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To honor founder Carole Harper's legacy, supporters have contributed $30,000 for a project to empower 55 families to build their own spring capture gravity flow water system in Caño Sucio.


Carole Harper moved to Nicaragua in the 1980s, working with Habitat for Humanity. At the time, Habitat did not include water or sanitation facilities, so Carole launched El Porvenir to address the lack of clean drinking water in rural communities to improve living standards. 

Carole worked tirelessly for 18 years as the Board President of El Porvenir. She worked a full-time job as an administrative law judge for the State of California (and still does today!) and volunteered full-time to take El Porvenir from doing four wells in 1989 to an organization that now serves over 35,000 rural Nicaraguans per year.

I remember Carole hilariously (although not at the time) driving one of the Habitat for Humanity trucks up the Pan American Highway from Managua to Puertas Viejas for a community meeting on an El Porvenir project--with essentially protective lab plastic goggles because the windshield of the truck was thefted!  But most importantly, I remember her as being present at meetings where she skillfully and diplomatically led community meetings in the countryside to explain El Porvenir or Habitat for Humanity rules/issues, troubleshoot land disputes for El Porvenir projects--and ever so diplomatically help visiting U.S. work delegations understand that they were simply partners and witnesses to the fact that the Nicaraguans were fully capable of building their own houses, latrines, wells, and community wash stations; the delegation members' labor was welcome but a little bit of financial help would go a really long way.    –Pat Baker, long-time El Porvenir supporter and former El Porvenir staff member

As El Porvenir developed, it grew into an integrated program that included water, sanitation, hygiene and maintenance education, and reforestation. When El Porvenir started offering work trips, Nicaragua was recovering from the aftermath of a civil war and didn’t have a tourism industry; it was difficult to find English-speaking guides, public transportation, or hotels outside of Managua. For North Americans to travel to Nicaragua and see El Porvenir’s rural development work first-hand, it was necessary for El Porvenir to serve as a tour organizer. Work trips bring small groups of North Americans into rural villages to experience village life and work alongside local families on projects.

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El Sauce Developer and Coordinator Oneida Hernández remembers going out to the Ismael Castillo Cooperative Community to put a plaque on a newly rehabilitated drilled well. Carole personally raised funds for this project done in memory of Oneida's son Oscar Enrique.

"She accompanied me to place the plaque; it was a very emotional moment for me and at the same time beautiful."

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​Carole led many of these groups, driving trucks with volunteers and supplies, translating, coordinating with communities, and raising funds to support rural community members as they dug their own wells and built their own latrines. Carole had a vision of a Nicaraguan organization with Nicaraguan staff that uses locally available materials. She thought we should focus on water and sanitation, staying out of politics and religion. And that's the organization she built. So many of her early decisions set up El Porvenir to be successful. Some of the staff she hired still work with us. 

"Carole has brought about awareness of needs, international friendships, and hope for this planet’s future to many gringos like me. More than that, she has put us to work in new ways--to the planet’s benefit, and our own! She’s a very dear friend who I admire and love.

– Liz Specht, Founding and long-time El Porvenir Board Member

“I believe that God sent my mother, Carole Harper, to this planet because she has a great heart. She loves helping people when they need it most, and she does it without any benefit for her. For example, one of those people that needed help was me. She changed my life when she adopted me, and I’m so grateful that she is in my life.”

—Mauricio Harper, Carole’s son


Caño Sucio


  • Spring capture gravity flow water system

  • 55 families

  • 280 individuals

  • Located about 40 km from Waslala

  • Cost: $30,000

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