Youth practice community journalism in Nicaragua
Jinotega, Nicaragua is tucked in a valley between lush, green mountains in the north of Nicaragua. Coffee is a focus in this small, friendly town. Jinotega acts as a central hub to hundreds of surrounding farms that grow an astonishing 80 percent of Nicaragua’s coffee beans. I had the fortune of visiting Jinotega this last April for a trip to help launch a new photography project, Project MangoMundo.
Project MangoMundo traveled to Nicaragua to bring donated cameras and digital photography workshops to youth in the coffee cooperative communities. Upon arrival we were greeted warmly by our host, Jairo Rivera, who is in charge of the youth program, Movimiento de Jovenes Ambientalistas, for SOPPEXCCA (Society of Small Producers for Coffee Export). SOPPEXCCA is an association of coffee cooperatives representing 650 farmers in the area, and has created various programs within the community to help support and improve the quality of life for the families of the farmers. Since 1999, SOPPEXCCA has been selling coffee to the international market.They are now an entirely Fair Trade Certified union of cooperatives.
We chatted with Jairo Rivero over café cortos at SOPPEXCCA’s cafe, and planned out how the workshop would go for the next two days. Together, we decided that the focus of the workshop would be community reporting—using photos and words to bring light to issues in the students’ communities.
In the town of Jinotega there is a striking contrast between its natural surrounding beauty and its immense problem with trash containment; sadly, the streets are filled with it. This issue was chosen by one group of students for their community reporting story.
What I took from this visit to Jinotega was the importance of community voice. It was inspiring to see how these skills could give this group a creative and open outlet for expressing themselves and a platform to share significant concerns. Our next plan of action for Project MangoMundo, is to host similar photography workshops for youth here in San Francisco.
Project MangoMundo is supported by Fundación MangoMundo (mangomundo.org), a California non-profit that raises awareness of Latin American historical, cultural, and social issues through documentary film and photography, with their current focus on Nicaragua. In addition to PMM, Fundación MangoMundo is in the process of making a documentary film about the Nicaraguan Solidarity movement in San Francisco.