The current social unrest in Nicaragua has affected communities throughout the country over the past 7 weeks, including the areas where Comunidad Connect works. However, our efforts in San Juan del Sur and the communities outside of Jinotega continue to operate, and our team members in the field are actively identifying community priorities and challenges as the situation evolves.
Our in-country staff report that San Juan del Sur has remained calm without instances of violence to date. Although with a tourism-based economy, the lack of travelers has caused many businesses to close temporarily and lay off hundreds of local workers. National transportation strikes have caused shortages of food, fuel, and cash, and access to health services is very limited.
Until recently, our Northern office in Jinotega kept normal operating hours and our health programming in rural communities outside the city continued unimpeded. However, violence rocked the region June 7th, and roadblocks have kept our staff from working in the office. Residents in Los Robles and San Esteban cannot travel to Jinotega to work or sell produce in the market. Consequently, this lack of employment means little to no income to purchase food and critical supplies like medicine.
Jesús Rodriguez, a community leader from Los Robles, shared his thoughts on the pressing situation facing the country:
“With respect to the situation we are living in in Nicaragua, it is difficult because one way or another it is destroying the economic standing of families, here in our community and in other communities in the Department of Jinotega and throughout the country. If there are roadblocks or a national strike, there is no transportation to be able to travel in order to buy the items that we most need.”
Jesús explained that in Los Robles families can buy a few items in the community – like cream, cheese, and toilet paper – but people need to travel to Jinotega to purchase their main necessities – like rice, oil, meat, and detergent.
Kohl Dothage, graduate student from the University of Alabama currently conducting research in Los Robles, also commented on the situation in Los Robles.
“Los Robles has been very calm. However, that does not mean the situation is not impacting families. Many people have loved-ones who work in Managua, who travel back and forth, and are unable to do so now. So of course this is going to have an impact on the community on some level even if it appears calm.”
Despite these challenges and lack of access to resources, our staff continues to work with community members to address local needs. Three times a week, Comunidad Connect nurse Enma Gutiérrez travels to the Los Robles health clinic to provide primary care attention to residents. Additionally, Enma follows up with patients and delivers medication to special needs patients as part of our Together For Health program during monthly appointments. And as always, she supports the Brigadistas (community health volunteers) of Los Robles with training based on identified local priorities.
In this time of national change and new challenges, Comunidad Connect is dedicated to strengthening partnerships with community leaders, like Jesús, who will play a vital role in sustaining families and communities going forward.