our bi-annual Comité meeting. The Comité de San Ramón, conformed of local leaders from different parts of the municipality of San Ramón, is a local advisory committee that pools their knowledge, experience, and expertise to aid us in evaluating and adjusting our Strategic Plan 2019-2022 to ensure that we remain aligned with our founding principles: to avoid paternalism and to support local initiatives that meet community-identified needs.
Nine local leaders, seven women and two men, joined us to review our Strategic Plan, to evaluate how we’re doing so far, and to make suggestions for the future. The general consensus was that we are on the right track, specifically in our decision to put more emphasis on water and sanitation. The Comité unanimously agreed that the most urgent need for all communities of San Ramón is clean drinking water and proper sanitation facilities. The leaders from UMOYS discussed how important the sanitation projects have been to their communities, and Lilian Selva, founder of Los Pipitos San Ramón, gave us some important insight on how best to support people with disabilities in the area of sanitation. It was generally agreed that SCSRN’s current approaches to education, health, and environmental preservation (our Rural School Partnership program, support to Los Pipitos, and our wood stove project, respectively) are meeting the most urgent needs in those areas.
When it came to areas of improvement and looking forward to the future, the Comité had a lot to offer us in recommendations for water projects. While we are not supporting any water projects at the moment, we have a few proposals on the docket, and we recognize the sense of urgency around these projects more than any others. Every member of the Comité had something to offer in terms of knowledge and experience in this area, because access to clean drinking water is a pressing concern everywhere in Nicaragua, not just San Ramón. The SCSRN team went away from the meeting much more prepared to complete a successful water project in the future.
We are indebted to these volunteers who spent a morning with us to review our Strategic Plan and give us guidance as we try to reach our goals. We decided to meet again in September of this year, and we dearly hope that by then it will be safe to do so. In these uncertain times it is hard to know what the future holds, and all we can do is make the best decisions possible with the information we have at hand. We are grateful to our Comité for being a part of that decision-making process.