Pandemics & Hurricanes,
Quite a Year
the February 2021 newsletter of the CDCA
in Nicaragua... If you would like a PDF
printable version click
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let us know what you think. Thanks, Sarah
November 3rd and 16th of 2020, Nicaragua
was hit with two
category 4 hurricanes, Eta
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.
Nicaragua, 27 died and 3 million people
were displaced – almost half the
population. The Nicaraguan government
responded well to get people evacuated
to the hurricanes
hitting and has been working on replacing
housing, sheltering people, cleaning wells
for potable water, and handing out food.
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.
was hit hard by the two hurricanes,
because they came at the end of the
rainy (growing) season.
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
the organic agriculture cooperative, COPROEXNIC,
sesame has been harvested and is
now being processed.
hurricanes caused some damage to the
sesame but not too bad.
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
Shares, a CDCA project, is still selling
El Porvenir coffee by subscriptions
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.
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
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
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.
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…
Vida Health Clinic is going
through like water through a sieve!
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
so, our surplus is gone.
Sigh. Kathleen wrote a blog
on how saving is impossible when the
needs are so high.
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. And 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
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. We 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
Much of our
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
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
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.
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.
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.
THIS TIME OF COVID AND HOME DELIVERY
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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. 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.
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
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
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
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
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.
sad thing is, he was right.
words… are more important than people
right argues that all the emphasis on
political correctness is just stupid.
left argues that words have power.
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
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.”
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 know how to nitpick in
such a way as to never move again… the
movement is gone and the minutiae hold
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.
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.
words are nothing without the movement
to change those profanities. Nothing
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
is a brief summary of what you
helped the CDCA accomplish in
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).
- 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
- 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.
- Through the Vida
Fund we lent out $111,621
- Vida Fund
Loan payments and interest
received in 2020 were $259,417,
and investors were repaid
received more than $100,000 in new
Vida Fund investments.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
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
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 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
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
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
put in 184 implants lasting three
years and 15 IUDs.
Our radiologist performed 671
exams on 552 patients after we
received a donated, used ultrasound
machine, which then broke the last
week of 2020. We also did 288
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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. 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
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
- 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.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
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
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
We did 28 presentations
by ZOOM reaching people
all over the world.
We funneled hurricane
relief money to the Ministry
of the Family and to farmers who
lost their food crops.
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,
rooms for 272 nights.
Once each quarter we send out
with half going by email.
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
we finished 2020 in the black...
thanks to you!
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
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