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

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.

Leon High School Celebrates 36 Graduates

Join us at CEPAD in celebrating 36 graduating seniors from the Instituto Marcos A. Mendieta in Leon, Nicaragua! We are so proud of these young people who worked hard to complete their high school degrees.

CEPAD founded the institute 25 years ago in response to a crisis of education after Nicaragua’s brutal civil war. Many adults had never been able to finish school, so CEPAD created distance learning opportunities so people could earn their degrees after the war. Today, the institute’s graduates are a mix of distance learning students and those who attend the school daily. The school is entirely self-funded but remains closely connected to CEPAD’s programs.

“We feel proud to be presenting 36 new graduates to the community of Leon,” said María Cristina Espinoza, the institute’s principal, during the graduation ceremony. “We hope you will join us in the honor of helping them continue in their development and education.”

Most of the students are continuing to pursue a technical or university degree. This week, they celebrated during a ceremony with music, performance and the presentation of their high school diplomas.

“We are so thankful to our parents, teachers and to God for helping us reach this point,” said Tercero Alfonso, one of the graduates. “I wish blessing for all of us so we may become great men and women.”

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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