Nicaragua

2014: The Peace Project in Laguna de Apoyo: funded by Rotary International grant, gave further assistance in paper-making – to the Director of Art Programmes, Spartacous Cacao.

August-Sept. 2013:  The Peace Project in Laguna de Apoyo, Nicaragua received funding from Rotary International (US Rotary Club 3560) – to organize a studio and workshop to promote hand-made paper products. This was carried out by Alison Wiklund and Ramon Pineda together with a group of students from the local Primary School. The youngsters were taught to recycle waste paper and local fibres (banana stem, stinging nettles etc) as a first step toward making products that could eventually provide an income from the sale of cards and small books…

Cutting up banana stem for paper making
Sprinkling ash to soften banana fibers
Ramon Pineda leading paper-making workshop – using banana stem as a fibre
Lifting cloth with small wet paper sheets – to dry
Squeezing excess water from paper sheets
Never too young to learn how to make paper
Stencilling with curry powder!
Using fresh leaves as stencils

2013: Project funded by the Finnish Foreign Ministry (January +February) and carried out by Alison Wiklund, Antonia Ringbom and Jonatan Sundstrom – entitled:

An indigenous youth workshop using art, film and puppets – to raise awareness and secure the future of the Nicaraguan rainforest was held at Wawashang School and organized by FADCANIC, a Nicaraguan NGO .

Sheets of paper drying in the sun
Exhibition of creative recycling, hand-made paper and books at Wawshang school – Feb 2013
Students with their puppet snake, coconut jewelry
Drawing the framework of the puppet theatre back-cloth
Barry cutting out stencils for puppet theatre back-cloth
Cutting stencils related to tropical plants
Painting the puppet theatre back-cloth
Omar painting the puppet theatre back-cloth
Janneth painting the puppet theatre back-cloth
Preparatory drawing for puppet theatre back-cloth
Side panel of puppet theatre painted by Omar
Victor + Omar creating puppet heads out of gourds, cardboard and paint
Jonatan recording the puppet story theme
Puppet rehearsal in full swing of Los Amigos en la Selva de Wawashang
Puppet show cast and production
Leonides and Victor rehearsing the final song
Ray Hooker, founder of FADCANIC and guests attending the puppet rehearsal
Paper-making, adding ash to accelerate softening of cooked fibres on stove
Making hand-made paper
Using stencils on circular sheets of hand-made paper
Alberto's creative recycling – coconut shell jewelry

Background: The Nicaraguan rainforest is the largest rainforest in the Americas, North of the Amazon. The health and well-being of both rainforest and indigenous communities are being threatened by the ever-advancing agricultural frontier: beef cattle farming, palm oil plantations, as well as gold-mining industries. There are few roads and small communities are scattered over a wide area – dependent on transport by air, boat or on horseback.

Prior to the workshop at the FADCANIC school in Wawashang, located in the municipality of Pearl Lagoon, our team was initiated into the wonders and the realities of the rainforest at nearby Khaka Creek Nature Reserve.  A veritable oasis, where the sounds of toucans and howler monkeys transported us to another world….This was a hidden jungle of 600 hectares and home to countless species of plants and animals –  including jaguars, pumas, red-eyed green frogs, sloths,  howler  and  white-faced monkeys, boas and the rare and timid tapir.  FADCANIC administers the Reserve for the purpose of preserving and conserving natural resources, while also developing projects that generate a change of vision for both local residents, business initiatives, as well as policy-makers.

Region Autonoma Atlantico Norte (RAAN) + Sur (RAAS) – showing distribution of indigenous peoples. Rio Wawashang lies to the right of the word SUR
By airplane from Managua to Bluefields, capital of the RAAS region
Taxi-bus from Bluefields to Wawashang school took 2 and half hours
Public transport on Pearl Lagoon
Unloading the taxi-boat at the Wawashang school jetty
First evening swim at Rio Wawashang
On horseback through the rainforest to Khaka Creek Nature Reserve
Patient Esteban + rider en route to Khaka Creek Nature Reserve
Khaka Creek Nature Reserve director Miguel Ruiz on the trail
Passion flower at Khaka Creek Nature Reserve
On the trail at Khaka Creek Nature Reserve
Embraced by the mighty 600-year old almond tree at Khaka Creek Nature Reserve
Mighty ceiba tree with oropendula nesting community at Khaka Creek Nature Reserve
Rainforest lianas – many hundreds of years old at Khaka Creek Nature Reserve
Tito teaching us about medicinal properties of tree species at Khaka Creek Nature Reserve

Purpose of workshop project: This took place at the FADCANIC Wawashang School with a group of 20 young students and 5 local teachers. The activities expressed – through a variety of creative means – some of the environmental and socio-economic concerns of the ethnic minorities on the Atlantic Coast of Nicaragua. By using a mix of hands-on techniques of drama, drawing, film animation, puppetry, paper making, creative recycling and a  documentary film – the Project sought to promote the health and well-being of both the rainforest environment, as well as that of the indigenous communities. The result was an 11-minute animated film called The Voice of the Jungle, a puppet show entitled The Friends in the Rainforest of Wawashang (Los Amigos de la Selva de Wawashang), a documentary film of the whole workshop, as well as an exhibition of hand-made paper, coconut shell jewelry and recycled plastic bottles to be used as waste bins for the school. Ultimately, the goal was to disseminate an important message – through the animated film, the puppet show and creative hand-made products – at local, regional, national and international levels.

Antonia + Frida cutting out figures for the animated film
Antonia's animation class in action
Education Director Prof. Winston Cash FADCANIC Wawashang school
A scene from animated film The Voice of the Jungle
A scene from animated film The Voice of the Jungle
Ramon showing how to thread 32 bottles with wire
Ramon tightenign the plastic waste bin
Ramon with completed recycled waste bin – made from 32 plastic bottles

1992–1996: Alison was recruited by the Finnish Non-governmental Organization “KEPA – Service Centre for Development Cooperation” to work in Nicaragua: International Cultural Centre – “Fundacion Casa de los Tres Mundos”, Granada as Coordinator for Visual Arts, Activities and Education. This led to the creation of Arts Education Programme for children, youngsters and women from all social backgrounds; workshop training in silk-screen printing; the training of 3 young Nicaraguan artists to lead a series of short courses (for children & adults): painting, print-making and history of art lectures; art- teacher training in 5 local schools; research into recycling/plant uses (colors/hand-made paper) for materials in arts’ courses.

Children's painting course with assistant teacher Paul Morales in background, Casa de los Tres Mundos, Granada
Protection of nature – Group 2 children's mural – 1994 – Casa de los Tres Mundos, Granada
Children's mural Group 1 made from pre-Columbian shards of pottery collected from the river bed – 1993 – exhibition Casa de los Tres Mundos, Granada
Ligia Sandino, assistant teacher, with exhibition of puppets and masks – 1994 – Casa de los Tres Mundos, Granada
Street-children drawing course, Mother Theresa Centre – 1994 – Granada
Spanish text of Chinese aphorism "Paint" on mural painted by assistant art-teachers – 1994 – Casa de los Tres Mundos, Granada
Hand-made paper using beetroot, carrot and "yesterday's salad". Teacher-training course, Bluefields, RAAS 1994
Making masks with local clay and newspaper. Teacher-training – 1995 – Corn Island
Still Life, by Corn Island teacher Janet Gomes on hand-made paper – 1994
Blue Landscape, by Mia Dervia using shredded magazines. Corn Island teacher-training course – 1995
Collage, by Alison Wiklund using waste paper made with onion skin and garlic
Corn Island: rich under-water flora and fauna – how long will this last?, by Alison Wiklund – collage, cardboard, mixed media on hand-made paper

1995: Alison’s work location was transferred to the Municipal Council of Corn Island, RAAS, (Atlantic Coast). The creation of the Art Education Programme on Big Corn and Little Corn Islands included the training of 32 local teachers (from a total of 9 schools with a student population of approx. 1500) – in painting, ceramics (assisted by artist Jukka Koivisto), puppets, hand-made paper and books – using locally available materials; art exhibitions; workshop training in silk-screen printing; funding (SIDA/ASDI) for art-room furniture & equipment in 5 schools; funding (FINNIDA) for the rebuilding of 2 schools destroyed by the hurricane in l988; the promotion of viable, independent handicraft workshops, the creation of the Arts and Crafts Association of Corn Island (ACACI).

Collaboration with PEACE CORPS volunteers and UCA/University of Maryland scientists in Managua on environmental projects, all contributed a heightened awareness and understanding – toward the protection of their natural resources, the environment. Art became a powerful tool for environmental education, stimulating youngsters and building their self-confidence. These creative experiments attracted the attention of US scientists at UCA, the Nicaraguan NGO Escuela Ecologica, as well as the University of Maryland and led to a collaboration at the interface of art and science – with a greater focus on the relationship between art and the environment.