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The Berriz Sisters, 2008

Friday, 1 May, 2009

The Berriz Missionary Centre is based in the town of El Viejo in the N.W. of Nicaragua. Issue 30 of the Santa Rosa Fund Newsletter included the following article of explanation about our funding of the Centre’s work in the region of the Cosigüina Peninsula.

Our partners in the Cosigüina Peninsula of Nicaragua, the Berriz Sisters

Ever since Hurricane Mitch devastated the area in 1998, the Fund has been increasingly involved with the Berriz Sisters (Misioneras Mercedarias de Berriz), a Spanish order of nuns who work in the Cosigüina Peninsula of Nicaragua with a base in the municipal town of El Viejo. The nuns have effectively taken the ‘option for the poor’ and spend all their time working on projects which in some way or other address the issues and causes of poverty in this rural zone which is characterised by extreme poverty and hardship.

It is an area which has often been hit by the natural disasters of hurricanes, tsunamis, landslides, droughts and floods. These add to the human disasters brought about by neoliberal economic policies, structural adjustment policies and transnational monocultivation practices to produce the bananas and other products that we demand in the north.

The projects and initiatives supported by the nuns involve many aspects of human life, including health, education, issues affecting adolescents and development of the whole person. Their work always lays emphasis on the empowerment of people to run their own development programmes and sort out the solutions to their own problems, rather than imposing a solution from outside. There is no better organisation that works in this region in which the Santa Rosa Fund could place its trust; their reach within the zone and their understanding of the factors affecting the problems that people face in this area are second to none.

Until 2007 the Santa Rosa Fund supported specific projects and initiatives in the area in response to requests from the nuns. In 2007 the Fund supported nine educational projects in this area (to a total value of just short of $6,000), via donations made to the nuns. For the year 2008 the nuns have requested assistance with two other specific projects, and the trustees wish to continue supporting those projects with which it has already developed a relationship, such as the Pre-School and the library in Villa España. Accordingly, at their October (2008) meeting the trustees of the Fund took the decision to grant a total sum of $7,000 (US dollars) to the nuns for their educational work in the Cosigüina Peninsula rather than allocating specific amounts to each project. This will allow the nuns to use their own discretion in making decisions about specific projects without having to ask for a specific small amount for any particular project. It will also allow them to respond quickly to urgent needs without having to refer to the Santa Rosa Fund. At the same time we have asked the nuns to bear in mind our wish to continue our support for particular schools and projects where appropriate.

The trustees of the Santa Rosa Fund have requested a report from the nuns on the use of the Fund’s money to be received every September. We hope that this new arrangement with our partners will meet with the approval of our supporters in the UK. The reports sent to us each year by the Berriz Sisters will be posted to the appropriate and relevant pages on our website as soon as they are translated.

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