ViviendasLeón was co-founded by Evan Markiewicz and Indiana Garcia -- two people from wildly different backgrounds with a shared vision to create lasting solutions to poverty for rural and indigenous people of Nicaragua.
Evan, is an architect and California native. He worked and lived outside of Leon, Nicaragua for many years, assisting with rural building projects and becoming part of the community. Evan became convinced that the problem of poverty required a variety of solutions beyond building schools and clinics.
Indiana was born in León, Nicaragua. At age 8, she emigrated with her family to the United States, where they often dreamed of returning home. After college, Indiana did return to Nicaragua to work as a guide and translator for visiting delegations. She longed to elevate Nicaraguan communities so that emigration was not the only means of opportunity and survival.
Evan and Indiana discovered their shared vision while working together in the early 2000’s and co-founded ViviendasLeón in 2003.
Using their diverse backgrounds and varied skills and expertise, they began to tackle the symptoms and causes of poverty in rural Nicaragua. They wanted to see communities and people in them flourish.
We believe that all humans are born with the same potential to thrive. However, not all are born with the same privileges. To sit by and do nothing to address structural inequality is not an option for us at Viviendas Leon.
We recognize the human dimensions of poverty and we engage in human-centered solutions. Our philosophy, at its core, is to work together with communities and individuals so they may guide their own development process with their existing knowledge and traditional ways of being, and we may offer tools, resources, and support.
We believe that in order to eliminate rural poverty and its harmful outcomes, we must first understand and address the root causes. It is a process where communities are centered to create their own vision of transformation.
ViviendasLeón maintains offices in San Francisco, CA, León, Nicaragua and in Sololá, Guatemala. Our established, local teams provide ongoing support to communities participating in our rural development programs.
Since 2003, ViviendasLeón has been working in the indigenous region of León known as Sutiaba, with long-standing commitments to the communities of Goyena and Troilo. We have constructed 40 family farms, serving the basic food needs of more than 1,000 people and more than doubling the income of farming families.
We have now begun to tackle the challenge of reduced rainfall and groundwater due to climate change by deepening wells to increase available water. Families report improved health from cleaner water and significant increases in fruit, vegetable and now citrus production on their farms.
In 2019, we expanded our program to Guatemala through new partnerships with established and like-minded organizations in the Lake Atitlán region, Mil Milagros, Vivamos Mejor and others. Their deep roots in the region enable us to build trusting relationships and provide the same intensive development programs we have become known for in Nicaragua.
Our mission is to eliminate rural poverty in Central America. We empower and equip rural communities to be the agents of their own transformation.
Our vision is a world where all rural communities are safe, free from violence and inequality, filled with abundant sustainable farms and fresh clean water, and where people within them are able to live to their greatest potential.
Asset-based: ViviendasLeón invests in people and their potential.
Centering: We empower people to help themselves
Commitment: ViviendasLeón recognizes the investment in time and persistence required of human-centered development.
Community: Development is community-driven. ViviendasLeón engages a population to articulate their needs and participate in the solutions to address them.
Trust: ViviendasLeón works with a population for years to develop a trusting foundation of relationships that make it possible to overcome the challenges of change.
Unity: We are a global society and we live in a world where populations cannot thrive in isolation. We build connections and relationships across communities to create a climate of understanding and peaceful coexistence.