Nicholas Kristof, the New York Times columnist who writes about international affairs (his latest book is about the importance of lifting women out of poverty) asked for suggestions on where and who to visit in Central America for development stories. I typed out a few thoughts in the comments section of his blog:
"When I was visiting the United Church of Canada’s Mission and Service Fund projects in Nicaragua’s northern Atlantic region, I was impressed by the work of the Moravian Church in Puerto Cabezas. The church operates schools (including a university campus with a seminary) and a water-bottling operation that provides clean drinking water for the entire town. There is a Moravian women’s community centre which was built with funds provided by the Presbyterian Church of the USA, with a coordinator paid by the United Church of Canada. Miskito women at the centre make quilts and pillow cases for sale to feed their families in Puerto Cabezas and the interior. When I was there in 2007 they were asking for funds for classes to teach the women how to use sewing machines. Two other aspects of the story of this area: it is near the Honduran border, so many of the men were Contra fighters during the 1980s, although there seems to be a spirit of cooperation between former Contras and the Sandinista government that was newly elected when I visited; and two hurricanes have hit the region hard in the last two years."
He's receiving a lot of excellent advice from people with experience on the ground in Central America - looking forward to his columns from the region.