Juntos: Connecting Pittsburgh to Nicaragua
Juntos is an organization that creates sustainable, effective initiatives that positively impact Pittsburgh and Nicaragua. Throughout the year Juntos fosters cultural dialogue on CMU’s campus, in the greater Pittsburgh community and in rural Nicaraguan communities.
Our annual trip to Nicaragua is imperative to maintain these long-time connections. However, meeting the cost of the trip is our greatest challenge. This year we have ten traveling members, 7 of whom have never traveled before. Our approximate total cost is $20,000, which will cover travel expenses, homestays, construction materials, and project supplies. In order to meet these costs, we fundraise throughout the year by cooking and selling Nicaraguan foods, working at campus events, and much more. Despite this, we cannot meet our full goal without your help. We call on not only the CMU community, but all those who believe in our mission and values. With the help of a supportive community, Juntos will be able to make a great difference in Nicaragua.
Since 2010, Juntos has partnered with Bridges to Community, a U.S.-based nonprofit that works with rural communities in Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic. Our past projects were focused in Rosa Grande and Hormiguero and included the following:
Constructing eco-friendly and renewable latrines
Supporting a local chocolate factory (ChocoTrim) by painting a mural and leading Microsoft Office workshops to help the cooperative keep track of finances
Building pro-respiratory stoves that pipe smoke out of the cooking area, burn wood more efficiently, and improve the health of women and children affected by poorly ventilated traditional stoves
Leading art workshops in local schools to foster creativity and connections between elementary school children, their families, and Juntos members
Painting a mural depicting healthy pregnancy behavior for a maternity clinic
This year, we are excited to continue working in Hormiguero again, this time in Zamora, Hormiguero, where we hope to help wrap up the construction of a brand new medical center, sponsored by Bridges, that is expected to help over 10,000 people. We also plan to assist with the construction of latrines and pro-respiratory stoves and the creation of new family garden plots as well as any art or education-focused projects that the community desires.
What We Do in Pittsburgh
Of course, our focus is not limited to Nicaragua. We locally contribute through year-round service and informational events. We have been involved in 1000 Plus and worked to improve the landscape of Arsenal Family and Children’s Center. We also volunteered at Stop Hunger Now and plan on working with Global Links. Additionally, one of our most popular projects was a photography exhibit hosted by CMU’s Ellis Gallery, which showcased works from both Pittsburgh and Rosa Grande Latinos. Inspired by the chocolate cooperative ChocoTrim, we have hosted a Choco-Late Night to educate attendees about fair trade chocolate. Building on the importance of fair trade, we hosted an Equal Eats event which informed our campus community about fair trade Nicaraguan exports like coffee, chocolate, and bananas. Furthermore, we have also hosted screenings of several documentaries related to fair trade, including “Banana Land: Blood, Bullets, and Poison” and “Connected by Coffee”.