|Friends of Batahola Volunteers|
La paz no es el silencio de los cementerios.
La paz no es producto de una violencia y de una repressión que calla.
La paz es la aportación generosa, tranquila, de todos para el bien de todos.
La paz es dinamismo. La paz es generosidad, es derecho y es deber,
en que cada uno se sienta en su puesto en esta hermosa familia”
“Peace is not the product of terror or fear.
Peace is not the silence of the cemeteries.
Peace is not the product of violence and repression that silence.
Peace is the generous, tranquil contribution of all to the good of all
Peace is dynamism. Peace is generosity, is right and it is duty,
in which every ones feels in their place in this beautiful family”
- Oscar Romero, 1978
I am a member of Friends of Batahola, a U.S.-based non-profit organization that supports the Centro Cultural Batahola Norte, a holistic educational center in Managua, Nicaragua. This year, Laura Hopps and Christine Ruppert, two recent Boston College grads. will begin a 2-year volunteer program in conjunction with the Center. The volunteers will accompany the Center in its mission of empowering its students and transforming the realities of poverty and oppression. Laura and Christine will be working to build the foundations for a sustainable volunteer program, which will bring young people from the U.S. to Nicaragua for a period of 2 years. They will be involved in the Center as students, taking music lessons, attending the women’s reflection group, and learning from the community. They will also be teaching English and collaborating with the Center to develop new initiatives in education, the arts, and for job opportunities for the Center’s students.
(From L to R - Virgilio and Sonia Olivares(director of educational programs at the Center), Laura HoPPs and Sister Helen, mysef, Sonia and Virgilio Olivares (the director of educational programs at the Center and her husband)
The Centro Cultural Batahola Norte was founded in 1893 by Sister Margie Navarro, CSJ, and Fr. Angel Torrellas, OP. to help to empower women and youth in the poor urban communities of Managua. Over the past 25 years, the Center has helped over 2,000 people defend their rights, find and develop new sources of income, and improve their living standards. More than 700 students enroll in courses every year, ranging from basic adult education, to over 11 technical and domestic arts courses including cooking, sewing, accounting, computer science, and more. The Center also provides scholarships (elementary school through university) to over 130 students every year, and provides a 5,000-volume library that is open to the public. Folkloric dance, music, painting and theatre are also among the arts programs provided.
The Center has enabled many people from poor families to finish their studies become trained professionals, including lawyers, doctors, translators, social workers, journalists, business administrators, physical therapists, engineers, and musicians.
Nicaragua is the second-poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, torn apart in the 1980s by a war funded by the U.S. government. Friends of Batahola Volunteers recognizes the importance of learning about the past and present of U.S. involvement in Latin America, and of learning about innovative solutions to the reality of poverty and oppression. Laura and Christine both studied abroad at La Casa de la Solidaridad program in El Salvador during their junior years in college. In addition, Laura also studied in South Africa, and Christine in Costa Rica. Their past experience, which includes working in immigrant communities in the U.S. on issues like interfamily violence and immigrant rights, and in Central America, working with cooperatives and base communities, have prepared them to accompany the Center’s staff in their work.
As the Center approaches its 25th anniversary this year, I am pleased that its work of empowerment and transformation through education will grow with the solidarity of Friends of Batahola Volunteers. Please support this new initiative, and Laura and Christine, in your prayers, in your hearts, and by helping them realize their goals through financial contributions. They will be keeping us all updated through their weblog: http://bataholavolunteers.blogspot.com
Sister Helen Prejean, CSJ
To help Friends of Batahola Volunteers to support the Centro Cultural Batahola Norte, you can make a tax-deductible donation to the address below. Checks can be made to “Friends of Batahola” with “volunteers” in the memo line. Donations will help to support the volunteers for 2 years, including their teacher training, as well as to purchase textbooks and school supplies for students of the Center, and to support other educational programs at the Center.
Friends of Batahola Volunteers*
P.O. Box 15204
Baton Rouge, LA 70895-5204
Make a Donation Online!-
* Please note if you would like to receive the Friends of Batahola newsletter
For more information contact Laura Hopps and Christine Ruppert at: bataholavolunteers(at)gmail.com
For more information on the Centro Cultural Batahola Norte, visit: http://www.centrobatahola.org
5525 Illinois Ave. NW
Washington, DC 20011