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Archive for the ‘Nicaragua’ Category

Overview

The enrollment of new children in our “Child-Focused Community Transformation” (CFCT) program allowed the identification of children that were not registered in the Civil Registry. This Government office is responsible for registering every child that is born and enrolling them as a citizen, giving them a name and therefore responsibilities and rights as citizens. During the period that FH was beginning community work in Somotillo, FH staff realized that more than 45 percent of the kids in the community between the ages of 5 and 12 did not have a name and were not registered as citizens, as if they did not even exist or had never been born. Upon discovering this problem, we began walking with leaders, pastors, and teachers to approach the local government, asking them to be flexible and to give families the opportunity to follow through with this procedure.  The impact this had was that 95 percent of the children now have a document that validates their identity.

ImagePhoto #1 caption: FH Nicaragua promoters registering children in the CFCT program

Background

Somotillo municipality is the new Region where FH Nicaragua began to work last Summer.  It is located in the State of Chinandega, 6 km from the Honduran border.  This location is associated with a high rate of trafficking of drugs, constant migration of townspeople, juvenile prostitution and illegal trafficking of merchandise for commercial use without payment of customs taxes. It has one of the highest rates of HIV/AIDS due to the constant migration from one country to another. The most common crops of this area are corn, sorgo, sesame seed, watermelon, and at slightly lower levels, livestock. The principal source of provisions for the families is their own farming in which they produce crops for personal consumption and to sell in small quantities within the community. The soil is dry and eroded and the climate is unstable, with a high risk of flooding or drought.  In the communities where FH works, there is a lack of access to public services such as drinkable water, electricity, health facilities, and education.

ImagePhoto #2 caption: Typical Somotillo Housing

Local strategy of FH

FH began working in Somotillo about four months ago. To date, the biggest achievement is that more than 95 percent of the children in the communities in which FH works have been registered in the local governmental offices. This offers the children the right to education, to be legal citizens of the country, to have an identity, and to have access to services and jobs both inside and outside their community. In these same communities, there are many adults that were not registered upon birth and that to this date are deprived of the right to education, health services, decision making and honorable jobs. FH is also assisting the community adults to get registry and gain citizenship.  This is the reason FH Nicaragua praises our Lord for giving us the opportunity to work in His Kingdom through our work in these communities. Now, more than 200 children will not have the same fate as their parents.

Nature of the Project

With the little time we have had to work in these communities, the relationships with pastors, leaders, and teachers of the schools are essential. Some parents had children 12 years of age that were not registered in the Governmental system. The community leaders and FH staff worked with the parents to guide them through the process of registering their children with two main goals: to give their children an identity and to be able to enroll their children in the CFCT program. It was not an easy job. Often this takes a change in mindsets, time, paperwork, and financial investment for payments of fees and lawyers. The leaders and the teachers asked the authorities for flexibility with these families, stating that they are families of low income, are often illiterate, and lack knowledge of the importance of this process. Since they were people themselves who also had not been registered in their childhood, the local authorities could not deny their request. More than 200 children were registered in less than four days in the month of April, allowing more than 500 children to be enrolled in the CFCT program.

Results (November 2010)

·         Strengthening of the relationships between FH and the leaders of the community, teachers, local governmental officials and pastors.

·         More than 200 children enrolled in the National Registry.

·         More than 500 children enrolled in the CFCT program.

Impact in terms of FH’s Vision, Mission and Values

With the help of FH Nicaragua, the residents of La Flor, Los Limones, Los Balcones and La Pavana were informed of the importance of registering their children immediately upon birth. The leaders have been encouraged to work directly with the families and teachers in all aspects that relate to wholistic childhood development.  They also were made aware of local government support to complete the registration process.

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“He died so that thousands of others could be saved,” they said.

As hundreds of patients arrived daily at Nicaragua’s area hospitals, what had begun with the death of one teenage boy in the small rural community of El Ojoche was quickly becoming a regional crisis. Public health officials already worn ragged by the massive recovery efforts in the North Atlantic Autonomous Region made necessary by Hurricane Felix in September found themselves frantically trying to manage yet another disaster.

The persistent rainfall that flooded the Pacific region following the hurricane had created ideal conditions for many kinds of bacteria found in animal droppings to spread throughout the soil, including the potentially deadly leptospirosis, which took only two weeks to kill 10 people and affect more than 3,790 others.

Following several visits to local hospitals by FH staff and community leaders, a flurry of conference calls and coordination with the Ministry of Health, medicine was secured for the affected individuals, many of whom traveled long distances from their families to receive medical attention.

In El Ojoche, 39 people as well as a majority of the farm animals were diagnosed with leptospirosis, and with the added crisis of losing their year’s harvest in an unexpected tornado that week, the community’s suffering became even more acute. “It’s like we’re reliving the seven plagues,” one woman commented shortly afterwards.

Community health worker Herbert Reyes shared, “There is so much pain and need on the part of the people in El Ojoche. I have just been weeping for them.”

In addition to the much-needed medicine for the hospitals, Food for the Hungry provided food for the 85 families of El Ojoche, and Oxitertraciclina to treat cows, horses, and pigs affected by leptospirosis in the community. With the support of FH/Nicaragua Agricultural Advisor Mike Saeli and his wife, Maria, a trained nurse, and Teams Coordinator Andrea Kamouyerou, the local CHE (Community Health Evangelism) committee in El Ojoche met and organized a community wide animal treatment campaign.
By going house to house, the committee was able to treat more than 142 animals (horses, cows, and some pigs) within 24 hours with the antibiotic; with future funds, injections will be given to the remainder of the pigs as well.

Andrea Kamouyerou noted that, “When we arrived, the CHE community leaders seemed overwhelmed with the problems they faced. But once they started to organize, and do something, their spirits began to lift.”

Public health officials who visited the community shortly following the outbreak praised the community’s cleanliness and leadership, noting that the disease might have spread much more rapidly in a less well organized community. Food for the Hungry has been supporting the CHE strategy in El Ojoche for the last 5 years, during which child mortality rates and incidence of diarrhea and parasites in children had dropped substantially.

Community leaders continue to look for alternative food sources and income to address the shortfall that will exist until the next planting season in May 2008. Some potential projects leaders have proposed include involvement in a family garden program, installing dams along the creek that runs through the community for water storage and irrigation, and receiving training in agricultural diversification in order to ensure food security throughout the year.

By choosing determination over despair, and using their creativity to bring order from chaos, these CHE leaders vividly illustrate how the greatest resource in any community is its people. People who are bearers of Christ’s hope for their neighbors, and the nation.

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Even after the rain has stopped pouring down on the town of El Ojoche, community members will be experiencing the aftermath for quite some time. The affects will be noticed through loss of crops and sickness in humans as well as animals. On 21 October the community noticed it’s first cases of Leptospirosis. The breakout peaked on 27 Oct. with 194 patients requiring treatment.
Not only is the bacteria affecting humans, it’s also affecting most of the animals in the community. Food for the Hungry has been working closely with community health leaders, a veterinary tech as well as the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry to educate people on how to take care of themselves as well as their animals.All of the cows and horses are receiving medication.

As a result of the loss of crops, community trainings covered topics pertaining to food and nutrition and some new options for food since they will need to adjust their diet. The crop was due to be harvested in Jan. Many families will have to wait until next May for their next harvest. Trainings were also provided on how to administer medication to animals. Over 160 cows were given injections as well as horses.

The Food for the Hungry staff have been working very hard to educate, encourage, and walk with community members during this difficult time. Please continue to pray for the families affected by the heavy rains causing loss of crops, sickness, and discouragement.

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Hurricane Felix Update

Hurricane Felix with its category 5 fury touched down in Nicaragua September 4, 2007 in the North Atlantic Autonomous Region. The town of Puerto Cabezas as well as several provincial towns and hundred of rural communities were subjected to winds that reached over 250 kph and 15 – 30 cm of rain.

Food for the Hungry Nicaragua in collaboration with CRWRC and Accion Medica Cristiana (AMC) has identified two communities 10 km outside of Puerto Cabezas where they will focus an immediate response. They also plan to respond to rural communities in the Rio Rico area but access to these areas continues to be difficult.  In these two communities populations livelihood is low input agriculture. The Hurricane coincided with the rice harvest that was due to produce crop in a month.

The initial response will include food assistance, water and sanitation and roof repair. AMC has staff on the ground conducting ongoing assessments which will direct our future work.

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Hurricane Felix

Acción Médica Cristiana is currently in the process of visiting the communities along the Rio Coco where they work to better understand the damage wrought by the hurricane.  The area has experienced heavy rains and flooding.  So far they have identified a need for water filters so that people have access to clean drinking water.  This area is only accessible by plane; commercial airlines are not being allowed to fly into the hurricane-affected area, so we are exploring ways of getting supplies in there.

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