Written by Andrew Malcolm, Photographed by Victoria Lodi

The success of an NGO is never certain, especially when its goals are established outside the communities it intends to support. Josh Allsup and Elliot Cooper established Casa Nica with the philosophy that people within communities know best what kind of philanthropic support they need to face contemporary challenges. Since its inception in 2010, Casa Nica has established technology, agriculture, education and medical programs throughout Nicaragua.

“....people within communities know best what kind of philanthropic support they need to face contemporary challenges.”

Partnering with NGO's like Masaya Sin Fronteras and One Laptop per Child, they assign volunteers to hospitals and other medical facilities, receiving a lot of positive feedback from Nicaraguans on their community based approach. Casa Nica also runs a frequent conversation club in a city park where any of Masaya's one-hundred-thousand residents can practice speaking English with visitors, and visitors can practice their Spanish. This initiative started when Allsup and Cooper offered practice in conversational English to anyone who was interested, eventually it evolved into a formal program using feedback and requests from residents. Casa Nica also assigns volunteers to Masaya, which are always in need of extra help - so we sent PWB photographer Victoria Lodi  Masaya to meet Allsup and Cooper at Casa Nica and document their work there.

About the Photographer: Based in New York, Victoria Lodi is a photojournalist and event photographer. While her work is characteristically diverse, traveling to Masaya to document Casa Nica provided a refreshingly new subject for her lens. Particularly interested in how photography can support philanthropic causes, Lodi had a natural affinity toward Casa Nica and its founders, feeling she shared their philanthropic philosophies.

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