A drive through the city of Managua, Nicaragua, felt like traveling in circles as we passed building after building defaced with the spray-painted slogans, “Viva la Revolucion” and “Viva Daniel.” It was hard to say whether the signs were the result of grassroots activism or a public graffiti art initiative, displayed among an abundant supply of billboards, posters, and statues promoting President Daniel Ortega and his political party.
But as you move outside the city and into very remote, hard-to-access villages, the atmosphere changes. The occasional sun-bleached flyer stapled to the wall of a dirt-floor shanty feels like an abstract idea unconnected to daily village life. Government officials are seldom seen, because the communities are so far away. And a “big picture” view of national politics takes a back seat to local squabbles: a woman weeping because a few corrupt police offers stole the firewood she had spent days gathering for sale; a community leader complaining that the mayor of the nearest town broke a promise to provide water to his small village of just 31 families.
The survival of these poor communities depends in large part on their ability to self-govern, self-police, and self-inspire. Their isolation gives them freedom but also a fragility that must be conquered through personal will-power; and that is what makes our up-and-coming “Thirst No More” campaign so exciting.
The greatest need in the villages is water – and we’re giving it to them. But this project isn’t just a handout; everyone must do their part. I had the privilege of accompanying our Cross Catholic ministry partner Amigos for Christ as they traveled from place to place, holding community meetings and challenging every family to get involved. The beneficiaries must dig trenches, lay pipe, and provide for ongoing maintenance and repairs so that clean water will flow from their spigots for many years to come.
The villagers, who have been plagued for so long by chronic dehydration and waterborne illnesses, are eager to do whatever it takes to get water. And I am eager to see them succeed. With God’s help, we will make their dream a reality.