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The Beautiful Hues of Relationship

PC(USA) Mission Co-Worker, Justin Sundberg, serving with CEPAD, reflects on the word that he feels best summarizes the work of the organization and asks you to reflect as well.

by Justin Sundberg

In Jinotepe, to the south of Managua, CEPAD has worked for 8 months in the community of, “Los Encuentros” (the Meeting Crossroads).  When I visited there last month, I left nearly ecstatic considering its future after meetings its CEPAD-trained leaders.

During my encounter in Los Encuentros, leaders described what they had been learning.  One woman, Glorieta, rushed in late to our meeting. She had not personally been to any of our trainings, but a friend of Glorieta, trained by CEPAD, had trained her.  Glorieta was beaming as she pulled necklaces, bracelets and earrings from her pockets. In Spanish, she burst, “He ideado unos!”  In English, her statement could be rendered, “I’ve created some of my own unique designs,” shared modestly, but proudly.

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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.

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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

WE’RE HIRING! CEPAD Is Seeking A Communications Intern

After two years, our communications whiz Audrey White will be leaving the position. We’re seeking someone with strong writing skills and a passion for sustainable development in Central America for a one year commitment to CEPAD. The intern will be based in Nicaragua and receive a stipend of $5,000 per year (plus support to fundraise additional money).

CEPAD is a Nicaraguan NGO dedicated to providing sustainable solutions to farmers, families, women, youth and pastors in rural communities around the country. In 43 years, our work has adapted to the changing needs of Nicaraguan people and currently uses a 5-year accompaniment model. Read more about our programs here.

The position offers a truly transformative experience with opportunities to contribute to many areas of CEPAD’s work and build deep relationships with people all over Nicaragua. It’s a one of a kind opportunity for a young 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.”

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Happy Thanksgiving From CEPAD!

Communities Celebrate Five Fruitful Years

At a celebration in San Francisco Libre, community leaders gave a gift of squash, corn, plantains and limes to CEPAD staff. It was a beautiful gesture from families who are facing a difficult crop year because of record drought. And the gift held even more meaning because they learned from CEPAD how to grow a diversity of produce that didn’t exist in their communities before 2009.

“CEPAD has taught us to fish for five years, and today they are entrusting us with the fishing rod,” said Jose Reyes, a community leader from San Benito Uno.

He and others said they are ready and excited to take what they learned from CEPAD and continue to strengthen their crops, families, and businesses. In their testimonies, community members shared the ways CEPAD had changed their lives. After five years, farmers were producing a greater diversity of foods and higher quality products. Danilo Espinoza, who worked with the youth leadership and family development program, said CEPAD gave him a new lease on life after an illness badly damaged his eyesight.

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Final chart

CEPAD In Five Years By The Numbers

With New Skills, El Ingenio Leaders Move Forward

Polvazal, and all the new communities in the Jinotepe region, have the potential to achieve a lot with CEPAD, said Cesar Chavez, a community leader from El Ingenio, one of the communities finishing its time five years with CEPAD.

“If they are serious, responsible and grateful they will see amazing results like we did,” Cesar said. After five years with CEPAD, the community has learned new agricultural techniques, created new opportunities for youth and women and developed an organizational structure that will carry the community into the future, Cesar said.

The community development committee there has already made progress — they successfully petitioned the local government to improve the road that goes through the community to improve access to schools and jobs. The road has improved access to goods and means it will be easier to implement future infrastructure projects.

“We haven’t achieved everything we want, and we have learned a lot that will help us continue into the future,” he said. “The next project we want to work on is getting potable water, because the one well we have only serves a few houses.”

Cesar says his two-year-old daughter Ixa will have many more opportunities.

“The biggest feeling I have is thanks,” Cesar said. “CEPAD believed in us, and that’s been just the beginning of so many changes. Ixa will never know the kind of poverty I did.”