Day Eight: “It’s kind of like a buffet”
After our first full day with the Millennium Challenge Corporation (Millennium Challenge Account in Nicaragua) I am beat. It’s all I can do to eat my piece of flan in the hotel bar while I type this blog. Yes, I know, it’s a tough job but someone’s gotta do it. We’ve had our share of long days and tomorrow the crew heads out at 4:30AM once again. Not to mention, Montezuma took a trip down south to exact his revenge on more than a couple of our team members…
The Millennium Challenge Account (MCA) team in Leon and Chinandega is a force to be reckoned with. Having written over 1000 contracts for $80 million in just a couple of years you can see why they have been so effective.
As we head to Annabelle’s plantain farm in our four-truck convoy it does feel a bit overwhelming. Our entourage is a majority Nicaraguan staff, but it still feels a little weird, like we’re a gang of Gringos riding in to town to make sure our tax dollars are being well spent instead of what we’re actually here to do which is highlight their holistic and country owned approach to development that has made these projects so successful.
One of the most interesting things about their projects is how they focus on gender equality. Their genders specialist, Sylvia Torres, told us that they’re approaching 30% participation by women- which, I’m told, ‘considering the machismo culture of Latin America, is quite an accomplishment.’
Tomorrow we meet a rancher named Nubia Bacha- a widow who almost had to sell her land before MCA (know in Spanish as Cuenta Reto Del Milenio) gave her the technical assistance to save it. Now she not only has 80 head of dairy cows but also started a woman’s cheese making collective. She’s what you call a spitfire.
If anything, MCA wants to show us too many projects. It’s a bit overwhelming; there are so many things to see. But if we want to do this right (for the video anyway) we need to stick to the plan and limit the number of subjects we t
ry and do justice.
Less is more.
Half way through the day, our photographer said, “it’s kind of like a buffet.…” Which is true- you can’t eat everything, you just have to make it through as much as you can.
It’s reminds me of a story my dad told me about “someone” being pulled over by a state trooper for speeding. They asked:
Driver: “why did you stop me when all these other people were speeding too?”
State Trooper: “You ever go fishing?”
State Trooper: “Do you ever catch all the fish…”
Good point. And for us, it’s not about capturing all of the stories, but rather finding the right stories to paint a picture of what smarter development looks like on the ground. And I think we’ve done that here.
Brian P. Duss is the multimedia associate at Bread for the World.
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