Causes

Lasting Connections

January 25th, 2019

Diana Avila traveled to Nicaragua with the University of Oregon in 2016 for a service-learning trip; an experience that she looks back to as one of the defining weeks in her life. 

As part of the ‘Everyone Makes A Difference’ holiday campaign, Diana participated using her skills a photographer and offered people in her community photo shoot sessions, with all funds going to support Comunidad Connect’s programs. We were so moved by her altruism and lasting connection to the experience we asked her to write a short piece for the blog. 

Diana and Doña Virginia

A single week in March 2016 resulted in what I believe now to be one of the most life-altering weeks of my life. Prior to participating in this trip, my life held a pretty linear trajectory; I could visualize my path and the role I would take in the world. I had focused my last two years of my undergrad to taking global health and health policy courses; I saw an opportunity to place what I had learned and practice it. What seemed like an ideal placement was much more than that. I had no idea that my experience in Nicaragua would provide me with such personal growth, gratitude, and clarity.

You don’t ever to get to meet people like Yarisleidy (CC Director of Comunity Development) twice. From the moment she hopped on our bus you knew exactly what she was about. She was strength; an advocate for social justice, a powerhouse, a friend, a sister and a mentor. You almost don’t believe that she wasn’t in your life before the day you met her. We laughed over everything and nothing, encouraged each other to open up and try new things, and simply, it felt a lot like she was family. She made our last night in Los Robles memorable, bringing us music, dance, light, joy and so much more and we couldn’t be more grateful.

Yarisleidy Cortez, Director of Community Development

One of my favorite memories is listening to the story from one of our brigadistas on how much the community has changed in her lifetime. She spoke of the tragedies, the joy, the power and strength that comes with overcoming great obstacles. Well over an hour I listened to her and worked. We were baking for single-parent households with children of different abilities. It was a unique experience. I remember seeing the end product and thinking of how my hands would always remember how to get there. It never felt like work, but acts of love. When the time came, we were hesitant to leave the warm space we had created for ourselves, which partly came from the ovens but mainly from being in a group of women that were working towards achieving something greater than ourselves.

Milking cows at sunrise

I had thought it was the end for that day as we began to travel back to our home. It wasn’t until the next morning when breakfast was served that I saw that everyone from our trip had a baked item on their plate from our batch. Which of course, made me cry. Not only was the bread sweet and savory, but it prolonged an even sweeter moment, which I thought vanished on the back of pick-up truck on our way home the day before. And lastly, and maybe most importantly, I milked a cow at sunrise.  

Why did we choose to fundraise now? That’s a good question. I think… in part, because I feel as though I’ve never left Nicaragua, or maybe Nicaragua has never left me. We know that there is a lot of unrest in Nicaragua which makes organizations like Comunidad Connect particularly vulnerable. We left Nicaragua 2+ years ago confident that CC would always be able to reach in numbers as they have before and expand, and donating at this time seemed critical to ensure that their mission continues to go forward without interruption. I only regret that this didn’t come to mind sooner!

Thank you for choosing to make a difference

January 18th, 2019

Thank you for choosing to make a difference in the lives of others. In 2018, 363 donors invested $119,000 in Comunidad Connect’s efforts in Nicaragua. More people donated in 2018 than ever before, including 259 who gave for the first time.

Our staff, community partners, and local families in Nicaragua experienced tremendous economic and social instability in 2018 and you overwhelmingly answered their call to action, shared their stories, and demonstrated our capacity to improve the quality of life for the most vulnerable. Because of you, there are thousands of Nicaraguans with access to health care, adequate housing, clean water, and youth development activities. Thank you

Everyone Makes A Difference (Community Impact)

December 24th, 2018

Everyone Makes A Difference (Youth Sports)

December 18th, 2018

Youth Connections (Sandino Family Part 1)

December 18th, 2018

Comunidad Connect inaugurated the San Juan del Sur Sports Park in 2007, thus beginning a new chapter for youth sports in the coastal fishing town of Southwest Nicaragua. CC introduced futsal and basketball leagues and hosted exhibition volleyball games, tournaments, and after-school activities. 11 years later, CC runs the municipal little league baseball program and has 500 young athletes in its youth development program, playing over 500 games a year. Today and tomorrow we will be spotlight one family who has become an integral piece of the puzzle in their community, and with Comunidad Connect.

Noel Alvarez Victor Sandino: 

Noel Alvarez Sr. has devoted his life to promoting and organizing sports; particularly soccer. So when Comunidad Connect came to town in 2007, Noel was involved from the start. It was the first time “futsala” or court soccer was introduced to San Juan del Sur and it quickly gained popularity. For Noel, the CC leagues not only promoted organized sports but also social work, solidarity within peers and personal growth. “It is something transformational. For others and in my experience; to learn and be a better person”. For 11 years, Noel as worked as a referee and has relentlessly inspired the youth of San Juan to attend a game, join a team and get involved in their community.

 

Although the relationship with Comunidad Connect began with Noel Sr, the entire Sandino family has joined the movement. Each of them has become an integral piece of the puzzle in their community, and with Comunidad Connect.

 

Noel Alvarez Sandino:

For Noel Sandino, there have been two constants in his life: soccer and the sports park. Finding a love for the game at a young age and being surrounded by a supportive family cemented is trajectory as an athlete. Now at 20 years old, he works as futsala referee and team organizer while continuing to pursue his own athletic career. He is the only Sanjuaneño to be selected to play in the top division at the national level for his age group. Giving much credit to the sports programming of his youth, Noel reflected, “more than anything, I thank CC for the fundamental role they play in the development of organized sports in San Juan del Sur and the development of individual athletes”.

 

 

Everyone Makes A Difference (Health Connections)

December 13th, 2018

Comunidad Connect Stakeholder Meeting in San Juan del Sur

November 5th, 2018

October 23, 2018

San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua.

Comunidad Connect facilitated a gathering of stakeholders in San Juan del Sur Tuesday evening to discuss the impact of its Youth Connections program. Representatives from local schools, municipal government, and league athletes and coaches attended the discussion led by CC’s Director of Community Development, Yarisleidy Cortez and Director of Youth Development, Alejandro Noguera. The meeting began with an overview of Comunidad Connect. Most Sanjuaneños know CC for the parque deportivo and its youth sports leagues, yet the organization has made impact throughout the country during the last 10 years, particularly in Jinotega where CC programs focus on preventative and primary health care.

Attendees were encouraged to share how CC’s sports program has impacted their lives and their community. Physical education teacher Bryan Cruz reflected on working with Comunidad Connect saying “it has been very special for me and I am grateful as the organization is always active and Alejandro never tells me no; whether it is borrowing equipment, using the parque deportivo, or helping me share sports with my students”.

Over the past ten years, the sports program has expanded significantly to reach over 1,000 young athletes annually through soccer, basketball, volleyball, and baseball leagues. CC honored longtime collaborators with certificates of appreciation, including referees, athletes, teachers, and coaches. These dedicated men and women devote their time, talents, and resources everyday to their community through youth sports.

Before closing the meeting, Yarisleidy invited attendees to share ideas about strengthening the program.  Some of most notable suggestions were to provide training to referees, coaches, and scoring officials, incentivize academic excellence for athletes, incorporate lessons regarding preventative health, social work, and community service, and linking current leagues with first division and university teams and clubs.

Stories of Impact – Josefa

September 25th, 2018

“Thank you for seeing us, not leaving us aside, and most importantly, providing my baby better-living conditions” – Josefa Meza Gutiérrez

Deteriorating and dilapidated roofs can have dramatic health repercussions during the wettest months of the rainy season. In rural Nicaragua, the rains increase the prevalence of upper respiratory illnesses like asthma and the flu, often overflows latrines/septic, and provides ideal conditions for mosquito-borne illnesses like dengue fever and malaria. Roofs mitigate these issues by keeping families dry. Josefa Meza Gutiérrez (35) and her husband, Luis (40), are both originally from Los Robles and work as laborers on local farms. Together, they have a 17- year old son, 14-year-old daughter and also care for their 1-month old granddaughter who was hospitalized in July 2018 due to heart problems. Their roof was a patchwork of salvaged materials and leaked in all directions.With the rainy season looming, Comunidad Connect field staff proposed replacing the roof, but when the family removed the old roof, the entire house collapsed due to a rotten wood structure! So with the help of relatives and neighbors, Josefa and family worked for three days framing the house and CC donors financed a new roof for Josefa, Luis and their family. Everyone played a vital part in providing for Josefa and her family before the heavy rains began. Upon leaving the worksite, Josefa thanked God, Comunidad Connect, and everyone who made this project possible.

Addendum:

In a wonderful continuation of the story of Doña Josefa, CC driver Alan and his niece Katherine donated a queen-size bed to Josefa and her family. A true act of compassion, this bed will give the newborn baby, as well as other members of the family, a safe and sanitary place to rest.

 

Comunidad Connect’s Guiding Principles

September 20th, 2018

Léalo en español

Strengths Perspective

We do not think of development in terms of addressing needs alone, but also within the context of local human and social capital.

Relationship Driven

Sustainable development requires open and ongoing collaboration between global, national, and local partners; both public and private.

Resolving Isolation Drives Economic Development

Connecting local communities with networks, knowledge, and capital creates opportunities for appropriate socio-economic development.

Co-investment

Investment of in-kind and financial resources by all committed partners is essential to ensure shared ownership of success.

We’ll Go Farther, Together: 2017 Holiday Campaign Kick-Off

November 30th, 2017

Tania America Picado is the mother of Crisbell Gutiérrez (far right), one of the beneficiaries of our Neurological and Pediatric Patient Project in Los Robles.

Over the past ten years, Comunidad Connect has provided thousands of Nicaraguans with access to health services, youth development programs, and improved living conditions. We are thankful for your financial support this year, without which this incredible impact would not have been possible.

As we begin our next decade of work driven by our collective experience in Nicaragua, Comunidad Connect kindly requests you to consider extending your impact further by participating in our Holiday Campaign. Your contributions will allow us to expand our programs to reach thousands more residents of isolated communities in Nicaragua and connect them with critical resources and services.

Take for example the family of 9 year old Crisbell Gutiérrezwho we met in the community of Los Robles in 2015. An accident at 2 months old left her partially paralyzed with frequent seizures, while her single mother struggled to provide for her 4 children. Through our health and service programs, we connected Crisbell to Drs. Ben and Karen Thrower who helped provide the appropriate medicine and monthly check ups. Today, Crisbell has increased mobility, seizures are now rare, and her mother is happy knowing her daughter’s special medical needs are being met.

Connecting vital resources to those who need them most is what Comunidad Connect does best, but we cannot do it alone. I invite you to watch Crisbell’s story, share it with others you know and consider making a contribution to our Holiday Campaign. Each of us can be a piece of the solution…and we can indeed go much farther, together.

Keep a look out for more videos in our three-part video series and stay updated with our Holiday Campaign!

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COME SEE US:

San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua-Frente a Farmacia Comunitaria/ Jinotega, Nicaragua-Bancentro Lafise Central, cuadra y media al oeste, Barrio Omar García

Tel:011-(505) 2782-2434

MAIL US SOMETHING:

Comunidad Connect / PO Box 1687 Madison, Alabama 35758

Tel: Tel: 404-444-9147

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