NORWALK, Conn. — Did you know that Norwalk has a “sister city” in Latin America? Don’t feel bad if you didn't. According to Tish Gibbs, many residents aren't aware of Norwalk's special relationship with Nagarote, a city of 18,000 people on the coast of Nicaragua.
“Some people in Norwalk still don’t realize it has a sister city, but as people become more aware of it, they’re more enthusiastic,” she said.
Gibbs helped launch the Norwalk/Nagarote Sister City Project in 1986 and has watched it grow over the past 26 years. The organization’s goal is to build a partnership for sustainable community development, as well as a relationship between citizens of the U.S. and Nicaragua, she said.
Its Youth Project is one mission that has achieved that goal. The year-round after-school program in the Jeronimo Lopez barrio in Nicaragua educates teens on a number of topics, from the dangers of substance abuse to reading and writing.
Students are also encouraged to participate in healthy-living activities. Since 2006, they have planted 20,000 trees in their city for the organization’s Urban Reforestation Project.
In addition, its Preschool Project allows young children in poverty to get a head start on their education. At the beginning, Gibbs said, only four children were signed up. That number has since climbed to 53, which Gibbs said shows the impact the Sister City Project has made on Nagarote.
“These are children whose parents never finished sixth grade,” said Gibbs, who visits Nicaragua once a year. “It’s really making a difference.”
Upon graduation, the preschoolers are often given scholarships to attend elementary school by the Norwalk/Nagarote Sister City Project.
Gibbs said there are several new projects on the organization’s agenda. Her team is hoping to bring a musical theatre program to Nicaragua and build a farm.
To contribute to the Norwalk/Nagarote Sister City Project, click here for more information.