Mucking in

"Through this programme CEPAD partners with rural Nicaraguan villages for 5 years of training, which focuses on supporting the community in the areas that they identify as most important for their development." Fresh from an Amos visit to Nicaragua, Katie Hagley writes about how the community of Teustepe is flourishing.

Mucking in

We are now 3 years into our 5-year cycle of support for CEPAD's sustainable community development programme. During this time we have talked a lot about ‘walking alongside’ these communities.

So it was great to have the chance to go out there last month with trustee Peter Bone and 18 supporters to see the developments being made and to ‘work alongside’ the communities — digging microdams, moving stones and doing a spot of gardening.

Through this programme CEPAD partners with rural Nicaraguan villages for 5 years of training, which focuses on supporting the community in the areas that they identify as most important for their development. The work is about empowerment and training at a local level, particularly among women.

Secorro and her husband Isabel – residents of Teustepe, Nicaragua

Beginning to flourish
Three years in and Teustepe is really beginning to flourish, with 9 projects being approved by CEPAD's Community Leadership programme. Photograph: © Amos Trust/Clive Horsman 2018

Meet Secorro and her husband Isabel — they have 4 daughters aged 5, 9, 14 and 18 and live in La Joya, Teustepe. They rely on their small plot of land to produce their main source of food. Like many other families in Teustepe, drought brought on by lack of rainfall, together with infrequent but torrential downpours, meant they were extremely vulnerable to losing their annual crops. During our visit, CEPAD was helping to build a ‘microdam’ in their garden and our team was delighted to help.

CEPAD has helped us hugely in La Joya and we have seen great change — especially the women. Before we did not know how to grow plants and run family gardens and we have also learned to cook differently. Now we can move forward.”
Secorro

Microdams are built using simply available resources. It means digging a hole close to your house and lining it with plastic sheeting. It then acts as an excellent mini reservoir by being connected to guttering which captures run-off from the roof, making use of any rain which does fall. For Secorro, it is an essential store of water she can use to irrigate the family garden as well as for washing.

The training Secorro has received from CEPAD has brought new life to her plot of land and has also meant that she is now learning about how to plant a wider variety of fruits and vegetables, which can improve the soil and the family’s diet.

“Now we grow tomatoes, papaya, pineapple, Yukka, peppers, watermelon, we did not know how to grow these before. We have learned so much.” Another significant part of CEPAD’s training is to teach people new recipes and ways of cooking with these new vegetables and fruits.

Carrots being harvested as part of CEPAD’s training – to teach people new recipes and ways of cooking with new vegetables and fruits.

New crops
"If I receive training and do not pass it on, then what am I doing? Nothing.” Rosa — Teustepe, Nicaragua Photograph: © Amos Trust/Clive Horsman 2018

If you look through the achievements in CEPAD’s annual report (see the bullet points below), you’ll see that one of the wonderful things about their model is that it encourages those who have been trained to pass on their training. So training just one person can mean eventually you’re training a whole community.

Rosa, another community member made this point clearly: “If I receive training and do not pass it on, then what am I doing? Nothing.” Meanwhile, Secorro has also attended workshops to learn how to make different handicrafts and traditional sweets which she can sell in the village. And some of us were lucky enough to learn how to cook the delicious fudge-like sweets. Yum!

The training Secorro has received from CEPAD has brought new life to her plot of land and has also meant that she is now learning about how to plant a wider variety of fruits and vegetables, which can improve the soil and the family’s diet.

“CEPAD has helped us hugely in La Joya and we have seen great change — especially the women. Before we did not know how to grow plants and run family gardens and we have also learned to cook differently. Now we can move forward,” said Secorro.

Just a few of the achievements this year — taken from CEPAD's annual report

During our visit, it was wonderful to see the progress that the 7 communities have made since our last visit in 2015 and CEPAD’s annual report gives even further evidence of their success. Here are just a few of the achievements in the last year.

  • 56 plots of land were diversified with vegetables, roots and fruit trees

  • 49 women farmers and farmers’ wives were taught to cook different dishes from their gardens – they then replicated the workshops for another 70 men and women

  • 21 microdams were built, and 7 nurseries established (1 per community), with 1000 plants each to be used for the plots, to improve oxygen and reduce environmental damage

  • 210 children were supported through 60 talks addressing psychosocial problems in the rural communities — including stress, anxiety, depression, and bullying

A great deal of CEPAD’s work involves teaching communities to speak to the local authorities and the confidence to demand their rights. As a result over the past year, 9 projects have been approved by the municipal authority including food packages for senior citizens, electricity for 20 homes, two water reservoirs, repair of 5kms of road, installation of 10 water metres and roofing for 28 homes.

To find out more about how Amos is supporting communities in Nicaragua and how you can get involved, please visit amostrust.org/water-for-life

Links: CEPAD




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