is one of the poorest countries in the Americas. It is also poor in
natural resources and the target of frequent hurricanes, earthquakes and
volcanic eruptions. Nicaragua became a democracy in 1984. In 1987,
during the Contra war, a small group of citizens of Richland Center,
Wisconsin, contacted the Nicaraguan Embassy in Washington, DC with a
view to establishing a constructive and positive relationship with the
people of Nicaragua through a sister city arrangement. The
resulting relationship with Santa Teresa, named the Richland
Center-Santa Teresa Sister City Project, SCP for short, focused on
friendship, information about Central America, and aid.
SCP received a letter from the Santa Teresa mayor requesting SCP’s help
in protecting sea turtles and aiding the people of the remote,
“poorest-of-the-poor” villages of the Chacocente Wildlife Refuge on the
Pacific coast. Chacocente’s olive ridley sea turtle arribada
(mass-nesting) beach is of global importance, one of eight remaining in
The SCP responded and has since focused its efforts in and around Chacocente.
project took a major leap forward in 2000 when Peter Smith, a
Hillsboro,WI, Amish farmer volunteered to live in Chacocente for 2 1/2
years and initiate our projects. This gave SCP a clear, grassroots view
of both the environmental and human needs. There are five villages
within the refuge and a further 17 in the surrounding “buffer zone”.
Peter found a subsistence situation where most cash income was derived
from turtle eggs and cattle. The cattle, along with “slash and burn”
corn and bean production, were severely damaging the Refuge’s
10,000-acre remnant of tropical dry forest. The remoteness of these
communities, no electricity and only seasonal and difficult vehicular
access, had caused them to be neglected by the regional government.
• We have no paid staff in the U.S. Local operations rely on the volunteer efforts of our board and other supporters.
Nicaraguan coordinator, Alma Susana Chávez (pictured below) is a
Santa Teresa native with a college degree. She supervises project
activities, oversees all financial transactions, provides technical help
to the recipients, and reports regularly to the U.S. board.
of our board members and other supporters have travelled to Nicaragua
over the years, paying their own expenses. We try to arrange at least
one delegation to visit Santa Teresa each year to monitor projects and
meet directly with the people there.
• The board meets monthly to conduct our business.
• Our annual meeting (held in February or March) is open to donors and the general public.
outlays are approved by the board as part of our annual budget.
Approval is contingent on funding levels and consistency with our
long-term organizational goals. The coordinator monitors all projects
and provides monthly reports verifying expenditures. •
SCP is financed by private donations from individuals throughout the
USA. Annual receipts have grown from around $5,000 in 2000 to over
$40,000 in recent years.
Major targeted donations have helped fund our Village Partners programs
(providing $5,000 a year for three years of projects focused in
specific villages) and our scholarship grants.
Other bequests and donations have been used to establish an endowment
fund which generates interest to help cover administrative expenses.
SCP is a 501c3 organization and donations are tax deductible to the full extent allowable by current law.