In May, I took my first trip to Nicaragua to get to know some of our communities better, and to learn how to tell their stories more effectively. While there, I met a little girl named Ashley, who held our hands and guided us through her family’s pepper fields, and smiled a beautiful, shy, sunshine smile, and taught me to say ‘pollito’ when referencing baby chickens. She is 9 years old, and lives in a remote rural village called El Eden in Nicaragua.
We learned from her father that she has a heart condition that required a medical procedure, and doctor visits, and recovery. And sacrifices by her parents to make these things possible—hard choices between making loan payments and medical care; between tending their crops to make a living and caring for Ashley’s needs.
Like many families around the world who make difficult choices to manage daily needs with few resources, Ashley’s family faced a difficult situation. It was exciting to see how they were able to navigate each issue, afford the unexpected costs, and work with Agros staff to make necessary adjustments to their partnership with us. On my last visit, Ashley was feeling much better. I am hopeful, with Ashley’s family, that she will continue to thrive, and grateful to walk alongside them as they continue to meet life’s challenges equipped with the tools they need to craft a life of dignity and hope.
Learn more about the impact Agros is making in El Edén, Nicaragua by visiting www.agros.org.
You can follow Agros on Twitter @AgrosIntl or "like" our Facebook page by going to Facebook.com/AgrosIntl to get day-to-day updates from the field.
Photography by: Christa Countryman and Editing by: Simon Villeneuve
Agros exists to restore hope and opportunity to the world’s poor.
Our mission is to see rural poor families own agricultural land, attain economic-self sufficiency, realize their God-given potential, and pass on to future generations the values and resources that enable them to flourish.
Meet Don Pablo: El Edén Community Member
Community member Don Pablo is known for being humble, participatory and eager to work. He and his wife have 12 children and 35 grandchildren. Before coming to El Edén, Don Pablo farmed seasonally for others and worked in a coffee mill, but he struggled to be able to provide for his family.
Don Pablo learned about Agros through his son-in-law who knew of people who were organizing the village. He began to grow excited about the possibility of owning his own land and living in the same community with some of his grown children. He knew that by working together, they could help support each other. He became connected with Agros, and while his wife was hesitant at first to move to El Edén, they decided that this would be the best decision for the family. When they arrived in El Edén, Pablo was amazed with the quality of the land that allowed him to grow a multitude of crops. He now owns 10 acres, including 5 acres of coffee, 2 acres of vegetables, and another 3 acres of basic grains.
He has worked hard, been successful, and was able to pay off his land early. “There is money when you work hard,” shared Don Pablo. His goals are to continue working in agriculture, manage his coffee farm, and partner with his children in the family business.” Pablo is confident in his family’s future, and says that, “When my health deteriorates, my children can take over the care of my land.” His legacy will continue through the land that his children will inherit. Additionally, his wife has helped support the family through raising chickens and making tamales. They are so grateful to Agros for the new life that they have.
Village Highlights in El Edén, Nicaragua
The seven-member board was elected in a community assembly. The board encouraged the community to continue to commit to working on values such as unity, responsibility and participation. The community also worked together on developing plans for economic activities for the new fiscal year.
Seven farmers are now growing peppers with two new partners planning to join them. 20,000 natalia, 16,000 jalapeño, and 36,000 chiltoma pepper plans have been planted. 14 farmers are growing 17 acres of passion fruit. An additional 8 acres of passion fruit has recently been planted bringing the total to nearly 25 acres. 39 acres of corn and 14 acres of beans were planted for consumption and for sale. The village continues to manage 69 acres of coffee including 26 acres in development and 43 almost ready for harvesting. Partners continue to sell their yields to selected markets.
Health & Community Well-being
Thirteen families participated in parenting classes and 27 children were enrolled in elementary school.
The revolving medicine center is functioning at 100% and the income generated by the medicines sold has been used to continue funding the center, allowing the availability of medicines at more of an affordable price for the community. Twenty-three families have actively become part of growth groups, where they have been encouraged to develop their life plans.
Home visits were undertaken to introduce Agros’ health and wellbeing staff to the community members. The community health promoter has been developing skills and knowledge through workshops that will allow her to do her job in the community more effectively.
Follow Agros on Twitter @AgrosIntl, or on Facebook at Facebook.com/AgrosIntl to get day-to-day village updates and more info from the field.
Meet: Juan Garcia
Agros exists to restore hope and opportunity to the world’s poor. Our mission is to see rural poor families own agricultural land, attain economic-self sufficiency, realize their God-given potential, and pass on to future generations the values and resources that enable them to flourish.
Juan Garcia is 34 years old, and he and his wife Cristina have two children, Delvin and Seydin. Juan is someone who likes to be involved in the community and was for a time a member of the community board. He is humble, hard working, and has the desire to serve and support his family and small community.
Before Agros came in contact with Juan, he worked in El Tuma, Nicaragua cultivating basic grains (corn and beans). His only option for work was to rent land during the harvest season because he did not have the resources to purchase his own. When the harvest season was over, he looked for anywhere he could find work and held many positions in coffee mill production, as a pepper farm slicer, and as a farm driver. Everyday was a struggle not only to feed and clothe his family, but also to support the struggling community around him. Juan was losing hope for a sustainable future.
By God’s grace, Moises, a partner of San Jose Agro Village, approached Juan and asked if they could work together growing coffee. When he began to work with Moises he started to learn more about the project, and that through Agros he may be able to own land and attain more economic self-sufficiency. Juan begun to have new hope for a more successful life and a better future! Though the first year of harvest was rough because the there was a drought, the following year he was able to grow some crop. He is now growing upwards of 5,300 new coffee plants and also has an acre plot to grow jalapeño peppers and chiltoma peppers on the side. Juan now has more opportunity than ever to flourish and grow.
Juan is grateful for Agros because otherwise his family would not have had the resources they need to survive and the support they need economically sustain themselves. Gifts and donations to Agros have helped Juan secure a better life and more resources for his family now, and for future generations.
Spring 2013 Village Highlights
Because organization matters to community development, the community participated in the creation of proposals for economic and community wellbeing activities for the community plan of the new fiscal year. Community partners actively participated in the election of a new community board and strongly encouraged the new board members to continue working for women, children, and community wellbeing projects.
Because of the need to have an official place to conduct heath and well-being activities for the people, the community center has gone through necessary structural updates.
There has been huge progress made toward a bigger and stronger economy in this community. Through your support, Agros has led preparation of 0.35 acres of land to grow peppers, 9 acres of rice for family consumption and sale of surplus for money, and 3,052 acres of corn for food and sale of surplus. Additionally 54,000 bags of soil have been filled with coffee seedlings in preparation for 23 acres of planting and renovation.
If that is not enough, because we want this community to produce the best quality crop for their consumption and sale, we put together a diagnostic of the entire coffee parcel took place to determine the health situation of the crop.
24 families are actively involved in Growth Groups. Not only are these groups educational, but they are also building strong friendships that help motivate families to apply what they are learning, overcome obstacles, and encourage each other.
Because education is extremely important, the community has been continually working on building a School Center that will benefit the primary school students. 34 children have been enrolled in basic education, and parents in the community are supporting 7 teenagers in the secondary schools. As well, three female teenagers have received and purchased their own bicycles through Amigos por Cristo (Friends for Christ) in order to travel to school.
Education and support is being given not only to children, but to adults as well. Eleven women have attended workshops on topics ranging from domestic violence to gender relations and equality.
As far as community health and livelihood is concerned, two health promoters have also been trained to take malaria detection samples as well as been given training on the basics of nutrition and family planning by MINSA (Ministry of Health). Home visits to pregnant women were conducted, community clean-up days have been implemented, and a trash dump has been built in the community for better waste management.