by Rick Allstetter, ASALV Board President
February 25, 2013
Several Members of Amigos de Sí a la Vida (ASALV) made a visit to Nicaragua in January. John Reiss, former Treasurer, and Rick Allstetter, new President, arrived in Nicaragua on January 11th and stayed until January 22nd. Nicole Walsh from Chicago, the originator of the Violence Prevention proposal, joined us during the visit. Alexis Bonoff, Vice President, arrived earlier in January and stayed on Ometepe after John and Rick left.
We found that Sí a la Vida has been functioning well during this period of change following Jonathan Roise’s departure from the island (and his death last October). At the end of the last school year (December 2012) there were 12 boys in residence in Managua and 12 on the island. (There had been 14 on the island, but 2 had been sent home due to a theft.) Overall we were impressed by the dedication of the staff and their ability to weather this change. It was clear that they had been anxious about the continuation of the program following Jonathan’s death, and we were able to give them welcome reassurance. Due to good fund raising in December, and the expectation of some additional funds to come, we were able to guarantee them that the program will be funded through the year of 2013, and that we have every expectation that it will continue indefinitely.
One of the purposes of our meetings was to introduce the staff of Sí a la Vida to Rick Allstetter, and to give John Riess the opportunity to say his farewells after many years of being Treasurer and the primary contact person in Seattle. We felt that this transition went well.
We had several days of ongoing discussions at Managau and Ometepe. Our discussions covered such issues as the budget, staffing, facilities, recruitment of boys, the pulsera program, and more. We reacquainted ourselves with the program. We talked about achievements of the program, and some of the issues it faces. We were able to resolve some of the issues that came up. We made plans for the resolution of others. And we developed a specific framework for better communication between Amigos and Sí a La Vida.
We felt energized by our visit. We made a good reconnection with the staff on the ground there - those who do the day to day work of rescuing and rehabilitating kids. And we had some fun!