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Sep 20, 2018

Second anniversary of our Foundation Ruach

The 24th of August was the big day! Everything was  ready for celebrating the second birthday of the Ruach Foundation!

The party took place in the morning. We had invited about 70 people, among them representatives of local ministries, and many other people who in one way or the other have contributed to the well-being of our Foundation. We can only celebrate together, with people who feel involved with us. That is why we had also invited, by email, people who live far away, to give them a chance to ‘be with us’ on the day. We have had many warm responses, including this one:

‘Yesterday I read out your invitation in our meeting. It was well received. On behalf of everyone we’d like to say:
– keep up the good work
– we wish you a good life together
– congratulations
– strength
– we will stay connected
– lots of success in what you do


From 8 am we were busy turning our big sitting room into a conference hall for at least 60 people. Of course we had rented extra chairs for this occasion. Our walls, inside and outside, had been adorned with party decorations and balloons. Around 10 am the music equipment and the master of ceremonies arrived, and the coffee and tea and snacks were ready for the first visitors to arrive. Starting events ‘in time’ is next to impossible in Nicaragua, and people commonly arrive an hour or so late for events. But we had agreed that our celebrations would start at least at 10:30, or soon thereafter.   

Loyda, Daniel, Miguel and Jonathan participated in the program, singing together with their mentors, a children’s song (although probably more by the mentors than our residents!) This was enjoyed by everyone in their own way! The participants of the activities centre also song two songs - The week before, I heard them practising every day.  

My role was being hostess and giving a visual report of what we had achieved in the home and the activities centre in the past year. Because of course a presentation of pictures is more attention-catching than words. There was also a Question and Answer time before we closed the formal part of the meeting.

Because we want  to show we are oecumenical, the celebration was started by a Roman Catolic priest, and an evangelical pastor ended the celebration. Very uncommon in Nicaragua were the gap between churches is still big!

The music band then took over, while visitors enjoyed a drink or snack. Those who did not know our house were  welcome to make a tour of the community home. The celebrations ended with a lunch for personnel, residents, participants of the activities centre, relatives and some good friends, in total about 40 people.  

A new beginning 

A birthday is also an opportunity to look back at the year that has just passed. We look back in gratitude, not so much because we have not met obstacles on our way or that all our projects were implemented according to plan, but because we feel that our work is being blessed, and that our circle of friends is growing in both Nicaragua and other countries, friends with whose support we can make a difference.

A birthday is also the starting point for a new year in which new challenges await us. Symbolic for our work at Ruach is this picture of the first harvest of our garden project. It has taken a lot of trial and effort to get this far but we have persevered and have won. This week we harvested the first cucumbers. We pray that the work of our Foundation may bear fruit in the next year. We thank you for every drop that you contribute to watering our ‘garden’!

Jul 16, 2018

Volunteers are welcome!


From  30th May until the end of June Rob from the Netherlands has been a guest at Casa Hogar, the Ruach community home.  In spite of the disturbed situation in Nicaragua, he was glad he came. He had booked his journey before the turmoil started. And fortunately the political situation did not prevent him from doing what he came for: to spend some time in the community”.


"Let me introduce myself. I am Rob Hennekens (61) and live in Groningen, the Netherlands. I’m a guest at Casa Hogar, the Ruach community home, for three weeks. I arrived on 30th May. The journey from Managua was eventful with lots of barriers on the way as reported in the previous blog. After a few days of getting used to the place, I feel totally at home now. I can converse in Spanish at a basic conversation level. I participate in the running of the household and in the stimulation programme for the residents, using the SonRise method. I’m not an experienced pedagogue, but I’ve picked up a lot; it’s a matter of empathizing, listening and looking. And there are tangible results: I’m getting more and more contact with the residents and I feel included in the community.

The home
The common area is spacious, with a large veranda and a garden at the back with mango trees. As is common here, the roof consists of corrugated iron sheets. It is the mango season, and ripe mangos drop to the ground, ….or onto the sheet-iron roof ,which makes a heck of a lot of noise!. At first I got a fright, thinking I was hearing gunfire. The bedrooms are fairly small, also because the ones on the ground floor and first floor are partitioned to create two sleeping spaces out of one bedroom. I had a choice of two sleeping spaces and opted for the one in the garage. The first night I felt as if I was sleeping under a bridge as there was so much outside noise around, but I soon got used to it.

The day is tightly scheduled to help the residents function well within a clear structure. Breakfast is at 7am, followed by a contemplation using a bible text or something else; at 9am we sing children’s songs; stimulation sessions for the residents start at 10am. After a delicious lunch, the main meal of the day, there are more individual stimulation sessions of 30 minutes each between 2pm and 5.30pm. Evening prayer is at 6pm followed by the evening meal. Within this rigid structure everything happens with a lot of attention, love and complete acceptance.

Extra activities
On my first day we celebrated Mothers Day in the activities centre where the more able compañeros have their afternoon activities. I had brought stroopwafels ( syrup waffles) from the Netherlands, a Dutch delicacy, much liked as people here have a sweet tooth.

I was in Nicaragua once before, in 1985 with the summer brigade in Northern Nicaragua. I was taught a children’s song (De Colores) there, which I am now using to teach at Ruach. As singing is my big hobby I’ve found some other songs that I’ve been asked to introduce in the 30 minute daily singing slot.

My education background is in architecture and engineering. Last week we had a look at a site where potentially we could construct a new Casa Hogar and maybe the activities centre. Although the plans are still vague at present, I’ve given the ideas some thought, based on an assessment of the current home, to find what the possibilities and challenges are.

As due to the political situation it is not safe to travel, Astrid, Jonathan and I spent a night away last weekend at the holiday centre Finca Los Angeles, not far outside Juigalpa; a good place to swim, eat and spend the night. It was a nice outing to break the daily routine and to generate new energy for the remainder of my time here.

In spite of the disturbed situation in Nicaragua, I’m glad I came. I’d booked my journey before the turmoil started. Fortunately I’m able to do what I came for: to spend some time in the community. In my contacts here I am learning a lot about myself which is very worthwhile. Differences and judgements disappear, there is no duality. It is giving and receiving. Here I can be who I am".


Rob’s visit of course shows that Ruach is open to receiving people who would like to live and work in our community for at least one month. Prior experience in working with intellectually disabled people is not essential, but it is important to be adaptable, curious and eager to experience the different way of living we offer in our community. Basic ability to communicate in Spanish is important. If you are interested or would like to know more, please contact Ruach directly via:

Jun 4, 2018

Time of changes

No activities club for now

On Tuesday the 15 th of May the political situation in Juigalpa was so tense that we had to decide to close the activities club for the rest of the week.

There have been demonstrations in Nicaragua since 18 April in the wake of the Government’s decision to clean up the Institute in charge of collecting pension premiums and paying out pensions. The country went up in flames after many people were killed or injured as a result of the violence used to contain the protests. It was somewhat ground-breaking that many Nicaraguans who for years had tolerated the increasingly authoritarian and anti-democratic government, now took to the streets in protest.

The week after the situation was stable enough in Juigalpa, so that we were able to welcome our ‘compañeros’ again.


On 15 May all shops closed and everybody, except for the protesters, stayed off the streets. The unrest that started in the capital a month ago had leapt to Juigalpa. The riot police were around and a confrontation with peaceful demonstrators seemed imminent, especially those who raised the barricades that had cut Juigalpa off from the rest of the country (there are about 10 places now were they have raised barricades). They only let pass the cars every 2 or 3 hours. Farmers in particular had raised barricades to stop traffic in and out of Juigalpa, to add strength to their demands for reform and for a halt to violence by police and paramilitary groups. They have the sympathy of a lot of people. Although it had a big impact on daily life, because shops were no longer supplied, and neither buses nor private vehicles were able to get in or out of the town. As in other towns, also in Juigalpa, Roman Catholic priests played a pivotal role in preventing violence. They were ready to negotiate and placed themselves between riot police and demonstrators. Although the riot police did not accept it just like that, the campaign of the priests was successful: no blood was shed.

For our community home we stocked up on emergency supplies of food and drink and candles etc. Jonathan, who is autistic, has had a difficult week as he is frustrated by not being able to go outside for his routine activities and by the fact I had to cancel our planned trip to Managua to stay with a friend there.


The 19th of May the national dialogue started, led by the Roman Catholic Church. Many people were somewhat put out by the president’s starting position in the negotiations. After four meetings the bishop announced a pause because it was impossible to achieve some compromises between the government and the civil movements. Demonstration against the president are going on.

Nicaragua has disappeared from the headlines in the international press. But this doesn’t mean that the conflict has gone. Demonstrations still occur daily. Nicaragua is shaking on its foundations. Oh Nicaragua, Nicaraguita…….

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