The Gallery of Heroes and Martyrs:
A small museum can hold large amounts of history, and event greater amounts of emotion. "The Asociacion de Madres por los Heroes y Martires De Esteli" is a museum which contains photos, dates, names, and memorial items of those that gave their lives in the name of the Sandinistas during the Contra War. This museum gives the hundreds of mothers from Esteli a memorial ground to honor the cause for which their sons and daughters died. There are names present which don't have documented dates of death, which are refered to as the "desaparecidos." This term refers to those revolutionaries who fled to the mountain ranges to fight against the Contras and never returned. Their bodies were never found and could have been thrown from helicoptors or merely thrown in a ditch (both situations were common). For some it was better not to know how their sons and daughters died, because the situations could be more brutal than anyone would ever want to imagine; to have the bodies of their loved ones back in their arms was enough pain to endure.
Dona Guillermina Meza, a mother of two deceased Sandinista soldiers, opened the Galeria in the early 1980's for the sake of the mothers who lost their children to the destruction of war, the Esteli community, and for the sake of institutional memory. All photographs, stories, and items in the museum have been donated by the families of the soldiers. Might I comment on how strong a woman Dona Mina (how we referred to her) has grown to be. One can see the toll her pain has taken by the looks in her eyes, but a special spark exists in her gaze. A spark of hope and motivation to remind and educate all about the tragedy this country has seen.
Above is one of the multiple murals that decorates the walls of the Gallery.
Mama Licha Birthing Clinic:
Mama Licha, a middle-aged woman with a strong appearance and a motherly aura, greeted us at the stoop of her home as we all chanted “buenos dias!” in unison. She led us through her quaint house to the patio, which is now her “birthing clinic.” Mama Licha worked with the ministry of health for thirty years, and upon reaching a certain age she was made to retire. Due to her phenomenal and trustworthy reputation, women started appearing on the very stoop my group passed through that morning, begging for her help and assistance. Having no facilities to birth babies, she allowed these women to bear their children in her own bed, volunteering all she had.
By chance and word of mouth, two women from Yale fell upon this famous mid-wife and there after decided to aid Mama Licha’s with her dilemmas (lack of space, volunteers, and medical tools). They rallied for funding in the states and came up with enough money to build Mama Licha her own clinic in her back patio. Nicaraguans travel from near and far to work with this infamous woman, and now she has incredibly facilities to aid her. The amazing thing is that Mama Licha charges no money for her services. All of her medical procedures and facilities are run on pure donations. She has displayed that dreams and dedication can lead to reality. My very dear friend Jane Seymour will have the pleasure of working at this clinic as a volunteer for the duration of the summer.
Radio Cumiches: “Donde vos contás por que tu palabra”
Descrimination, human rights, household violence, sexuality, treatment of children, nor poverty are common topics of conversation for most adolescents, but Radio Cumiches brings these pressing topics out into the open by liberating these themes in the form of wavelengths. Gustavo Chovarria, a man bothered by these gross issues going unspoken that have plagued this country, gathered up what little money he had, and founded this organization.
By merely walking the streets around local schools in Estali, Nicaragua, volunteers ask children to write questions they have about household or political issues, then returning them anonymously. Some examples may be, “I’m 12 and female. Why is my eleven year old brother allowed to go out and I’m now?” or “My mother beats me when she is angry with my father. Why does she do this?” With these questions, the adolecent volunteers discuss and answer these questions the best they can, amongst the sessions of popular music.
Gustavo decided Estali needed to have “public conversations” about the issues which afflict the children of Nicaragua, and that is just what he has accomplished. Radio Cumiche is one of the most popular radio programs in the country.