“CEPAD was founded just after the earthquake on the 23rd of December of 1972. When the Baptist Convention, where I was Promoter of the Social Assistance Commission, realized the great needs of the people in Managua we felt it was necessary to help people with housing, food and everything else they needed.” (Dr. Gustavo Parajon, founder of CEPAD).
Representatives from eight denominations were present on the 27th of December, 1972 and responded to this call that Gustavo Parajon made through the only functioning radio station in Managua.
That is how this big adventure in faith was started. Due to the experience gained through the development of the emergency programs the General Assembly of CEPAD decided to work in development in rural communities and not only in emergency assistance.
From 1972 to 1979 CEPAD shifted from emergency work to development work, but continued attending to emergency situations throughout this period. Response was sent to the following situations: The eruption of volcano Arenal in 1973; hurricane Fifi in Honduras in 1974; an earthquake in Guatemala in 1976, as well as others. During 1978 CEPAD suffered along with the general population the national movement to over throw the Somoza dictatorship.
The 1980’s and the 1990’s were the most challenging years of CEPAD’s history. There was a lot of instability in the country due to the political situation. There were many obstacles to overcome including; the war of liberation, displaced people and populations, the military inscription, the literacy campaign and work for peace and reconciliation. In addition CEPAD worked to foster dialogue between the government authorities during the revolution and contributed to creating peace in Nicaragua, especially in Nueva Guinea where the work of the peace commissions was of great value. On the Atlantic Coast, together with the Moravian Church, CEPAD formed part of the Reconciliation Commission that helped the group YATAMA (an indigenous political group from that region) reintegrate into civil life. In Jinotega the Organization of American States asked CEPAD to be part of the disarmament process.
Currently CEPAD works in programs of sustainable agriculture, economic development for women, psychosocial attention, community organization and training, strengthening of pastoral leadership, exchanges between delegations and partnerships, grade school and high school education. In addition, the organization runs a Christian Radio station and attends to immigration and refugees from other countries who are traveling through Nicaragua.
During these forty years of work CEPAD has accompanied more than 4,000 communities in every department of the country.
With the help of God we will continue.