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.”


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!

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.

Your amazing support means better nutrition for Tomasa and her family!

Thanks to your generosity Tomasa’s family is eating healthier food they are planting themselves. She used to plant only beans and corn, but now they are planting and eating a wide variety of fruits and vegetables including peppers, papaya, squash and spinach.

“My name is Tomasa del Socorro Loasisiga Diaz, I am 46 years old. In my house I live with my dad, my mom, my grandmother and four brothers, one of whom is disabled.

We have always dedicated ourselves to agriculture, we planted corn and beans but to cover our needs we also worked for other people so we could purchase sugar, oil, rice, peppers, tomatoes and other products we didn’t produce.

Our community has very little water, everything is very dry. My brothers have to walk 1 hour uphill to get to the place where we plant our corn and beans, for this reason our planting conditions have been very difficult and with the drought we have had for the last three years it has become even more difficult.

In our families our staples are beans, or gallo pinto (mixed rice and beans) with tortilla, cheese and a cup of coffee. If we had extra money we used to purchase a few tomatoes, at least once a week.

I have received 6 trainings thanks to CEPAD which have helped me to improve our plot, produce more and eat healthier food. We have seen a big difference in the way that we eat, our family is eating better products we are planting in our plot without chemicals.

This has allowed me to vary the food we eat because now I produce peppers, papaya, squash and spinach. It has also helped me to improve the diet of my brother who has challenges, who was malnourished. I have also learned how to prepare dishes using everything I produce….I feel very content and my family is excited about it.

Today with these trainings I feel very content and strengthened because now I can identify problems and diseases with our crops and I can produce nutritional food.”


You Changed Lives in 2016

We want to celebrate the successes that were made possible thanks to YOU in 2016! There are many families that are healthier, happier and living better lives thanks to your generosity. Here are a few of the important highlights that were made possible by you.

You’re Supporting Leaders: Building Infrastructure and Improving Lives

33 projects were funded and carried out by village leaders in 42 villages. You made 3 trainings possible in 2016 and now leaders have made strides in improving the conditions in their villages. These projects are making significant changes for village residents as they included

  • digging wells
  • installing latrines
  • improving roads
  • installing electricity

More projects are being solicited and carried out thanks to your support every single day!

You’re Giving a Voice: Youth Learning about Healthy Relationships

Nicaragua has one of the highest teen birth rates in Latin America. Thanks to your amazing support  hundreds of youth have participated in trainings and forums to learn about healthy relationships and the importance of education and stable relationships   prior to starting a family. These are topics that are often taboo, thank you for making this happen!

You’re Feeding Families: You Helped Teach Women Good Nutrition

Women in Matagalpa learned about creating products with high quality for their businesses and about financial education. 6 women received loans to invest in their businesses.

Women in all 41 villages where CEPAD works produced fruits and vegetables for their families and learning about the importance of good nutrition. They have harvested peppers, lettuce, squash, carrots onions and tomatoes. These family garden participants receive constant support and follow-up from CEPAD’s field staff.

To make more amazing things possible in 2017 please consider a donation right now! Click here to make a gift. 

Rodolfo’s Home Garden Changed His Life

Resting on a hand built reclining bench sits Rodolfo Pineda and his young daughter Katherin. A young boy races past the porch lined with flowering plants. The front of Rodolfo’s house is a little “pulperia”, a local name given to a small store with daily need items.

Rodolfo greets us warmly and explains he was part of the CEPAD program during the previous five-year cycle in his community, Sompopera. Though the work that you made possible is officially over, he and the other community leaders continue to work together to improve their community. Rodolfo is eloquent and talkative. He immediately begins sharing about his five-year experience with CEPAD. All the benefits Rodolfo has for his family were provided by you. This is just one family in one town, your gifts make similar things possible for families all over Nicaragua. The following is a transcript of what he said:


“It seems that CEPAD has been a forerunner and I have discovered more of the good work that CEPAD carries out in other communities… for example the contours, fruit trees… The other day I went to an event and I was asked if I wanted to be part of a government fair composed of people who have home gardens. They come and pick you up in a truck and take you to the events put on by the Ministry of Home Economy (MEFCCA). If CEPAD hadn’t helped us with the home gardens we wouldn’t be able to go to these fairs and sell and improve ourselves in better fairs. This is an open door for us to work with other entities.

“CEPAD’s interest is that people who have some land should start using it, because before we didn’t use it because no one showed any interest… but having a house with fruit trees around it is very important! It raises the price of the property, provides shade, keeps the house cool and our children eat better.”

It is no longer necessary for me to give my money to the doctor for him to tell me that my kids lack vitamins, because now [these vitamins] are found directly in my home garden. If I told you all the benefits CEPAD has provided right now we would fill a book.”

“Another thing that CEPAD has pushed is the incentive to plant a tree. There are many who won’t take the time to plant one because they won’t see an immediate benefit. This is very selfish. It is lack of culture. We work for our future generations, not just for us. It is important to leave behind a good footprint.”

“Many times people come by, as well as CEPAD people and I tell them ‘I have a home garden in the back. Go pick something and take it with you!’ ” 

“The fruit trees are now giving, and with our challenging economy, they are providing us with some “pesitos” [money]. There are some merchants that come through and buy from us when there is great demand for limes… coconuts. Right now they are buying starfruit.”


As Rodolfo walks us towards the back of his property and shows us his fruit trees and other plants he has learned to harvest from from CEPAD, one thing is clear, he has taken advantage of all the training and coaching from CEPAD. However, he is also more than willing to share his knowledge, as well as the fruits of his work, to anyone and everyone.


Fresh water for two brothers

After driving out of Teustepe, (a town in Northern Nicaragua), for 45 minutes on a rocky path and crossing a couple dry rivers, we finally arrived in the small, dusty village of Agua Caliente. The landscape looks bleak due to the past two years of drought. A few underdeveloped crop fields are visible through the breaks in the trees.

Two small boys were among the first to run up to the pick up truck to greet us. Jose and Joan were soon met by more children who walked with us to the small unpainted quarry block house.

We met with some of the women in the community who are part of CEPAD’s Home Garden program. So far, the work that CEPAD has accomplished thanks to your donations in Agua Caliente has enabled many families to start small gardens to improve their family nutrition.

New Opportunities

Olga, the mother of Jose and Joan, is one of the beneficiaries of this project. Previous to her involvement in the project, all she and her family could rely on for food was rice, beans, and the occasional cheese or meat. In the last year she has been able to harvest cabbage, carrots, beets, papaya, onions and melons.

Olga explains that having access to vegetables that she has grown has improved the health of her two children. Her mouth forms a shy smile as she tells us, “vegetables are expensive, and now we can just go outside and pick what we need for our meal.”

Jose and Joan walk down to the river and sit on a rock while Olga tells us about what she has learned from the CEPAD training sessions over the past year. Though she lives in a rural community, this is the first time Olga has a chance to learn how to plant and harvest her own fruits and vegetables. The training sessions have taught her and the other women in the project basic seed planting techniques as well as more advanced ideas such as soil conservation and how to make natural, chemical-free pesticide and fertilizer.

Community Needs

Olga then tells us about one of the biggest issues in their community that that needs immediate attention.

Agua Caliente has many serious problems affecting the population. One of the main issues at hand is the lack of clean drinking water. Because of the lack of rain, most of the wells in the area are dried up.

If you have been working on your basic spanish, you might have understood that the name of the village is “hot water”. A natural spring is born in the higher elevations north of Agua Caliente and travels down a range of active volcanic ground which heats the water and infuses it with sulfur and trace amounts or arsenic. The stream continues through a cattle farm, picking up cattle waste and chemicals before reaching Agua Caliente.

Although it is highly contaminated Jose and his younger brother Joan drink that water because there are no other water sources nearby. Other families also use this river as their only water source, but they have seen many negative effects such as kidney and stomach problems and in some cases skin discoloration.


CEPAD’s hopes to find a way to provide the community with water filters to alleviate this serious problem that is affecting everyone, especially children. Each filter costs about $80 and will serve a family for 5 years.

As we got ready to return down that bumpy path back to Teustepe, the children gathered by the river with Olga as she thanked CEPAD and all the donors for everything they do for the community and her children. “I hope to continue working with CEPAD and learn more to share more with my community.”

Sugeyli and her two sons

“You Have Given to Us and Expect Nothing Back”

Come in to see our chancha!” Oscar and his older brother Witer ran ahead of us as their mother excitedly invited us into their house to see their large pig which had recently given birth to 12 piglets.

We followed, expecting to walk out the back door after entering the house, but the two brothers turned into the small, smoke-filled kitchen. There she was, their pride and joy, snout to the hard dirt floor, hunting for food with her 12 little pink piglets.

For Sugeyli, this family of pigs living in her kitchen eases her worry about her sons not having enough to eat. These pigs give her hope for their future.

Sugeyli was born and raised in Las Milpas, about two hours from Nicaragua’s Atlantic coast. Now she and her husband raise their two sons in this same village. Her husband works for a larger farmer in the next town over but only earns $4 per day. He also farms beans and corn because his salary isn’t enough to feed their family.

Sugeyli and her family rely on growing their own crops to feed themselves, but two years of little rain has made growing their own food very hard, there just hasn’t been enough rain to grow enough food for her family.

Thanks to your support, Sugeyli and her family have found relief through CEPAD’s patio project.

In 2015, Sugeyli received 1 pig and 7 chickens. These animals have changed her life.

Sugeyli no longer has to rely only on growing her own food, she can now raise the animals and sell their offspring. She is a proud entrepreneur.

“Thank you for your help, for training us. You have given to us and expect nothing back.”

So far, Sugeyli’s hens have hatched over 11 new chicks and provided her family with eggs, a food staple that used to be rare. Most of the piglets running around in her kitchen will be sold to buy food for her family as well as cover other needs. With the extra income, Sugeyli will be able to buy uniforms and school supplies for her children, who start school in only a week.

Back at Sugeyli’s house Oscar and Witer bring out some rice to put out for the chickens that are running around. They tell us that now they eat more eggs and even chicken on special occasions.

Sugeyli’s plan is to continue growing her farm so she won’t have to worry about her children going hungry ever again.

You can support more women like Sugeyli by making a gift today. $25 buys 3 chickens, $50 buys one 4-month old pig, $100 buys one 7-month old pig and$200 buys all the livestock for one family. Please consider giving another family an opportunity, just like Sugeyli has had. Donate here.