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.

Hope.

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.

The Village of Buena Vista Faces a New Problem

We recently updated you on a great story from the community of Buena Vista, where leaders were trained and were able to get a well dug in their community! Previous to this families had been carrying water from up to one-quarter of a mile to their homes. (To read this story, click here.)

Today, Buena Vista the leadership of Buena Vista is facing a new challenge, how to combat a severe drought affecting their community.

The average, the rainfall in August is usually over 40 inches, however in August they only received 1.5 inches of rain. The rain in September was also close to a record low. This means that farmers lost their first cycle of crops and there are increasing concerns that the second (and last) crop cycle of the year will be lost as well.

Most farmers rely on their crops to feed their families. Without a harvest, their families have nothing to eat.

Families in the area have been selling their cattle and other farm animals for money to buy food.The spike in farm animal sales has caused their price to drop, while at the same time, the price of basic grains has increased.

Read more

Emergency Drought Plan Offers Relief to Parched Farms

After a year of record-breaking drought, CEPAD and our partners ACT Alliance and Episcopal Relief and Development have taken further steps to help Nicaraguan farmers who lost crops and are struggling to feed their families.

“We haven’t had a good harvest in two years, and we couldn’t have survived without CEPAD,” said Hermelinda Urbina of the community Nacascolo. “We need water more than anything, and now thanks to CEPAD we have food to eat until it starts to rain in May.”

Hermelinda’s family received a large water tank that they can store water in and then connect to a motor to irrigate their new corn field in the coming growing season.

CEPAD has provided farmers in the dryest areas with micro dams, water collection and storage systems, and emergency food plants so they can survive until the rainy season begins in May. ACT Alliance and Episcopal Relief and Development collaborated with CEPAD to provide funds for the supplies and trainings, which will serve more than 600 families in Jinotepe, San Francisco Libre and San Jose de Los Remates.

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Griselda Espinoza Jarquin in La Cañada said her new barrel irrigation system and micro dam — a small ditch designed to hold and distribute water — will greatly improve her capacity to grow year round.

“With these systems, we can manage our water better and sustain our plants when it’s dry,” she explained. “It’s a huge help. It will also mean I have produce that I can sell in my small store.”

The next phase of the emergency project will be helping farmers rehabilitate lands damaged by the fierce drought so they can start growing again.

“For now, CEPAD is helping provide food, and we are so thankful” said Juan Manuel Alvarez Bello of La Laguna. “CEPAD has consistently been the most helpful and compassionate NGO for our community.”

If you want to help CEPAD implement more projects like these, please donate now.

All of This is in the Reach of Our Hands

Thanks to Sara Delaney and all our partners at Episcopal Relief and Development for this wonderful story of CEPAD’s work. ERD partners with our farming programs in Nueva Guinea and San Francisco Libre to help provide training and support for families and farmers there.

Over a hot, humid, rainy week in Nicaragua recently, I spent some time with our partner there, the Council of Protestant Churches of Nicaragua (CEPAD). This was my third visit to see their work, and I’ve written in previous years about the amazing mega-gardens that small farmers have created around their homes.

This time, I wanted to see for myself how CEPAD works to share ideas on the management of these gardens with farmers. So I attended a two-day exchange workshop that brought together about 40 participating men and women from the surrounding area. It was one workshop in a whole series that farmers go through over a three-year period, and this one featured techniques for making natural fertilizers and pesticides using local ingredients.

 Read the rest of the story at the Episcopal Relief and Development blog.