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Changing Lives in Nicaragua

Joe and Sandy Barber live on their own tiny island, La Tiburona, in Granada, Nicaragua. They founded a mission there in 1993 to provide assistance to the impoverished fishermen and their families who reside in the islands of Lake Nicaragua.

Joe graduated from UT Knoxville in 1974 with a degree in architecture and Sandy graduated in 1975 with a degree in education.

“Joe was a member of the original technical-assistance program from the UT Architecture College who traveled to Nicaragua to help with rebuilding following the devastating earthquake in 1972,” Sandy Barber wrote. “He and I got married following my graduation and moved to a tiny island in Lake Nicaragua to begin our married lives. I wrote a book about that published by Thomas Nelson Publishers in 1985 called ‘It Began With An Island.’

“In 1993 we returned to Nicaragua. Using personal savings and rental income, we tried to help alleviate the extreme suffering among the fishermen and their families who reside on the 365 different islands in Lake Nicaragua.

“Since friends wanted to help us, we founded a non-profit agency called Families Involved Serving Humanity Inc. (F.I.S.H.). It provides educational, medical, emergency and pastoral assistance to the 3000-plus people who reside in those Islands. We built schools, a health clinic and recreational areas, and we provided roofs to more than 250 families who had no shelter. A church was born and we continue to provide school supplies, food, clothing, medicines, medical care, etc.

“We returned to the U.S. in 1997 to earn more money in order to keep it all going. We travel back and forth to oversee the work which is now supervised by Nicaraguans.”

“We plan to move back in a couple of years.”

The family chronicles their work at


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