Is Nicaragua Vaccinating?

Here's the May 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
May 2021
Peggy Murdock COVID-19 vaccination         As those of us over 65 years of age continue to self-quarantine, we see light at the end of the tunnel...we have received our first vaccination of AstraZeneca from the Nicaraguan Ministry of Health.  We’re hoping that anyone over 20 years of age will be eligible this month.  We are all looking forward to being able to go out and see the many projects of the Center for Development in Central America:  the Nueva Vida Clinic, the organic agriculture cooperative, the processing plants for sesame and peanuts.  We old folks need to have face-to-face contact with people again.
         Getting vaccinated was easy, and was about as painless as can be. We had more trouble just trying to park. We walked in and the lines were low because a friend called us and said, “GO! NOW!” The medical staff took our information and blood pressure. They were extremely kind and friendly to us. They made sure that we knew what was going on... showed us the vaccine vial and poked us with no pain.

     Afterwards we sat for 30 minutes while a nurse watched for any reactions. We were there for only one hour. We will be requiring all our staff to get vaccinated, giving them time off with pay to go get the shots.

      Poorer nations are receiving the vaccines slower than wealthier nations. Nicaragua started its vaccination campaign in March with those most at risk (dialysis and cancer patients) using the limited (but first to arrive) Sputnik vaccine, a wise decision.

      The second round went to people over 60 years of age, including   foreigners.  Some of those politically opposed to the current administration but still residing in Nicaragua have been photographed getting the vaccine while they themselves write to international news agencies blatant lies about how the vaccine is not available.

WHO COVID-19 statistics 1 May 2021      Nicaragua has had fewer cases of COVID-19 than its neighbors. We would love to have a study done as to why that is true...and despite what you may have read in the international press… it is true.

     Like almost every nation in the world - of course - there are unreported cases and unreported deaths due to COVID-19. Globally, many people opt to not be tested. In our clinic, we have seen suspected cases of the virus and those patients were sent to be tested… some went, some did not. There have been a few deaths in the barrio the clinic serves, but nothing like what other nations have seen... nothing like it.

        Maybe it is because Nicaragua’s population is younger than average, maybe it is because houses are more open letting in sun and fresh air, but for sure there are several things that the Sandinista government did in 2020 that were extraordinary:
  1. They sent medical people out to 5 million homes (the population of Nicaragua is only 6.8 million) to teach people how to be safe.
  2. They instituted safety measures (temps taken, masks worn, and alcohol spray on hands) in all enclosed government and businesses facilities.
  3. When the cases spiked last year, they not only taught school in person, but also on radio, on internet, and on television to reach all students. Television classes are still continuing.
  4. Hospitals were set up to receive patients with COVID but were never overwhelmed, despite news reports to the contrary.
  5. The government did not order a shutdown...but instead held big virtual events on television and radio and continued to encourage clean hands and mask wearing.
  6. They basically did exactly what the World Health Organization recommended; their actions have kept us safe and we are grateful.

        Speaking of the Nicaraguan government, this is the year for their November general elections. The U.S. State Department has already leaked a paper, Responsive Assistance in Nicaragua [RFTOP No:72052420R00004 (RAIN)], laying out in detail how the United States is planning to interfere to influence the elections and wreak havoc in the country.

        Nicaraguan tourismAlso, we just found out that the U.S. State Department has issued a high travel alert – yet again - for Nicaragua because of “unknown COVID cases” 🙄. This means less tourism even while several on-line tourism sites rank Nicaragua in their top 10 places to visit while on a budget. These measures are deliberate attempts at breaking Nicaragua’s economy.

        The Nicaraguan government took last year and is taking this year to actually begin to audit non-governmental organizations (NGOs), of which we are one. We have discovered that there were regulations that we should have known about but did not, so many on our staff are helping us find all the supporting details that are needed to complete the last few years’ documentation. For the health clinic, when we have the Hikma Health digital filing system up and running fully, the future annual reporting will be much easier.

        While this is going on…Sarah is filling out the U.S.’s yearly reporting documents for non-profits…45 pages!  Nations of all sorts love to look at paperwork!      

 Processing organic peanuts       We find that paperwork slows actual work down to a crawl. The organic sesame crops have been processed and are being shipped…thankfully we have plenty of buyers. But the organic peanuts have just started being processed after four months of waiting on organic certification paperwork to clear.  We hope the peanuts have not been damaged.

         The organic coffee cooperative is also waiting on paperwork to begin to ship their crops to Farmer Shares.  (For groups or churches interested, is now offering a fundraiser package.) We know that dotting all the “I”s and crossing all the “T”s is necessary, but the energy and time used on paperwork is draining.

        El Porvenir, the coffee co-op, lost a dear member, Jairo Gaitán. Jairo was a husband and father. He had two young children, a 15-month-old daughter and an 11-year-old son. He was the cooperative’s vet and was – for those of you who have gone to El Porvenir - René and Inés’ son.

        Pam Bell, a veterinarian who has gone to El Porvenir almost yearly for over a decade to help take care of their animals, helped Jairo get his veterinary degree. The grief that she and we feel is only a fraction of what the community feels up on that remote, rural mountain.

        Jairo died when his motorcycle hit a rock in a dry river bed, flipped up and landed on him including his head (he was not wearing a helmet). He was en route to retrieve the truck key that another community member visiting down the mountain had in his pocket. The coffee co-op of 51 families had just lost its oldest member and they needed to use the co-op’s only truck to get a coffin. Such losses for such a small community!

        The week before the two deaths, Paul and Becca took our clinic’s nurse and our radiologist up the mountain to take PAPS and place birth control implants for family planning.Birth control implants at El Porvenir  Usually, we have volunteer medical brigades that go and serve the community regularly, but with the pandemic, no one is traveling.  We will schedule more of these visits from the Clinic until we have volunteers returning.

        Nueva Vida Clinic The Nueva Vida Clinic is receiving a donation for the blood machine for the laboratory. This will be wonderful because we can begin testing again as we did in the past.

        We continue the practice of using personal protective equipment as well as strenuous cleaning to keep contagions down and to keep our staff and patients healthy. Our doctors miss the better contact with their patients sans all the face shields and masks, but they do their best even with those barriers.

Vision checks at the Nueva Vida clinic         Our healthy services like education, PAPs, ultrasounds, EKGs, teeth cleanings, vision clinic and the pre-teen boys’ and girls’ groups (now four of them!) are continuing, as well as all the services to address illnesses, chronic conditions, and cavities and rotten teeth.

Los Leones and Las Lobas groups
       Our People’s Pharmacy is stocked monthly with life-saving medications despite lacking all the medicine donations. 
 Nueva Vida Clinic pharmacy windowEach week we sit with financial reports in front of us to try to figure out where to cut costs to not affect the purchasing of medicines or meeting payroll.

        Casa Benjamin LinderCasa Ben Linder, the solidarity, hospitality house, is by-and-large covering its bills.  We have legal paperwork to do, that sometimes feels like a black hole for money going in and never coming out, but we are hopeful that soon all the legal paperwork will be finished…there is that word again... “paperwork.”

Casa Ben Linder wall mural in process        Casa Ben Linder houses nightly guests. Xiomara, a cafe owner, is renting the front building and providing breakfasts for guests and lunches for the neighborhood and guests. We host art classes and puppet shows with social  distancing, masks, and alcohol spray.  Improvements continue on the property.

         We continue to try to stay connected, educating with our blogs and social media media links

        Sarah and Becca continue to provide ZOOM presentations both on our own JHC-CDCA work and the related work of the Rotary Club of Ciudad Sandino. Without being able to do speaking tours in person, being invited virtually is good, sharing growth in projects like aquaponics and the beginning steps toward a sewage system for Nueva Vida.


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Jubilee House Community logo

        The Community of 12 people is looking forward to again eating together in a couple of months after we are all vaccinated… and hugging and singing.

        Kathleen’s mother, Peggy, is anticipating a trip back north after she is protected with her vaccinations, to be with her family in SC and NC as well as her friends. She was saddened by the death of two church friends when they were murdered in Rock Hill in a mass shooting.  She looks forward to meeting her two newest great-grandsons.

Michael Coury Murdock        We all are glad for technology and the ability to chat with family weekly whether they are in Ireland, New Zealand, the West of the U.S., or on the East coast or Gulf coast. We have been able to watch our son Coury’s concerts despite the distance, including his Junior Recital at Sonoma State.

GiGi and Samantha in pool         Closer at home, two-year-old Samantha can now swim the length of the pool… thanks to GiGi (Sarah). Eibhlín and Orla finished their first quarter of school and with their mother, Becca, have gone back to karate with their brown belts.

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Family in El Porvenir doorway       When Jairo’s father, René, came to get some money to help pay for his son’s coffin, Mike asked him how he was doing. He told Mike “What is there to do? Life kicks you in the teeth, you get up for the next time life kicks you in the teeth again.”

        That sentiment is the clearest statement I have ever heard to describe poverty as well as grief.

        We have hosted volunteers who wonder at the leadership and commitment of René and Inés as well as many others of those at El Porvenir. View from El PorvenirThey also comment on how simple their lives are and how beautiful the scenery is up on that remote mountain.

        But as one touches more deeply the lives of this small cooperative of  51 families, the simplicity of poverty is just not simple at all. Poverty demands constant vigilance to keep the wolves of hunger at bay. Poverty demands that one can never lower their guard or death will swallow you and your children whole. Poverty demands awareness of what and where every danger is. Poverty demands that one be an innocent trapped in a low-level war waged on you and yours.

Washing clothes at El Porvenir        Also, as we go up the mountain over and over again, we understand that though the scenery is lovely, beauty is elusive when the difficulties of getting health care are great. Beauty is elusive when the bean crop is ruined by hurricanes. Beauty is elusive when the battle rages to keep the coffee growing amid climate change.Coffee harvest Beauty is elusive when water availability is low.  Beauty is elusive when the belly growls.

        When I wrote to our friends to tell them about Jairo, Nora replied, “Life is hard up on that mountain.

        Poverty kicks so many of our world in the teeth and they get up to wait for the next kick in the teeth…or they stay down...broken... and die.
El Porvenir boys on tractor tire         Mahatma Gandhi said, “Think of the poorest person you know and see if your next act will be of any use to [them].

        Poverty can be eliminated...we just need the will.

- Kathleen

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      This Mother's Dayhelp a mom safely through pregnancy and her baby's early months... give an Alternative Gift in honor of mothers you know...

One Mother to Another provides:

Alternative Gift Card for Mother's Day
  • Prenatal medical visits & pediatric visits
  • Regular glucose and blood pressure tests
  • Prenatal vitamins & medicines
  • Lab tests

Designate your donation for Mother's Day, and send your name, your mother's name and her email to A beautiful e-card informing her of your gift in her honor will be sent to her.  For more information:

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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 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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