The Valley’s generosity has been spread far and wide throughout Nicaragua by former Comox residents and those who supported their fundraiser last summer.
Comox’s Sean MacKinnon and his partner Sally Rubin left their brewery business behind last summer in San Juan del Sur, a small tourism community in the country following political strife.
The pair lived there for about three-and-a-half years before returning to Comox temporarily after many civilians were killed in political unrest, a result of growing opposition to President Daniel Ortega, which opponents call a dictatorship.
At the time, MacKinnon explained due to the current economic and political climate, a sharp decrease nearly overnight in tourism occurred, and a significant amount of businesses have had to lock up their doors.
The pair had to close down their business temporarily, but they continued to pay staff, as they did not want to turn their back on their community, whom they considered family.
Last July, the duo organized a beer and yoga fundraiser (Rubin is an experienced yoga instructor) at Comox Marina Park.
From that fundraiser, $3,400 was raised and MacKinnon said he is deeply thankful for the generous support from citizens and businesses who assisted.
“A portion raised was allocated to creating bags of necessary, everyday supplies like rice, beans and soap for the neighbourhood surrounding San Juan Del Sur. Many are struggling to survive and support their families on little to no salary, and the bags of supplies were accepted with big smiles and hugs.”
He explained another part of the funds were donated to an organization called Buckets Of Love, which creates buckets of everyday necessities for a rural community in southern Nicaragua.
“The idea is that the families are gifted buckets filled with household items to reduce some financial stress and if possible, frees up some money so they can enjoy something special for Christmas. This year more than ever, the buckets were accepted with so much gratitude.”
After reaching almost 100 families through the distribution of the Bucks of Love and the bags of essential supplies, there was a portion of funds left, said MacKinnon. It was decided it would be most beneficial to for the funds to go towards making an impact for one specific family who needed support.
“With the help of some friends in the community, we met Javier and heard his story: (he) lives in a tiny room with his schizophrenic wife and two young sons who were all forced out of their home in Masaya during the height of the political crisis.”
He added Javier is the only one in the family able to work, and despite being highly qualified, there is no job available other than cleaning up the streets in San Juan.
“They have no furniture and share two thin, donated mattresses on the ground. The money raised has gone to providing these deserving people with proper beds, a table, a fridge, kitchen supplies and a shelving unit to put their clothes in.”
MacKinnon said the Stand By Nicaragua fundraiser was a huge success, and thanks to the generous people of Comox, many Nicaraguans were able to nourish their families with good food and rest a little easier.