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What are sisters for?
an article by Tony Dominski

The New Haven/Leon Sister City Project (see website) of New Haven, Connecticut, and León, Nicaragua, have been sister cities since 1984. This Sister City Project (SCP) was inspired by the Sandinista social revolution. The SCP sought to implement an alternative foreign policy directed at lifting up the majority of Nicaragua’s poor. The city of León has remained under Sandinista Rule although the country as a whole has not.

Nicaragua is now the poorest county in the Western Hemisphere. This very dry statistic came home for me through the SCP’s bicycle program. Imagine that many low income workers [such as teachers!] cannot even afford a bicycle to commute to work. In response the SCP’s New Haven branch has been repairing and shipping dozens of high quality used bicycles a year to León, selling them for $15, and teaching their new owners to maintain and repair the bikes.

The Sister City Project is a bold example of what a more just relationship between rich and poor countries could be. It organizes a lively exchange of visitors resulting in new friendships and working partnerships. The SCP builds homes, schools and community centers in León. It helps keep teachers and students in the schools, fights widespread hunger by helping gardeners and family farmers grow organic vegetable and tree crops, and as indicated above provides transportation. Student interns and skilled volunteers help in these projects.

The SCP’s impressive organization enables it to do all this work. Its two New Haven staff find a counterpart with five staff persons in León. Eleven board members and many volunteers also support this work.

The SCP is one small blip in a world in which billions are poor. Yet it offers a bright beacon of how rich and poor countries can mutually benefit through economic and cultural exchange.

DISCUSSION

Question(s) related to this article:


Helping the poorest of the poor help themselves, if millions took it up, could it be the foundation of a just world?

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LATEST READER COMMENT:

The following article by a Japanese professor  introduces the importance of the movement of World Social Forum and the role of Japan in Iraq.  It was sent to us by Takehiko ITO of CPNN Tokyo.

POINT OF VIEW
Kinhide Mushakoji: World forum in Mumbai shows Japan the way

The world does not need the so-called global standard that serves only to widen the gap between rich and poor. It was wrong of U.S. President George W. Bush to invade Iraq and cause suffering to innocent people for the weapons of mass destruction that didn't exist.

As many as 120,000 people who shared these convictions gathered in Mumbai, India, for the World Social Forum in January.

Neo-liberal economics and neo-conservative supremacy render it impossible for people to live safely, and most people accept this as fate. . ...more.


This report was posted on November 29, 2003.