The lawyers and staff at ELM have committed to come alongside the villagers of Agroaldea San José in the Matagalpa region of Nicaragua. San José is one of nine villages in Nicaragua sponsored by Agros International. ELM will provide funding over the next five years to support the 26 families in their productive agricultural and human development efforts that will enable them to earn sufficient income from harvests to pay off their land loans to Agros, and receive title to their land.
Agros helped the families to buy the 259-acre farm in 2007. A generous donor and her family provided the first five years of funding for the families. ELM feels privileged to help at this later stage as the goal of paying off 100% of their land loans comes within view. The Agros model not only helps the villagers buy their own farmland, but features agricultural and health training, education for the 129 children in the village, literacy training for the adults, and loans for small business and other productive enterprises.
Four ELM partners, Michael McKinstry, Jan Olson, Daniel Ichinaga, and Chi-Dooh “Skip” Li traveled to Nicaragua in January 2012 to visit San José and another Agros village. They were deeply moved by the indomitable spirit of the people which has helped them to overcome the heavy oppression and tremendous suffering attendant to generational and abject rural poverty.
During the next five years the firm will send annual teams of lawyers, staff, and family in service teams to work shoulder-to-shoulder with the villagers. We hope to invite some clients and friends in the legal community to join us on these trips.
Agros International is a tax-exempt nonprofit organization with headquarters in Seattle, and has established 42 villages in Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua and Mexico. The organization was founded by ELM partner Skip Li. The idea to raise private funds to help the poorest of the rural poor buy and farm their own land came to Skip just over 30 years ago.
We are looking forward to attending the anticipated title-granting ceremony in the next few years, and cannot wait to start planning a celebration with the villagers.