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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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

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

Calling all Donors to Travel!

We are excited to announce the opportunity for supporters of CEPAD to travel to Nicaragua to see, first-hand, the programs you make possible. Click the link below to download a brochure to learn more, we hope to see you soon! Donor Trip 2015 Brochure

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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All of This is in the Reach of Our Hands

Thanks to Sara Delaney and all our partners at Episcopal Relief and Development for this wonderful story of CEPAD’s work. ERD partners with our farming programs in Nueva Guinea and San Francisco Libre to help provide training and support for families and farmers there.

Over a hot, humid, rainy week in Nicaragua recently, I spent some time with our partner there, the Council of Protestant Churches of Nicaragua (CEPAD). This was my third visit to see their work, and I’ve written in previous years about the amazing mega-gardens that small farmers have created around their homes.

This time, I wanted to see for myself how CEPAD works to share ideas on the management of these gardens with farmers. So I attended a two-day exchange workshop that brought together about 40 participating men and women from the surrounding area. It was one workshop in a whole series that farmers go through over a three-year period, and this one featured techniques for making natural fertilizers and pesticides using local ingredients.

 Read the rest of the story at the Episcopal Relief and Development blog.