Why I continue to serve — I remember Nicaragua

Thanks to my parents, Rev. Mel West, my supervising professor and others, the second great commandment, “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself,” has been instilled in me as long as I can remember.

I was only vaguely aware of our neighbors in Nicaragua when my father, thanks to Mel’s suggestion, began donating to Rainbow Network in 1998. I began to become more aware in 2003 when Mel sent me a photo of homes under construction at Colonia La Paz, homes and land my father had funded.

I was busy then with family and work, but framed that photo on my home office wall. Founder Keith Jaspers began urging me to visit Rainbow Network in Nicaragua. In 2008, an unexpected conclusion of a work project led me to call Keith to arrange a visit. Keith, Mel and I went the next month.

I was amazed for many reasons. Among them:

  1. Rainbow has an unusually holistic approach that includes health care, housing, economic development, and education. When first visiting, I was struck by the extensibility and sustainability of Rainbow’s Network approach.
  2. Rainbow Network goes into a community and stays for a long term, providing sustainable impact and hope for self-sustenance in that community.
  3. Rainbow Network goes into the remote areas and works with the country’s poorest people, treating everyone equally and reaching out to everyone in each community served.
  4. The money is used very efficiently — the organization is managed and supervised as a not for profit business. Accountability is maintained at every level and waste is not tolerated.
  5. Rainbow Network works through community committees that they organize when beginning in each new community and utilizes hundreds of Nicaraguan volunteers every day as they work on Rainbow Network projects within their own communities.

I was particularly moved to visit Colonia La Paz, where that raw land had become a vibrant community in just a few years.

Keith Jaspers & Mel West

I joined the board of directors, became increasingly involved, and became board chair a few years ago.

Between political unrest, the global pandemic, and severe hurricanes, Nicaragua has seen terrible times during these recent years, yet Rainbow Network is loving those neighbors as never before. I am glad to be able to contribute. You can too!

Though visiting Nicaragua in person is much harder than it was, right now you can visit RainbowNetwork.org and Rainbow Network on Facebook and become part of our work.

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