Juntos: Connecting Pittsburgh & Nicaragua
Wow, we reached our goal in less than 10 days! Because of this incredible success, we have chosen to create a stretch goal of $6,000. By helping us reach this goal, you will cover our remaining costs for the school year and enable us to:
Allocate more time towards constructing curriculums & preparing workshops
Secure all the supplies (batteries, photo paper, frames, etc.) for our workshops
Create a plaque for Rosa Grande that commemorates our five-year relationship
Thanks so much for your support!
Juntos is an organization that creates sustainable, effective initiatives that positively impact Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and Rosa Grande, Nicaragua. Throughout the year, Juntos works on the CMU campus, in the greater Pittsburgh community, and in Nicaragua to foster cultural dialogue through service-learning experiences. This summer, we will be traveling to the rural community of Rosa Grande to build healthier stoves and latrines, lead art and technology workshops, and engage in cultural exchange with the families who live there.
Since 2007, Juntos has partnered with Bridges to Community, a U.S.-based nonprofit that works with rural communities in Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic for a five-year timespan. This is the fifth and final year Juntos will travel to Rosa Grande before it moves into its next stage of partnership with Bridges: the community was able to extend their contract by a year in order to develop improved water infrastructure. This last trip is an opportunity to bring our projects from the past four years to a close and give our thanks to the community members we have come to know and love, such as our hosts Don Agusto and Doña Zenayda.
Juntos is active in Pittsburgh as well. Leading up to the trip, our Education Initiative has investigated cultural and political issues that affect Nicaragua and presented them to the CMU community. Inspired by the chocolate cooperative in Rosa Grande (ChocoTrim), we hosted a Choco-Late Night event this past November, educating attendees about fair trade chocolate. Our Arts Initiative has offered under-served Pittsburgh and Rosa Grande students the opportunity to connect with each other through photography exchanges and other art projects. This February, we installed a photo exhibit at CMU’s Ellis Gallery showcasing work by students from both communities.
There is a lot to be accomplished on our trip to Nicaragua this year! You can read the details of our work below. Please join us in our mission to make a lasting impact on Rosa Grande through meaningful service projects and cross-cultural engagement.
The Juntos year culminates in our trip to Rosa Grande, where we have built a strong connection with community leaders over the past four years. We work on community-led health and construction projects, visit the local school to lead art and technology workshops, and learn about the process of growing cacao and making chocolate. Each Juntos member returns bearing new knowledge and inspiration to share with our own community at CMU, and the group grows and evolves each year, shaped by our experiences in Nicaragua.
Here are the five main areas we will be focusing on for this year’s trip:
Students and community members in Rosa Grande look forward to Juntos’ art workshops every summer. We host four drawing and photo workshops that inspire elementary school students to think creatively and critically about their community, their dreams, and their future.
Rosa Grande had five laptops donated to the local school several years ago from OxFam. We have consistently offered workshops to schoolteachers to tap into the potential this technology represents, and this year we will do the same. We will also provide training in Microsoft PowerPoint and Excel to facilitate business planning for the community’s cooperative chocolate factory, ChocoTrim.
Every day half of our group members hike to a local home to spend the morning with a family. This allows us to learn about each other’s culture and everyday lives. We typically learn to prepare traditional foods such as buñuelos (fried corn treats), and in exchange prepare foods that are special to us.
We will be constructing latrines that are healthier for both people and the environment. Sanitation is a major issue in the area, as running water is limited. The design of most latrines results in contamination of the Rosa Grande river, an important water source for local families. The eco-friendly latrines are a more sustainable solution and also offer families more privacy.
Traditional stoves in Rosa Grande are poorly ventilated and result in respiratory health issues for those cooking. Every morning, Juntos members will collaborate with community members to construct new stoves that pipe smoke out of the cooking area and burn wood more efficiently.
Traveling to Nicaragua is a culminating moment for Juntos. Our experience in Rosa Grande allows us to connect the community to Pittsburgh through our art workshops, kitchen exchanges, and educational events. However, meeting the high cost of the trip is our greatest challenge. This year we have eight traveling members – three more than last year. Our approximate total cost is $16,000, which includes construction materials, project supplies, and our homestay as well as travel expenses.
We fundraise tirelessly throughout the year, from cooking and selling homemade curry fried rice to participating in psychology studies on campus. However, we need to meet our $3,000 goal in order to make the trip possible for all our members. Carnegie Mellon has taught us that anything is possible when you have a supportive community behind you. We call on all those who believe in our mission and values to help make this trip a reality for Juntos.