Written by guest blogger: Anisha Patel, volunteer, GSU School of Physical Therapy
Tucked in the lush green mountain region of northern Nicaragua lies the rural community of Los Robles. The community, built by the hands of its coffee farmers, is not only alive with the sounds of creatures living under the brush of its landscape, but also the joy that surrounds its people. It is here that our student physical therapy group experienced one of the most memorable adventures of our lives.
The most impactful experience for me was having the chance to play with the children of the community. All day, I was terrified. Never having worked with a large group of children before, the millions of ways it could all go wrong was constantly in my mind as we approached the home that would serve as our base. The children were already standing at the porch – silent, waiting. I marveled at their stillness, their patience.
Learning to play duck, duck, goose
We were greeted with a kind shyness. As we began to play, the children began to open up and laugh, accepting us without a second thought. Even though I speak little Spanish, it was easy to connect with each of them. We spoke in a language beyond words — one that was filled with gestures, laughter, and a lot of love.
What struck me the most is how much joy these children exuded. They each thoroughly enjoyed even the most simple games. When they fell, they got up and kept running. In the span of two hours, not one of them shed a tear, yelled an insult, or displayed any displeasure. They each rose to every challenge with the grace of the wise old and the unparalleled joy of those who have learned to appreciate everything. From them, in such a short span, I learned the true meaning of gratitude.
Last Saturday Comunidad Connect celebrated our 9 years of community development work.
Trophies and prizes for the frisbee golf, cornhole and horseshoes tournaments
Over 300 of our friends and supporters came out to the Marsella Valley Nature Center for an afternoon of games, food and drinks. Skilled and aspiring players competed in frisbee golf, cornhole and horseshoe tournaments; others enjoyed burgers and beers in the shade. San Juan del Sur’s Tae Kwon Do champion, Juan Pablo Lopez, taught basic techniques to children, who showed off their new skills by kicking open a piñata. As the final games came to a close trophies were given out and raffles prizes were drawn. At sunset, we wrapped up the day by honoring Jon Thompson, a Comunidad Connect co-founder and agent of social change in San Juan.
Grand raffle prize: a night at Rancho Chilamate Eco Guest Ranch
We are thrilled to share our accomplishments and continue connecting with our supporters and teammates from near and far. In San Juan del Sur our sports and youth development program works with over 2,000 athletes, facilitating soccer and baseball leagues while providing a safe, healthy space. We sponsor English classes and university-level scholarships for students in El Carrizal, a small town 20 minutes outside of town. Nica Agua – our clean water program – has provided water filters to hundreds of families in the Tola area. However, our work expands far beyond the San Juan del Sur area.
Final basket of the frisbee golf course
In the northern department of Jinotega, our health clinic in consults over 200 patients each month. Our medical and community health staff provide preventative care, treatment and education. Across the country we host North American volunteer groups for week-long trips based on community service and cultural exchange. These student, professional, or church-based volunteers lay cement floors, paint houses with insect-repellent paint, and construct eco-stoves for family homes. They visit families, provide educational workshops, and spend time getting to know Nicaraguan families.
Do you like frisbee golf? Corn hole? Horseshoes? Eating food? Most importantly, do you want to be a part of the positive social changes happening in our community?
Head to Marsella Valley Nature Center this Saturday, January 16th from 12-5:30pm for Fun Bajo el Sol, an afternoon of fun and friends. Compete in tournaments of frisbee golf, horseshoes, corn hole. Food and drinks will be provided by Big Wave Dave’s, Dia de los Donas and La Cervecería. Kids activities include the San Juan Day School kids’ area as well a bounce house!
Marsella Valley Nature Center is located just before Playa Marsella, on the left side of the road. Please feel free to park on the road. Free transport will be leaving from the Central Park in San Juan del Sur.
Entrance will be 20 cordobas for adults and 10 cordobas for children.
We are so grateful to our wonderful sponsors:
Aurora Beachfront Realty Frisbee Golf Open
Discover Real Estate Tae Kwon Do Demostration and Lessons
Rancho Chilamate Horseshoe Showdown
Remax Coastal Properties Corn Hole Championship
SJdS Cerveceria KanJam, Relays, Races, and Games
SJdS Day School Kids Area and Bouncy Castle
Additional Event Sponsors
Casa de Tierra
El Encanto del Sur
You can help us double our impact over the next two years by helping us buy a truck for our second location. We will use this new truck in rural communities near Jinotega, Nicaragua to deliver:
* Health supplies to our rural health clinic which sees more than 200 patients each month
* Water filters to more than 200 additional families in our new major partner community, San Esteban
* Sports equipment to our recently launched rural sports academy supporting dozens of girls and boys developing athletic and life skills.
Best of all, you can come down to Nicaragua for a tour of our projects in the truck you, your friends, and your family helped make a reality!
The Los Robles health clinic doubles as a health education center.
Millions of people around the world and tens of thousands in Nicaragua do not have access to clean drinking water, healthcare, or safe recreational activities for their children. Since 2007 Comunidad Connect has developed successful initiatives to provide clean water access, healthcare, youth development, and cultural exchange, with the help of 450 small and large donors. Each year we grow bigger with more patients, more filters, more athletes, and more students on service learning trips. Now we need your help to expand our efforts and reach more communities.
In 2016 we are expanding the water filter project to a new community called San Esteban, expanding the recently launched sports program in Los Robles, adding on to the preventative healthcare at our clinic, and looking to support all of these community development efforts with a new education and community center.
So what does it take to double our organizational impact? It takes double the donors, double the programs, and double the tools! With your donation today, you can be a part of all three of these actions.
Beyond our talented staff, our most important tool is our vehicle. But with two locations and only one truck, we spend tons of money on car rentals and gasoline to drive between the two locations. Our first truck has gone more than 100,000 Km in more than 5 years. It has been the foundation of our success. Now we want to double that success. We need a second vehicle.
Former CC PiLA Fellow, Brian Reilly, ready to deliver water filters in our awesome but only truck.
What You Can Do To Help
Help us raise $15,000 for the down payment on a second truck.
Join our work in Nicaragua and bring your friends and family along.
Share our mission to bring together local and global resources to address the most pressing development priorities with your network, and help us grow our donor base from 400 to 800 by the end of 2016.
Sports and youth development programs for girls and boys have been hugely popular our San Juan del Sur location. Now we are expanding them to Los Robles.
What You Get
We want to recognize your contribution, after all trucks drive on two-way roads (unless it’s a river crossing or a jungle road or a tight squeeze through a heard of cows…you’ll see.)
The biggest perk is that your donation is tax-deductible if you make it before the end of the year! Here are some more amazing perks at each giving level. Perks are optional.
5 day Nicaragua adventure with private guide for you and up to three friends. Visit stunning coffee country and colonial Leon. Ride horses, active volcanoes, and of course, your new truck. Your bi-lingual guide will take care of everything. (Food, lodging, and transportation not included, but the guide is!)
When you visit you’ll see rainbows over coffee country (if you come in the rainy season.) We can’t promise unicorns, but you can ride horses.
Everything at the $500 level and a guide for a 3 day rural Nicaragua experience with a homestay, including a ride in the back of the truck through coffee country. Taste freshly roasted and brewed coffee with farmers that grew the beans and picked them. (Food, lodging, and transportation not included, but the guide is!)
Everything below and a 2 day adventure tourism experience in colonial Leon with, you guessed it, your own bi-lingual guide! Take the truck to a volcano you can surf. (Food, lodging, and transportation not included, but the guide is!)
Everything below and 5 pounds of better than fair trade, freshly harvested coffee right from the farmer to your door. You can share it with your friends or keep it till next December’s harvest! Support the farmers and their new health clinic with one click.
Everything below and 1 pound of better than fair trade coffee right from the farmer to your door.
Everything below and a hot new CC T-shirt or tank top with the softest fabric this side of American Apparel.
Eye exam in the Los Robles Clinic
Everything below and a personal post card from one of our staff sent all the way from Nicaragua.
Everything below and a hot new CC sticker. Show your friends that you are part of the puzzle!
Everything below and be a guest blogger on our site. Tell the world why you support community development in Nicaragua.
Our model is built on investment. not handouts. To receive a water filter each family has to volunteer for 16 hours on a community improvement project.
Spotify playlist of the best Nicaraguan music made by entire CC staff, and Facebook post.
Facebook post on your wall recognizing your global citizenship with a photo of you photo-shopped into Nicaragua. Next year we can take a real photo.
Antes de CC tuve varios trabajos informales mientras estudiaba.
Inicié mi experiencia laboral y profesional con Comunidad Connect, mientras estaba en mis últimos años de la universidad. Inicié como asistente del director y ahora estoy a cargo de Nica Agua y proyectos comunitarios. Desde planificar proyectos hasta ejecutarlos, ha sido un enriquecimiento tanto personal como profesional. Cada vez surgen situaciones nuevas, retos nuevos dentro y fuera de oficina que con autoaprendizaje, retroalimentación y compartiendo con colegas se logran con éxito, CC es un equipo y sin duda nuestro trabajo en equipo logra resultados positivos.
Yarisleidy trabajando en analisis de data con CC staff
Mi carácter es una mezcla entre flemático y colérico, así que me describo como una persona con múltiples cualidades. Me gusta trabajar por el bienestar de las personas, de las familias, y de sus comunidades. Siempre tengo en mente que mi prioridad ante cualquier cosa es la comunidad. Es mi gente, son las familias con las que he conectado y han depositado su confianza en mí. Por lo tanto en ocasiones tomo el control total de las situaciones para poder cumplir con las perspectivas de cada colaborador. (more…)
Before Comunidad Connect I had a few informal jobs while studying at the university.
I started my professional work experience with Comunidad Connect while I was finishing up my studies. I began as Assistant Director and now I am the head of Nica Agua & Community Projects. From planning to executing projects, my experience has been enriching both personally and professionally. Every day new situations arise, along with new challenges inside and outside the office. Through learning, feedback and sharing with coworkers, we as a CC team achieve success. Without a doubt our work is bringing positive results.
Yarisleidy works with CC staff on Data Analysis
My character is a mix of calm and temperamental, therefore I describe myself as a person with various qualities. I like to work for the wellbeing of people, families, and their communities. I always keep in mind that my priority above all else is the community. They are my people, they are the families with whom I have connected and they have trusted me. For this reason sometimes I take control of situations in order to be able to take into account the perspective of every team member. (more…)
En aquellos días mi amigo Jon Thompson visitaba la comunidad de Los Robles con los grupos de voluntarios para realizar proyectos comunitarios con todos los programas que cuenta Comunidad Connect. Uno de tantos días que pasaba por la plaza en donde él observaba siempre muchos chavalos jugando y divirtiéndose con el deporte del futbol. A él le daba ganas de jugar.
Ya que la pasión de Jon es jugar futbol y otros deportes, a él le encantaba el fervor por el cual los chavalos jugaban el futbol. Jon empezó a pensar como sería posible ayudar en la comunidad con respecto al futbol. Un día estábamos trabajando con un grupo y Jon y yo observamos en la plaza un grupo de chavalas con mucha alegría jugar al futbol. Se comienza la plática de como empezar el proyecto de una Academia de futbol. Con los conocimientos que tengo sobre futbol y mi experiencia trabajando con niños y el empuje que tiene Jon, empezamos a darle forma y vida a la idea asombrosa de crear una Academia dirigida por Comunidad Connect.
In one of his many visits to the community of Los Robles, I got to know Jon Thompson while he worked with Comunidad Connect volunteers. One of those days I walked past the soccer field in town where Jon was watching the kids playing soccer and having a great time. This inspired Jon – he wanted to play.
Since Jon’s passion is soccer and sports in general, he loved the fervor the kids brought to the field. Jon started to brainstorm the possibility of supporting Los Robles through the game of soccer. One day we were working with a group of volunteers and Jon and I observed a group of girls playing soccer; they were filled with joy. We started talking and arrived at the idea of a Soccer Academy. With my knowledge and experience with soccer and working with kids, along with the push the Jon gave, we began to form the amazing idea of creating an Academy through Comunidad Connect.
Written by: Theresa Bailey, Princeton in Latin America Fellow 2015-2016, Comunidad Connect
When I first arrived in Los Robles I was bombarded by overwhelming feelings of excitement and ‘what have I gotten myself into’ – still overwhelmed by the singsong Nicaraguan accent that didn’t seem to form intelligible words in my head. As we weaved our way past the glistening lake and through the mountainous terrain, I wondered if I would be able to understand my host family.
Theresa’s new home
We entered the community and I became acquainted with the cow-filled fields lining the main road. Finally I saw my house-to-be, gently nestled amongst thick forests of coffee. My nerves quickly returned as I stepped inside to meet my hosts. My host mother and father seemed kind, yet quiet, probably wondering if I would be happy here just as intensely as I was wondering the same. I have two host sisters, one my age and a 9-year-old, and a host niece who’s six – her father lives with us as well. It’s a full house and the first few nights I felt most comfortable chatting with our then pregnant cat who stared with understanding. I could feel the wariness surrounding the new ‘gringa’ – no one really knew what to say to break the ice. (more…)
by Grace Galloway, Princeton in Latin America Fellow, Comunidad Connect
Since beginning in 2011 Nica Agua has partnered with 16 communities, working side by side with community members as they achieve their goal: access to clean drinking water in their homes.
Final meeting with community leaders. Yarisleidy, third from left, explains project results and conclusions.
This fall marks a time of both conclusions and beginnings for Nica Agua. Our team has just concluded the third follow up on filters for over 500 families in 13 communities in the Atlantic Regions of Nicaragua. Each monitoring includes quantitative and qualitative questions about the use and effectiveness of the filters. We are excited to report that nearly all families report “excellent” or “good” results from their filter. The small proportion of families who report subpar results gives Comunidad Connect an opportunity for improvement and reflection. More in depth quantitative results will be published in an upcoming report!
As we conclude our projects in the Atlantic regions, we begin to expand to San Esteban, in Jinotega, Northern Nicaragua. San Esteban, a coffee farming community of about 100 families, is nestled right next door to Los Robles, one of our most active community partners. San Esteban became interested Comunidad Connect’s filter program after seeing its success in Los Robles. (more…)