As the leader of an important development project in Latin America, I had the chance to document the experience through video, highlighting aid beneficiaries’ civic passion and pride that characterize the current challenges in Nicaragua.

The video, USAID: Building Civil Society in Nicaragua, captured the activities in Managua while showing scenic footage of the vibrant life of the country overall.

Along with the enormously dedicated project team, we were able to tell a complex story in a way that showed the real stars – the Nicaraguan leaders of several civil society organizations, their dedicated partners and the U.S. government supporters of real democracy in Nicaragua.

The success of the Institutional Strengthening Program’s (ISP) approach entailed meeting organizations where they were, and supporting their efforts to shape and construct a reality that met their institutional vision and mission.

Our mission in Managua worked from the philosophy that our connection with and our contribution to local civil society partners should be the key ingredient. We engaged each of the organizations on a unique, individual basis that facilitated their development within their own organizational timeline.

We worked with 30 civil society organizations representing a diversity of areas such as education, human rights, women business owners and endangered and vulnerable youths. In my experience, this was highly unusual if not unique.

We are proud to show this video as evidence that in the young democracy of Nicaragua, many grassroots leaders now have a deeper understanding of the impact that their stronger organizations can have in their country and region.

The program was focused on governability and leadership, strategic planning, management structures and procedures, strategic communication and alliance building.

Through this internal strengthening, I am convinced that these organizations have broadened their constituencies and increased their visibility in the media. The trust they established in the ISP team and among themselves allowed them to build alliances within civil society organizations that will last for years to come.

Fortunately, this video tells that story.