From Farming to Tech Jobs: Computer Training with Your Help

Nicaragua is one of the poorest countries in the Western hemisphere. Minimum wage is barely $170 per month—with 48-hour workweeks. Thanks to your help, youth in Matagalpa have hope for their future. Your funding has supported computer training which has allowed youth to access college majors and job prospects they may not have otherwise. Thank you!

 

Forty-nine students graduated on Thursday, October 6, from the Computer Training Program run by CEPAD in Matagalpa. The training program consisted of over 120 hours of hands-on coursework. The courses were taught by professors from local universities, and were made available to everyone with an interest in learning more about computers. The program has graduated over 270 students over the past five years.

 

Matagalpa is a municipality with many young people, nearly 50% are under 16. Unfortunately, there are few opportunities for so many youth if they don’t have proper training. Matagalpa is mostly made up of virgin forests, agricultural areas, and fields for livestock. While past generations have been content with their living and working conditions, greater access to information and the rapid changes of the modern world have caused the younger generations to seek better and more modern opportunities for work and life.

 

milton

Milton has high hopes for his future thanks generous support of CEPAD’s computer programs.

Milton is one of the students who graduated this October. A native of Ocotal, a small village located 30 minutes of unpaved roads away from Matagalpa, Milton is a 17-year-old who is studying to become an industrial engineer. He comes from a family of seven, including his parents, two older brothers and two younger sisters.

 

His experience so far in life has been mostly working in the field, growing beans, corn, and other vegetables. Only a decade ago, he would most likely have been destined to the same work for the rest of his life.

 

However, with the modernization of Matagalpa, Milton wants to set his sights higher, and become the first one in his family to become both a college graduate and an industrial engineer.

 

One of the biggest hurdles for engineering students in Nicaragua is knowledge in using spreadsheet programs, such as Microsoft Excel, in order to perform complex mathematical calculations. This is also true in Milton’s case. Milton has no access to a computer at home, and CEPAD’s training program is the only way he can become more experienced in computer use. The 6-month long program has provided Milton with the tools necessary to excel in his coursework, and by extension, his future career.

 

By becoming an industrial engineer, Milton will be earning more than 3 times the Nicaraguan minimum wage. This will make sure he earns more than the basic living expense for a family of three, which the government estimates at around $400 monthly. He will be able to provide for his family, and if his spouse works as well, they will be able to buy a house, transportation, and perhaps even give back to their community.

 

However, the road to success is not easy. Milton is working hard to pay for his college tuition, which at $50 a month, is a meager sum by US standards, but a difficult burden to Milton and his family. Having access to CEPAD’s computer training has allowed Milton, and many others like him, to continue his dreams by acquiring computer skills without having to buy a computer or pay for expensive classes.

 

The 49 students who graduated this year, and the 270 who graduated from the past 5 years, all have similar stories of their own. All of these stories have been made possible through your thoughtful and caring contributions. Often what these young men and women need is a glimmer of hope that they can actually achieve what they set out to do, and they will find the strength to keep going.

 

You provide hope for a better future to these young adults. Our training program helps them apply to higher-earning jobs that give them access to more advanced career paths. Professional jobs in architecture, engineering, and banking all require computer proficiency, and therefore remain out of the reach of the majority of the rural poor. CEPAD’s computer program is accredited by all regional universities, giving them a much needed advantage for getting a job.

 

With your continued help, we can keep empowering many Nicaraguan youth and young adults into a more promising future, and together make a better Nicaragua, and a better world. If you would like to continue to support this and other programs please visit our donate page

The Village of Sompopera Now has Running Water

Pedro and Yanira used to have to carry water for their family, their crops and their animals. Every villager in Sompompera struggled after wells dried up due to a prolonged drought. After your support for training, village leaders ran over 5 mile of pipes to bring water from a mountain spring. Life is now different in Sompopera, all thanks to you.

 

For the last 30 years, Pedro Herrera has farmed his land in the mountains of Pantasma, in the northern region of Nicaragua. His large mustache parts to reveal a set of silver-plated teeth as he greets us at his porch. “People from CEPAD are always welcome at my house,” he says.

Pedro’s village of Sompopera faced big challenges. The families in the village didn’t have potable water. The lack of rain caused the water springs and wells to dry up. There were only two options, they could either purchase water from a truck that entered their village once a week or they had to walk a mile or more to the nearest clean water source.

Pedro’s family had to transport the water they needed by hand or in an ox cart. Even though an ox cart is a luxury for many, they still couldn’t get enough to water for their crops and to adequately provide water to their farm animals.

Six years ago, CEPAD began work in the village of Sompopera where Pedro lives. Pedro is one of the community leaders. He remembers attending the first trainings provided by CEPAD and learned things he had never learned before. He then used that knowledge to help people around him.

With their new knowledge from CEPAD Pedro and the other village leaders knew they now had the ability to make much needed changes. They formed a cooperative and worked hard with local government and others to fund the installation of over 5 miles of water pipes to bring water to the village from a mountain spring.

After three years of hard work, the project is now close to being completed. The most backbreaking work is done. The pipe has been purchased and is expected to be put in the ground next week. “See that trench beside the road? It goes all the way up the mountain to the natural spring.” Pedro continues, “every family benefited by the project was responsible for digging 20 yards of trench.”

In 2014 CEPAD finished work with the village of Sompopera but Pedro and the other the village leaders are now equipped to continue solving problems affecting their neighbors.  Pedro smiles again, only the second time he has smiled since we started talking, as he looks at the recently dug trench. “Next we need to get some electricity into the community.”

One of the most important aspects of CEPAD’s work in the communities is that the work and improvements continue long after the five-year plan ends.

This project is almost complete, but the work of the community leaders is all but done. Thanks to the support you provide for CEPAD’s work in this community, these leaders will continue bringing change for their families and neighbors.

You Can Help Community Leaders in Nicaragua

Donald Orozco is a taller-than-average man for Nicaragua. He does not talk very much in the community leader meeting… until he is out in the dried-up fields of his community.

Rain has been scarce. The river that has sustained this community of farmers for generations is lower than it has ever been.

As they walk through the corn stalks with tiny, underdeveloped ears of corn, Donald hold his shy 10-year-old son’s hand and explains that he never went to school. “I don’t think the same way that other farmers do. I know how important it is for my children to go to school.” However, it is hard for him to send his children to school because the little money he can get is going to be used to buy food for his family.

For his kids to go to school they need uniforms, books and supplies. With the drought Donald can’t afford those things for his children.

Read more

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

You Have Made a Lasting Impact on the Lives of Troubled Youth [with video]

Fatima Cruz stands in front of her humble stone house with her two children, Harry and Alicia who participated in youth programs through CEPAD and are now more outgoing as they learned new social skills through playing soccer.

With your support CEPAD began working in El Guineo in 2009 and youth volunteers from the community identified many needs for children ages 7-12. They determined that soccer was one of the best ways to reach out and help these children overcome their challenges.

Fatima is excited to see the changes that CEPAD’s program made in her children. “They used to be shy, they didn’t like talking with other children, but now they are more outgoing with other kids and are doing better in school.”

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You Made Miracles Happen in Santa Maria!

It’s hard to remember quite how tough things were in Santa Maria five years ago, said community leader Antonio Hernandez. They lacked electricity and water, and the condition of the road made it impossible for vehicles like ambulances to enter.

Life is different now. When CEPAD arrived in Santa Maria, they formed a Community Development Committee to seek support from the local government and NGOs. After CEPAD’s training, they began work to make their infrastructure goals a reality.

“We had been trying for three years to get electricity here and couldn’t get answers from the government,” Antonio said. “One year after CEPAD came, the project was underway. In 2013, we turned the lights on for the first time.”

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Santa Fe Dreams Big with CEPAD

In Santa Fe, Nueva Guinea, community leaders wiggle with anticipation. They are just beginning a five-year process of accompaniment with CEPAD. They’re not quite sure what to expect, but they are ready to push the opportunity to its fullest. They are now organized into the four different areas: Strengthening Families, Sustainable Community Organization, Food Security and Environmental Protection, and Pastoral Leadership Training. We talked with Pastor Alexander David Valdivia Masiz, the vice president of the Community Development Committee in Santa Fe, and with Dorys Gonsález, who will be learning to grow a small vegetable garden and learn crafts and skills so she can earn money to support her family.

CEPAD: What are some of the biggest challenges you face in Santa Fe?

Alexander: We need to learn how to help the young people involved in drugs and gangs. We hope this will happen both in the youth leadership program and through pastoral training, because there have been a lot of problems.
Dorys: I agree. We also need to expand our education and help youth get involved in better activities.
Alexander: The other biggest challenge is, simply, poverty. There are months of the year when no one has enough to eat. It is so important for both men and women to learn how to grow better crops and also learn how to make some money in other ways. Read more

Leon High School Celebrates 36 Graduates

Join us at CEPAD in celebrating 36 graduating seniors from the Instituto Marcos A. Mendieta in Leon, Nicaragua! We are so proud of these young people who worked hard to complete their high school degrees.

CEPAD founded the institute 25 years ago in response to a crisis of education after Nicaragua’s brutal civil war. Many adults had never been able to finish school, so CEPAD created distance learning opportunities so people could earn their degrees after the war. Today, the institute’s graduates are a mix of distance learning students and those who attend the school daily. The school is entirely self-funded but remains closely connected to CEPAD’s programs.

“We feel proud to be presenting 36 new graduates to the community of Leon,” said María Cristina Espinoza, the institute’s principal, during the graduation ceremony. “We hope you will join us in the honor of helping them continue in their development and education.”

Most of the students are continuing to pursue a technical or university degree. This week, they celebrated during a ceremony with music, performance and the presentation of their high school diplomas.

“We are so thankful to our parents, teachers and to God for helping us reach this point,” said Tercero Alfonso, one of the graduates. “I wish blessing for all of us so we may become great men and women.”

Strategic Planning Workshop Transforms Dreams Into Skills

Unity. Strength. Forward Movement. Love as a family. Love for God. Deep thankfulness. Hope for the future.

These are a few of the things CEPAD community leaders said they felt after a two-day workshop where they learned how to solidify their visions for their cooperatives and associations and spring forward into success.

Inocente Ramos Hernandez, the president of the community association for seven communities in the Matagalpa region, expressed his sincere thanks to the U.S. donors and friends who made the workshop possible with their donations to a special campaign in September. “Thank you so much for this gesture, we are so energized after these two days,” he said.

“It was an excellent opportunity to develop a plan we can implement,” Inocente said. “Our association focuses on training our associates in farming techniques and commercializing our products, and now we understand all the elements that will go into making that happen.”

Inocente believes ASOCAD will transform the seven communities in Matagalpa where CEPAD began work in 2009.

Inocente says ASOCAD will transform seven communities in Matagalpa where CEPAD began work in 2009.

With guidance from CEPAD staff, participants outlined goals, set mission statements and developed action plans that will allow their six community organizations to bring better financial opportunities to all 43 communities where CEPAD worked from 2009-2014. Read more