Swindon Ocotal Link (SOL) celebrated twenty years of friendship between Swindon and its twin town Ocotal in Nicaragua with a visit from Dr Jorge Calderon.
Dr Calderon presented Swindon mayor Rex Barnett with a letter from Ocotal mayor Carlos Norori, who visited the town in 2007, to mark the mutual respect and support. Dr Calderon is pictured right presenting the mayor and mayoress of Swindon Rex and Sandra Barnett with a gift from Ocotal
There have been visits in both direction nearly every year and SOL works closely with an Ocotal committee to help families in need buy school uniforms and shoes, and provide sponsorship for young people through secondary school and university.
SOL also funds a health clinic and helps an old people’s home with supplementary food and medicines.
Dr Calderon, who has been involved since the town twinning agreement in 1990 and is president of Fundacion SOL, said “the link between our towns is built on deep friendship and respect for each other. It has been incredible for all the people in Ocotal, helping particularly with health and education. I’m proud it has now lasted 20 years and I thank the people of Swindon for all your support.”
The link was greatly strengthened in 1998 when Hurricane Mitch ripped through through the central American country. Swindon residents raised £27,500 and members of SOL went to Ocotal to help with reconstruction.
Bruce Clarke, chairman of SOL, said raising money for Ocotal is more vital than ever. “Over the years there have been a lot of exchanges, including groups of young people on work experience.
“But our priority is to raise a lot more than the £5,000 currently sent to Ocotal, to support more families and children in need, helping a larger number of children attend college and also assist more health and community projects.”
For details of how to help Swindon Ocotal Link call Bruce on 533338 or mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Twentieth anniversary party in July with the Mayor and Mayoress and, front from left, Gill Wallis, Karen Mayell, Ruth Ogle. Back, coun Doreen Dart, Dr Jorge Calderon, Sian Kandiah, Bruce Clarke, Dr Ayub Kandiah, Dorothy Clarke, Rita Heads