Improve the Rights of Disabled Adults in Nicaragua

by Fundacion Cristiana Comunitaria para Personas con Discapacidad Ruach
Improve the Rights of Disabled Adults in Nicaragua
Improve the Rights of Disabled Adults in Nicaragua
Improve the Rights of Disabled Adults in Nicaragua
Improve the Rights of Disabled Adults in Nicaragua
Improve the Rights of Disabled Adults in Nicaragua
Improve the Rights of Disabled Adults in Nicaragua
Improve the Rights of Disabled Adults in Nicaragua
Improve the Rights of Disabled Adults in Nicaragua
Improve the Rights of Disabled Adults in Nicaragua
Improve the Rights of Disabled Adults in Nicaragua
Improve the Rights of Disabled Adults in Nicaragua
Improve the Rights of Disabled Adults in Nicaragua
Improve the Rights of Disabled Adults in Nicaragua
Improve the Rights of Disabled Adults in Nicaragua
Improve the Rights of Disabled Adults in Nicaragua
Improve the Rights of Disabled Adults in Nicaragua
Improve the Rights of Disabled Adults in Nicaragua
Improve the Rights of Disabled Adults in Nicaragua
Improve the Rights of Disabled Adults in Nicaragua
Improve the Rights of Disabled Adults in Nicaragua
leaving the activity club
leaving the activity club

This year my son Jonathan and I could not visit Daniella in Guayaquil Ecuador, as we usually do at this time of the year. There were hardly any flights to and from Nicaragua. And with additional corona virus measures in place, travelling with Jonathan, challenging due to his limitations and autism at the best of times, would be an even more obstacle-filled journey. For us to have a break, we had to choose an alternative.

Our Finnish friend and her (Nicaraguan) husband have a beach house about two hours from Managua, which we were welcome to use. It suited us well. The beach was nearly deserted with only a few local residents passing by. From our house I could watch Jonathan sitting in the sea. For one week we were in a different world: enjoying the peace, the beach, the vast starry sky; reading; and of course being in the sea. And as we did not have internet access all the time, I was able to keep in touch without being too busy with work. A relaxing holiday!

 Activities club
At home in Juigalpa, the normal activities in the community house and at the activity club continued. Of course I had made the necessary preparations as well as I could, but you cannot plan for the unexpected. For example, Ingrid, the manager of the activities club, told me two days before my vacation that she was going to leave her job because she had been offered a full-time job elsewhere. Good for her, but it was a pity for us, because I was very satisfied with her performance. It also left us with the problem of getting a successor as soon as possible. Ingrid helped searching and I had some ideas. So the day after I left two apparently suitable candidates were interviewed. Our preferred candidate accepted the job and was able to be trained by Ingrid on the job the following week. It was also a new experience for Scarleth, my right-hand woman in the community house, to lead the interview process with the Chairperson of the Ruach Fundación. Experiences like this help her grow professionally and prepare her for taking on other challenges.

Community home

In the community home we also have a vacancy for a live-in home care assistant. This is an important person because as a precaution we always need two care takers in the Home at night. Because of my absence I had to look for creative solutions. We only have one experienced night help; the second one has only just started. I also could call on our third person, a volunteer who helps out in emergencies. But more people are needed to cover all night shifts for a longer period. In the end everything worked out OK because of a friend of mine who has known the core members of the Community for years.

Lessons learned

It was good I had to take a step back and was out of the picture for a while. It helped my colleagues to feel more responsible for how things are going in the Home. It is clear that they have enough skill to keep everything running. They can make still more progress by becoming more analytical and more alert to what is happening and how they respond to situations, which will improve the quality of their work even further.

PS: On 30th January we had interviews to fill the vacancy for a live-in home care assistant, and we found a suitable candidate, who was going to start her trial period on 1 February. We were full of anticipation, but unfortunately the candidate did not show up on the day. Not quite unusefull in Nicaragua...

my friend helping at night
my friend helping at night


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visit to the swimmingpool
visit to the swimmingpool

Since the start of the coronavirus, the midst of march, we agreed for a voluntary lockdown and enforced self-isolation, because the government did nothing to take care of the people. The government ignored the gravity of the situacion and the numbers they gave about the infected and died people was a insignifiant amount, in relationship wtith the amount the indepent medical organisations publicated.

The Government ignores advice from independent bodies onhow to avoid infections, but the situation was getting more severe in june and july, and people take their own measures. Very few corona tests are carried out; there is no clarity about what happened to a shipment of 26,000 fast-test kits donated by the Banco Centroamericano de Integracion Economica (BCIE).The Ministry of Health explains the increase in number of deaths simply as an outbreak of pheumonia or a flu which are not treated properly. The President himself occasionally makes ‘reassuring’ statements, such as that pandemics have been in the world since time immemorial, implying that nothing unusual is happening.

Very few Nicaraguans take comfort from official statistics or official reassurances. Many Nicaraguans have relatives living abroad, especially in Spain, the USA and in Italy, and they tell a different story.

What did/didnot we:

- We have not been able to go out into society, as much as we would have wanted to, during the last months, as creating goodwill through our outreach work is such a vital part of our ‘mission’.And we didnot go to the local televison channel, once a week, to talk about our work.

-We didnot invited visitors to know the community house and our work, and of course had less donations in money or products.

- Also we didnot pass along the little group of montly godfathers to receive their support.

-We closed the work shops in june, when the coronavirus started to become really heavy in Nicaragua

In the past months there has been relative peace and quiet on the corona front in Nicaragua. There are few new cases of corona infections. The number of deaths up till now is,according to medical staff,around 7,500; the Government says there are about 150 deaths.

For us this means that in October, after a six months’postponement:

-We were able to restart our weekly exercises in the swimming pool of a restaurant with the core members of our community. We go there by private transport early in the morning when there are no other people are in the pool. Everyone enjoyed it, although some needed more time than others to get used to water again!

'During the swimming pool off-period we introduced dancing in the Community Home as an alternative. This has proved to be so popular that it is now a permanent feature in our weekly program. They swing particularlywell to the tunes of Shakira and Dimension Costeña.

-The workshop was opened again, only with members of the communityhouse and a participant who lives near by. A firts step, waiting we can go to the second step: opening for all our a participants.

So far we are keeping the virus atbay, but we remain very alert for the possibility of a second wave.

The country at large is not doing so well. Poverty is on the rise because of higher unemployment, more taxes and rising prices. The general mood in the country is ‘down’ because of a higher degree of oppression of political dissent, and censorship. To the extent that the US and the European Union approve more sanctions against Nicaragua for alleged human right violations.

And in one month two hurricans , ETA and IOTA passed over the same area of Nicaragua. Juigalpa was not touched but a lot of people were affected.

Life seems some as a night, dark. We believe in bringing little spark of light in this society, by our work. Especially in this time of Diciembre, Christmas. Together we can make a difference. Can we count on you in 2021?

workshop funcioning
workshop funcioning


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For you!
For you!

Six years ago we started to dream, to begin a service in Juigalpa, Nicaragua; to make a change in the life of people with an intelectual disability, 15 years and older. A forgotten group still here.  We formed a small group of people to meet and talk it over what we wanted: how, why, with whom...

Four years ago, in May 2016, we started with a pilot activityclub, to give activities to a small group of participants: elaborating piñatas, working in a little garden, drawing, making music and stimulting the talents of every body.

And in August the same year we started the community home. With three core members. Every year new members arrived and now we are full with 7 core members.

We have not fulfilled all our dreams yet. But we are doing a good work and are still in progress.

So, the 26th of August, we'll celebrate the 4th anniversary of our Foundation!

This year in, alas, COVID-19 forced isolation.

We want to share our anniversary card with you, expressing our gratitud that you are involved in our work. Because we in Juigalpa, and you with financial and moral support, together are making a difference for people with an intelectual disability;  and for society en general.

So, be conected in your heart/ mind with us th 26th of this month!


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I’m delighted to share with you a chapter of my six-monthly report (January-June 2020) to Ruach’s mother foundation Vivir Juntos (Leiden, Netherlands) about health issues among core members and the staff of our community. The past 6 months have been a time full of surprises and challenges

Resident core members
During these last 6 months we have occasionally visited a holistic doctor with some of our core members. Our view is that illness or ailments indicate that the body is out of balance and it needs support to strengthen its immunity. Whenever possible we prefer avoiding the use of medicines. Jonathan and I visit this doctor once a month for treatment of his epilepsy and irritability. For him these visits are an outing! Generally speaking the core members are in good health. Loyda’s health has improved and she rarely  gets diarrhoea anymore, which is a fantastic achievement to which our care, her body and the visits to this doctor have contributed. Loyda now rarely needs a special diet!

In February Loyda, Daniel and Jonathan had their teeth cleaned under local anaesthetic by a dentist-friend of ours and his friend who is an anaesthetist. Because of the corona virus we opted not to contact a medical friend who works in a health centre, but consulted a private doctor who offered favourable terms for his services. He also visited Ruach to check up on Rommel when he joined us recently as a new core member.

Mary, one of our home assistants, had an operation in March after which she was given two months of medical leave, a period which was extended till 1st July. Fortunately we met Sayra, who replaces Mary during her absence. Sayra is  God-sent as she  very obviously has experience in working with disabled people and fits in well with our team.

Ana, our home care assistant who lives at Ruach, (the community needs at least two carers at the home every night) was given medical leave in June because of the risk of a spontaneous abortion. Her condition is not yet stabilized and her absence is sorely felt.
In June COVID-19 infections in Nicaragua were on the rise. Several employees (one assistant and the cleaner/cook) started feeling poorly and showed symptoms consistent with COVID-19. As it is not easy here to be tested for COVID-19, we decided to ‘be safe rather than sorry’ and recommended that the affected staff recover from their illness at home. Fortunately the other members of the team (two assistants) were very positive and understanding and helped each other to cope with the increased work load. However, the staff situation was truly minimal and I also was not able to take my usual holidays. At this time we also engaged the one reserve assistant who can be called upon in emergencies like this. We’ve now started trying to recruit a second emergency worker to help out if the situation were to get worse. It is not easy to find such a person, because few have the required experience to work with intellectually disabled adults; being of good will is not enough.

Physiotherapy and massage
The physiotherapist who gave monthly treatments to Loyda, Daniel en Maria Elenea left Juigalpa. We have found a replacement who, because of COVID-19 restrictions, has not yet been able to start work with our core members. In the meantime we try to keep the latest physio- exercises going (with slight modifications) by using our own common sense and ‘wisdom’. Likewise, the massages which Daniel and Maria Elena received weekly from a volunteer had to stop because of the quarantine regulations.

The past six months have been full of surprises: not only at home, but also in Nicaragua and in the world. I think we can be proud of the way we have addressed the challenges we had to face. We’ve become a stronger community and have met our development targets for each of our core members reasonably well. Our team has grown in its ability to learn from facing difficult situations, and it is thanks to them that we have taken  concrete steps forwards in realizing our dreams for a better life for adult people with intellectual disabilities.

I’m very grateful for all support, financial and otherwise, received from so many people in Juigalpa, England, Netherlands and other countries.

I experience  God’s hand  in our work which gives us courage and confidence to continue. I’m very grateful for the support of the Vivir Juntos Board, our pillar of strength, and for their financial support.

There is power in unity! We all play our part for a better society in which people with intellectual disabilities are treated more positively. It feels very good to be part of this process.


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Maria Elena and her dad
Maria Elena and her dad

Maria Elena’s father looked happy when the civil servant explained to him the requirements for his daughter to get an identity card, the only way to prove who one is, and which is needed by all Nicaraguans aged 16 or above. Maria Elena is already 26 years old.

Because of her disability the family never made the effort to apply for an ID, although she is relatively fortunate that she was registered after her birth and her father still has her birth certificate. So she legally exists which apparently makes it easier to collect the paper work needed to obtain an ID. I write ‘apparently’, because in Nicaragua one never knows what sort of unexpected administrative demands or surprises can happen before the finishing line.

Father’s visit
Napoleon, the father of Maria Elena and Manuel, lives in a deeply rural and isolated area of Nicaragua, more than a day’s journey from Juigalpa. So it is understandable that he does not visit his children at Ruach frequently. But when he does visit them, when he leaves he usually promises to visit soon again, a  promise he does not always keep. He rarely phones us or his children either, which could partly be due to distance and poor connectivity. Once he is back home he lives in a different world, which makes him forget that a phone call to his children would do a lot of good for his children’s well-being.

In februar the father sent a message that he wanted to visit Ruach, so I suggested a Wednesday, our special day for a trip to the swimming pool, for him to be able to watch his children’s newly acquired skills! I decided not to mention the planned visit to Manuel and Maria Elena to prevent disappointment if something were to crop up to stop the father from coming.
But Napoleon made it! He arrived loaded with home grown cooking bananas, fruit and vegetables. Moreover, he was in time to join us to the pool,  together with a half-brother and half-sister of Manuel and Maria Elena. Maria Elena was immediately happy when she saw her father, but Manuel needed time for the ice to break. But after a while he started to enjoy his father’s visit.

Swimming pool and visit to the Electoral Council
The father was very vocal about his pleasure to see his children’s progress in the water, and his children were beaming with pride. Back from the pool I proposed to him that he should visit the Electoral Council to start the procedure for getting Maria Elena an ID, while at the same time enquiring what would be needed for Manuel to get an ID, as unlike his sister, he does not have a birth certificate, a situation quite common in Nicaragua.

Last August  I made enquiries at the Population Register’s Office about what would be needed to get an identity card for Manuel. We were given a long check list of documents to be handed in, as well as the information that  these documents had to be handed in in person in the capital Managua. Our courage sank into his boots when we heard this. 

This time we tried a different channel, the Election Council. We were helped by a very non-bureaucratic clerk with a practical approach to Napoleon’s predicament: “ ‘Not officially married’, and ‘mother died’ equals to  ‘one-parent family’, hence far less paperwork”, and so on.

Napoleon was happy as the simplified process seemed ‘do-able’, and, although not easy, it was as easy as was possible. He promised to return next week with the required paperwork to start the procedures to obtain an identity card for both his children. It would also be a burden off his conscience.


We walked home. Before we got there, Napoleon invited Maria Elena and myself for a  drink in the park. After our lunch at the Community House, Napoleon visited the Activities Club to see his son Manuel at work, before starting his journey home. Everyone was well-pleased with his visit.

A month later Napoleon came again. Just before the coronavirus started in Nicaragua. He went with Maria Elena and two familymembers, as witnesses of the situation, to the Counsil and started the process to get Maria Elena he ID. And really one month later I could go to get the ID for her. Woh,we all felt great!

Now we are still working in the procedure of Manuel. It is more dificul. More still in this time of coronavirus.... We need more creativity, but we are half way! In a next report I will give you an update.


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Organization Information

Fundacion Cristiana Comunitaria para Personas con Discapacidad Ruach

Location: Juigalpa, Chontales - Nicaragua
Facebook: Facebook Page
Project Leader:
Astrid Delleman
Juigalpa, Nicaragua
$16,359 raised of $30,000 goal
202 donations
$13,641 to go
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