ROCLA honors the Ciudad Hermana Task Force in Celebrating 30 years of solidarity with the people of El Sauce, Nicaragua.
Wednesday, December 5, 2018
Downtown Presbyterian Church
121 North Fitzhugh Street
Pot Luck Dinner 5:30 PM*
Presentation 7:00 PM
GUEST SPEAKERS: Martha Rojas and Ashley Sullivan, staff members of the Ciudad Hermana Task Force.
* Please RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org with expected attendance and if you will bring a dish to pass
Free and open to the public. The church is looped for those with hearing loss and is wheelchair accessible.
How Ciudad Hermana was formed
In 1987, a group of Rochester-area social justice activists, including Henrietta and Max Levine and Dr. Arnold Matlin, wanted to find a way to demonstrate solidarity and help the people of Nicaragua, because they did not agree with the US government’s policies towards Nicaragua. Therefore, they approached the Nicaraguan government, at that time goverened by the Sandinistas, who had won the first free and fair elections in Nicaraguan history in 1984, which resulted in a sister-city relationship between Rochester and the Nicaraguan town of El Sauce.
The Ciudad Hermana Task Force was formed to work on projects supporting the Sauceña community under the NGO Metro Justice.
Ciudad Hermana currently has a scholarship program for impoverished elementary school children in the town of El Sauce and in surrounding rural areas, a microloan program mostly providing opportunities for women, and a well project to provide clean water to unserved or underserved areas. Over the years, we have had many projects aimed at strengthening the successes of the revolution, in areas such as education, healthcare and women’s empowerment.
Early projects were geared towards public health, education, literacy, and women’s empowerment. We supported the rehabilitation of the “Arlen Siu” Women’s Center, and with this, helped many women to learn a trade. Courses were offered in sewing, typing, beauty, folkloric dances, and other trainings.
A few truckloads and even a school bus were sent from Rochester to El Sauce as part of a caravan organized by Pastors for Peace carrying school supplies, medical equipment and supplies, sports equipment, wheelchairs, and bicycles. We helped neighborhoods that did not have access to clean water to construct wells and place tubing to bring running water to their communities. One of these neighborhoods was Barrio Rocha, which was renamed Barrio Rochester because of the work done by the volunteers from Rochester.
Various projects were launched in the communities of El Porvenir, San José, San Ramón, Las Mercedes, and El Guacucal. These projects consisted in giving loans to women for the purchase of sewing machines and the purchase of hens, cows, heifers, and calves. In the community of El Guacucal, we worked in conjunction with the community to build a Community Center, which is utilized to give classes, medical attention, and for any other non-political or religious community activity.
Exchanges between Sauceños and Rochestereños
In addition to working in the community, we have taken at least ten delegations to El Sauce to visit the projects, stay with local families, and meet with local and national leaders to learn about the history, culture, and natural beauty of Nicaragua. We have had the opportunity to bring three Sauceño mayors on working visits to Rochester. As a result of these visits, we were able to establish a relationship between the University of Rochester School of Medicine and the El Sauce Health Center since 2001, another relationship between the University of Geneseo and El Sauce since 2005, which resulted in the creation of the organization Enlace, and finally a relationship with an international shipping company, which has allowed us to ship multiple pallets of donated supplies to El Sauce at no cost for shipping.