Pat and Kathy Floerke, from the Central for Development in Central America in Nicaragua, visited ESR and spoke at Common Meal on Tuesday, November 8th, 2011. They brought with them crafts and clothing from Nicaragua to sell. I had the chance to speak with Kathy a bit at lunch, and she explained that she and her sister moved down to Nicaragua 17 years ago to work on economic development, but return to the US about two months a year to travel to churches, colleges, and peace groups. They share news of the CDCA, ask for donations, and sell crafts made by the Nicaraguans. The main point of Pat’s presentation was that we need to ask ourselves “when will God’s kingdom be here?” Pat and Kathy ask us what we are doing to bring about God’s realm here and now.
The CDCA is based in Ciudad Sandino, which is a 1960s refugee camp that grew into a permanent settlement. Their work focuses on sustainable agriculture, appropriate use of technology, sustainable economic development, health care, and education. Their projects grow out of listening to communities and asking what their needs are, and letting communities take initiative. Right now the CDCA is working on getting the Genesis Co-operative, a spinning plant, up and running. Their farmer’s co-op, El Porvenir, has grown to 2,000 members and the CDCA provides loans to grow organic coffee and organic sesame seeds. El Porvenir, with the help of the CDCA, gets better than fair trade prices for their crops. In 1998, Hurricane Mitch swept through Honduras and Nicaragua, leaving more than 2 million people homeless. Many of the homeless in Nicaragua were settled in a camp called Nueva Vida near Ciudad Sandino. The refugees only exacerbated the already high local unemployment rate. The CDCA established a permanent health clinic in Nueva Vida in 2001. After the Nicaragua government started to provide free health in 2006 the CDCA has focused on dentistry, pediatric care, and preventative health education.