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.

Meet Juana. Her Life is Better, Thanks to You

Despite only having studied through sixth grade and with few resources for her 4 children, you give Juana Figueroa great hope for the future. She is involved in CEPAD’s community banking program and is the President of her village’s Community Development Committee. She has already benefitted from your support of CEPAD’s patio gardens and is now growing fruits and vegetables.

CEPAD: Can you tell us about yourself?

Juana Figueroa: I work on the farm with my husband, we rent two manzanas to grow corn and beans. We also grow oranges, mangoes and malanga on our patio at home.

CEPAD: Tell us about your children. I heard you have a 15-year-old daughter in high school and a 5-year-old in preschool. Do you have any others?

Read more

Women Take First Steps Toward Economic Security with Community Banks

Women in rural Nicaraguan communities have many skills, including sewing, cooking and more. With CEPAD’s community bank program, they learn to turn those skills into businesses so they can make money for their families.

For many this will be the first time they have earned money for their families and represents a transformational shift in their self-esteem.

CEPAD is working with 35 women from seven villages near Matagalpa, to set up a new community bank in each village. CEPAD funds the bank, and the women run it to ensure accountability and a productive use of the funds. The goal is for every member of the bank to start a small business, such as selling food, tailoring clothes, or setting up a small store to sell household goods.

Each woman starts with a small loan, between $20 and $100, and pays it back over four months. With time, the size of the loans will increase to match the capacity of her business. Read more

Microloan Provided Carmen Acuña and Family The Chance for a Better Life in Cañas Blancas

“Before CEPAD came, I didn’t even have this chair to sit on, “ said Carmen Acuña, patting the arm of her wooden rocker.

Now, Acuña runs a small convenience store and leads a cooperative bank for the women in her community, Cañas Blancas, and the surrounding areas. CEPAD provides credit for women so they can make investments to improve their economic circumstances. Carmen, a grandmother who is diabetic, earned enough from the store last year to get treatment for a serious illness while still helping with her family’s finances.

“No banks will lend to people in this community, CEPAD is the only one,” she said. “I am so thankful CEPAD took a chance on us, it helped keep me alive and so I could keep my family alive.”

CEPAD relies on support from partners to provide the initial funds for the loan programs in the communities. An investment of $3,500 provided the intitial capital so that 14 women in the Carazo region could drastically improve life for their families. Your gift can make that difference for women in other communities.

The loan program helps strengthen women’s opportunities in their families and communities as well, said Carolina Estrada Sandino, another one of the bank’s founders.

“A lot of times, the men don’t see women as competent to do anything but be at home,” Carolina said. “But now, my husband supports me in my business and there is more motivation to work together as a family.”

The program makes an especially big difference for the many women in rural Nicaragua who are single moms. These women often have to seek work outside the city and leave their children with relatives or neighbors. The opportunity to start a small business means women can better support their families and keep resources in the local economy.

Carmen said she thanks God every day for CEPAD and the opportunity to start her store. We at CEPAD are thankful every day for partners like you who make our work possible!

Improved Nutrition and Financial Security In Communities Wows Volunteer

By Leala Rosen

Rachel and I visited Nicaragua in January and spent two weeks learning about CEPAD’s work empowering small farmers and improving food security through sustainable agriculture training. During our time with CEPAD, we stayed at homestays with farmers who have participated in CEPAD agricultural trainings. We stayed on two farms – one was with a family that had been the first Community Agricultural Promoters in the community, and the other was in the earlier stages of working with CEPAD to improve their food security and nutrition.
Community Agricultural Promoters work with disciples in their communities in order to teach others about organic, sustainable agriculture techniques in order to improve crop yields and water efficiency as well as increase food security within the farmer’s homes.

Read more

Every Day Is International Women’s Day

We hope you had a great International Women’s Day! We celebrated el Día Internacional de la Mujer a couple days late with a breakfast and devotional to honor the women who work for CEPAD and those we serve with our programs.

About 60 percent of CEPAD’s staff are women, including at the leadership level with Damaris Albuquerque at the helm as executive director and Anita Taylor leading our partnership and delegation programs. In our programs, we work to support and empower women through our programs by providing microloans to help women start small buildings, training women on their rights against violence, and more. Women lead CEPAD’s community development committees in many regions, and they learn skills to be leaders in other areas of the community. Read more

"I am a strong woman"

On a recent delegation trip with Amos Trust, Jenny Richardson wrote this poem and meditation after meeting with women in a rural community to learn about their experience with Prestanic, a microcredit organization that has strong ties to CEPAD. We are thankful to share it here.
I am a woman.
I raise my family in one room and create our home.
The government gives us materials for a roof
and we can shelter from the rain.
I wash our clothes in the stream
and watch the bright colours dancing as they hang on the washing line.
I pick the fruit,
Growing in abundance,
to feed my family.
Do you think I am poor?
Do you not see, I am a strong Nicaraguan woman?
I helped my mother to sell the bread she made.
It was all too much
and I left to live on the streets.
I took drugs but have been given a road to a new life.
I want to be a fashion designer
and my mother will be proud of me.
Do you think I am poor?
Do you not see, I am a strong Nicaraguan woman?I meet with my friends
and we delight in sharing news of our business ventures.
We slaughter pigs,
sell clothes,
Bake bread,
And with our profits we repay our loans and provide for our children’s education.
Do you think I am poor?
Do you not see, I am a strong Nicaraguan woman?

I teach my children to harvest the ripe coffee,
To work the processing machine outside our home.
To sort the best coffee beans for market
And to carry the precious load to market.
Do you think I am poor?
Do you not see, I am a strong Nicaraguan woman?

I have lived through change in Nicaragua.
Friends have died in the 1972 earthquake.
Relatives have been caught up in the fighting between the Contras and the Sandinistas.
Yet I welcome the hope that the government gives me.
Do you think I am poor?
Do you not see, I am a strong Nicaraguan woman?

You ask me about faith.
I am a Catholic and an Evangelical.
Faith is a gift of God.
It is no ones property.
I live with dignity as a daughter of God.
My theology takes me out of the door of the church into the streets
To work for justice and reconciliation.
Do you think I am poor?
Do you not see, I am a strong Nicaraguan woman?

We nurture our children
And they are proud of being Nicaraguan.
As they grow stronger
Nicaragua will continue to flourish.
They are are our hope and our future.
Do you think we are poor?
Do you not see we are strong Nicaraguan women?

I am Mary,
A girl from Nazareth.
Engaged to be married.
I trust God.
He will liberate the poor.
He will bring down the mighty.
He has chosen me and I say ‘yes’.
I will be the Mother of God’s son,
With all it’s joys, challenges and responsibilities.

Do you think I am poor?
Do you think I am weak?
Do you think I am holy?
Don’t you see, I am a strong woman.