CC was founded in 2007 on the belief that by connecting those that care to those in need, powerful, lifelong changes can occur in both communities. Language, governments, culture, fear, pride can all be potential barriers to these connections, but we when we find ourselves at the intersections of these relationships, between vulnerable and resource-rich communities, we have more than an opportunity to make a difference…we have a responsibility.
In our partner communities in Nicaragua, our commitments persevere as they are founded on 10+ years of collaboration, trust, and faith. During this critical time of political instability in Nicaragua, our health programs there endure with the support of donors and other stakeholders who have formed resilient relationships over the years. Meanwhile, students and faculty from universities stateside teem with interest to experience service learning abroad with Comunidad Connect. This prompted us to explore opportunities to do so in the Dominican Republic earlier this year, and what we found is inspiring.
Montellano is a municipality on the northern coast of the DR, once known for its sugar cane factory that employed tens of thousands annually. The industry drove economic growth, and the need for cheap labor. Haitian immigrants came in droves and moved into shabby barracks provided by the sugar cane factory. Five years ago, the factory closed yet the Haitians stayed and find themselves today virtually stateless without clear rights to government-funded support programs.
In collaboration with Health Horizons International, we have begun building relationships with rural and semi-urban communities in Montellano since April. We have coordinated two groups of students and faculty from Kennesaw State (Nursing and Health Promotion & Education) and most recently, GA State’s Physical Therapy program. These incredible teams have trained community health promoters, exchanged experiences with fellow colleagues in local universities, conducted health fairs, seen patients in their homes and in community settings, and worked on household projects that have already directly impacted the lives of hundreds of people. Most importantly, these inaugural groups afford us the opportunity to return on multiple occasions, each time learning more and better understanding our roles as advocate and partner.
It is difficult to not compare the DR with Nicaragua, given our tenure in communities like Los Robles, San Esteban, and San Juan del Sur. Indeed our short time in the DR has reconfirmed how special Nicaragua is to us as people and as an organization. The good news is that engagement with the DR and Nicaragua is not mutually exclusive…in fact, we believe it is synergetic.
If you would like to learn more about our expansion to communities in the DR and our ongoing programming in Nicaragua, please contact us today. Otherwise, stay tuned via social media and future bulletins for stories of how together we are making a difference.
Los Robles, Jinotega, Nicaragua, April 2017
Representatives from Georgia State University, Kennesaw State University, and the University of North Georgia gathered in Jinotega, Nicaragua to attend Comunidad Connect’s Third Annual Health Summit. From April 19th – April 21st, invitees learned about Comunidad Connect’s model for sustainable development, grew in their understanding of health care delivery systems, and made connections with representatives from the Nicaraguan Ministry of Health, the Local System of Integral Health Care, Ohio State University, the National Autonomous University of Nicaragua – Matagalpa, the Red Cross, and other community development institutions working in the region. This summit promoted interdisciplinary research and advocated for volunteer trips to the region that will complement national programs and initiatives impacting the health of thousands of Nicaraguans living in rural communities with limited resources.
During the first day, Comunidad Connect co-founder Jon Thompson presented on behalf of Dr. Warren Wilson of the Department of Anthropology and Archaeology of the University of Calgary. Other presenters speaking on current research taking place in the community of Los Robles included Maryanne Tranter, MS, CPNP of Ohio State University College of Nursing and Johnathan Steppe, MSN of Kennesaw State University School of Nursing. Topics included, respectively: “The Health of Mothers and Children in Los Robles,” “Adolescent Pregnancy in Nicaragua,” and preliminary findings from a “Health Education Needs Assessment for Los Robles, Nicaragua.” After listening to the first day’s presentations, Brian Culp, PhD of Kennesaw State University said he was “learning better ways to promote health and human services to underserved communities, particularity women” through these presentations.
Attendees also visited the newest community in which Comunidad Connect is expanding its services, San Esteban II. Maryanne Tranter was excited to see that “the community of San Esteban is very engaged with CC in such a short period of time.” The second day of presentations and visits to health centers was met with similar enthusiasm; Kandice Porter of Kennesaw State University remarked that she was delighted by “community participation with the solutions, rather than just coming in with [an] artificial, external approach.” National and international attendees enjoyed presentations about the Nicaraguan Model for Community Health and ways in which universities can prioritize social justice and community development.
Vanessa Jones of the University of North Georgia felt that “this experience has renewed [her] desire to really see where [she]…can continue working with Comunidad Connect, to see where the biggest impact [in these communities] will be.” Comunidad Connect is excited to continue facilitating partnerships between both nationals and internationals and hopes future summits will help others be part of the solution to improved community health in Nicaragua.
About Comunidad Connect
Comunidad Connect is a 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization working in Nicaragua to promote sustainable community development, cultural exchange, and civic engagement through programs in rural healthcare, water access, youth development, and service learning. To learn more visit: http://comunidadconnect.org
Thank You NCHC Partners!
The 3rd Annual Nicaragua Community Health Summit was a tremendous success, and could not have been possible without the participation of our partners from the USA, Canada, and Nicaragua. We joined the staff of Comunidad Connect and local community partners to hear presentations, discuss, and see firsthand the health priorities facing rural Nicaragua. Presentations included:
The cross-pollination of ideas and openness to collaborate across universities were apparent throughout the summit. We look forward to our future work together.
Doug Gardenhire is the chair of Respiratory Therapy at Georgia State University and attending the 2017 Health Summit was his first experience in Nicaragua. Smoke was pouring out of the kitchen of our first home visit, and he turned to me to say “we can definitely do something here”. After visiting the health outpost of La Fundadora and seeing the only nebulizer being used improperly, he turned to me again to say “we have got to do something here”. And after visiting the Hospital of Jinotega, I spoke first “So Doug, what are we going to do?”
The fact is that respiratory illness is the leading cause of clinic visits in Nicaragua, yet can be easily mitigated with education and appropriate technology in the home. We will soon engage the expertise of Doug’s team at GSU to address respiratory health in not only our partner communities, but also in all of Jinotega with the Ministry of Health. This work will expand on our 2016 GHIP project, and is open for collaboration. For more information, contact me (Jon Thompson) at email@example.com / 404-444- 9147
Calling All Advocates!
You may already know that a little goes a very long way in Nicaragua. However, you might not know that as little as $20 a month provides a special medical needs patient with monthly home visits by a qualified doctor, medicine, and special exams. NCHC relies on the support of Advocates like you to ensure our good friends in Los Robles and San Esteban have access to critical health services like primary care at the local clinic, oral health education and care in area schools, ongoing research, and appropriate technology projects like improved stoves that improve respiratory health. Everyone who believes health is an essential human right can be an Advocate. All you have to do is something. Spread the word, introduce someone to our work in Nicaragua, make a donation. Remember, our capacity to make a difference increases as our network of support expands. Click here to become an Advocate today.
Nathan Korn, CEO of IMAIM CAPITAL in Miami, presenting Roman Yavich, co-founder of Comunidad Connect, with IMAIM’s latest contribution supporting the 2016 holiday campaign.
Last year I moved from New York City to Miami to be closer to Nicaragua. Miami also has the largest population of Nicaraguan immigrants of any city in the US. This city’s warmth, literal and figurative, has been a welcome change from the winters of New York.
I’m starting to build a team of support for Comunidad Connect here, and one of the most enthusiastic and active members on this team has been Nathan Korn of IMAIM CAPITAL, a Miami-based investment firm. Nathan is a friend from college with whom I shared the formative experience of studying abroad in Chile and Argentina 13 years ago. We have been great friends since, and I was particularly excited about him joining the CC board of directors in 2014. He brought knowledge of financial and organizational management that has helped us become a stronger organization, primed for long-term growth. Nathan has helped us raise nearly $10,000 since joining the board, getting his professional network, his friends, and his family involved in community development in Nicaragua.
As our vision and impact in Nicaragua grows, we are thankful and excited to have the support of Nathan Korn, IMAIM CAPITAL and the Miami community. If you find yourself in Miami, be sure to let us know. Nathan and I will be happy to share a cafecito with you.
By Roman Yavich
Written by: Theresa Bailey, Princeton in Latin America Fellow, Comunidad Connect 2015-2017
¿A dónde vas, Esteli? ¡Hay nancite, hay naranja, hay limones! ¡Acércate a boutique 5 Estrellas hoy y aprovecha de la gran liquidación! These are just a few of the many phrases and sounds that fill the space around me here in Nicaragua.
After living in this beautiful country for over a year I’ve learned an important fact: Nicaragua is loud. However, the most relevant skill that accompanies this fact is the ability to be still, slow down and listen to the quiet sounds that flit beneath the overpowering din. When I am still I hear the laughter of my co-workers as we work together on our daily tasks. When I am slow my host sister soothes my stress and builds me up with words I need to hear. When I listen I hear the sincerity and vulnerability that accompanies the ideas we hope will transform our communities.
Working in the field of community development means accepting an inescapable vulnerability. My co-workers, our academic partners, the community members themselves, we are all architects, constructing new environments and structures that we hope will translate into better quality of life and increased opportunities throughout Nicaragua. And like architects, the results of our innovations will only be tangible years after the first thought dared to slip through our lips, uncertain of its reception.
Last Saturday Comunidad Connect celebrated our 9 years of community development work.
Over 300 of our friends and supporters came out to the Marsella Valley Nature Center for an afternoon of games, food and drinks. Skilled and aspiring players competed in frisbee golf, cornhole and horseshoe tournaments; others enjoyed burgers and beers in the shade. San Juan del Sur’s Tae Kwon Do champion, Juan Pablo Lopez, taught basic techniques to children, who showed off their new skills by kicking open a piñata. As the final games came to a close trophies were given out and raffles prizes were drawn. At sunset, we wrapped up the day by honoring Jon Thompson, a Comunidad Connect co-founder and agent of social change in San Juan.
We are thrilled to share our accomplishments and continue connecting with our supporters and teammates from near and far. In San Juan del Sur our sports and youth development program works with over 2,000 athletes, facilitating soccer and baseball leagues while providing a safe, healthy space. We sponsor English classes and university-level scholarships for students in El Carrizal, a small town 20 minutes outside of town. Nica Agua – our clean water program – has provided water filters to hundreds of families in the Tola area. However, our work expands far beyond the San Juan del Sur area.
In the northern department of Jinotega, our health clinic in consults over 200 patients each month. Our medical and community health staff provide preventative care, treatment and education. Across the country we host North American volunteer groups for week-long trips based on community service and cultural exchange. These student, professional, or church-based volunteers lay cement floors, paint houses with insect-repellent paint, and construct eco-stoves for family homes. They visit families, provide educational workshops, and spend time getting to know Nicaraguan families.
Learn more about what we do and how you can get involved within and beyond San Juan del Sur!
We are grateful to our amazing sponsors for making Fun Bajo el Sol possible!
Become a piece of the puzzle.
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
MAIL US SOMETHING:
Comunidad Connect / PO Box 1687 Madison, Alabama 35758
Tel: Tel: 404-444-9147
©2014 COMUNIDAD CONNECT - Registered 501 (c)(3) organization