Monday, January 02, 2006

Waslala: Strength in the Face of Adversity

Waslala is both beautiful and terrible; bearing the burden of decades of violence and extreme poverty, the inhabitants maintain a positive outlook on life. The municipality is composed of a small town and close to a hundred small communities dispersed throughout the jungle-covered mountains of northern Nicaragua. The people who live here have suffered through three decades of political violence. They suffered the repression of the dictator’s National Guard, renowned for throwing prisoners into active volcanoes or out of flying helicopters. The inhabitants of Waslala suffered the civil war between the Sandinista government and the US-backed Contra-revolutionaries while both sides reined terror upon the countryside. Although the war officially ended in 1990, combatants of both sides continued to fight against the new government and against each other. The last political armed group in the vicinity of Waslala was destroyed by the army only three short years ago. Even with the end of overtly political violence, poverty plagues the countryside. A third of the children are malnourished, and many people die from easily preventable or curable diseases. Despite the hardships of life, people are caring, supportive and hopeful for the future, and the communities have impressive and inspiring levels of organization. Volunteers dedicate their lives to improving the health and education of their communities. Neither victims nor angels, the people of Waslala have shown their strength through adversity.

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