We are seeing our dream come true

My name is Jenny and I am a leader of the community in Ochomogo. I would like to share the beginning of our experience with our water project.IMG_0931 (1) It has been a year since we requested the start of the well drilling. Out of the three wells that we originally had, only one well still has water. This one well has become the busiest place in the community every morning starting at 4am when women need water for food preparation to feed their families. This task not only it is up to women but also their children.
IMG_0925Often these children accompany their mothers and carry the water for long distances. Because of the long lines and the many people needing water it is not uncommon for you have to wait for the water to be renewed to be able to draw again.  We are a community of 75 families and there are several other communities around. There are women and children who have to carry water for over 500 meters, I mention all this because for me, for us, it is a joy that the drilling of the new well for the community has begun. Now the time the children used for hauling water, they will use to study.
I reflect and think about how much joy it gives me because I no longer have to drink water that is contaminated.IMG_0992 This new well will bring quality water for my family and the whole community. The new well will bring us peace of mind knowing that our children can drink it and not get sick because of the bacterias.
There were problems with the machinery when it got stuck in solid stone, and for 7 days the workers tried but they could not pierce through. We gathered to pray and surrounded the workplace, as we prayed that God would allow the machine to unclog and walked around the workplace 7 times. The next day drilling resumed,

I heard from the workers that the drill broke a water table and pumped up to 20 gallons of water o
ut per minute. It is a joy to see how this project is becoming a reality. Thank you to everybody who made this possible. The whole community celebrates !
IMG_0928 (1)

Striking Changes

P1260302I have been to Nelly Zamora’s home three times in the past year, and the changes that have occurred are striking.  In my first visit a year ago, Nelly had just recently joined a group of 27 women in the community of La Yula, who despite living in a remote rural area, had no land of their own.  Most of them just have a yard slightly bigger than the dimensions of their house.  Typically, the men work as ranch hands while the women, in addition to managing the home, often make some extra income by picking coffee for three months of the year.  A year ago Nelly never imagined having her own garden or eating vegetables on a regular basis for that matter.  She, like many others in her group, perceived that one would need a lot of land to plant a garden.  When our food security program arrived at La Yula through our partner Asociación Cristiana de Jóvenes, she cautiously took the challenge and joined the group.

In my second visit several months later, I could tell that Nelly was encouraged by her first harvest, but also could tell she wasn’t totally convinced.  Her posture was still timid.  Growing vegetables in Nicargua is hard work.  Not only the gardener is in constant war insects and plant diseases, there are the additional challenges of patio chickens and the onerous task of keeping everything watered.  In Nelly’s case, the family would carry eight 5 gallon pails of water from a river a half a kilometer away on the days when it would not rain.

Last week I stopped by her house for the third time. Her home is now like showcase alongside the road.  There are vegetables growing in every container capable of holding soil: wooden boxes, old plastic pails and discarded tires.  And the harvest of onions, tomatoes, carrots and squash were testimony of the ‘fruit’ of her hard work. Nelly enthusiastically shared her latest recipes with us and how she is incorporating vegetables into the family diet.   They were rigging up a system to harvest and store rain water.  And Nelly laughs how when neighbors ask if they have a vegetable she smiles and tells them “she would rather give them some seeds!”

CCDH : A grass-roots movement

I am a 21-year- old prelaw student at Whitworth University, recently back from a three-month internship with the Christian Center for Human Rights (CCDH) in El Tuma, a mountainous village an hour and a half outside of Nicaragua’s “coffee capital”,Micah while studying abroad in Central America Matagalpa. CCDH is a grass-roots movement. It is a national network of local citizens who are empowered to bring about justice in their respective communities. That is what my internship supervisor Sara, a 51-year- old lawyer, does as a volunteer for CCDH in El Tuma. Sara will tell you that her office is her home; there, she provides pro bono legal advice to anyone who shows up at her door. During my internship, I lived with Sara and her family, and I served as her scribe. I witnessed her help young mothers who had been abandoned by their husbands to file for child support, I saw her explain to farmers how to secure the titles of their land so that it couldn’t be stolen from them, and I worked alongside her to facilitate mediations. These mediations brought opposing parties to sit down together and helped them avoidexpensive court costs by coming to self-initiated agreements.  Not all the work we did took place in Sara’s home.Sara's house with CCDH sign to left

My last two weeks of work in El Tuma came to a dramatic culmination when Sara was asked to take on a tragic case of rape. A husband and wife travelled more than three hours by bus from their village of Rancho Grande to ask Sara to help them recover their 15-year- old daughter who had been kidnapped by an adult in their church congregation.From left to right is Sara, Micah, and a client

Maddeningly, the family knew the town where their daughter was being held, but the police refused to help, saying the fuel to travel there would be too expensive. Over the course of two weeks, Sara and I crisscrossed the region by bus, twice accompanying the mother of the victim to press her case with the head of police in Matagalpa, visiting the family’s village to push the local police to act, and obtaining the use of a pickup truck from a local, women’s advocacy group for the police to use in rescuing the victim.

I left El Tuma before the case was resolved, but Sara called to tell me that the daughter had been reunited with her family. The suspect was being investigated by the police—an extraordinary result in a country where the police often fail to investigate rape crimes. It was a win for Sara and for CCDH but most of all, it was a win for the victim and her family. They had been trapped in a horrifying situation that they did not choose, and they had no way out. CCDH, by equipping Sara and supporting her exactly where she was—in her home in El Tuma—provided them a way out and a path to justice.

One step forward in Ochomogo

Continuing with the work done by members of the Church in Owen Sound, the community, and our partner San Lucas Society of Nicaragua have begun the hydrogeological studies and analysis of soil that will determine where will be the exact point to start drilling the well that will benefit the community of Ochomogo.WP The GPS shows the details that indicate the depth and diameter of the well, It indicates the drilling site. This point was the result of processing of the data obtained in the field and co-associated with the local hydrogeological context. According to this study the well, must have a depth of 250 feet and a diameter of 6 “. Now we are ready to drill the well.WP4This would not have been possible without the collaboration of the Community water committee, the technical assistance of The San Lucas Society and the invaluable contribution of the Owen Sound Church through its financial and WP3spiritual support through World Renew. Prior to the drilling of the well, the leaders of the community altogether with San Lucas Society has called on the community to be part of a workshop on issues of hygiene, health and proper use of water concluding with a ceremony of celebration, prayer, and signing of the agreement which commits both to community leader and the beneficiaries of Ochomogo Community. We capture the moment of Signing the agreement between the community and San Lucas Society. The cooperation agreement defines the project partners, its obligations, and rights as well as obligations of San Lucas and community water Committee. The community gathered together to dedicate the water project to God. This represents for the community a new beginning that brings hope and wellness to the families.  We hope to bring you another update with photos of the work and the emotion of the families working for their water project. Ochomogo is moving forward. Thank you.20160427_112758


The field school has had a significant impact in my life

My name is Dina. I am 33, married, and we have two sons, ages 17 and 8.  In 2013, I became a member of the new Farmer Field School. I saw it as an opportunity to improve our plot of land AMCand make new plans for it. For me, the field school has been a place to innovate, experiment, and learn new things.I have participated in training on different agricultural topics and have experimented with planting new sAMC 2pecies of crops to observe how well they adapt. We will use the most promising crops to diversify our food supply.

The field school has had a significant impact in my life. My family has been able to share the work and we have made plans for the farm together. We now have a diversified farm where we can implement the techniques we are learning.  We also pass on our learning to our neighbors when they see the benefits these new techniques can have.We are able to consume what we grow and not depend on buying food in the market. My role in my family has also changed, now that I have taken on the responsibility of learning at the field school. I feel glad about this new opportunity, and I have many hopes for our family.

Farmer by day and Barber by night

20150921_131417My name is Felix. I am 24, and I live with my parents and sister. I have always enjoyed farming with the help of my dad. I work in the fields from 6 a.m. until 1 p.m. In the afternoons, I run a small barbershop from my home, offering haircuts to the men in the community. This is a way I earn an income to help with the costs in our family. About a year and a half ago, I was asked to become a member of the hands-on Farmer Field School. I had already been working with ACJ [the program’s local partner] for three years in the food security program, where I learned various new farming techniques. I’ve been mentored by another guy from the community who is a member of the field school. Now I mentor two other farmers, sharing the techniques I am learning. Before working with ACJ, I only planted beans and corn. At the field school, we’ve done experiments with different varieties of corn, applying green manures, producing bio-fertilizers, and doing vermiculture (producing compost with worms). My father had experimented with vegetables before, but I had not.

Only now that I am participating in the field school have I begun to cultivate vegetables as well. We did an experiment with green peppers in which we had three different plots: one using organic fertilizer, another with chemical fertilizer, and a third without anything at all. Although the plants with chemicals grew more quickly, I observed that the ones in the plot with organic fertilizer were hardier and lived longer, and we were able to harvest peppers of good quality and size from it. We did an experiment with corn, too. We measured out a plot and planted two seeds per hole at a distance of 16 inches between plants and 32 inches between rows. At first, I thought this experiment was a waste of seed and labor because we had always planted 4-5 seeds per hole and at further distances apart. I didn’t think this new method would work, so I was surprised to see an excellent harvest of corn using this technique.

Ba20150921_131321rWe have also done experiments with velvet bean as a cover crop or “green manure,” which I have seen help the corn crops develop well. It also improves the texture and structure of the soil. The bonus is you don’t have to spend money purchasing herbicides or chemical fertilizers. Another experiment we did was planting three different varieties of beans in order to observe the cycle of each. We exposed all three to the same variables and were able to determine which one was most productive and most resistant to rain and pests. This helped me learn which variety is best to plant during what season. I am learning much through the field school, which makes me proud. The use of organic fertilizers has impacted me the most out of all the techniques we have learned. Even when working alongside my family in the fields, I have managed to encourage them to reduce the amount of chemicals we apply due to the harmful effects they can have. Instead, I am using a foliar (leaf) application that is a mixture of manure and “worm tea” (vermicompost in water). On our land, I have planted green pepper, tomato, plantain, dragon fruit, and citrus trees. This is the first time I have experimented with fruits and vegetables, and I am enjoying learning as I go!

Justice has been done

Tania Chavarria is a 24 years old, single mom who lives in Matagalpa, one of the northern most mountain regions of the country. CCDH has a house of justice in this area. Tania Had to go there due to a legal issue with her ex-boss.

A year Ago she was in desperate need to find a job to take care of her family. She found a job in an auto part business, doing cleaning and maintenance. Her employer never provided a work contract to her, paying her cash the entire time. She is now being unjustly fired without receiving the government required severance package. She came to CCDH looking for assistance in holding her former employer to his obligations. During her time working for him, he routinely paid her half of the agreed upon amount. Taking advantage of her need and lack of other opportunities. CCDH quickly stepped in and assisted with counseling her, assisting her, and educating her about her rights as an employee. Teaching her the laws that are in place to protect her. They started the process to work towards a resolution to her case. The former employer tried to offer a severance that didn’t even come close to the amount owed from unpaid wages, correct severance pay and other requirements from the government. After a lot of work, dedication and running from the CCDH team,Below you can appreciate the moment when the promoter of CCDH with satisfaction is handing Tania the verdict passed by the judge stating that the former employer was required to pay in full the amount of unpaid wages and the full severance package. With that money, Tania is able to have the capital to start her own small business, to work and provide for the needs of her family, while looking for full time work. This was possible with the unconditional work and dedication of the CCDH staff in Matagalpa.