It Takes a Village: Honoring Our Partnerships Around the World
You may have heard the proverb, “it takes a village to raise a child.” At Green Empowerment, we believe that it takes a global village to raise a better future for all. We envision an equitable and sustainable world where everyone has clean water, renewable energy and a healthy environment in which to grow and thrive. The cornerstone of our vision is our partnerships and each year, our global community helps us get closer to completing our goal. “This year really emphasized to all of us at Green Empowerment that our partnership model is resilient to and effective during global events – from the direct impacts of the global pandemic to the societal reckoning on social and racial justice,” Green Empowerment’s Executive Director, Andrea Johnson, explained. “We have always focused on listening to the communities and partners with whom we work and we were able to advance critical energy and water projects precisely because of this operating model.” From local NGOs to our network donors and foundations, each of our partnerships play a crucial role in investing in a more sustainable and equitable future. To our supporters around the globe, thank you for continuing to believe in our vision and invest in a better future for all.
Celebrating Our Partners in Río Abajo
The power of change is in the hands of the community. As seen in the video, the story of resilience is beautifully illustrated by our partners in the remote community of Río Abajo, Nicaragua.
The people of Río Abajo, Nicaragua had just begun digging trenches and hauling gravel when the pandemic hit in late March 2020. They were building a new water system that would deliver treated clean water directly to all 129 homes in the community as well as the local primary school. Less than one year earlier, the woman of Río Abajo carried water on their heads from open wells to their homes, crossing dangerous rivers in the wet season, trekking miles in the dry season, and unknowingly exposing their families to waterborne illnesses.
In 2019, the women mobilized, and with FEDICAMP, our partner organization, we began to train local residents on how to build and maintain a new water system. Our Board Member, Steve Gretzinger, was lucky enough to be able to visit Río Abajo before the shutdown. “In February of this year, just before the pandemic halted all international travel, I was fortunate enough to see with my own eyes the impact of [our] support. In Río Abajo, Nicaragua, I saw a mobilized community determined to build and operate their own water system,” he told us. “This journey to Río Abajo was eye-opening for me. While I expected to see technically sound projects, I had not anticipated such deep relationships with our rural partners, such professional counterparties, nor such creative and enthusiastic resolution of problems.”
While international travel ground to a halt and uncertainty reigned, the conviction of local community members only grew: clean water for handwashing is one of the first lines of defense against the pandemic. A native Nicaraguan, our in-country program coordinator, María Elisa, rose to the challenge, collaborating with our local partners to find safe ways to move the project forward, handing out masks to residents, and incorporating COVID-19 prevention into hygiene and sanitation training.
We were thrilled to announce that in October, the people of Río Abajo completed construction of their water system! Mid-pandemic, they gained access to one of the most important resources to fighting off the virus: clean, safe, potable water. “I have been so impressed by the women of Río Abajo, their leadership and resolve,” María Elisa told us. “The truth is that it has been a huge effort from the parties involved, both from FEDICAMP and from the beneficiaries who never lost hope of having water in their homes.”
As you may already know, Nicaragua was devastated by category 4 Hurricane Iota on November 17th and 18th. While our partners offices were heavily impacted and access to the communities where we work has been largely cut off due to landslides and downed bridges, we are very happy to share that the new water system in Río Abajo is still standing and operational – another testament to the resiliency and self-sufficiency of the community. Yadira Muñoz Rizo, the inspiring and tenacious President of the Water Committee Río Abajo, stated, “I will continue to support and fight together with my family, friends and neighbors, to do something positive for our children who are the future of our community.”
Moving Forward Optimistically into 2021
The success of Río Abajo has only strengthened our resolve to invest in community-driven infrastructure projects. Green Empowerment’s model of working with local partners to address community-identified needs allows our projects to continue – and even thrive! – within the limitations of the pandemic. Whether it be to fight off this current pandemic, prepare for the effects of climate change, or face the unforeseen challenges that the future brings, we need mobilized communities like Río Abajo, and the support of committed individuals like you to invest in this sustainable and impactful work. Using the momentum built in 2020, we hope to continue adapting to a virtual world and providing our partners and supporters with opportunities to engage with us. We have seen the amazing changes that are possible when the global community comes together to help those in need, and we have no doubt that together, we can build a better, more sustainable future for all.