Programs

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!

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.

Doña Clementina

October 5th, 2018

Jinotega, Nicaragua is nicknamed the “city of centenarians”, and we would like to introduce you to one of our favorites: Doña Clementina. She is 97 years old and lives in the small farming community of Los Robles.

She has given birth to an unbelievable twelve children, each delivered healthy and in her home by a local midwife. The matriarch of many generations, Doña Clementina has helped raise her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. Sadly she has lived to see two of her children pass away. One at the age of 17 during the contra war, and her eldest daughter at the age of 70. After her son’s death, she recounted a memory in which she hid her children so they wouldn’t be drafted or kidnapped into fighting in the conflict.

In the 1990s, she worked with her children in agricultural fields of Los Robles. They baked bread, made nacatamales (traditional dish, like an oversized tamale) and did whatever was necessary to survival. Exchanging food, such as chicken eggs and various harvests, for meat with friends in Jinotega provided subsistence for her family. (She emphasized to us several times how much she enjoys meat.)

The bathing area before the project

New bathing area

Katherinne, Doña Clementina, Roxana, and Yarisleidy

Originally from Dantanli, Doña Clementina moved to Los Robles some 45 years ago where she has lived since. She uses a walking stick now and is losing her vision. Consequently, her limited mobility makes bathing difficult, and thus she and her family reached out to Comunidad Connect for help in renovating her bathing space. As part of our Family Impact Project initiative, local families are eligible to receive such improvement to their household infrastructure after completing community service hours or if there is a special health priority in the household. Accessible, safe, and clean bathrooms and showers are essential to the wellbeing of all families, and we are happy to bridge resources from generous donors to people like Doña Clementina. Many people contributed to improving the quality of life of someone who has given so much to others during her long life – thank you to everyone that played a part in this heartfelt story of impact in the community of Los Robles.

 

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.

Member Monday- Katherinne Peralta

August 13th, 2018

This week we recognize Katherinne, administrative assistant for Comunidad Connect! Read more to learn about Katherine, her interests and passions, and experiences working with Comunidad Connect.

When did you start working for Communidad Connect?  

I starting working for Communidad Connect on March 15, 2018.    

Describe your role with CC: 

I work in the local development connections program. My specific role is to help organize the database of projects that are carried out and fill out those files when we make a field visit. But I also have the willingness to work on everything that is necessary for Comunidad Connect.   

What is your favorite part of working with CC?  

My favorite part of working for Comunidad Connect is making field visits to Los Robles and San Esteban. Conducting home surveys with the brigadistas allows me to have relationships with the inhabitants of the community. It has been a very nice experience to talk with people, know their needs and their aspirations. For me, the best thing is to feel a part of Comunidad Connect because everything we do here has an impact on people in need.    

What is your favorite cultural event / holiday in Nicaragua?  

The anniversary of my city, Jinotega, because various activities are held for its celebration. Among them, my favorites are artisan and food fairs.  

What is your favorite place to visit in Nicaragua?  

My favorite place to visit in Nicaragua is Ometepe Island.   

What is your favorite typical dish?  

My favorite dish is the nacatamal with tortilla. 

What hobbies / talents do you have that most people do not know about?  

My favorite pastime is to share time with my family. I also like to drive and I love makeup. The talent I have that most people do not know is dance. It became my biggest passion so I decided to study at the Academia Kairos.

 

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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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