Pro-Moskitia Foundation of Nicaragua

Secretary’s Report

January 01, 2016 – December 31, 2016

 2015 and 2016 Annual Meetings

            The 2015 and 2016 annual meetings are scheduled to take place at the same time and place. The meeting minutes should be separate to meet the legal requirement. Whoever is taking minutes should take separate notes especially of the roll call.

            Because the Secretary will not attend the meeting, please place the minutes and any other documents in the box provided so the Secretary can put them into the corporate archives.

2015 Report

            Last year I proposed that the Secretary undertake to prepare a newsletter that would be sent to those who are interested in the work of the Foundation. I have not made an effort to begin that work. The first task would be to gather the contact information for as many of people as possible. I am still open to writing a newsletter if the other Directors agree to gather the names and contact information of people who might want to receive the newsletter.

            The website was last updated about a year ago. Since the Foundation has been inactive, there was really no reason to update the website. I continue to pay $10 a month for the website. I very rarely receive a communication that originates from the website. When I do hear from someone, they are typically looking for someone who can translate Miskitu.          

2016 Report

            In 2016 the only activity was the President’s visit to Mexico, Nicaragua, Tennessee and Georgia. A group of friends accompanied President Melesio Peter (now Doctor Melesio Peter) to Mexico City to celebrate and witness his examination for his PhD. I did not accompany the delegation but I received reports that everyone enjoyed themselves. I have placed some photos taken during the trip in the box on the table.

            Communications about the Foundation and among the Directors continues to be a problem for the Secretary. I would like to broadcast more information about the Foundation and its work but I am hindered by a lack of feedback from the Directors and the President.

A lost opportunity

            The gathering in North Dakota to block the Dakota Access oil pipeline has proven to be a major event for Native Americans. It is unfortunate that the Pro-Moskitia Foundation is not participating in that event. Ideally the Pro-Moskitia Foundation should be a bridge between the people of the Atlantic Coast region and Native Americans in the United States and Mexico. We should remember that Native Americans from the United States played a large role in helping the Miskitu people during the Contra War. This was (and remains) an opportunity to pay that debt. If the other Directors are interested in pursuing this, I will be glad to develop a proposal for how we can do so.

             In the meantime, I agree that we should focus our efforts in supporting the work in Port Arthur. Hopefully the community at Port Arthur will develop a program or a process what works. Programs that work in Port Arthur would also make sense elsewhere.

            Although I cannot attend the meeting this year, I will be with you in spirit.

Brief history of Pro-Moskitia Foundation

 The Pro-Moskitia Foundation was created in 2009 to assist Father Melesio Peter who is a native of the Atlantic Coast of Nicaragua. At the time, Father Melesio was working at San José Catholic Church in Austin.

 Father Melesio met Dr. Charles Hale of the Department of Anthropology of the University of Texas at Austin while working on a project in Nicaragua in 2001. Father Melesio, who was a doctoral student in social anthropology at the Iberoamericana University in Mexico City, subsequently made several trips to the United States.

 In January 2004 Father Melesio arrived in Austin to study at the University of Texas on a grant from the Ford Foundation. He learned of a small Miskitu community in Port Arthur, Texas and arranged to visit the community. He decided to study this community as an example of ethnic Miskitu Indians who left Nicaragua and migrated to other countries.

 He began fieldwork in Port Arthur in July 2004. The work continued until 2007. During this period he became acquainted with other Miskitu communities, especially that of Tampa, Florida.    

 In 2007 a powerful hurricane passed over the Atlantic Coast of Nicaragua. By then Father Melesio was working for the Catholic Diocese of Austin as a parish priest at San José Church. There he met Casta Caldron, a Latina from Pacific Nicaragua, who worked with a non-profit based on the Farm in Tennessee. Casta created a organization at San Jose Church, Amigos y Hermanos de Nicaragua, to fund relief work in Nicaragua. The organization held fundraisers to continue the relief work started by Ruth Rouvier and Father Melesio in the aftermath of Hurricane Felix.

 Beginning in August 2009, Father Melesio and Casta Calderon used funds from a charity called Plenty International and from Amigos y Hermanos de Nicaragua to organize a cooperative for market women in Bilwi, Nicaragua. The cooperative administered a micro-lending fund in Bilwi until the fund of money was exhausted.

 At the urging of the pastor of San José Church, the Pro-Moskitia Foundation was incorporated in 2009 to continue the work begun after Hurricane Felix.

 From 2011 until 2014 Amigos y Hermanos de Nicaragua and the Pro-Moskitia Foundation provided funds for a teacher training program in four rural villages near Bilwi. This was a pilot program and was suspended in May 2014.

 In 2012 representatives from the Miskitu communities of Port Arthur, Texas (Antonio Menn) and Miami, Florida (Dina Fagoth) were placed on the Board of Directors of the Pro-Miskitia Foundation.

 Beginning in 2013, the Foundation helped fund community forums in the municipalities of Puerto Cabezas and Wespam. The forums gradually shifted their emphasis to cultural and language preservation and in 2014 the Foundation agreed to focus on Miskitu culture and language.

 A student from Italy, Maddalena Canna, and Ruth Rouvier attempted to find funding for a larger literacy and language recovery project but without success. In 2015 Amalia Dixon presented two programs focusing on Mikitu languge and culture for young people in Port Arthur. The programs were well received. Antonio Menn made planned to create a language training program (a spelling bee) in Port Arthur but did not follow through with it. Father Melesio continued to visit with Pastor Ugarte with the intention of forming an organization in Port Arthur.

In 2016 the Foundation was not active. No programs were implemented and no funds were raised. The 2015 annual business meeting was postponed.

Suggestions for a program for Pro-Moskitia Foundation

 I have one suggestion for a program for 2017. My suggestion for 2017-2018 is a Vacation Bible-type Miskitu School in Port Arthur.

 When we held the 2014 annual meeting in Port Arthur in January 2015, many leaders of the community attended the public portions of the meeting. Amalia’s presentation in the church showed that the community is interested in a program of Miskitu language and culture. Amalia made another visit in Port Arthur in 2015 that was also well received.

 I suggest that the Foundation offer a summer program for young people of the Miskitu community of Port Arthur. We program would continue the work begun by Amalia in 2015. The summer program would focus on Miskitu literacy and culture and would be held in the Moravian Church.

 Amalia Dixon or another Miskitu-speaking person could oversee the program. We would have to pay the instructors expenses and a perhaps a salary.

 Ruth Rouvier, Maddalena Canna and Amalia Dixon would help design the program. We might be able to involve an ESL teacher in Port Arthur.

 We would need to raise funds, preferably from Port Arthur-based corporations. Philip Mullins, Antonio Menn and Ruth Rouvier would help with this.

 A committee of volunteers would have to be formed in Port Arthur to sponsor the program. The committee would include the Pastor, Antonio Menn and other key supporters in Port Arthur. This would be the responsibility of Antonio Menn and Father Melesio.

 It is not necessary for the 2015 and 2016 annual meetings of the Board of Directors of the Pro-Moskitia Foundation to be held in Port Arthur. However, if the Directors want to meet in Port Arthur, a portion of the meeting could be devoted to the annual meeting of the Board and the remainder to organizing this project.

 This is my contribution to the discussion about what the Pro-Moskitia Foundation might want to do for the next year or two. I will probably be in Mexico in January and will not be able to attend the Board meeting. If I can get a telephone connection I will attend by telephone.

 From Philip Mullins, November 2016

Meeting of the Pro Moskitia Board

In the City of Austin Texas, on the tenth day of January of the year two thousand and seven, the Pro-Moskitia Board met at Philip Mullins' house to discuss and report on the activities carried out in 2015 and 2016 and to plan for 2017. Four members of the board were present: Father Melesio Espinoza, president, Diana Saavedra, treasurer, Ruth Ruvier vice president and Amalia Dixon, and having quorum, the board proceeded with the session.

For purposes of compliance with Pro-Moskitia bylaws and to meet the requirements that the State of Texas established for nongovernmental organizations, we proceeded to issue reports for 2015 and 2016 separately, as well as a separate plan to be carried out in 2017.

 

Featured Agenda

1. Confirmation of the meeting's quorum for the meeting

2. Proposal to add new members to the Board and to vote on adding new members

3. Positions and responsibilities of the Directors

4. Report of the Year 2015, by Father Melesio Espinoza, President

5. Report of the Year 2016 by Father Melesio Espinoza, President

6. Report from Phillip Mullins, the secretary, who commissioned Ruth Rouvier to read the report.

7. Financial report, Diana Saavedra, treasurer

8. Amalia Dixon's report of visits to Puerto Arturo in 2015

9. New Proposals for 2017

 

Other Points of Discussion

1. Improve the communication between the members of the Board, particularly relating to activities being carried out.

2. Proposal to create a coordinator in Nicaragua

3. Proposal to add the requirement for a second signature on bank drafts

4. A statement by each member as to what he can do for the organization in 2017

5. Promote self-development and self-sustainability among teachers participating in the in-service training project in Santa Marta

7. Talks on Land Problems on the Caribbean Coast of Nicaragua

 

Development of the Agenda:

I. Confirming the Quorum for the meeting

With four members of the board present, which represents the majority of the seven-member board as a requirement, the legality of starting the session is recognized.

 

II. Proposal for New Members on the Board

Two new proposals for members were presented to the Pro-Moskitia Board. Amalia announced that her companion, Perla Marina Carvajal, has shown great interest and love for supporting the activities of Pro-Moskitia. She has made trips with us to visit the teachers in the Caribbean Coast of Nicaragua and has supported the educational project and other activities. So Marina, with her experience and the love she has, would contribute a lot of help to the organization. Director Amalia Dixon proposed Perla Marina Carvajal, as a candidate for the Pro-Moskitia Board.

 So too, Ruth Rouvier proposed to Karen Lopez Alonzo, who brings very valuable ideas and new values ​​to the organization. Karen was not able to be present at the meeting today because of a prior commitment but she attended by telephone. She expressed her deep interest in sharing some knowledge and experiences that can be very important and necessary in the formation of work with the teacher in-service project. Ruth recognized that Karen would be a great help in the organization.

After the explanation was given on the two candidates, the Board heard from the two candidates about their interest and desire to be part of the Board of Directors. They responded with much enthusiasm and desire to serve our community, saying that it is up to us to point out how they can serve the communities through the Pro-Moskitia Foundation.

Both the President, the members of the board present, welcomed the two candidates to the leadership of Pro-Moskitia Foundation. This way, officially Perla Marina Carvajal and Karen Lopez Alonzo, became members of the Pro-Moskitia Board effective as of today, January 10, 2017.

 

III. Positions and Responsibilities of each member

 At this point, we discussed the respective positions and responsibilities of each member of the board.

Father Melesio said that he is very happy to continue as President for one more year, from January 2017 to January 2018.

-Ruth Rouvier, continued to accept her position as Vice-president, and asked that her role as vice president be clarified. Ruth is responsible for organizing the e-mail so that it would reach everyone, when e-mail was sent. She will also organize a Pro-Moskitia Facebook page.

-Philip Mullins is still in his role as secretary.

-Diana Saavedra, continues with the position of treasurer.

-Amalia Dixon, will help with translation of documents to Miskitu, and the programming and formulation of educational plans in the Miskito language and culture for children in Port Arthur. She will, if possible, visit the Caribbean Coast region in Nicaragua with Father Melesio.

-Dina Fagoth, will continue as a Director.

-Antonio Menn, will continue as a Director.

-Perla Marina Carvajal, as a Director, is committed to helping promote the activities that we undertake to carry out. She will also search for a way to improve communication among the members so that we have a more fluid and constant communication. As a Director, she wants to help the organization do a better job.

-Karen Lopez Alonzo, Director, will expressly assist the teacher in-service project, perhaps with school materials and the organization of the community library. She would also like to become better acquainted with the project to help develop the teacher in-service project.

 

IV. 2015 President's Report

Father Melesio, the President of the Board, presented he report of the year 2015. He reported that:

1. Father Melesio made several visits to Atlanta, Georgia and Tennessee. He contacted Miskitu people living in Chattanooga, Tennessee to gain greater rapport and acquire experiences of their organization and ways of working.

2. He made several visits to Port Arthur, Texas in order to reinforce the Cultural Rescue program, emphasizing the learning and teaching of the Miskito language to children.

3. He visited Sarasota, Florida supporting unity among Miskitu residents. He observed the growth of divisions among the Miskitu people because of religious differences and separation between churches.

4. He stays in continuous contact with CEJUDHCAN (Center for Justice and Human Rights Costa Atlantica Nicaragua) to support indigenous human rights in Nicaragua. In 2015, the Pro-Moskitia Foundation give a small contribution of $ 500 for the feeding of the indigenous brothers who had conflicts with settlers.

5. He visited young people of the Moravian Church in Managua, giving talks of orientation and reinforcing in their vision and orientation for their future and university studies.

6. For fundraising activity for Pro-Moskitia, a raffle was held, starting in January and finishing in April, with net proceeds of $ 1,270.

7. Beginning in April 2015, Father Melesio had to devote his all of his time to his work on his doctoral thesis in Anthropology and from that point had to suspend his work with the Pro-Moskitia Foundation. The Directors of the Pro-Moskitia Foundation expressed their pride for this great achievement, which is a good example for the young Miskitu people who were born in the United States to follow. The Directors urge the young people to have an interest in their Miskito culture and to write stories of their people in the footsteps of Father Melesio.

V. Report 2016

Father Melesio presented his thesis in Mexico City in March 2016. He then made visits to Port Arthur and shared his work with many persons, through the Moravian Church. He gave copies of his book to a few people, just in order to lift the mood and pride of them as people, as the work contains many stories about them. It was a proud achievement for Father Melesio and for Pro-Moskitia as it is a very important document to guide young people and create interest in their culture.

That same year, he was able to invite five young men from Port Arthur to participate in a training workshop in Temple, Texas. The training was about small businesses management and how to create their own businesses and to be able to help others. Here ends his 2016 report.

VI. Report from Philip Mullins, Secretary, was read by Ruth Rouvier and is attached to the Board Material.

VII. Report of Dina Saavedra, treasurer. The financial report by Diana Saavedra is attached to the Board Material.

VIII. Amalia Dixon’s report on her visits to Port Arthur

In January 2015, we closed our annual Pro-Moskitia meeting in Port Arthur, with a Miskito language contest with children. This experience was very positive, cheerful and encouraging that gave us energy and desire to continue to provide knowledge about their native language and their cultural roots to our Miskitu children born in Port Arthur, and others who are raising with so many limitations to speak their Miskito language. All those present expressed their acceptance and showed interest in continuing this activity with the children.

The Directors of the Pro-Moskitia Foundation created a plan to go to Port Arthur and do some planning work together with the parents, and then to organize something more serious to be able to better carry out the work of teaching of language and cultural values of the Miskitu people. 

In March of 2015, I visited Port Arthur. My stay there was four days. This gave me the opportunity to meet for three nights at Port Arthur's Good Shepherd Moravian Church. These three nights saw a lot of accomplishment, since with all the present, we prepared a work plan to carry out. We decided to organize a cultural event on September 5 that same year, in order to raise funds and raise awareness of the importance of speaking the mother tongue, which dignifies us as a people. Pastor Adolfo Ugarte proved to be in agreement, giving his support, as it is a very necessary project for our children in Port Arthur.

They said that with the fund that they raised, they would rent a place for the children to attend school on Saturday to receive their class in Miskitu. And they would look for a teacher to work with the children. They would coordinate with Pro-Moskitia to plan the curriculum.

Upon my return, I sent a copy of the plan to Antonio Menn of Port Arthur, who is a Director of the Pro-Moskitia Foundation, and a copy to the Rev. Adolfo Ugarte, pastor of the Moravian church in Port Arthur, and other members who gave me their mail address, so we all have a copy of the plan in hand. I also followed up with phone calls to Antonio and the Pastor but I could not contact the Pastor. Father Melesio made three other visits with the purpose of consolidating and enforcing something more on this subject and if it was necessary to make changes.

Although the community in Port Arthur is strong, talented and always willing to work and support us, my observation was that for this type of work they needed a leader with some experience in that field who could, if possible, stay in Puerto Arturo. At the very least, the community needs a leader with more interest in the subject.

We found that it was necessary that a representative of Pro-Moskitia be present in Port Arthur all the time to organize and to guide the community. So far this reason, the plan was not implemented and we need to define our possibilities in Pro-Moskitia so that we can continue with the MISKITU CONTEST program to the children of Port Arthur.

IX. Action Plan for 2017

1. Redesign and update the website. Father Melesio and Diana will undertake to work and hire a student to help in the redesign of the Pro-Moskitia web site.

2. Improve the communication between the members of the Directors through electronic mail, which will be designed so that when sending messages everyone can receive the same message.

3. Philip suggests sending a message of solidarity, against the violation of the indigenous rights of the people of North Dakota relating to the Standing Rock project.

4. Ruth suggests formulating and working to deepen the cultural identity for self-esteem and self-confidence, which will help strengthen the mental health of the community.

5. Pro-Moskitia must create links with other indigenous groups to support with more knowledge and reinforce the Miskitu community in Port Arthur.

6. Reinforce Miskito language, making competitions in the Miskito language with children. Performing events with Miskito music and food. If possible mount an event in the month of March. Create a two-level curriculum.

7. Repeat this same event in Miami, possibly in June of this year. Accompany the event with dances and dances, sale of food for funds.

8. Resume the teacher training project in Santa Marta area of Nicaragua. Reinforce the cultural program and art. (Discuss this with Professor Ana Fagoth.)

9. In 2015, the teachers proposed to create a community library for schools in the Auhya Pihni area. We committed to search for support for this project. Karen promises to find help to get books or materials through her link with the UCA.

10. Plan the project and consult with the teachers about the design of the training to be carried out on the topic of teacher training. Father Melesio and Amalia are responsible for this activity.

11. Ruth would create the mailing list so that we are better informed of everything that happens in Pro-Moskitia, because so far the communication is very poor that no one knows what we do during the year, until we meet at the meeting of the year. Marina will be watching what is planned. Ruth will create a Facebook for everyone to use to enhance communication between the Directors.

12. Father Melesio suggested that within three months, he would look at a strategy to raise funds for Pro-Moskitia.

13. The proposal to create formal coordination in Nicaragua was postponed until later.

14. As for the second official signature in the bank, Father Melesio explained that so far Philip is covering this position when Diana is not available.

Bank records for 2016 for Pro-Moskitia Foundation of Nicaragua

 January 1, 2016 balance Savings Account $242.88 Checking Account            $5658.34

01/31 dividend                                 0.04

01/31             balance                                    242.92                                                5658.34

02/28 dividend                                 0.04

02/28 balance                                               242.96                                                5658.34

03/31 dividend                                 0.04

03/31 balance                                               243.00                                                5658.34

04/30 dividend                                 0.04

04/30 balance                                               243.04                                                5658.34

05/27 cash withdrawal                                                       802.00

            travel expenses for travel, Melesio to Puerta Cabezas and Tennessee

05/31 dividend                                 0.04               

05/31 balance                                               243.08                                                4856.3                       

06/30 dividend                                 0.04

06/30             balance                                   243.12                                                4856.34

07/31 dividend                                 0.04

07/31 balance                                               243.16                                                4856.34

08/31 dividend                                 0.04

08/31 balance                                               243.20                                                4856.34

09/30 dividend                                 0.04

09/30 balance                                               243.24                                                4856.34

10/31 dividend                                 0.00

10/31 balance                                               243.28                                                4856.34

11/01 dividend                                0.04

11/30 dividend                                0.04

11/30 balance                                              243.32                                                4856.34

12/31 dividend                                0.04

12/31 balance                                              243.36                                                4856.34                                            

 

2016 Expenses

Travel                                     802.00                        802.00

2016 Income

            Bank dividends                     0.48               

                        Category: Investment Income        

 

2016 Total Income                           0.48   

2016 Total Expenses                                    802.00

2016 Expense exceeded income    (801.52)