community

Community, Authenticity, and Joy

February 13th, 2017

Léelo en español

Written by Laura Bonin, GSU Physical Therapy Student

Months of planning, endless crowdfunding emails, and feelings of anticipation and excitement all preceded a weeklong trip for fourteen physical therapy students, one professor, and two physical therapists from the Atlanta community. But what better way to start the New Year than leaving the privileges we value, including the luxuries of our own homes in the United States, and traveling to Nicaragua. There we were able to share our physical therapy knowledge and skills while immersing ourselves in some of the intangibles the Nicaraguans hold so dear: community, authenticity, and joy.

During the week we saw community in finding contentment outside our comfort zone. Nicaraguans made us feel a part of their community from day one, even as we relied on nonverbal communication and embraced the flexibility of our daily schedule. We entered homes to treat some of the sickest and most vulnerable members of Los Robles and found ourselves making instantaneous connections built off of trust and empathy. By focusing on the components of patient centered care during each home visit, we built relationships and memories with smiles and laughter, something more difficult to do with patients back home.

However, true community is built on the foundation of authenticity, losing the façade of who we want others to think we are and focusing solely on who we really are. The Los Robles community is the epitome of an authentic community. When we didn’t have our physical therapy hat on we participated in home improvement projects, witnessing firsthand the pride men and women took in lending a helping hand to their neighbors and welcoming our group like family. The brigadistas also embraced authenticity, helping bring basic medical knowledge to those in need, regardless of their age or complexity of the information.

The final theme that illuminated every activity and encounter in Los Robles was joy. For the opportunity to spend time with family. For the bonds made with new friends. For the ability to work on projects while also imparting sustainable healthcare from which the community will continue to benefit. We are so thankful for the life and culture that was poured into us throughout our week in Nicaragua and are eager to take the togetherness of community, the rawness of authenticity, and the contagious nature of joy into our last clinical rotation to leave a mark on every patient just as the Nicaraguans did for us!

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Progress and Growth for the Brigadista Team

December 10th, 2016

Nicaragua is unique in its prevalence for volunteering and community organizations. One of the pillars of the free public healthcare system, in this country with the second lowest GDP per capital in the Western Hemisphere, are the brigadistas. These rural health volunteers are the first line of defense for anyone with an injury, pregnancy complication, or dangerous illness. They can triage and call an ambulance if necessary. The brigadistas coordinate their efforts with the Ministry of Health and also provide community outreach focusing on illness prevention.

Theresa and community health worker network of Los Robles. Theresa y la red de brigadistas de Los Robles.

Theresa and community health worker network of Los Robles. Theresa y la red de brigadistas de Los Robles.

The success of Comunidad Connect health programs in Los Robles is largely due to the support of the brigadistas. After this group of 10 women and 1 man identified diarrhea and water borne illness as a top concern in Los Robles, Comunidad Connect launched is Nica Agua water filter project. Local residents could earn a water filter, which eliminates the threat of bacteria in drinking water, by investing time in projects to improve public spaces or infrastructure, such as the construction of the rural health clinic in the center of Los Robles. Like the other projects, the health clinic construction was organized by Comunidad Connect with help from international donors and volunteers that joined forces with Los Robles residents in the construction. The opening of the health clinic in January 2015 gave more than 2,000 people access medical services in their community.

The health clinic also inspired the brigadistas to create their own project, independent of Comunidad Connect, to build a new cemetery closer to town, that would not require a 30 minute walk up a steep hill, through mud, and across a stream. (Imagine doing that with a casket.) The group started a community bank, purchased a plot of land, and with support of local and international volunteers created a model cemetery, the pride of the community.

Your donation today will help Comunidad Connect work with a new group of brigadistas in our new partner community of San Esteban, to successfully complete a Nica Agua water filter project, providing more than 100 families with clean water while improving community infrastructure. This is how the sustainable development chain reaction starts. We hope you will join us and follow the progress and impact of the brigadistas in both Los Robles and San Juan del Sur. They are the true champions of grassroots community development.

Los Robles Health Clinic operated by Comunidad Connect

Support what you love and love what you support!

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All People Be Happy – Supporting 3 different CC programs

December 10th, 2016

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

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.

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.

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A Year in Nicaragua – Annual Report from Comunidad Connect

October 31st, 2016

Written by: Grace Galloway, Princeton in Latin America Fellow, 2015-2017, Comunidad Connect

A year in community development can mean a lot of different things. It means patience and progress, it means shovels and sweat, but most of all it means determination from the amazing community members that we are honored to work with here in Nicaragua.

Learn more, check out the 2015 Annual Report!

Do you want to join us as we work towards better health, clean water, and youth development in Nicaragua? Join our Volunteer Adventure Trips this winter and see sustainable community development for yourself!

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News from the Clinic: A Note from Dr. Lia Amador

August 18th, 2016

Written by Dr. Lia Amador, Comunidad Connect Staff, August 2016

¡Leer en español!

Since I was a little girl I dreamed of becoming a doctor so that I could help people. I dreamt I would be a vital and important agent of change in the lives of people, not only addressing emergent health issues, but also helping individuals to accept their illness and making them aware of how they could better care for themselves – always providing quality care that improved the wellbeing of others.

Dr. Amador treating patients in Los robles

Dr. Amador treating patients in Los robles

Comunidad Connect works hard to improve the health of the populations in which it works, involving the individual and understanding how they fit within the larger picture of their family and community. Comunidad Connect works for the community and from the community, not just addressing curative health, but focusing on preventative work as well. Their work inspires me to formulate a vision for the future; I dream of a community that is integrated in the search for better lifestyles and greater quality of life. For example, we could adopt the World Health Organization’s model for strengthening families and improving communication between parents. We could work with adolescents to promote various topics, like sexual and reproductive health, life plans, empowerment and respect of women and their rights, independence, and the prevention of violence. Finally, we could work with men to promote new masculinities and engage elderly in clubs for senior citizens. The main challenge will be having patience as we wait for changes in behavior.

(more…)

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Completing the Puzzle of Community Development

May 9th, 2016

Written by: Roman Yavich, Comunidad Connect Co-Founder

I’m really lucky to have been born where I was and have the chance to get good healthcare, a good education, and an opportunity to do what I want to do in life. Many people don’t have that type of luck. They are born in places where meeting basic human needs is a daily challenge. For me working in Nicaragua is a way to make the best use of the opportunity that I have had in life.

I came to Nicaragua in 2006 to study the impact that tourism growth was having in this country and understand what would make tourism more sustainable. What came out of that project is Comunidad Connect.

CC Staff at Fun Bajo el Sol

From left to right, back row: Blog author, Roman Yavich. Alejandro Noguera, Theresa Bailey, Jon Thompson, Dariel Potoy. Left to right, front row: Yarisleidy Mayorquin, Anielka Galan, Grace Galloway, Ronald Zeledon, Samuel Munguia

One of our first volunteers Mat Mendonca was so inspired by his experience that he donated all of his summer earnings from fighting forest fires to start our water filter project, Nica Agua, that this day has allowed more than 6000 people across Nicaragua to drink clean water.  I recently had the chance to translate for a group of doctors and nurses as they visited residents in the rural Los Robles community, where much of our work has taken place. What an amazing feeling to be able to facilitate these connections!

Our vision in Nicaragua is ambitious but attainable. We want to create a network of communities across Nicaragua, driven by their own strengths, knowledge, and leadership, with support from international partners, donors, and volunteers. Income through tourism and small business entrepreneurship can support health and education-focused programming envisioned, driven, and managed locally by the community. Comunidad Connect would be like a phone operator of the past, plugging resources into development projects. We’re building a large puzzle with thousands of pieces. When you put all the pieces together a beautiful picture emerges.

I invite you to help us complete this puzzle. Come to Nicaragua, learn about what makes it such a special place, and experience sustainable community development first-hand.

HOI volunteers share health and hygiene education, and of course fun, with the children of Los Robles.

HOI volunteers share health and hygiene education, and of course fun, with the children of Los Robles.

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Participant’s Perspective: Natural Medicine Workshop

April 29th, 2016
Inspired by: Flavia Castro, Natural Medicine Workshop Attendee, Los Robles

¡Lea en español!

The community health workers of Los Robles have hosted one month of traditional medicine talks in Los Robles.

Flavia Castro, after the workshop, después de la charla

Flavia Castro, after the workshop, después de la charla

Flavia Castro, of the participants in the natural medicine charlas, reflects on her experience: “I attend the workshops because it’s very important; they help us to improve our health. With these workshops we learn about natural medicine and all the things that we can make right at home. Also, with this knowledge we can help others – our neighbors – and do something that improves their health. I am grateful that Comunidad Connect continuously supports us and I hope we continue to receive this support in the future. I hope that after these workshops we can learn more about preventative health to improve our daily lives. With unity and faith in God, we can do anything.”

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La Administradora de Nica Agua: Yarisleidy Mayorquin

November 23rd, 2015

Escrito por: Yarisleidy Mariana Cortez Mayorquin, Administradora de Nica Agua y Proyectos Comunitarios.

Read this post in English!

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 trabaja en analisis de data con CC staff

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…)

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Yarisleidy Mayorquin: Nica Agua Program Administrator

November 23rd, 2015

Written by: Yarisleidy Mariana Cortez Mayorquin, Administrator of Nica Agua & Community Projects

Lea este blog en español

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.

YLblog

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…)

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