My name is Ana Maryuri Mendoza Gaitán. I am 22 years-old and live in the community of Loma de Cafén in Nicaragua.
Growing up, I was one of 12 siblings – six boys and six girls. When I was 14, I married Erwin Rubén Castillo Duarte and soon we had two daughters – Nataly and Emely.
Erwin and I have a small farm where we grow corn and beans. We also have a small plot of land where we grow additional vegetables for our own cooking. Erwin does most of the farming and I often help him with the work.
In this last season, we had a good harvest and were able to sell some produce to the market in Boaco and in our community.
I became involved with World Renew and their partner, Asociacion Cristiana de Jovenes (ACJ) three years ago. I was initially invited by my neighbor, Leticia, who had already been participating in an ACJ project. She was asked to identify someone to pass her learning along to, and she chose me.
After that initial training, I was invited to participate in future trainings. The first one was a project related to helping farmers like me adapt to changing weather patterns and climate.
I also participated in training on Sexual and Reproductive Health. This topic was especially interesting to me because I really didn’t know anything about family planning before attending. Coming from a very large family, I know very personally the difficulties of providing for many children. In the training, we talked about the importance of family planning in order to be able to give better attention, time, and resources to a lesser number of children.
I had my own two children at a very young age. After the birth of my second daughter, I underwent surgery because I had so many difficulties during my pregnancy and the doctors said if I became pregnant again, I could die.
Although I can no longer have children, I have appreciated the trainings because they have caused me to reflect on the difference between raising 12 children and raising just two. They will also allow me to talk with my daughters about sexual education one day.
Learning more about the topic of sexual and reproductive health impacted me greatly and opened my mind and curiosity to continue learning more and guiding others who don’t have access to this knowledge.
I also had the opportunity to participate in trainings on Biblical Worldview, safe water management, and nutritious cooking.
After all these trainings, I began to apply what I had learned. I have always thought that it’s worth nothing if you participate in the trainings and then don’t put what you learn into practice. Thanks to my training with ACJ, I have learned to vary my children’s diet so they are eating more nutritious meals and less junk food.
We also received a water filter, and I learned about the importance of having a healthier home. When we tested the water quality before the filter, it showed that we had been drinking contaminated water. Now, with the filter, we can have water to drink in the home that we know won’t make us sick. I have also been sharing with other families in my community about the importance of consuming treated water.
The great part of this project is that I can participate in all of the different trainings and learn about many topics, instead of being limited to one area. I appreciate that ACJ offers training not only on things I can do to improve my physical well-being but also help me spiritually.
I am thankful to ACJ for enriching my life with so much new knowledge and learning. I love working for my community and also learning new things, and I hope to continue supporting other families in my community to help them live a healthier, happier life.
Written by: ACJ Staff & Bethany Beachum