In late 2009 Rosita Valle Vargas, mayor of El Sauce, was a guest of Ciudad Hermana in Rochester. Mayor Vargas met Bob Duffy, then mayor of Rochester, and his economic development staff. With the staff’s connections they found a way to get a large donation of medical supplies, clothes and shoes, and school supplies on a container ship going to Nicaragua and to do this at no cost. The shipment arrived in January, but was held by Nicaragua customs authorities. “The process of claiming it was arduous,” says Ashley, a Ciudad Hermana volunteer.We jumped through countless numbers of hoops, providing paperwork from many different agencies in the exact wording they wanted and with the exact signatures. This included a long process to get approval from MINSA (the ministry of health) to bring in medical supplies for the hospital in El Sauce. It also included a difficult process of attempting to get a tax exemption to be able to bring the supplies in without paying taxes since it was all a donation.
Despite the frustration of the first experience, Ciudad Hermana and the shipper were willing to try again in 2012. That shipment arrived in June. It took until March to submit the mountain of required paperwork. Then, because the shipment had been held in storage for so long, Customs decided they needed to inspect it again. Finally in April 2013 — ten months after its arrival — the donation was released and trucked to El Sauce. Many of the recipients are 4Walls families. See their joy and the joy of other families in additional photos here.