Why We Take Direction from the Grassroots

Casa - Pueblito takes our direction from the grassroots organizations we work with in Nicaragua. 

Supporting local organizations and communities as they work for justice and positive change locally in Nicaragua means that Casa - Pueblito does not presume community needs or prescribe project design. It means that we acknowledge the power imbalance inherent in Global North-South partnerships and try to make sure that when our partner communities tell us what they need from us, we listen and do our best to make it happen.

Ernesto Sirolli talks about the importance of listening to communities. We do our best to listen to our community partners, with the understanding that the communities we work with know better than we possibly could what their local needs are, and we respect the numerous ongoing struggles for change and types of expertise that exist in the communities we work with.

We work alongside communities every step of the way when it comes to project implementation, from community meetings, to collaborative monitoring and evaluation, and on-site visits. We do our absolute best to avoid (re)producing a colonial relationship with communities in Nicaragua. Most importantly, working from the grassroots means that building meaningful relationships with the people we work with is at the heart of all that we do.

While all of this may seem obvious, international development institutions and NGOs have a bad track record not only when it comes to listening to and taking direction from the communities we work with, but when it comes to ensuring that we do no harm to those same communities.

From the IMF’s and World Bank’s active participation in the promotion of neoliberal policies that decimated many countries and communities in the Global South, to the Canadian NGOs partnering with Canadian mining companies like Barrick Gold with a track record of horrendous human rights abuses, it is well-documented that international development organizations have a lot of harm to answer for.

Casa - Pueblito understands that working for a better and more just world means acknowledging that international development organizations are complicit in upholding the systems of oppression that operate globally. As an organization dedicated to social justice and solidarity across borders, we are an explicitly anti-racist and feminist organization.

Our community partners trust us because of our years of experience working in Nicaragua, and relationships that various coordinators and team members have worked to build. We recognize that we couldn't carry out any of the necessary work that we do without their support and dedication to improving their communities. Grassroots communities are on the front lines of th struggle for justice, and we are proud to take our direction from the grassroots organizations and communities we support.