Sarah Junkin Woodard speaks about the CDCA’s Jubilee House Community

Sarah Junkin Woodward spoke on April 10 of the Jubilee House Community’s partnership with the Bucknell Brigade and its work in helping foster social, economic, and political development in Nicaragua.

Max Haase, Contributing Writer

The University welcomed Sarah Junkin Woodard from the Center for Development in Central America (CDCA) on April 10. The CDCA refers to the Nicaraguan project of the non-profit, faith-based organization, the Jubilee House Community (JHC), “an intentional community of people from the United States who are dedicated to assisting Nicaraguan people.” Working in Nicaragua for over two decades and the co-founder of the the Jubilee House Community, Woodard, along with her co-workers, have focused on helping third-world communities become self-sufficient and sustainable democratic entities. Woodard and the CDCA aim to achieve these goals by focusing on sustainable economic development, organic agriculture, education, and health care. The CDCA continues to adapt to changes, seeking to respond to the needs of local Nicaraguans that are created by poverty in one of the poorest nations in the world. Their “ultimate goal is to facilitate empowerment.”

In her talk, Woodard made it clear how important the tool of empowerment is. She believes it will enable impoverished families to find their own solutions to problems they identify, and connects them with the resources they need to solve their problems.

“Our job is not to tell others what to do, but to listen to their needs and then respond as we are able. Thus, our task is to enable self-sufficiency and sustainability by providing the necessary resources to foster economic, political and social growth,” Woodward said.

The Bucknell Brigade, an international community service trip involving University students, has formed a special relationship with the members of the JHC in the hopes of creating sustainable development projects in Central America. This partnership has enabled students to not only coordinate work projects, but also gain valuable insights into community development and the culture, history, and politics of Nicaragua.

“The time I spent in Nicaragua was both humbling and eye opening,” Mishi Papich ’19 said. “I was able to experience a whole new level of poverty where children were running around barefoot in landfills full of shattered glass. Mothers would cook their food over fires lit by plastic bottles, emitting deadly toxins.”

“While observing the community, I, along with a group of other students, helped begin the building process for the extension of the JHC’s private health clinic. In addition to the work we did as a service group, I was able to gain greater insight into the history of Nicaragua. I critically analyzed past Nicaraguan dictators and learned about the role that more developed countries, including the United States, have played in facilitating such corruption in more underdeveloped regions of the world” Papich said.

While the CDCA has made great progress in helping to initiate both health-related projects as well as sustainable agricultural and economic development projects, there still remains plenty of work to be done. Woodard highlights the fact that the U.S. government has served as a major impediment for many Nicaraguans in recent times. The U.S. government not only continues to intervene in Nicaraguan elections, but has made life very difficult for countless families through stringent immigration restrictions. Woodard reiterated that there must be a sense of urgency and agency in individuals to continue the work that has already been accomplished within the JHC or it will quickly fall by the wayside.

“There is a reason why the University’s partnership with the JHC through the Brigade program has been so successful over the last few decades. I know from first-hand experience that we have an active sense of agency to bring about change and make a difference in the lives of those less fortunate. I am very proud of the University for its engagement in the betterment of the lives of these Central American families,” Harry Colville ’19 said.

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