April 27th, 2017
Written by: Adam Rosendale, Marketing Intern, Comunidad Connect, 2017
A bird’s eye view of the beautiful city of Jinotega, Nicaragua
A month ago, I moved to Nicaragua. I am completing an internship with Comunidad Connect, bolstering their marketing efforts and learning Spanish, among other things. Circumstance and good timing brought me here, and for those who have traveled, my wanderlust for new experiences should be relatable.
I have lived an extremely fortunate life and I am deeply grateful for it. Yet, on a call with a CC co-founder the other day, he said something that has stayed with me and is a good reminder for all us that want to get involved with community development or volunteer abroad.
“The simple fact that we have the capacity to travel and serve others means, by definition, that we are beginning from a place a privilege. And everything that comes next needs to stem from that point of view.” Therefore, we must become educated first and every action taken to assist these communities must be conducted with an understanding of the many complex factors involved (culture, history, government, infrastructure, health, education, etc.), in ways that are not patronizing and do not create dependence.
For those able to go, I highly encourage educational service travel. However, we must always remember to tread lightly and walk with humility as we strive to emphasize with the situation of others. This understanding must come first; for there is much to learn about ourselves, how to be happy, and how to live in this mysterious world.
Tagged: connect nicaragua, Jinotega, Nicaragua, volunteer
April 17th, 2017
Written by: Jon Thompson, Comunidad Connect Co-Founder
At the NCHC Academic Partners meeting in December 2016, I shared the incredible news that for the first time ever, the Ministry of Health (MINSA) has established a public health clinic in the community of Los Robles! Located in the humble home of long time brigadista Petrona Diaz, the MINSA clinic is managed by nurses Sonia Rosales, Francis Rizo and Rosa Aguilar. They see over 250 patients a month and reflect a much improved commitment by the government to Los Robles. Given this progress and to avoid duplicating efforts in providing primary care, we have closed our clinic and broadened our preventive health strategy in Los Robles and neighboring communities. We will support the MINSA clinic with donations of medicine, materials, and equipment, and we will continue to partner with local brigadistas who promote and facilitate preventive health education and outreach initiatives. Together, we look forward to collaborating with volunteer groups, medical brigades, and MINSA in Los Robles and beyond.
Doña Petrona Diaz (left) and nurse Sonia Rosales at the new MINSA health clinic in Los Robles.
Tagged: connectnicaragua, Health, Jinotega, Nicaragua, Salud
April 5th, 2017
Written by: Guest Blogger, Anna Nam, Comunidad Connect Volunteer, February 2017
It was very rewarding to see both children and adults smiling and welcoming strangers like ourselves with open arms.
During the week I was in Los Robles to do projects and to make a difference in the lives of every person that I had come across while I was there, I had a very eye-opening experience. Academically, I realized that education is important no matter where anyone goes or where anyone is. That holds true for boys and girls, and likewise men and women. It also made me realize that education is not something to take for granted. Seeing the children in school uniforms made me smile and it made me think that these children are the future generation who are going to make the world a better place. Without education, I do not think that anything could be achieved. So it made me excited to see these children in school uniforms and even more excited because of the things that they will achieve with the knowledge that they will gain each and every day-not only in school but also from life experiences.
Professionally, this trip was eye opening because I saw that both communication and making social networks are very important. Personally, I am more of an introvert than an extrovert but being in the community of Los Robles, I began to open myself up more to the people in the community despite even the language barrier. This was a great experience in itself because it also made me realize that something like a language barrier will not keep us from offering a helping hand. Though I do not know Spanish to where I can carry on a detailed conversation with another individual, if another person and I are on the same level in terms of what we want to get done and if we are willing to carry out the duty or task together, then nothing else matters. It’s the mindset of unity that is stronger than any barrier that anyone could come across. That is the most important thing that I got out of this trip.
Tagged: connect nicaragua, Cultural Connections, Jinotega, Nicaragua
April 5th, 2017
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.
Tagged: Actúa, Clean Water, connect nicaragua, Jinotega, Nicaragua
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.
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.
Support what you love and love what you support!
Tagged: community, Health, Jinotega, Nicaragua, Prevention, Salud
September 19th, 2016
Written by: Doricel Aguirre, Cultural Connections Volunteer Guide, Comunidad Connect
¡Lea en español aqui!
Doricel (left) and co-worker Nerys in Los Robles
So far during 2016, I have guided 7 groups from Honduras Outreach International (HOI). That’s 99 volunteers who have come to share their experiences with the community of Los Robles, contribute to the social projects and promote religious values through bible studies with children, women and men. One of the most impactful experiences I have had was when we visited the home of Doña Guillermina to build a floor that was just 16 meters in area; her home was too small to build a larger floor.
Tagged: Health, HOI, Jinotega, Los Robles, Nicaragua, Salud, volunteers
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
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.
Tagged: community, Comunidad, doctor, doctora, Familia, family, Health, Jinotega, Nicaragua, Salud
August 15th, 2016
Written by guest blogger: Gina Carroll, Ph.D. candidate, University of Calgary, Comunidad Connect volunteer, Summer 2016
Like everyone, I have always struggled to find my place in the world. To find the one thing that defines me…the thing that separates me from the endless masses of people who seemingly meld together in a sea of accomplishments I never quite seem to master. As a 27-year-old Ph.D. student, still living in her parent’s basement, I never thought that I had much to offer to anyone, let alone the world. How could I? I have barely any money, and the majority of my time is spent sitting at a poorly lit desk desperately trying to finish assignments before 3am. Like a lot of people my age, I felt utterly lost in who I was as a person, and couldn’t overcome the feeling that I had missed the opportunity to blossom into the person I should have been by now. This all changed in the summer of 2016 when I was lucky enough to work as a biological anthropologist with Comunidad Connect, an NGO working to enrich the health and welfare of Nicaraguans.
As a biological anthropologist, my job is to use both the biological and behavioral aspects of humans, and their culture, to define and inform my research – in this case, why do so many young children in Nicaragua have iron deficiency, despite access to an assortment of iron-rich foods. The goal of my three-month trip to Los Robles, a small community in Northern Nicaragua, was to immerse myself within the community, and learn first-hand what factors might contribute to the epidemic of malnutrition within, and outside, of this small community. While I was fortunate enough to gain insight into what some of these factors might be, what I really learned from my neighbors in Los Robles was that it doesn’t take much to be a hero – to positively affect change in the world, and be someone worth having around. This revelation didn’t come crashing down on me, like a swell of wisdom sent forth from the divine, but rather, it occurred slowly and throughout the course of three months. While many incidents profoundly changed who I was as a person, and I hope who I will continue to develop into, one stands out the most.
Tagged: cambio, change, desarrollo, Development, Health, Jinotega, Los Robles, Nicaragua, Salud
May 17th, 2016
Rosa Diaz with her son Alder
¡Léalo en Español!
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
Tagged: agua limpio, Clean Water, family, Jinotega, Los Robles, NCHC, Nica Agua, Nicaragua, Sustainable Development, Theresa Bailey
March 31st, 2016
Written by: Taylor McNair, Comunidad Connect Volunteer, Emory MBA Candidate,
I was certainly skeptical. I heard so much hype about this trip to Nicaragua, I was curious as to whether the experience would truly live up to all it was made up to be. Beyond this, I could not stop thinking about my high school service learning trip, Builders Beyond Borders. Every winter, hoards of students poured out of their overly privileged lifestyles and brought their J. Crew button downs and Rayban sunglasses to “save” an underdeveloped nation, most recently Nicaragua. It is the fundamental development-support model that many NGOs pride themselves on. Fortunately, my expectations were far surpassed. Not only did the trip and our activities prove to be more than I imagined, but our team of students combined with Wes and Carey’s obvious and unending passion for this work, made the trip a truly enlightening experience. More than anything, this trip to Nicaragua detailed a sustainable development that I had never been exposed to be before, leaving me both fascinated and inspired.
I enjoyed almost every aspect of the trip, and certainly have a few critiques, but above all, I was most impressed with our first half. Living on the coffee farm, and having the opportunity to spend the day with Byron, an experience coffee farmer from Northern Nicaragua, was an awesome experience. For one, it justifies much of what I’ve read about sustainable agriculture. Clearly, these farmers have learned to deal with climate change impacts, and have the ability to produce effectively in an organic and sustainable manner. Byron proved to be just as inspiring and enlightening as the last time he spoke, and doubled down on his sustainability and interconnected ecosystem mantra. While the end of the trip was much less hands on and intimate, it still exposed us to a number of exciting opportunities, particularly the geothermal plant and social enterprises. The lake tour and monkey visit were definitely weird!
Overall, an awesome trip, and I’m glad I got to experience it with fellow Emory MBA candidates. I’m looking forward to continuing to support these development projects.
Tagged: Emory MBA, Emory University, Jinotega, MBA, Nicaragua, voluntario, volunteer