Tuesday, December 22, 2015

FSD Nicaragua

We moved to the bay area because I got a great job with an organization I really believe in. The Foundation for Sustainable Development celebrate it's 20th year this year, which was really exciting for me to hear about the history of the organization and how we are remaining true to it's original mission. In my work, I oversee all of FSD's Latin American offices. We have four in Latin America: Ciudad Sandino, Nicaragua; Tola, Nicaragua; Salta, Argentina; and Cochabamba, Bolivia. 
I had the privilege of visiting our sites in Nicaragua this summer/fall and working with a group of consultants from Deloitte. Our site in Ciudad Sandino was the founding site for FSD. Our Program Director, Maria, has been with FSD for 17 years, and her experience shows in her work. FSD works in all development sectors: gender equity, micro-enterprise, education, health, environment, youth, human rights, appropriate technology, etc. I love being able to support work in all sectors as part of my job. And I love being able to visit the site teams and give support in their work. 

This last time I went to Nicaragua, I decided I should try and document my visit a little bit more. Here are a few pictures from my trip:
The breakfast in Nicaragua is out of this world. I could never finish an entire plate. On my first morning they brought me an egg, cheese, gallo pinto (rice and beans), fried plantains, sausages, papaya, and water. When they asked me if I'd like coffee or juice, I told them I just liked a lot of water. They brought me the biggest bottle of water they could find. They were so sweet to me. 
Our site in Ciudad Sandino also encompasses Masaya, which is a town we visited on our backpacking trip. I love being able to go back and explore some of the familiar sites but through a different lens. I had never worked in Nicaragua until joining FSD, so it has been a great learning experience since development work is different in every community. One of the most important elements to FSD is that we use an asset-based community development approach, meaning that we let the community identify their needs and tell us what development they would like to see in their community, rather than coming in and telling them what they should do. This is the most successful approach to development I have ever seen, and these communities are thriving. 
Taking Deloitte consultants to Nicaragua is a great experience. I don't know if you have ever had any encounters with Deloitte before, but they are a group of highly talented, extremely hard-working individuals that want to produce high impact results. We spend 4 days working from morning until night (with a few recreational activities as well) and the outputs from the trip are substantial. We work with local organizations and they rave about the results they see after Deloitte has finished. 
As part of the Deloitte trip, we go on a few cultural excursions, and one of my favorite is going to the city of Granada. I really love Granada and could see Caitlin and I living there one day. On the first trip I went on with Deloitte we did a horse-drawn carriage ride, but the second group opted out of the ride, so we did a walking tour instead. I love the old colonial towns with cobblestone streets and elegant architecture. I especially love the cemetery and could spend hours there. Actually, Caitlin and I did spend hours there the first time we went. 
I also have a phenomenal team I work with in Nicaragua. In the photos above are Mary, FSD's Finance and Operations Officer; Karolina, the International Program Coordinator in Ciudad Sandino; Ramiro, the Program Director in Tola; and Maria, the Program Coordinator in Ciudad Sandino. There are more staff members in Nicaragua, but I only managed to snap a few photos while on the trip. I absolutely love working with this team. It is a challenge working across cultures, but I enjoy that type of challenge and Maria and Ramiro are such a perfect fit for the work they are doing. 
If you are looking for a charity to donate to this holiday season, you can donate to the work we are doing at FSD. It really is an amazing organization. 

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