Updates on Unrest in Nicaragua

Below are updates we have been posting since the unrest begin in Nicaragua in mid-April 2018. The most recent information is first, you can scroll down to read earlier updates. Please keep Nicaragua in your prayers and if you are able to make a donation today, please click here, thank you so much.

June 18 2018

Dear friends,

During the past week, violence worsened even more, when we thought more wouldn’t be possible. Armed people are rampart on the streets killing, hurting, and destroying property both public and private. Last Saturday, an entire family was burned to death in Managua inside their own home which served as a mattress business. People believe that the paramilitary forces did it.

This terrible situation has reopened old wounds and made new ones in the society. Hatred is increasing to the degree that deaths and attacks are justified depending on who the victims are and on the perspective of the people. We need to seek reconciliation with each other, but right now it seems there is no time for that. Trying to survive, to get food, to get to work and home are the priorities every day.

Last Thursday the 14th, there was a national strike called by the private enterprise sector. Most businesses were closed, some because they responded to the call and others because of fear that their businesses might be burned down or attacked.

Finally, last Friday the 15th the dialogue was resumed. On Friday and Saturday, they approved the agenda and appointed sub-committees for the issues of democratization, judiciary and electoral reforms. Those sub-committees will work today and go to plenary discussions tomorrow. The Roman Catholic Church continue serving as witnesses, now with the support of the Ambassador from the Vatican in Nicaragua. We still hope that the dialogue will bring a solution although sometimes we despair because it’s taking too long.

Two months after the unrest started more than 200 people have been killed and many more are wounded, detained and missing. At least a death occurs every day somewhere in the country. Our staff remains safe. This week we are on mid-year vacation praying that there are advances on the dialogue table and that by next week the environment is less dangerous.

We have to regret the tragic death of Wilton Cornejo, one of our youth of the psycosocial program in community Las Piedras in Pantasma. There are still investigations going on about the causes of his death. Please pray for his family and entire community where he was greatly appreciated.

Finally, we are grateful for all your support. Prayers, letters, words of encouragement and financial support inspire us and remind us that we are not alone. Thank you.

May God bless you

Damaris Albuquerque

May 25 2018

Dear Brothers and Sisters:

I wanted to inform you about the situation in CEPAD at the national level.

1. The Community Development Committees in all of the zones are developing their community plans, meeting and visiting beneficiaries of the projects. What they have not been able to do is ask for support for their projects due to lack of transportation or access to the municipal governments.

2. Farmers are optimistic with the entrance of the rainy season and are preparing their plots to plant. In Pantasma and Oriente they have begun planting. The farmers in Pantasma have made their compost and in Teustepe they are even selling compost to farmers who normally use chemical fertilizers.

3. The women working with family gardens have been planting their vegetables. The women participating in Community Banking and Work programs are putting into practice what they have learned in their training and are working on their businesses.

4. The pastors in the municipalities have been meeting regularly to pray for peace. In Nueva Guinea members of the pastoral committee are members of the Municipal Commission of Peace that has been formed and they are promoting peace through radio programs in the area.

5. All of CEPAD’s zonal offices have been in touch via phone with the community leaders to monitor the advance of their plants. The social technicians of Matagalpa, Teustepe and Pantasma have been able to visit the villages. The access has been more limited for villages in the zones of Oriente and San Francisco Libre because there have been roadblocks even though it is still possible to reach the villages. The only zone where this is no access to the villages is in Nueva Guinea but we have been monitoring the situation through phone calls. Teustepe has not had any interruption in training activities; Pantasma and Matagalpa have pushed training back to next week.

6. The Institute in Leon (high school) has had classes normally with the exception of a few days. The administrative staff has been working normally. Radio CEPAD has also been transmitting normally with their staff. Despite the challenges the Nehemias guest house had two groups from Nicaragua in May.

7. We have not had more delegations cancel. We hope to have at least 4 groups visit in June and July. However, if the problems continue do to roadblocks the groups will not be able to visit the villages so we are proposing a change in the purpose of their visit. We would like them to come and listen and see what is happening in Managua so they can promote the solidarity in their churches and/or denominations. This was the objective of the program when it was founded in the ‘80’s.

Read more

Letters to the President of Nicaragua

Nicaragua has been in a state of civil unrest since April 29, 2018 when the government of Daniel Ortega tried to change laws around social security in the country. 

The principal cause for the unrest began when the government of Daniel Ortega tried to push through reforms to the country’s social security system which would have resulted in workers and employees paying more and those who are retired receiving less. The country erupted in peaceful protest. Unfortunately, that protest was met with extreme repression from the government. 

Now, nearly two months later things have gotten worse. There was an attempt at a national dialogue that was moderated by the Catholic church in Nicaragua but it was cancelled because the moderators said there was no progress being made. 

More than 100 people have been killed and hundreds have been injured. Many fear leaving their homes as there are groups of armed militants rounding up people and putting them in jail or worse. 

CEPAD’s work has continued in the rural villages, the most affected areas are in the major cities. There are some places where CEPAD staff are unable to reach the villages because of roadblocks but they continue to connect with leaders and beneficiaries over the phone. 

One of the ways CEPAD has been a witness to this situation is by writing letters to the Nicaraguan government, asking them to investigate the deaths and restore peace to the country. We have also asked organizations and denominations to join us in this effort. 

Below are three letters that have been written and sent to the government of Daniel Ortega. One by CEPAD, one by the American Baptist Churches USA and one by AMOS Trust.

Letter from CEPAD

Letter from the American Baptist Churches USA
Letter from AMOS Trust

Dreaming for the Future

We are excited to share some of the architectural renderings for this project. The image above is of the program office that will house all program staff and Radio CEPAD. 



Family Gardens…in Schools?

Your support of family gardens is helping women produce healthy food for their families. Some women have also used their knowledge to create gardens in schools! Carmen Brizuela is a teacher at a school in Aguas Calientes and she decided to help the students start a garden at school so they can be guaranteed better nutrition.

Carmen is a participant in CEPAD’s Family Garden program. With your gifts she received training in how to create a small garden next to her home to improve the nutrition of her family and also increase their income through the sale of her produce.

 She shares that as a family they were able to sell squash and cucumber which helped them to buy things like sugar, rice and oil, to compliment what they are able to grow themselves. This income also helped them to purchase medicine, something they may not have been able to do otherwise.

Carmen is also a pre-school teacher at a school in her community where 24 children  attend. She decided that with her new knowledge she would help the students establish a garden at the school so they would be guaranteed better nutrition. The Nicaraguan government provides food for the children, but they only give rice and beans, Carmen knew this wasn’t enough.

“In the school we are growing squash, onion, beets, green pepper and watermelon to improve the nutrition of the children…. I want to continue to guarantee fresh fruits and vegetables in the school garden to provide healthy food for the children because the government only provides rice and beans.”

Thanks to your support of CEPAD’s family garden program, the knowledge Carmen has gained is not only helping her family, but also helping the children of the village of Aguas Calientes.



Family Gardens provide healthy food for families

Eusebia is a mother of 3 children. She lives in the town of La Joya, Nicaragua, which is located approximately 16 miles from the nearest town of Teustepe.

Eusebia has participated in CEPAD’s family gardens program where she has learned to grow a small garden next to her home.

How and why did you get involved with CEPAD?

“In June 2014 I heard about CEPAD on the radio and that they were coming to work with poor families in the communities of Teustepe. I met with members of my church and community leaders and we sent a letter to the CEPAD representative in the municipality. I was chosen to be part of the group of women in the family gardens project.”

What is the biggest impact this project has had on your family?

“The biggest impact in my family has been to grow our understanding of food security, learn and prepare the soil to produce food and eat healthier for my children.

I have shared what I have learned with my family and with neighbors in my community. The teachers at the primary school have also allowed us to put gardens in at the school to take advantage of the interest of the students.

In the school gardens we are sharing our knowledge about growing a garden with 24 children who are growing cucumbers, onions, beets, green peppers and watermelon and helping them to improve their diets.

We are harvesting papaya and both selling it and eating it in our family. We sold 100 papayas at $1.65 each for a total of $165 of profit. We also sold 100 carrots for $.65 each, for a total of $65. With the $230 of profit we earned we have purchased medicine for my family and we have purchased other foods to complement our family diet.

I have learned to eat vegetables that before I had never even seen before. I have also learned to make pineapple jelly and plantain cakes which have helped my children to eat better.”

What plans do you have for the future?

“My plan for the future is for my family to continue working together, receiving my trainings to develop and continue producing more. I also want to have a model family farm where and provide healthy food for my family and sell products to help us purchase what we cannot grow.”

How is CEPAD different from other organizations that work in this zone?

“CEPAD is a blessing because they support families in different ways without expecting anything in exchange. They have the love of God in their heart and we are going to support them during the time they are in our community and our municipality. It is an organization that reaches the hearts of people with projects destined for the community.

People should continue supporting CEPAD because it is a solid organization that provides what is necessary to those who need it in the right time. Training with reality, bringing goods to those who need it.”


U2’s Bono Endorses CEPAD

Bono and his wife, Ali, (to his left), at the Greenbelt Arts Festival in 1987 listening to Gustavo Parajón speak.

We are so pleased and honored to share some news of amazing support that we have recently received from the band U2.

CEPAD’s founder, Gustavo Parajón, was a very humble man who quietly developed friendships with many influential  people around the world. He almost never shared about these relationships outside of his own family.

Dr. Parajón became connected with the band U2 in the late 1980’s after meeting lead singer Bono at a concert by Bruce Cockburn at the Greenbelt Arts Festival in England. Bono and his wife Ali had visited Nicaragua and Central America in the mid-1980’s and some of the songs on their album, The Joshua Tree, were inspired by that visit.

During  2017, U2 has been on a 30th anniversary tour of the Joshua Tree album and chose CEPAD to be listed in the tour program as an organization the band supports. This is truly a great honor for CEPAD and we are so grateful to be recognized in this way.

A Story of Before and After (Made Possible by You!)

Santos Gladys Rizo is a mother of 6 children and a farmer in the village of El Bramadero 2. Before she started working with CEPAD she had almost no trees on her land. Now, thanks to training and a water capture system she has begun to reforest her land and has diversified her crops so her family no longer has to purchase vegetables; they can eat from what she has planted.

I began working in my plot and using techniques I learned in the trainings [with CEPAD]. I also planted corn with cucumbers, papaya, citrus trees and spinach. I saw that this technique gave us good results. I began making organic compost, insecticide for pests and fertilizers and repellants and I saw that they gave me results. Now I don’t have use chemicals and I don’t burn my plot and I don’t have to go crazy looking for seeds and the chemicals because I make them myself. I also have my water capture system.

Before I didn’t have trees on my plot and I didn’t participate in reforestation projects.

You can see that when I made my water capture system I had almost no trees on my land, that was six months ago.

You can see the changes I have made in just these few months, I now have planted many trees because this is knowledge that I have gained with CEPAD and applied on my land.

You can also see that now I have diversified my plot by using the water from different water capture systems that I made on my property.

They have helped me save a lot of money because I have been able to use them to produce food for my family. My husband is now also making water capture systems in his plot, he didn’t know about these types of opportunities before. He used to not like to go to the trainings and now he can see the achievements and the benefits that we have because now we don’t have to buy vegetables, I have them in my plot.”

To change more lives like Santos’ please donate now!

Impact of Leadership Training

The 40 villages currently receiving leadership training from CEPAD, (and made possible by you), are in their third year of accompaniment and have already received two trainings in 2017. In addition to identifying their biggest problems they have looked for funding for different projects to improve the quality of life for members of their rural villages. Below you can see the types of projects that received funding thanks to your gifts! 

Projects Funded in 2016



The Difference You Make in Family Nutrition

The Nicaraguan diet is as delicious as it is simple. The typical breakfast is the gallo pinto, refried rice and beans.

For many rural families, the gallo pinto is not only a breakfast dish, but more of a main diet that they have for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. And more often than not, it is accompanied by other carb-laden foods, such as the tortilla, made of corn flour, or bread.

Such heavy carbohydrate consumption, combined with few fruits and vegetables, leads to many health problems which can start early. Obesity-related conditions like diabetes and hypertension are the biggest killers in Nicaragua.

Nicaragua actually has a rich cuisine, which makes use of ample combinations of local vegetables to produce flavorful dishes that are as delicious as they are nutritional. However, farmers don’t traditionally cultivate fruits and vegetables and buying them is often too expensive.

With your help this reality is being transformed, table by table and family by family.

Families learn how to grow healthy vegetables, such as bell peppers, onions, cucumbers, and more in their own backyards. Depending on their immediate need, they can both eat them or sell them. Many families have improved their family diet and their finances through this program.

Agricultural programs made possible by your generosity teach families to grow many fruits and vegetables for both family consumption and better income.

With the produce that they can now grow on their own, families now have a constant source of healthy vitamins to sustain their health. The added benefit is that families are learning tools that will support them in the long-term. Your impact through support of CEPAD’s training will continue in these communities long after we have moved on to helping others.