the difference between solidarity and charity

The Campaign is collecting its last payment of our support for Los Quinchos (see here), which works with children who live on La Chureca. Here’s our latest appeal message:

Do something different this Christmas, and help children who live in appalling conditions.

One month to raise £1,400.

Christmas appeal for Nicaraguan children – Wales Nicaragua Solidarity Campaign

Your contribution, however much, can make a difference to some of the poorest children in the world.

Because of your generosity, the Campaign has succeded in raising around £24,000 over the past four years to support the Los Quinchos Centre which works with the children of La Chureca rubbish dump. We are launching a Christmas appeal, to raise £1,400 to complete our support for this year. Any additional funds will also be sent to the Centre.

You can ensure it succeeds by giving on-line:

Or if you’d prefer to send a cheque:

“Wales Nicaragua Solidarity Campaign”, Tŷ Iorwerth, Ffordd y Sir, Penygroes, Gwynedd LL54 6ES.

Diolch! Gracias!

In his presentation at the 25th anniversary celebration of the campaign, David McKnight quoted Eduardo Galeano Hughes:

“I don’t believe in charity. I believe in solidarity. Charity is so vertical. It goes from the top to the bottom. Solidarity is horizontal. It respects the other person. I have a lot to learn from other people.”

In our next newsletter, another Campaign member discusses the nature of solidarity, and the effect of working with the people of Nicaragua:

Mari Wyn and the Nicaraguan Revolution

If the influence of society on individuals and the influence of individuals on society were recorded like a bank account, i would be in a huge debt. Especially where Nicaragua is in question.

When I was writing the thanks to include in the front of my first novel ‘Mari Wyn’, I thanked everyone who had helped me directly with the writing process. Only afterwards, when I asked Ben could I write an article for the Campaign’s newsletter (because I think that members of the Campaign would have an interest in it!), did I realise how much I need to say thank you to the people of Nicaragua for their contribution towards the process of forming the ideas for the book as well. This, in its turn, led me to think about much influence Nicaragua has had on my life generally and everything that I do.

Only living there made me realise how hard life can be. Especially if someone lives in a marginalised area (which is being pushed more to the margins because of global warming and lack of resources) under an economic system which stops someone looking after and profiting, in the true sense of the word, from their surroundings. This made me realise that my way of life in Wales and the economic, social and political systems which sustain it, prevent my friends in Nicaragua from living in some cases, without speaking about living comfortably. It made me realise that changing a few lights to low energy bulbs, however important, isn’t enough.It made me realise, if I called myself a friend to these people, I should do everything I could, as they themselves do, despite their everyday hardships to, put simply, change the world. It made me realise, if I did this I would have to accept, and others around me in my society, being less comfortable.

On the other hand, living in Nicaragua showed me the power of ordinary people of all types to change the world through co-operating to survive and thrive. I can’t describe the feeling of freedom I had sitting on the roof of a bus at 5 o clock in the morning, hurtling through the countryside, singing at the top of our voices ‘the people united will never be defeated’ on the way to celebrate the 19th anniversary of the revolution, and then the 20th. The same excitement I felt attending the huge Jubilee 200 protest in London and the G8 protest in Genoa, as well as smaller protests around Wales and England. The results of the struggle of the Revolution in Nicaragua weren’t perfect, nor the campaigns I have been a part of. There’s not one transformation of society which is perfect, I think. But the hope tied up with the process of campaigning and trying to change society is as important as the results in my opinion. Because this hope can enable us to envision a better reality, to imagine that it is possible.

Which brings me to the third thing, and perhaps the most important, that the people of Nicaragua taught me. Once someone feels this hope and has had a glimpse of a better future, the revolution doesn’t come to an end. There are ways of acting every day, and through every action someone takes. The actions being taken across the country at the moment are testament to this. The revolution isn’t a list of things to provide that someone can judge their success against.It is a cycle of social, political, emotional, spiritual and physical processes. Processes which contribute to the welfare, in its widest sense, of the earth and its residents. The revolution isn’t getting rid of something bad, but building something good. Not that this is easy. Reading ‘The Country Under My Skin’ by Gioconda Belli who part of the revolution in the 70s and afterwards, reminds me of the birth of a baby (decision, determination, strength and perseverance are the words which come to mind, as well as a sense of humour, of course. But it is possible.

Writing this now I have noticed that I should have not only thanked the people of Nicaragua in the book, but dedicated it to them. The novel was summed up on the back cover like this: ‘This is the story of a young girl who comes to understand the world and its contents. But Mari Wyn’s journey represents a lot more than this. Through getting a glimpse of a possible future, we search fo the way we choose to live our lives today, and ask are the choices we make the wise ones…..’. It’s become obvious to me that Mari’s journey in the novel represents the journey I made through working in Nicaragua. The experience I had there not only contributed to forming the ideas of the novel, it made a huge impact on the way I see the world, and the way I chose to live my life.

I am lucky then, that the influence on individuals by society and the influence of individuals on this society is not recorded in a bank account. But that’s what’s so lovely about solidarity (standing side by side with brothers and sisters working for a better world), the fact that we don’t record the transfer of inspiration in one direction or the other, and the actions we take which results from this. In fact, even if we did this, the sums would never add up, because in this case the sum would be greater than the parts. The fact is, as Taid said to Mari Wyn in the novel, “Of all the powers which make the world a better place, there’s nothing so far or so powerful as hope.” The fact is, as I once shouted on the roof of a bus “Juntos unidos, jamas seran vencidos!”

Mari Wyn is published by y Lolfa, you can buy it in your local Welsh bookshop or if there isn’t one close, on line.


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