In the Nicaraguan university town of León, Jairo Condega Morales and his fellow volunteers of El Arado Nicaragua (“Plough in Nicaragua”) have distributed thousands of Spanish-language Plough books for free, in collaborations with the Catholic Church, evangelical congregations, the city school district, and the city teachers’ union.
“Nicaragua is the second poorest country in the Western hemisphere, where half the population lives on two dollars or less per day and more than seven out of ten children are born out of wedlock,” says Condega Morales. “In this situation, the single most important thing we can do for a child is to encourage her parents to stay together and provide her with a secure two-parent home. Arnold’s book Sex, God, and Marriage is proving to be a powerful tool to help couples build strong marriages and families.” Under the auspices of Bishop César Bosco Vivas Robelo, the El Arado team offers Sex, God, and Marriage to engaged couples as part of the diocese’s marriage preparation program. In addition, Arnold’s Why Forgive? now forms part of the conflict resolution curriculum for León’s high schools, whose “Rompiendo el ciclo” project was inspired by the Breaking the Cycle forgiveness program that Arnold co-founded with police detective Steven McDonald. La violencia del amor, a collection of the writings of Óscar Romero, the martyred archbishop of San Salvador, is another especially popular title.
The El Arado team has also distributed Plough titles to the thirty-one Catholic churches on Ometepe, a two-volcano island in Lake Nicaragua with a population of thirty thousand. Reachable from the mainland only by a ninety-minute ferry ride, Ometepe is renowned for its wildlife but economically isolated. An island native, Condega Morales works with Father Miguel Rodriguez, a parish priest, and with the local Association of Indigenous Youth to bring Plough books to Ometepe’s primary schools and adult education centers. Several Ometepe villages have built one-room “library” structures to house the books and provide a reading room with two benches.
Since 2015, the Nicaragua team has given out more than sixteen thousand books, each of which is hand-delivered to a selected school or church. The cost of logistics and of printing by a local firm is borne by Plough. Anyone who would like to support this work is invited to make a donation to Plough marked “Nicaragua.”
Photographs courtesy of Jairo Condega Morales