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JustHope Information – General
JustHope Ministry in Nicaragua - General Information
. is a not-for-profit organization incorporated to help build and sustain a network of partnerships between North American communities and Nicaraguan communities to increase global cultural understanding, combat poverty, and nurture sustainable community in the world. We believe that a broad and diverse network of partnerships working cooperatively to share resources, information, ideas, and support, make it possible to accomplish cooperatively far more than any single group or partnership could accomplish alone. Although a young organization—founded in 2007--JustHope comes out of a 26-year history of involvement in Nicaragua and concern for global injustices.
Operations and Staff
JustHope has two paid staff persons in Nicaragua – Julio Delgado, our Director of Nicaraguan Operations, and Elba Luz Delgado (no relation to Julio), our Director of Women‘s Projects. In the States, Laura Eccles is our Administrative Assistant and Leslie Penrose is JustHope‘s Executive Director. We have a core group of active volunteers, and have recently initiated an intern program.
Our 10-member Board of Directors live coast-to-coast – California, Florida, Wyoming, Oklahoma, Kansas – and are active in supporting JustHope‘s mission both in the US and in Nicaragua. Board members travel to Nicaragua at least once every two years. At the current time, JustHope‘s only office is the Executive Director‘s home office. This means overhead is very small and less than 5% of every dollar goes to operations expenses
JustHopes‘ founder and Executive Director, Rev. Leslie Penrose first visited Central America in 1986 and quickly committed to developing a lasting connection with local groups to address poverty and capacity-building for local projects. In 1996 after years of country-and-community-hopping throughout Central America, Leslie and a small group of companions made the decision to find a community in Central America with whom they could create a long-term relationship; a community with whom they could wrestle and hope their way into something deeper, something truer, something more mutual; a community who rather than a charity project for them, could become a partner with them in the work of justice.
It took two years to find the right community. The elements that were and still are important to the U.S. group were (1) that the partner community had strong local leadership in place and that leadership was willing to engage the North American group as partners not patrons; (2) that both the partner groups were open to the diversity of the other group; (3) that there was a way for the visiting partners to stay in and engage with the host community when they came, rather than having to withdraw to hotels at night. Solidarity, they were learning, is about more than investing a week in one another‘s lives. It‘s about more; even, than knowing one another‘s names, and caring about one another‘s lives. Solidarity is about knowing what the real struggles and joys are in a partner‘s life and making those struggles and joys your own in a way that has real, concrete effects on the priorities you set, the options you explore, and the decisions you make in your own day to day living. Solidarity means not only asking how will this vote affect me and my neighborhood, but how will it affect Maria and her neighborhood. It means considering not only how the way you budget your money or your time will affect your family, but how it will affect Juan‘s family as well. Solidarity is a way of life, not just an occasional visit. The group‘s hope was that by risking partnership, they would find their way into solidarity.
In 1998, just before Hurricane Mitch hit Central America, a small group of a dozen people or so made its first visit to Chacraseca, Nicaragua -- a small farming community outside Leon with 1500 households (8000 people) and an average income of $1 per person per day. And they stayed. Over the next several years, this small but committed group worked side by side with the leadership of Chacraseca on projects to build schools and houses, initiate a school-lunch program, create a micro-lending program for farmers, and begin what would become a nine-year long project to bring clean water to the whole community. JustHope continues to maintain this relationship.
When Leslie, completed her ministry at Community of Hope in early 2007, she decided to devote full-time attention to developing community partnerships between North American and Nicaraguan communities. In June of 2007, a small committed core group of people invested their hopes, their hearts, their hands, and their resources in birthing the dream that beyond paternalism, partnership is possible; that beyond colonialism, covenant can thrive; that beyond just hope for global solidarity is the dream of JustHope… the dream of a world interconnected by cross-cultural partnerships of mutuality and trust that are working cooperatively to inspire hope, increase justice, and nurture the common well-being of the world.
Primary strategies for accomplishing our mission include:
• Offering seminars, presentations, and group studies to educate US groups and individuals about other cultures and countries, and about the theology and practice of non-colonial global partnerships. (Non-colonial partnerships are partnerships that work to increase self-determination rather than imposing the beliefs, values, and/or expectations of one group onto another)
• Identifying, training, and supporting partnership communities and groups in the US and in other countries;
• Organizing and leading educational and partner development trips for US groups to other countries;
• Providing resources and leadership support for the creation and nurture of global partnerships;
• Providing resources and leadership support to US groups for theological reflection and social analysis before, during, and after exploratory trips;
• Organizing and coordinating a viable networking structure for partnership groups in the US who are located in the same geographic area, and/or related to the same global partners;
• Sponsoring projects in global communities that support capacity-building toward self-sufficiency and sustainable community life.
For more information, visit the JustHope website