The remembrances and fond memories of Harold Nielsen were shared by scores of family and friends last Sunday in a celebratory service that would have made Harold very self-conscious. He never felt comfortable accepting recognition for anything he had done, unless in some way he thought it might further assistance or awareness for the people he sought to serve. But the afternoon was filled nonetheless with both tears and happy reflections for the man who influenced so many niches of life for so many.
In the aftermath of the service, as the conversations swelled with stories of Harold and Louise and their adventures, one question surfaced several times, to my great surprise. The question essentially was, what changes might be expected in the months ahead for WPF? I felt surprise at the question because I had not anticipated it. And I had not anticipated it because I foresee very few changes to the Foundation due to Harold’s passing. Allow me to elaborate.
First, what Harold and Louise established over their decades of service in Nicaragua (and elsewhere) is as fundamental and viable today as it was years ago. The cornerstones of local initiatives, sustainability, accompaniment, accountability and transformational education continue to form the bedrock of development vision at WPF. While operational activities may change and focal points might evolve, the base philosophies established by Harold and Louise remain firmly in place.
Second, despite his decreasing capacities in recent years and months, Harold had continued to be very engaged in the initiatives and funding directions of the Foundation. He embraced the move toward a territorial model of development. He repeatedly expressed his excitement over the greater use of our Nicaraguan consultants to provide a Nica perspective and analysis to our efforts, including proposals evaluated more deeply “on the ground.” He was thrilled at the idea of an education initiative as a long-range impact upon future generations; indeed, he authorized the initiative in Louise’s name.
Third, Harold expressed openly his confidence in the staff, management and governance structures and people of WPF. The Board consists of both family members and trusted advisors. The staff is comprised of long-time associates. If his objective was to identify an assembly of people well-connected with the mission and vision of Winds of Peace, Harold accomplished it. The shared objective will be to continue to administer the Foundation according to the way Harold and Louise envisioned and nurtured it.
There may be many factors in the future that will eventually change the shape and operation of the Foundation. Over time, a change in resources, political upheavals both here and abroad or new people serving the institution all would leave their mark in some form. But a lasting priority for Winds of Peace will be the retention of the vision that Harold and Louise brought to it in the first place: contributing to global peace by promoting economic, social and environmental justice, and encouraging the personal and transformational education which needs to bring each of us into the struggle.
Life without Harold and Louise will never be the same, but the dreams of Winds of Peace will never change….