Nicaragua has been poor but peaceful for many years, escaping the violence of neighbouring countries. In mid-April 2018 violent demonstrations broke out, triggered by a social security change, and at least 120 have died in widespread shooting incidents: now, roads are being barricaded, leading to food shortages, and the population is angry with Ortega’s government. There is no clear way forward and the unrest continues. All overseas development aid is on hold, and we fear for the safety of our friends. The churches in Nicaragua have been trying to help in reassuring and supporting the people.

Our manager, Valeria, and her family are safe but deeply worried – having been through similar scenes some decades ago. Our recent team’s visit to Bluefields was a huge success, building a new school and kitchen in less than 3 weeks; but we then had to take special measures to bring them out safely, avoiding the roadblocks. We cancelled the July team trip – with apologies to all booked to take part. We have no idea when it will again be safe to send out donated goods and working parties, and so our planned January 2019 trip is in some doubt.

In the meantime the Trust will watch and pray, monitoring the very scarce, partial and mostly partisan reporting from Nicaragua. It seems the world press isn’t interested, for the present, and fragmented social media reportage is (as we’d expect) unhelpful.