In September of 2007 a committee called Amigos y Hermanos de Nicaragua (AHN) was formed, with the help of San Jose Parish in Austin, Texas, in order to administer aid during the emergency caused by Hurricane Felix, which struck the northern part of the Nicaraguan Moskitia on September 4 of that year. This committee was organized under the initiative of Fr. Melesio Peter Espinoza, a native of the affected region and a resident of San Jose parish, who relied on the support of the parish priest Monsignor Tom Frank, members of the Nicaraguan community in Austin and various friends across the country. The initial funds raised were used to finance the reconstruction of houses in Santa Marta, a community in the municipality of Puerto Cabezas; create a micro-credit program that benefited women in Puerto Cabezas; and establish a scholarship program for elementary, junior high and high school students of limited financial means.
Nicaragua is the second poorest country in Latin America after Haiti, but due to a long history of racial discrimination, poverty is even more evident among the residents of the Moskitia coast. Six different ethnic groups live in this multicultural territory: Sumus, Mayagnas, Ramas, Miskitus, Creoles, and mestizos. The indigenous communities of the Nicaraguan Moskitia have suffered a process of gradual impoverishment which began with the intensive exploitation of their natural resources, the continual invasion of their territories by outside interests and the denial of their rights aggravated in part by the ten-year (1980-1989) armed conflict between the indigenous communities and the Sandinista government of Nicaragua. This process was further aggravated by the natural disasters which have struck the region approximately every ten years for the last thirty years (Hurricanes Joan 1988, Mitch 1998, Beta 2005 and Felix 2007).
These circumstances motivated the Austin-based committee Amigos y Hermanos de Nicaragua (AHN) to form an organization with greater coverage and capacity to respond to the needs of the region. In April 2008, the committee members created Pro-Moskitia Foundation of Nicaragua (PMFN); a non-profit dedicated to continuing and expanding the work begun by AHN, and began to pursue 501(c) status. We not only consult with community leaders and local authorities in the development and implementation of proposals, we also require their direct participation in developing and implementing our projects. We rely on a support committee comprised of members of the community as well as territorial, municipal and regional authorities.