Representatives from Georgia State University, Kennesaw State University, and the University of North Georgia gathered in Jinotega, Nicaragua to attend Comunidad Connect’s Third Annual Health Summit. From April 19th – April 21st, invitees learned about Comunidad Connect’s model for sustainable development, grew in their understanding of health care delivery systems, and made connections with representatives from the Nicaraguan Ministry of Health, the Local System of Integral Health Care, Ohio State University, the National Autonomous University of Nicaragua – Matagalpa, the Red Cross, and other community development institutions working in the region. This summit promoted interdisciplinary research and advocated for volunteer trips to the region that will complement national programs and initiatives impacting the health of thousands of Nicaraguans living in rural communities with limited resources.
Comunidad Connect Co-Founder, Jon Thompson
During the first day, Comunidad Connect co-founder Jon Thompson presented on behalf of Dr. Warren Wilson of the Department of Anthropology and Archaeology of the University of Calgary. Other presenters speaking on current research taking place in the community of Los Robles included Maryanne Tranter, MS, CPNP of Ohio State University College of Nursing and Johnathan Steppe, MSN of Kennesaw State University School of Nursing. Topics included, respectively: “The Health of Mothers and Children in Los Robles,” “Adolescent Pregnancy in Nicaragua,” and preliminary findings from a “Health Education Needs Assessment for Los Robles, Nicaragua.” After listening to the first day’s presentations, Brian Culp, PhD of Kennesaw State University said he was “learning better ways to promote health and human services to underserved communities, particularity women” through these presentations.
Jonathan Steppe and Barbara Blake from Kennesaw State University
Attendees also visited the newest community in which Comunidad Connect is expanding its services, San Esteban II. Maryanne Tranter was excited to see that “the community of San Esteban is very engaged with CC in such a short period of time.” The second day of presentations and visits to health centers was met with similar enthusiasm; Kandice Porter of Kennesaw State University remarked that she was delighted by “community participation with the solutions, rather than just coming in with [an] artificial, external approach.” National and international attendees enjoyed presentations about the Nicaraguan Model for Community Health and ways in which universities can prioritize social justice and community development.
Vanessa Jones of the University of North Georgia felt that “this experience has renewed [her] desire to really see where [she]…can continue working with Comunidad Connect, to see where the biggest impact [in these communities] will be.” Comunidad Connect is excited to continue facilitating partnerships between both nationals and internationals and hopes future summits will help others be part of the solution to improved community health in Nicaragua.
NCHC Academic Partners and Comunidad Connect Staff at the 3rd Annual Health Summit in Nicaragua
About Comunidad Connect
Comunidad Connect is a 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization working in Nicaragua to promote sustainable community development, cultural exchange, and civic engagement through programs in rural healthcare, water access, youth development, and service learning. To learn more visit: http://comunidadconnect.org
NCHC Academic Partners and Comunidad Connect Staff at the 3rd Annual Health Summit in Nicaragua
The 3rd Annual Nicaragua Community Health Summit was a tremendous success, and could not have been possible without the participation of our partners from the USA, Canada, and Nicaragua. We joined the staff of Comunidad Connect and local community partners to hear presentations, discuss, and see firsthand the health priorities facing rural Nicaragua. Presentations included:
Maternal and Child Health in Los Robles – University of Calgary
Adolescent Pregnancy in Nicaragua – Ohio State University
Women, Children & Adolescent National Health Strategy – Ministry of Health
Oral Health in Rural Nicaragua – Comunidad Connect
Health Education Needs Assessment in Los Robles – Kennesaw State
Community Organizing & Health – Autonomous University of Nicaragua
Civic Engagement & Clean Water – Comunidad Connect
Health & Tourism Based Community Development – Comunidad Connect
Vanessa Jones from the University of North Georgia, with Francis Aguilar Rizo – the nurse we sponsor at the new public clinic health clinic in Los Robles.
The cross-pollination of ideas and openness to collaborate across universities were apparent throughout the summit. We look forward to our future work together.
Doug Gardenhire is the chair of Respiratory Therapy at Georgia State University and attending the 2017 Health Summit was his first experience in Nicaragua. Smoke was pouring out of the kitchen of our first home visit, and he turned to me to say “we can definitely do something here”. After visiting the health outpost of La Fundadora and seeing the only nebulizer being used improperly, he turned to me again to say “we have got to do something here”. And after visiting the Hospital of Jinotega, I spoke first “So Doug, what are we going to do?”
The fact is that respiratory illness is the leading cause of clinic visits in Nicaragua, yet can be easily mitigated with education and appropriate technology in the home. We will soon engage the expertise of Doug’s team at GSU to address respiratory health in not only our partner communities, but also in all of Jinotega with the Ministry of Health. This work will expand on our 2016 GHIP project, and is open for collaboration. For more information, contact me (Jon Thompson) at firstname.lastname@example.org / 404-444- 9147
Calling All Advocates!
Yarisleidy with recent recipient of improved stove in San Esteban
You may already know that a little goes a very long way in Nicaragua. However, you might not know that as little as $20 a month provides a special medical needs patient with monthly home visits by a qualified doctor, medicine, and special exams. NCHC relies on the support of Advocates like you to ensure our good friends in Los Robles and San Esteban have access to critical health services like primary care at the local clinic, oral health education and care in area schools, ongoing research, and appropriate technology projects like improved stoves that improve respiratory health. Everyone who believes health is an essential human right can be an Advocate. All you have to do is something. Spread the word, introduce someone to our work in Nicaragua, make a donation. Remember, our capacity to make a difference increases as our network of support expands. Click here to become an Advocate today.
Nathan Korn, CEO of IMAIM CAPITAL in Miami, presenting Roman Yavich, co-founder of Comunidad Connect, with IMAIM’s latest contribution supporting the 2016 holiday campaign.
Last year I moved from New York City to Miami to be closer to Nicaragua. Miami also has the largest population of Nicaraguan immigrants of any city in the US. This city’s warmth, literal and figurative, has been a welcome change from the winters of New York.
I’m starting to build a team of support for Comunidad Connect here, and one of the most enthusiastic and active members on this team has been Nathan Korn of IMAIM CAPITAL, a Miami-based investment firm. Nathan is a friend from college with whom I shared the formative experience of studying abroad in Chile and Argentina 13 years ago. We have been great friends since, and I was particularly excited about him joining the CC board of directors in 2014. He brought knowledge of financial and organizational management that has helped us become a stronger organization, primed for long-term growth. Nathan has helped us raise nearly $10,000 since joining the board, getting his professional network, his friends, and his family involved in community development in Nicaragua.
As our vision and impact in Nicaragua grows, we are thankful and excited to have the support of Nathan Korn, IMAIM CAPITAL and the Miami community. If you find yourself in Miami, be sure to let us know. Nathan and I will be happy to share a cafecito with you.
Theresa, at Lake Nicaragua, in front of the beautiful Concepcion Volcano on Ometepe Island.
¿A dónde vas, Esteli? ¡Hay nancite, hay naranja, hay limones! ¡Acércate a boutique 5 Estrellas hoy y aprovecha de la gran liquidación! These are just a few of the many phrases and sounds that fill the space around me here in Nicaragua.
After living in this beautiful country for over a year I’ve learned an important fact: Nicaragua is loud. However, the most relevant skill that accompanies this fact is the ability to be still, slow down and listen to the quiet sounds that flit beneath the overpowering din. When I am still I hear the laughter of my co-workers as we work together on our daily tasks. When I am slow my host sister soothes my stress and builds me up with words I need to hear. When I listen I hear the sincerity and vulnerability that accompanies the ideas we hope will transform our communities.
Working in the field of community development means accepting an inescapable vulnerability. My co-workers, our academic partners, the community members themselves, we are all architects, constructing new environments and structures that we hope will translate into better quality of life and increased opportunities throughout Nicaragua. And like architects, the results of our innovations will only be tangible years after the first thought dared to slip through our lips, uncertain of its reception.
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.