Merced-Somoto
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Current Projects

1. SCHOLARSHIPS - this program started in 1993 with one student -- we sent Mauricio Cajina $50 monthly for over a year, enabling him to finish college. After graduating as an agricultural engineer he worked for a self-help agency and in 2000 was elected vice-mayor of Somoto.

In 1995 we began a program of $50 monthly scholarships to each of six Somoto students attending universities in Nicaragua and $5 monthly to seven high school students.

Students apply to APRODES, who select and monitor recipients. Since 2002 we have been helping eight students and in 2004 added one more. Funds for scholarships come from designated donations and pledges from individuals, yard sales, raffles, sale of Nicaraguan coffee, and sales of crafts at annual Cultural Festival and others events.

2. DELEGATIONS - the committee sponsors yearly trips to Somoto and hosts visitors to Merced.

3. MATERIAL AID - we continually accept donations and over the years have sent thousands of pounds of school and medical supplies and sports equipment - in suitcases carried by delegations, with Pastors for Peace caravans, by container, truck, and in 2002, a Friendship Bus.

4. SALE OF NICARAGUAN CRAFTS and the opportunity to educate the public about Sister Cities at Merced's Festival of Cultures in October and Alternative Holiday Faire in Modesto in November.

5. CHRISTMAS TREE at yearly "Christmas at the Courthouse Museum."

6. MARTIN LUTHER KING BROTHERHOOD MARCH - we have participated every year since 1998.

7. NICARAGUA NETWORK member.

8. NORTHERN CALIFORNIA SISTER CITIES - active participant (Shirley Olson and Betty Stewart serve on the Board of NorCal).