Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Bringing New Life to Nueva Vida

Just outside of Managua, there is an area called Ciudad Sandino, which is the most densely populated and poorest area of Nicaragua, which itself is the 2nd poorest country in the western hemisphere and ranks 115th, according the United Nations Human Development Index. This area has served as an area of refuge to victims of natural disasters, particularly since Hurricane Mitch. 80% of the residents of this area lack formal employment and live on less than $1 per day. These people yearn for a better life, and with the help of Center for Development in Central America (CDCA), they are able to improve their standard of living and build a brighter future for themselves and their families.

The belief of community involvement and community building is a cornerstone for CDCA. Without imposing “outside” ideas or values, members of CDCA listen to the needs of specific communities and facilitate in the organization of democratically elected entities. Helping communities create sustainable economies and infrastructure so that groups are self-sufficient and evolve beyond relying on aid. The focus of sustainable economic development, sustainable agriculture, primary health care, education have resulted in programs which develop long term jobs, protect farmers’ land rights, offer basic health care needs and technical job training for Nicaraguans.

CDCA has affected the communities of Nueva Vida and Ciudad Sandino through sustainable economic development, specifically developing loan programs such as the Shared Risk Investment Fund, called the Vida Fund and smaller micro loans. These programs have educated the community on sustainable agriculture and fair trade practices, allowing them to work toward earning a living wage. 6 cooperatives have been formed with the assistance of the Vida Fund, including a women’s sewing cooperative, a concrete construction building materials cooperative, a water filter manufacturing cooperative, a woodworking cooperative, and a security cooperative.

Through the development of the agricultural export coop, COPROEXNIC, small producers and growers have been wioorking together to sell directly to clients, eliminating the middle man and giving them control and ownership of their business practices.With the implementation of sustainable agriculture practices, CDCA has facilitated the increase in exports of organic sesame, cotton, honey, peanuts, coffee, black beans and soy.

CDCA has also developed a health clinic called Nueva Vida Clinic, in response to the privatization of, and waning access to, healthcare. This permanent clinic was built in 2001 and has helped provide this community with regular medical exams, a pharmacy, ongoing wound care, and part-time counselor and dentist.

For more information or to donate to CDCA, please click here.

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