For the past two weeks I have been working in the Colectivo’s rural office in a mountain town called Esquipulas. This is where I will be spending most of my time, doing outreach work in the surrounding communities. Life here is slower than in Managua. It rains a lot – the kind of tropical rainstorms that come on without warning and beat the banana trees to the ground. There is a freshness to the air and a chill in the evenings that made my decision to pack so many sweaters a sound one. Around five am the chorus of roosters begins as the town awakens at an hour that had always seemed ungodly to me, but now strangely is beginning to seem normal. I was laughed at when I said I thought seven was early.
The Colectivo is in a down period at the moment until mid October, when the workshops begin again. I will also be helping to mobilize the young people who form a part of a network of youth who meet to discuss key topics such as citizenship participation, Law 779 and violence against women. I’m especially looking forward to an upcoming talk from a woman who will be looking at Catholicism from a feminist point of view. Nicaragua is a country steeped in Catholicism and unfortunately and mistakenly many of the aims of the feminist and women’s rights movements here are accused of being “anti-family” and “anti-men”. I have long believed that religion does not need to be antagonistic towards women’s rights and that a feminist vision of faith and the divine is certainly possible. It was Jesus who befriended prostitutes, who taught and discussed theology with women and who treated them as equals in an era when they were second-class citizens. Jesus the feminist. Jesus the human rights activist. Jesus the radical. This is how I have always seen the man at the focal point of one of the world’s most powerful religions.
I’ve been spending much of my time working on a webpage for the Colectivo’s Esquipulas branch. This is somewhat new territory for me and I am learning a lot as I go. I’m even about to teach myself some basic CSS Coding. The big challenge, apart from my lack of tech savvy, is that our Internet connection is spotty at best and the last few days nonexistent. My colleagues and I joke that it would be a miracle if we had working Internet, running water and electricity at the same time. Nonetheless the website is slowly coming along, helped by periods of work in Managua. When it is ready for debut I will share it here. So stay tuned! I am back in the big city this weekend, to replenish stocks and spend some time catching up with friends and a new puppy our household has recently adopted. It’s hard to believe more than a month has passed already.