Frequently Asked Questions about the Cultural Center | Friends of Batahola


Where is Batahola Norte? Who does the CCBN serve?

Batahola Norte is located on the western end of Managua, the capital city of Nicaragua. Managua is a city of almost 2 million people. Batahola Norte is a young community, estimated to have almost 5,000 residents. The neighborhood is located very near the United States Embassy. Its neighboring barrios—which the CCBN serves with access to classes and scholarship—are Batahola Sur, Dinamarca, Edgar Lang, Reparto España, Monseñor Lezcano, and Reparto Miraflores, plus others at greater distances. CCBN clients range in age from five years old to adults in their sixties, and come from all walks of life. Average students are young adult women, usually single parents, trying to improve their lives and the lives of their children. Most are urban, but several come in at great effort from the countryside for the quality classes and affirmation they receive at the CCBN. Hundreds of families and through them thousands of persons are touched by the CCBN annually.

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What do you mean by “Cultural Center”?

The CCBN, a compound of several cinder-block and pre-fabricated buildings, open air patios and beautiful tropical gardens, exists to affirm the culture and self-determination of the people of Batahola Norte and beyond Batahola to other barrios (neighborhoods) and into the countryside.

The CCBN is a gathering place for education, arts, community events and for celebration and open religious ceremony.

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How big is the CCBN?

The grounds and adjacent structures are just at one acre. Packed with many small interwoven buildings, every inch is put to solid use. The full- and part-time teaching and administrative staff are 45 persons. More than 500 students attend classes each week. The chorus, orchestra, and advanced dance group have a total of 60 members. About 200 students receive scholarships for CCBN courses or their regular schooling, and 3,000 people visit the library each year. Over 400 people benefit from violence prevention programs. Sunday Mass is attended by about 50 persons.

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Why can’t the people there pay their own way?

Nicaragua suffers from a poor import-export ratio and has not been able to secure a profitable place in the world’s free markets. Unemployment is estimated to be as high as 75 percent if informal sector jobs such as street vendor are not included. The struggle to educate the population is hampered by structural adjustments.

If a family is struggling to feed itself, education and any hope of a better tomorrow are postponed day after day after day. The CCBN—where each day is a new dawn—seeks to end these postponements by putting each person’s development at the forefront, while also meeting needs for a whole and holistic life

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How is the CCBN funded? Who monitors the money?

The CCBN is totally funded through grants and private donations from honored and reputable sources. The need for funds is constant. Today, with Friends of Batahola, contributing is easier because of our tax-deductible status.

Please feel free to check with these past and present supporters to establish the CCBN’s credentials:

  • JubileePartners (Georgia)
  • Sisters of St. Joseph of Medaille (Louisiana and Ohio)
  • St. Jean Vianney Catholic Church (Louisiana)
  • The Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic Church (Ohio)
  • Global Fund for Children (Washington, DC)
  • Presbyterian World Service & Development (Canada)
  • Holy Rosary Catholic Church (Louisiana)
  • Gender Equity Fund (European embassies in Nicaragua)
  • Irish Catholic Development Agency (Trocaire; Ireland)
  • Swiss Cooperation in Central America (COSUDE; Switzerland)

 

The Administrative Area of the CCBN records all income and expenditures using QuickBooks accounting software. The Cultural Center of Batahola Norte Board of Directors in Nicaragua monitors these records at their quarterly meetings. These are open books and are audited annually by independent auditors.

Friends of Batahola have incorporated as a not-for-profit education organization to help raise some of the funds needed for the CCBN. The Board of Directors of Friends of Batahola is responsible for disbursing these funds as available and as needed and for monitoring use of funds. Representatives from FOB journey—at their own expense—every year to visit the CCBN.

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Is Nicaragua safe and is it a stable place for funds?

Included among the many nations throughout Latin America that carry a substantial and distracting international debt, and also have many employment, hunger and education crises, Nicaragua has held five peaceful elections since the end of the Somoza dictatorship in 1979. The Army is greatly reduced in scope and power since the 1980s. Nicaragua is considered by far the safest country in Central America.

Banks have failed, though. For that reason, the Friends of Batahola deposits its funds in a North American bank until the money is needed in Batahola. This lessens the size of any account, thus helping protect the funds. Transfers occur quarterly.

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What are the biggest issues facing Nicaragua today? How does the CCBN affect the issues?

Persons working in social and economic development have noted the many layers of need Nicaragua faces. In terms of needs for future development, these persons indicate severe need for 1) developing a true representative participatory democracy where all are heard and respected; 2) instilling a sense of government accountability and open door policies; 3) supporting Nicaraguan-owned and domestically produced agriculture and industry; and 4) achieving a balance of power within the state—especially an independent judiciary. Over all of these is the pressing poverty and violence that families face day-to-day.

The CCBN staff and board—and Friends of Batahola—believe that the best way to encounter and alter these immense needs is to provide education that empowers and affirms the dignity of each human person, and skills to help beneficiaries improve their quality of life. Given a voice, Nicaraguans are fully capable of mapping the road ahead.

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Who teaches these classes?

Instructors are usually former students who were able, with scholarships, to continue their post secondary education, sometimes at the university level. Several instructors have degrees or are university-trained. The Coordinator is a graduate of Wellesley College and has over 15 years of experience in international development and nonprofit management. Because of the quality of instruction, the CCBN is able to offer national certificates to its students upon completing any of several courses of study.

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