Warm breezes welcomed our team of six healers to Managua on Feb 18, 2016. The group settled in at Quaker House where they were greeted with a delicious meal and hugs from Pro Nica staff. The team included massage therapists, yoga teachers, a psychologist and a sex therapist. For several team members it was their first visit to Nicaragua. For the next ten days the group led retreats for Pro-Nica staff and partners in various parts of the country.
The first day the team visited sites in the city of Managua and listened intensely to the history of the country. It was important to understand the context of the country and the inter-connectedness of our nations. The tree-lined Salvador Allende Bolivar brought us to present times as we admired the “trees of life” that were created by first lady, Dona Rosario Ortego. The well-lit metal structures loom tall and powerful. Political billboards proclaiming the strength and goodness of the Ortega government are everywhere. A tourist might surmise there were no other political parties in the country that calls itself a democracy.
Our first workshop was a one day AVP training on trauma healing held at the Kairos Center. Harold Urban and other Alternative to Violence facilitators from around the country enjoyed the intense “advanced” workshop experience. For most of the team, it was an introduction to the AVP model and the popular education modality.
Next we traveled to the Centro de Retiros La Palmera in Diriamba to spend the next few days with Los Quinchos staff. Initially, we visited the children and were entertained by a visiting circus who were there working with the former street children for a month. Our team was excited by the holistic approach of Los Quinchos to the traumatized street children. We observed them learning new skills (like sewing or drumming), cooking together and a cooperative family approach.
“The best part of the experience for me was working with Los Quinchos staff. It was amazing fro see their resilience, desire to learn and to help in spite of all they have been through themselves. Sometimes I feel jaded about the world and working with them boosted my sense of hope.” This statement by one of the team is reflective of the their experience as a result of our days in retreat with these amazingly resilient and resourceful people.
Our third – and final- retreat was held in San Ramon at the Sueno de la Campana Retreat Center. Retreatants came from Pro Nica’s northern partners and some traveled for many hours by bus to join us. Casa del Nino, Casa Materna, Rio Blanco Women’s Network were all well represented at the retreat.
Each person was received a massage during our time together and got called from the circle when their turn came. Again we explored types of trauma with a popular education format. We spoke of stages of grief and how to deal with them. There was ample time to share stories and learn some new information as well. For many the five circles of sexuality were a welcome way to explore issues of relationship and violence. The circles include: sexualization, sensuality, intimacy, sexual identity and sexual health and reproduction.
In addition to leading the three retreats described, the team has time to swim at Laguna de apoyo, stroll along the Lakeshore waterfront park in Managua and have a mini-retreat at La Garnacha near Esteli. The healers were all pleased to participant in this project and several described deep hearings that happened to them during the experience.