Pandemics & Hurricanes,
Quite a Year

Here's the February 2021 newsletter of the CDCA in Nicaragua... If you would like a PDF printable version click here. If you would like to read it online, or share the link with others, click here.
Please let us know what you think. Thanks, Sarah
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February 2021
Evacuating before hurricanes -
                                photo JP+On November 3rd and 16th of 2020, Nicaragua was hit with two category 4 hurricanes, Eta and Iota. These hurricanes hit at 150 miles per hour, dumping 24 inches of water on parts of the country. Nicaragua and Honduras were hit first and the hurricanes then moved north to El Salvador and Guatemala. 7.3 million people were affected in the four small countries.

     In Nicaragua, 27 died and 3 million people were displaced – almost half the population. The Nicaraguan government responded well to get people evacuated quickly prior to the hurricanes hitting and has been working on replacing housing, sheltering people, cleaning wells for potable water, and handing out food. CDCA's Diana gathering donationsThe CDCA received $6,500 for hurricane relief from donors, and working with the Ministry of the Family we sent clothes, food, and hygiene kits to the town of Bilwi on the east coast of Nicaragua, which was devastated… concrete homes flattened.
 
     Agriculture was hit hard by the two hurricanes, because they came at the end of the rainy (growing) season.

families receiving bean seed     Our local Rotary Club worked with the CDCA to receive and distribute $10,020 in funds for replanting crops. The bean harvest was mostly ruined (the main source of protein for Nicaraguans).  All the bean seeds are now in the ground growing, as are yucca, plantains, tomatoes and green peppers.

     With the organic agriculture cooperative, COPROEXNIC, organic sesame has been harvested and is now being processed. The hurricanes caused some damage to the sesame but not too bad.threshing
                                sesame

     As far as we know the organic coffee from El Porvenir, the rural coffee cooperative, is doing okay as well. They did lose 20% of their sesame crop and half of their bean crop, which is what they eat all year round.  Due to COVID-19 this cooperative of 56 families has stayed fairly isolated to protect their health.  We’ve had no visiting medical folks to see patients there, and their phone reception is poor, so we do not talk with them as much as we have in the past.FarmerShares.com

     Farmer Shares, a CDCA project, is still selling El Porvenir coffee by subscriptions [FarmerShares.com]. The goal is to have 100 subscribers in the next few months. If you drink coffee, sign up for coffee delivered to your door, and help out the small coffee cooperative.

Pandemic Pavilion meetings     The state of the organic peanuts is unknown because the processing has not started. Due to the low or no profit margin on peanuts because of the interminable problems we have had with processing peanuts, COPROEXNIC is trying a new processor.  This has been slow because of international regulations as well as organic regulations that they need to follow. All of this requires meetings… if not virtually, then outside and socially  distanced under our Pandemic Pavilion.

     Shared Interest Foundation granted COPROEXNIC $45,000+ to enable the cooperative to incorporate more women growers and more women in the organization. Shared Interest also increased COPROEXNIC’s line of credit to $1 million which is still shy of the $3 million that would really serve their needs.harvesting sesame

     The CDCA finished 2020 financially in the black! WOW! After all the weekly meetings worrying about how we were going to pay bills for a huge part of the year, so many of you gave at the end of the year that we have started 2021 with a surplus that…

Nueva Vida Clinic
                                    logo     The Nueva Vida Health Clinic is going through like water through a sieve!

chronic care patient
                                    receiving meds     Besides the monthly medications that cost around $6,000, we just had an additional $11,500 in costs for 250 birth control implants and medicines for those suffering from Parkinson’s disease and epilepsy. These implants and medicines can only be imported, and to import we have to buy in bulk, so our administrator, Josefa, has ordered a year’s worth.

     We need to vaccinate the clinic staff against Hepatitis B. The vaccines will cost $1,950. The Ministry of Health now vaccinates child-ren against this but not yet adults, and we have Hepatitis B in Nueva Vida. Because Hepatitis B is passed through blood, it poses a risk for our health workers.

     installing MINSA required
                                    filtration systemIn our laboratory, we have always done our blood work using manual methods. This requires the use of reagents which can no longer be bought in-country. The least expensive automatic machine costs $6,500.  We have been working to meet new Ministry of Health regulations, and this year we also will have to renovate the lab space to comply, which we will start on as soon as we get the required dimensions for the space.

     In our vision clinic, our 15-year-old auto-refractor, which measures the prescriptions needed for folks, is also broken and needs to be replaced…and now let’s just add that our ultrasound machine is also broken and we are paying a technician to hopefully fix it.

     school COVID protocolsWith schools starting up, uniforms, backpacks, notebooks, etc. all have to be bought, so we have made salary loans of $200/each to ten staff members, which they will pay back at no interest in the next two months.

     masked patientsOur Pat Floerke Memorial Fund is low and our new therapist is doing a wonderful job…she is even working two additional afternoons at no cost to see the ever-increasing patient load. She was hired for only mornings Monday-Friday.  So, we are needing to generate her on-going salary.

     And so, our surplus is gone. Sigh. Kathleen wrote a blog on how saving is impossible when the needs are so high.

     We surpassed our goal on Giving Tuesday of $5,400, to move our clinic records from paper to digital. We will save eight trees' worth of paper each year. solar
                                  technicians measuring electricityAnd after two hurricanes in two weeks emphasizing climate change, and with solar prices coming down, we are raising funds to do our part and add solar panels. The cost will be $31,000 and we only have $18,450 in hand so far.


     But we continue on. Three of our Nueva Vida Clinic staff were sent home with COVID-like symptoms. They are all now back at work.  We continue to purchase PPE and cleaning supplies. checking
                                  in patients outside clinicWe continue to check in people outside and socially space patients.  Our clinic cannot test for COVID-19, but we are seeing more and more suspected cases of COVID-19. We are noticing that when we do go out and about, more people are wearing masks.

     health education COVID styleMuch of our public education is limited with the virus, but we do manage one-on-one classes with pregnant moms and new mothers. We manage classes with social distancing in our new training facility with chronic care patients, our health promoters, and our support groups.

Los Leones playing chess     Las Lobas and Los Leones, the girls’ and boys’ support groups from the clinic, took a week at Casa Ben Linder to learn and play as a way to start off the new year. We have 34 girls split into two groups and 44 boys, also split into two groups.

     Casa Ben Linder, the hospitality house and solidarity center, has been hosting events and people staying overnight. Landscaping and renovations continue thanks to donations and loans. They are hosting puppet shows and art classes with social distancing.

JHC-CDCA social media links     Becca is writing a Casa Ben Linder blog about Nicaragua…how nice Nicaragua is, how safe it is, and solidarity posts. A couple have been printed in Nica Notes (Alliance for Global Justice).  The CDCA continues to post two to three blogs weekly. We have added a weekly Sunday reflection from Kathleen titled the Assembly of PIGS to encourage caring. You can sign up for our blog here.

      Becca and Sarah continue to host Zoom presentations about our work and also the work of our local Rotary Club of Ciudad Sandino. Speaking tours are still cancelled until everyone is vaccinated. Meanwhile, the Zoom presentations help our fundraising efforts and spread the news about what we are doing down here in Nicaragua.

smile.amazon.com      IN THIS TIME OF COVID AND HOME DELIVERY, if you are ordering via Amazon, please sign up for Smile.Amazon.com. You pay nothing additional, and for many products, Amazon will donate a small percentage to the nonprofit of your choice. Look for us as the Jubilee House Community in N.C.

JHC logo JHCommunity:

     Eibhlín and Orla are getting ready for school to start on February 1st. Eibhlín is in the 10th grade and Orla in the 9th. We celebrated Eibhlín’s quinceañera (the 15th birthday party for girls in Latin culture). The only outsiders attending personally were Abril, their “sister” and a photographer. Eibhlin's
                                  quinceanera Eibhlín, Orla, and Samantha had special dresses and we all dressed up and told Eibhlín our hopes for her and how much she means to us. Becca and Paul’s families attended across the airways.

     For Christmas the only adult child that came home was Daniel and his family, as they walked up the sidewalk from their house to ours! All the adult children living in the States hunkered down in their own homes with their own households for Christmas. Many flights to Nicaragua were cancelled. We hope a family gathering can happen at some point when vaccines are in everyone’s arms… (so far, out of the clan of 20, only one has received her doses, our doctor in the family, Cassie).

     Peggy, Kathleen’s mother and age 91 years, is still here due to COVID and has now received her permanent Nicaraguan residency. Samantha is her anchor great-grandbaby.Peggy with her
                                  new residency card

     We, the Old Ones, are still basically self-quarantining. We get out rarely and we continue to work from home. While the young ones, Becca, Paul, Daniel and Claudia, run errands and attend meetings.

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Reflection:

     Mike and I heard Rev. Will Campbell speak about a service he held in the First Baptist Church in Dallas, TX. Will was a civil rights activist, an author, and a Baptist minister. He started his sermon there by saying something like this:

I’m going to tell you three facts today: the first is that 53 children will starve to death in the world during this hour we are worshipping, the second is that most of you do not give a shit, and the third is that you are more upset that I said ‘shit’ from the pulpit than that 53 children are dying of hunger. Nicaraguan family

     The sad thing is, he was right.

     Appearances… words… are more important than people and actions.

     The right argues that all the emphasis on political correctness is just stupid.

     The left argues that words have power.

 

     Both are true, and both ignore that the greatest power to be had is found in actions and seeing people as people, just like you see yourself. Movements have power.WFP protest
                                    1980's

     Mike and I were asked once, “When are y’all going to start your own church?” Jokingly we began imagining with our friends what that might look like, and Mike said, “If we do, we are going to call it the Assembly of PIGS… People into Giving a Shit… because the name itself will weed out so many who really don’t care about others.”

volunteer and hurricane
                                    victim      Because Will was right.  Faiths and beliefs of all sorts start out as movements for doing good, actively struggling to be kind, addressing the needs of the oppressed or challenging those in power to seek peace and justice… but then those same powers get ahold of the faiths and start molding the belief systems into institutions.

     And institutions know how to nitpick in such a way as to never move again… the movement is gone and the minutiae hold court.

hungry child      In institutions it is easier to get offended by a preacher using a curse word from the pulpit, than getting offended that 53 children are starving to death. Why? Getting offended by the curse word means you can go home and eat that large Sunday dinner and complain about what he said. Getting offended by the children means that Sunday dinner might make you sick to your stomach and you will have to change your life… you will have to act… to move.

     Words do have power and sometimes the profane words will wake us out of our stupor to question the true profanities of our society…of our world. The hunger. The wars. The bigotry. The poverty. The hopelessness. The disease and death.

Megan and child     But words are nothing without the movement to change those profanities. Nothing at all.

-Kathleen

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Here is a brief summary of what you helped the CDCA accomplish in 2020...

  • COPROEXNIC, the organic agriculture cooperative, with our help exported 1,233,000 pounds of organic sesame (an increase of 61%) to three buyers!
  • Together, we exported 717,288 pounds of organic peanuts to a single buyer... (a 10% increase).coffee
  • Together with El Porvenir, we exported 22,777 pounds of organic coffee (a 15% increase). All the above-mentioned exported crops were mostly grown in 2019 and early 2020.
  • We, the CDCA, took over the selling of the organic coffee with the help of a Board member who set up the site FarmerShares.com.
  • The sesame plant continues to undergo tremendous renovations to make it a world-class processing plant, employing 42 workers.
  • We have held many virtual meetings with COPROEXNIC and buyers. One meeting enabled the co-op to buy equipment for the processing plant that will save money as well as water - from 2,000 gallons down to 300 liters for processing one ton of sesame.
  • Much of our efforts in agriculture have been towards broadening the pool of financing for COPROEXNIC; and slowly, financing is getting better. They now have lines of credit for $1.3 million but still need a additional  $1.7 million, and they received a $45,000 grant to incorporate more women.Vida Fund
  • Through the Vida Fund we lent out $111,621 in 2020.
  • Vida Fund Loan payments and interest received in 2020 were $259,417, and investors were repaid $239,292.
  • We received more than $100,000 in new Vida Fund investments.

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>   In the Nueva Vida Health Clinic, we continue to serve people, and while we charge a token fee (less than $1.50 towards exams, lab tests, and medications), we exonerate costs for about 30% of our patients due to their poverty.

>   Much of this year was spent creating our own PPE for our staff: gowns, hair coverings, masks, and face shields, and making sure they were all complying with the new hygiene rules. Every exam room is cleaned after each patient. Every morning and mid-day, every room is fumigated. Temperatures are taken of staff and patients when they arrive. All patients have to wear a mask and social distance.  We check in folks outside and take their vitals under tarps loaned to us by our local Rotary Club.handwashing Handwashing stations are set up at all outside gates and doors of the CDCA. We have done our very best to not spread COVID-19.

>   In the clinic, our two part-time physicians (general physician and pediatrician), and our full-time radiologist treated 12,284 patients.

>   After the pandemic starting hitting Nicaragua, we closed the clinic for one month, we closed healthy exams for three additional months, and exams for our chronic care patients (most at risk of death) for five months, and now have rescheduled healthy patient services on one day a week. This has greatly limited how many we can see. We send all suspected COVID cases directly to the Ministry of Health.

>   Our family planning program offers free, consistent birth control for 863 people including 31 males. We gave away 9,980 condoms, very important with Zika. Besides providing injectable and oral contraceptives, we also offer birth control implants and IUDs.  birth control
                                    implantWe put in 184 implants lasting three years and 15 IUDs.

>   Our radiologist performed 671 ultrasound exams on 552 patients after we received a donated, used ultrasound machine, which then broke the last week of 2020. We also did 288 EKGs.

>   We gave out treatment and medicines for 8,429 conditions and diseases and delivered 6-months-worth of anti-diabetic and anti-hypertensive medications to the patients’ homes.medicine deliver

>   We treated 140 patients monthly through our chronic care program (we lost three to COVID deaths). Besides their check-ups, lab work, and medication, they also attended monthly meetings to learn about diet, exercise, taking the medications properly, and giving each other support. Most have type 2 diabetes and /or hypertension.

>   We were fortunate to raise the first year of funding to hire our therapist, Dr. Soto, half-time. In October she started volunteering for two extra afternoons a week, because the need was so great. She saw 1,044 clients (half under 12 years old). She worked with them on 2,453 issues … from domestic violence, trauma and grief with COVID to behavioral issues. She also held tele-sessions when the clinic was closed in June.

Nueva Vida Clinic lab

>   Our laboratory completed 3,143 tests in the clinic for 1,030 patients. Most of our tests are blood tests done on an old machine whose reagents are no longer available. A new machine will cost $6,500 and we are trying to raise that now. We also do weekly-to-monthly glucose checks as well as urine tests as patients are checked in. We sent out 221 PAP tests and three biopsies to be read by a pathologist.


dental care

>   We continued our dental program with ORPHANetwork to see children in Nueva Vida from 24 community feeding centers across the western side of Nicaragua.

>   We have had 6 Nicaraguan medical and dental volunteers: three social workers, two nurses, and a dental assistant.

>   Our full-time dentist, hygienist, and dental assistant saw 4,168 patients (only 27% were under the age of 12 because the feeding centers were only open for four months in 2020). They performed 7,927 procedures.  Of those procedures: almost 44% were preventive care [cleanings, fluoride and sealants]; 28% were restorative care [fillings, etc.] and 12% were extractions… this is up from the previous years, because we began seeing more patients after the government closed its clinic in Ciudad Sandino, and there were fewer children getting consistent care through the feeding centers. We gave out 944 dental cleaning sets.

>  donated crutchesWe gave out wheelchairs, canes, handicapped toilet seats, crutches, etc. to 72 patients.

>   Our one-morning-a-week eye correction clinic saw 415 patients and provided 448 pairs of glasses (12% were custom-made glasses).

 

>   Our community outreach and health education lost our paid health promoter to COVID-19 and failing kidneys. We have all grieved Jessenia Castillo’s death.Jessenia We hired a social worker in October. With COVID we have had to limit greatly our outreach. For the first three months of 2020 we worked normally, but since then we have:

 

  • Continued giving classes to new mothers and pregnant moms, but now one-on-one. After closing support groups for 4 months, we started up the two pre-teen / teen girls’ and the two pre-teen / teen boys’ groups which meet weekly, as well as the chronic care patients’ classes and the health promoter classes which meet monthly. All attendees have to wear masks and socially distance in our finished training facility!!
  • Taught 126 different trainings for 2,453 participants.
  • For the first quarter of 2020, we maintained the nebulizers and first aid kits in our 35 health promoters’ homes, helping 868 children and 877 adults with 2,856 acts of service. They with our general physician did 183 home visits.
  • For the rest of 2020, our promoters still received a small thank you cash gift monthly even though they and our doctors could no longer move between homes with the fear of contagion.

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2020-02 delegation working

*   We hosted only two delegations all year…now three years in a row that we’ve been down from 13-14 delegations a year…and the 2020 delegations were much smaller. An additional delegation…all paid up…cancelled just as COVID hit. Thankfully they didn’t ask for their money back.  We had no medical or dental volunteers all year from outside Nicaragua.

*   We developed three social media fundraisers for Mother’s Day, Giving Tuesday, and the end of the year. We met our Giving Tuesday goal of $5,400 to move the clinic records from paper to digital, saving eight trees a year, limiting mistakes and freeing up time with the help of Hikma Health and their coding skills, also helping us find equipment and funding.

*    We did 28 presentations by ZOOM reaching people all over the world.

hurricane relief

*    We funneled hurricane relief money to the Ministry of the Family and to farmers who lost their food crops.

 

* CBL puppet classes   We’ve continued to make many improvements to the Casa Ben Linder in Managua in order to house overnight guests and host events to raise the money needed to restore the murals and run a museum, remembering the fallen of the Nicaraguan wars and the benefits of the Revolution. With the lack of tourists because of the pandemic, this program is suffering like all other tourist-based businesses in Nicaragua; however, we did host 12 different events with 278 participants, and rented rooms for 272 nights.

*    Once each quarter we send out 15,000 newsletters with half going by email.

*    Our on-line recurring donations increased by 21%, up to 35% of the online total! This is critical with few to no delegations coming providing support.

*    Our number of donors increased by 6%. We continue to receive donations in euros and in pounds.

Amazingly, we finished 2020 in the black... thanks to you!

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Yes! I want to help support the ongoing work of the Center for Development in Central America. 

Donations can be given & designated on-line in US$ or €uros
through Network For Good
Network
                                            for Good logo

or mail your donation check to:
Jubilee House Community - CDCA
c/o Sue Williams
4376 Pennington Rd
Rock Hill SC 29732-8159

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WillPlease contact us at jhc@jhc-cdca.org for more information on how to include the JHC-CDCA in your Estate Planning
Vida Fundor for more information on loans to the Vida Fund to help organic farmers.

 

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