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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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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.

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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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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

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

Drought Decimates Crops, Leaves Families Hungry

Record breaking droughts are ravaging parts of Nicaragua. Harvests are low, cattle and other livestock are dying, and rivers and wells are at 25 to 50 percent of normal water levels. The cost of a month of basic food supplies has risen by about $10 in the last year.

CEPAD farmers in the regions of Jinotepe, San Francisco Libre and San Jose de Los Remates feel the devastating impacts of the drought every day. In the 18 impacted communities in those regions, CEPAD works with 1,517 farming families who are experiencing food insecurity and economic instability because of very low harvests so far this year. Those families have lost 1,400 acres of corn crops and 1,100 acres of beans. Many farmers lost their entire planting of these two crops — meaning they not only lost their food for this year but the seeds and soil quality that they need to plant in 2015.

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People in Cumaica Norte are Thriving Despite Record Drought and High Food Prices

The price of beans in Nicaragua is triple what it was this time last year. For most of the people we work with at CEPAD, that means they and their children are eating more rice and fewer beans.

The causes include global market pressures that have increased exports and a year of devastatingly low rainfall because of the El Niño climate cycle and overall global climate change. Rainfall in Nicaragua has been up to 88 percent lower than normal. But in Cumaica Norte, a community in the San Jose de los Remates region, farmers are celebrating a beautiful bean harvest thanks to an irrigation system CEPAD installed and trained them to use.

 

Eduardo Orozco Rivas, one of the CEPAD community organizers in Cumaica Norte, couldn’t wait to show recent visitors from Preston Hollow Presbyterian Church his beautiful beans. He explained that they lost a pepper crop to a disease but knew from CEPAD trainings that they could reuse the rich soil to plant another crop on top of the failed peppers.

“With the irrigation and from the fertilizer made by the pepper plants, these beans were born,” he said. “Look at this crop, how beautiful they are! This is a blessing from God.”

Eduardo asked me to thank CEPAD’s partners and supporters for providing the funds that  brought the irrigation system to Cumaica Norte. Each system costs just over $2,000, and with the help of donors we have installed more than 20 of these systems. Thank you from Eduardo and all of us here at CEPAD! Your donation will make it possible for more of our farmers to grow the crops that sustain their families.