Meet Maria

We want you to meet one of our Family Garden beneficiaries, Maria. Maria Otilia Campos is 63, and she lives in the community of El Zapotal, which is located 4 kilometers south of Jinotepe. She is a mother of 4 and the only one who is able to sustain her family. 

She was selected by the Community Development Committee in El Zapotal so that she could be a beneficiary of the family gardening program in 2015. She has been very active in all of the training that CEPAD has provided. She has received vegetable seeds for her garden. In 2018, she participated in 2 trainings on administration and accounting practices and crop diversification using environmentally friendly techniques.

Maria shares about her experiences in this program:

“I was selected by the Community Development Committee of my community, because I told them about the situation I was going through at that time. I was sick, unemployed, had debts to pay, all with three grandchildren who didn’t even have milk.

Before being part of the project, I worked as a housekeeper in the city of Jinotepe, but I got sick with diabetes. Because I had so many problems, I found myself unemployed. That was when I found out that there was an organization that was called CEPAD and was supporting poor families. I went to look for the leaders and they accepted me as a member of the family garden project. That’s when I started participating in meetings and trainings.

I have learned to make use of local resources such as scraps from my kitchen: ashes, banana peels and cabbage leaves to make organic compost. Before, I used to burn all this waste because I didn’t know how to use it or how important it is.

There have been big changes in my family. Now we are all taking care of our garden, growing produce organically and, in the summer, the children water the plants and can collect fruit. We now produce squash, cucumber, pepper, onions, tomatoes, melon, papaya, coconut, dragon fruit, and plantains. We are eating them, improving our diet, and changing our customs because we didn’t used to eat very many vegetables. The extra we sell at a fair price to buy things like sugar, salt, or notebooks that the children need for school. I am able to save $15 per month because we don’t have to buy fruits or vegetables.

We also have meetings every quarter where we inform the community about the progress and challenges we have had in the project as well as sharing our experiences as members of family gardens.

For the future, I am orienting my children and grandchildren so they can continue to practice what we have learned and increase the size of the plot that we are growing so we can sell our produce during the dry season.

The difference between the work of CEPAD is that they provide follow-up and advice while other organizations and the government only provide plants without any sort of technical assistance or systematic and constant follow-up like CEPAD does. The village members should continue supporting CEPAD because they are responsible and are an example for us.”

Thank you for supporting CEPAD to change many people’s lives in rural Nicaragua! If you would like to provide more seeds and trainings for women to have their own gardens, please visit our donate page.