If you read this site with any frequency, you know that one of the elements Winds of Peace Foundation feels strongly about is the accompaniment aspect of its work with the people of Nicaragua. Funding, whether in the form of grants or loans, is an essential need to be met, of course. But the process by which those resources are made available is critical to the success of those funds. Part of our process includes personal accompaniment by staff in Nicaragua as well as periodic visits by U.S. staff. Personal involvement is in many cases an element that is as important as the funds themselves, the realization that there are real live people behind the foundation veil who can come to understand the circumstances in which the people find themselves, and who will personally care about the injustices which those circumstances represent.
We’ve now embarked on two important research projects to bring us closer to such understanding and, hopefully, insights. The first is an in-depth look at the context in which our Indigenous partners are navigating the social and economic waters of Nicaragua, their historical roots, their relationships with each other, the forms of marginalization they encounter, how they are integrating their past into their future. More importantly, through discussions within the Indigenous communities themselves, we hope to discern what organizations like WPF might do differently (and better) in the meaningful development of these communities.
The second project, one that I referenced here in my February 22 entry, focuses on the context of cooperativism in the country, what drives the process, who’s involved, what are the outcomes and, again, how members might be served more effectively by outside funders like WPF. A focus on strategic planning by these groups is also proving to be a strongly-desired component of this effort.
The questions raised may seem like basic issues that a long-standing partner like WPF might have asked and answered many years ago. But the times, they are a-changin.’ The organizations of today are not the same as they might have been 20 years ago. The needs are different, in some cases. Our own perspectives have changed, and our experiences have taught us lessons first-hand about things we know and, as importantly, things we don’t know. And the answers to those things will come from the people we intend to serve, the experts.
Watch for future updates on the progress of these important steps….