Maria Elena Martinez, the principal of Arlen Siu.

How do new Sister Islands get to know each other when there is a war going on and an embargo against trade? One way is to send messages of friendship in the hands of travelers passing through, as Mary Gleysteen when she relayed to Managua a suitcase of school supplies destined for Ometepe.

Melissa Young and Mark Dworkin packed their video equipment to Ometepe after a visit elsewhere in Nicaragua. They set up a TV on a corner in Altagracia and curious passersby gawked at footage of the main street of Winslow, T&C market and Frog Rock while Melissa explained in her flawless Spanish that people from the Island where she had grown up wanted to reach across the continent for relationship. “You mean they live on an Island?” someone asked incredulously. Mark and Melissa filmed people and places on Ometepe for a documentary.

During their stay, they attended Arlen Siu school’s bake sale where parents were raising money so they could build, at the least, a thatch hut to protect the children from the sun. There, they met principal Maria Elena Martinez and the idea for the two islands to collaborate on this project was born.