Written by: Yarisleidy Mayorquin, Program Director, Nica Agua, Comunidad Connect
Yarisleidy, far left, distributes water filters to the community of San Esteban with the help of CC staff and community health workers.
A few weeks ago I participated in a free online video conferences for sustainable development in Latin American countries. It was hosted by Actúa, an online platform for consulting projects for change.
I had the opportunity to submit a development project of personal interest and I chose to submit Nica Agua, our clean water project. The prize is that experts in the field, in this case clean water, will provide consulting, edits, and improvements to the project. The idea is to mold the project to make it more effective in the communities and more attractive to potential grant makers and donors. Out of 253 projects from all across Latin America only 15 were chosen for each topic.
I am proud to say Nica Agua was selected as one of the winning projects! Now I have the assistance of two experts in project development and a virtual campus where we have debates and brainstorming session. I already have a few suggestions for ways to improve the project.
The “Water Droplets” work on an educational poster. Las “Gotitas de Agua” completan un póster educativo.
The work of Nica Agua doesn’t stop at delivering filters and monitoring their use; the program is becoming more and more like the new model we are implementing in San Esteban. There we strengthen the capabilities of our community volunteers as well as the children, because children are the best demographic to learn and apply new information. A group of 21 kids between the ages of 7 and 13, representatives of their local primary school, receive a talk once a month focused on health and prevention where they learn about filters, water purification, hygiene, and cleanliness. These talks are dynamic and help the kids to strengthen their reading, speaking, and drawing abilities while instilling in them the spirit of volunteering. An environment where children always keep their community in mind, transmit their knowledge to their classmates, and motivate their parents, neighbors and friends to participate in community development is the goal that we hope to one day achieve!
Encouraging team work. Promoviendo el trabajo en equipo.
“Water Droplets” is now the nickname for these children that have participated in our educational talks. After chatting with Martaeliza Blandon, the technical coordinator of Nica Agua in San Esteban, about the activities we’ve done, we wanted to find a name for this group of kids to make them feel special. After many ideas and much laughter, while a rain storm came our way, the name “Water Droplets” was born. The nickname is the perfect fit for the group of kids chosen to learn about various subjects and in turn teach them in their classrooms. I hope that the kids like their new nickname and believe that from a drop can come a stream; that a constant drip can change the shape of the hardest stones.
Our clean water program, Nica Agua, has been one of our anchor programs for nearly 5 years. At first glance, it may seem pretty different from our two newest programs, the community garden and our sexual and reproductive health education project. However, these three programs have one very important common thread: the All People Be Happy Foundation.
All People Be Happy (APBH) generously provides grants for education and capacity building, healthcare, and sustainable agriculture. Comunidad Connect has been honored to receive funding from APBH for the Nica Agua program’s latest filter project, allowing us to provide 120 filters to families in the rural community of San Esteban.
Community health worker meeting in San Esteban, Jinotega
Earlier this year, one of our Princeton in Latin America fellows, Grace Galloway, applied for a grant to begin a community garden project in our office’s backyard. She was thrilled to receive the grant and is currently harvesting the first fruits as the rainy season subsides. As the new year begins, Grace will continue to expand community and student involvement in the garden.
Reading about trees in the Garden.
Most recently, Theresa Bailey, also a Princeton in Latin America fellow, received a grant to expand the sexual and reproductive health services provided throughout rural communities in the north. She will spend the following months implementing the first steps of a project that will holistically address the expressed needs of men, women and adolescents.
Without generous donors such as All People Be Happy, we wouldn’t be able to provide healthcare for thousands of patients each year, or clean water for hundreds of families. We can’t wait to see how the community garden and sexual and reproductive health initiative develop and expand to empower and education our community members.
Thank you, All People Be Happy, for your ongoing support.
Yarisleidy Mayorquin – Comunidad Connect, con los colaboradores Dr. Ortiz Ayala – FUNDOH, Ejecutiva Alba Gonzalez- UNAN Managua. Ms. Yarisleidy Mayorquin from Comunidad Connect with representatives Dr. Ortiz Ayala from FUNDOH and executive Alba Gonzalez from UNAN Managua.
When the name of an organization shines through in the execution of its work, the results are a clear example of its mission. This is how we feel day to day while “we connect opportunities.” A beautiful example of “links and connections” was this past May when, thanks to the collaboration of our friends from Maderas Sostenibles, we were able to “think green” through the donation of trees dedicated to several reforestation projects: one being with our new friends from UNAN Managua and the other in the community of San Esteban 2 in Jinotega, Nicaragua. And how does this link opportunities? By giving resources we receive to people who could utilize them the best. We are confident that “hand in hand,” “ voices united” is the best way to form networks of friends and collaborators that help each other to strengthen the social work of many organizations and institutions. During this month of independence, we give thanks to the friends and colleagues who have, without a doubt, served as the bridge between resources and various social development opportunities in our beautiful country, Nicaragua.
Yarisleidy Mayorquin and Alba Gonzalez meet to receive the donation of saplings. Yarisleidy Mayorquin y Alba Gonzalez reunen para recibir la donación de árboles.
We are looking for a research intern to work directly with our Nicaragua Community Health Connection program! You will help to investigate diverse models for community development, identify cost-effective water filtration models, and compile a literature review that will support our future grant applications. Please send your resume, cover letter, and writing sample to Theresa Bailey at email@example.com. Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis starting immediately.
We recently had a chance to catch up with Rosa Diaz of Los Robles, where the Nicaragua Community Health Connection program has operated since 2013. The impact of this program on this community has been drastic and we are happy to share Rosa’s thoughts in this post.
First of all, our water filter has been a great benefit to my family. Before, my sons, especially the youngest, would get very sick from diarrhea. Now they do not. My youngest is healthy and he loves filtered water. He even asks for it! Before my family drank water directly from the tap and we stored large quantities in barrels. It tasted bad and the water in the barrels would come contaminated. Now our water tastes much better and my sons have learned why it is so important to have clean drinking water.
Next, our floor. We are still waiting to see the long-term health benefits, because during rainy season our kitchen floods with rain water. I hope that the new floor will allow the water to flow through and make it easier to clean when it pools. If that happens, my sons will be able to come into the kitchen and help me cook without getting wet. But for now we have seen a large change in our family since the installation of the concrete floor. Now my sons can play on the ground in the kitchen without getting dirt on their hands, clothes and shoes. It is much cleaner and healthier for them to play in our kitchen.
Finally, our oven. We’ve been very blessed in receiving this project. Since we got it, I have baked bread five times for my family. Now I don’t have to buy bread from the store. I save money this way, and I also save firewood because of the improved design. My extended family comes over to bake too. It’s be a benefit for the whole family.
Rosa Diaz with her family and Theresa Bailey of Comunidad Connect
Written by Nerys Blandón, Community Outreach and Education Coordinator, Comunidad Connect
I want to share an experience from the community of San Esteban.
A few weeks ago we went to San Esteban to organize the census for their upcoming Nica Agua project. Only a few community members came to the meeting, and those who came arrived late. The only community health worker, or brigadista, there gave the impression that no one knew why they should be there; the was the only one truly interested. She told me that when she explained to the community about the community health work, no body seemed interested. She was worried that if the group leader was negative, the whole group would be negative.
El Equipo de San Esteban – San Esteban Team
At this moment we started the meeting and I told them about our work style and the success we’ve had in Los Robles. I promised that we would share with them everything we’ve learned. I asked them if anyone would like to be a brigadista. They asked me, “What would we have to do?” I told them “Today your community only has one brigadista and today we are going to expand that group using those of you here.” We knew they would want to join.
A few days later two young men arrived at my house to help with the census, but they had other news as well. They decided to become brigadistas! They asked me “How many brigadistas can there be?” I told them 10. They sounded so excited and they said they were going to gather the group of ten.
Now we have 10 community health works in San Esteban, four women and six men.
Thank you everyone for allowing us to reach out to more and more communities.
Written by: Dick Olsson, Volunteer & Donor, Comunidad Connect, February 2016
I consider myself well traveled and I had been to Nicaragua before…or at least I thought I had been there. This past November, I got to see the real Nicaragua. I was fortunate to get a tour of some of the projects Comunidad Connect is doing. I am usually skeptical of programs that are established to help people in “third-world” countries. It was exciting to see how CC involves the locals in the projects and to see that they “earn” what they get. They take personal pride in what they receive. They understand that they have power to improve the environment for their families. The community service that people do not only improves their environment; it builds a sense of civic pride that is contagious. The people are not only grateful for the help they receive but are proud for the role they play.
I am so impressed with the impact that clean water, vented stoves and solid floors has on the health of the population. The people are so warm and welcoming that you want nothing but the best for them. The clinic and the human resources CC provide are so valuable yet done at a cost that would embarrass any American facility. It feels really good to see smart young people with the right priorities being successful at something that matters.
The time I spent in a homestay was remarkable. I gained a perspective of history possible no where else. My family told me of hiding out in the mountains during the revolution and how the people were impacted by decisions in the United States. I listened to the dreams of a family with no running water or electricity. They are planning for a better life and I have no doubt they will have it.
This was an inspirational trip I will always remember.
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…)