Friends of Batahola: Pat and Jim Berning

The Center won over my heart when I first traveled there in January 2001. The friendships that began deepened during many subsequent trips. I have traveled there as a nurse, immersion participant, and a Friends of Batahola (FOB) board member. Jim traveled there twice. Both times he used his skills as a hearing technician to fit hearing aids for folks in the rural areas of Mulikuku and Managua, including Batahola. Just ask Jim about these experiences and you will appreciate how deeply they have affected him. We also were very fortunate to take five of our grandchildren with us on three separate trips. Our relationships with our dear friends at the Center have enriched our lives in ways we never could have imagined.

We were so fortunate to meet both Sr. Margie and Fr. Angél before their untimely deaths in 2001 and 2002. It is their strength and vision which continues to inspire our commitment to the Center to this day. I only have to close my eyes to see them surrounded by the Batahola community, and I am filled with hope. It is Margie’s and Angél’s faith and hope that keep me hopeful, even during this very difficult time in Nicaragua. Margie and Angél started the Center with nothing, during another time of crisis, and had faith in God and the people, building the foundation of the amazing community the Center is today. The Nicaraguan people have come through so much and remain determined to make a better life for themselves and each other. We have to see them through this crisis. So how can we give up!

Currently, the Catholic church, the Nicaraguan people, and the international community are working to affect peace in Nicaragua. The Center is doing its part by providing a safe and supportive space for its students and staff, where they can come to share, learn, and grow, even in this uncertain time. As an FOB board member for many years, and as a past and the current co-president, I pray we can do our part to support, advocate for, and walk in solidarity with our dear friends, so we can all see Margie’s vision of “A New Dawn” realized.

We pray each day: Loving God, hold the Batahola community in your hands, keep them safe, give them wisdom and faith. And inspire us on how best to support them.


Pat and Jim Berning