MORE THAN BUILDING A SCHOOL

Condega, Nicaragua: 1987





This project was organized and run solely by women; women form Nicaragua, women form the United States, and women from Germany.

This project, while designed to build a most needed elementary school, fostered a meaningful dialogue among the three different groups of women, as it also enabled a number of Nicaraguan women to gain skills in construction methods - clearly a work experience for women which would have been unheard of prior to the Sandanista revolution. The daily routine was a dynamic process of communication and cooperation.

Chica (Martha), a Nicaraguan woman who lived with her children just a few houses from where the school was being built, was at the center of organizing the details regarding the daily work tasks and responsibilities. The equipment and certain of the supplies were kept at her home. Amy and I also stayed at her home while we helped with the project.

I came to know of this project through a friend, Amy Weigand, who had participated in a Roja y Negra (a solidarity action) which was organized through the Nica School in Esteli where she had been studying Spanish. I arrived in Nicaragua in late 1987 to spend some time with Amy and she took me to Condega to show me the project. We both wanted to work on the construction but since it was a project for woman, my participation became problematic. After a good deal of discussion, I was allowed to participate, though the German women asked that I not work directly with them. I was grateful for the decision and quickly found a place within the work schedule.

The Woman's Brigade from the U.S. produced a video entitled Si Podemos! which documents the building of the school, including numerous interviews with the Nicaraguan women working on the project: Produced and Edited by Brigada Companeras Video Collective, 1988, with thanks (among others) to Paper Tiger TV. Members of the Collective were: Catherine Hughes, Aja, Vicky Neilson, Adriene Jenik, Rhonda Collins and Brunhilda Hernandez.

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