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About the Nicaragua Mission Project
As one of the ways that Bethlehem shows that “we are blessed to be a blessing”, for the past nine years, we have participated in the Nicaragua Mission Project that seeks to make a difference in the lives of impoverished villagers in the mountains near Somoto, Nicaragua. Life in the Somoto area is very different from life in Longmont. There is very limited health care and no hospitals; inhabitants struggle to have safe food and water, be free of parasites and infections, and stay dry in an equatorial climate; students must pay for school at all levels; and most families are supported by the women. This outreach mission speaks to many at Bethlehem because it fits into the goal of “teaching someone to fish” and because over the last nine years, we have seen that we can make a real difference here with projects conceived by the people of Somoto and surrounding villages in an effort to have a better life for their families and carried out as partners - villagers with the Nicaragua Mission teams. Maybe we can’t change the whole world – but we are making a real difference here!
These projects are part of the mission:
1) building homes/repairing roofs to keep families dry in a climate with daily rainfall (26 houses and more than 20 roofs to date);
2) providing medical and dental clinics to villages without even basic health care (reaching thousands over the last nine years);
3) providing water filters for clean water to reduce water-borne illnesses (over 140 water filters to supply five villages – Ken Harris Memorial project for third year);
4) providing micro-loans for cottage industries like tortilla factories and sewing coops that enable single women to support their families (as of June 2011, 34 micro loans with money paid back and recycled);
5) building and supporting a Mother’s House delivery clinic in Telpaneca to support healthy pregnancies and for the healthy delivery of babies for area villagers;
6) building and supporting Ninos y Ninas del Futuro (Children of the Future), a Children’s Center for the care, education, and safety of children while parents are working (the first building is the Joonh (sic) Goodman building in honor of the work our John Goodman has done with the project over the years; the second building is a memorial now named the Frank Young Vocational Building in memory of our Frank Young);
7) building a Vacation Bible School program for children during the mission trip week that has expanded and is now led by local women. The VBS has grown to more than 135 children who come weekly. Recently, the program has added an adult Bible study for the parents of the children; and
8) providing educational scholarships for students (15 total: 3 college and 12 grade school – high school).
The Ninos y Ninas del Futuro program has been an amazing example of success due to partnership with the local people. More than 300 children there suffer from malnutrition that leads to learning disabilities and an inability to focus in school. Further, they often suffer from abuse and come under the influence of gangs coming down from El Salvador and Honduras. They grow up with significant learning disabilities, poor education, poor health, poor values, emotional scars, and no skills with which to earn a living. This project successfully works to remedy that by providing buildings and programming to give the children a nutritious meal each day, academic support, psychological and medical services, religious education, and education in trades such as ceramics, baking, sewing, computer skills, and carpentry. Similar programs have been started in other areas in Nicaragua and have met with a great deal of success. The Mayor of Somoto donated the land, which is a beautiful site next to the barrio. He also donated the work of engineers and architects to draw up the designs and locations of the buildings that are needed. Two buildings have now been completed and we, along with other organizations, are now helping to support programming, food, and materials as ongoing expenses.
So, over the last nine years, we at Bethlehem have donated funds for buildings and programs; given medical and educational supplies, sent members on the mission trips, and provided scholarships to enable students to continue their education.
If you are interested in more details about the 2012 Nicaragua Mission, please visit our News from Nicaragua webpage (http://www.bethlehem-lutheran.net/home/nicaraguanews.html) or for detailed information, member stories, and pictures from past mission trips, see the links below. If you have any questions or suggestions, please contact any member of the Bethlehem Nicaragua Mission Task Force: Cathy or John Goodman, Margot Hoffmeyer, Dave Hooley, Paul Dorn, or Jenny Kelley.
Where would you like to help? Here are just some of the ways your donation can make a difference in the lives of the people of Somoto and surrounding villages:
$ 0.85 Buys a brick for a house for a homeless family.
$ 3.00 De-worms a child for a year so they can grow and learn.
$ 15.00 Sends a child to preschool for a month, giving them health, safety, and education.
$ 18.00 Buys a cot for nap time at the children’s center so they don't need to sleep on concrete.
$ 25.00 Buys equipment for the Mother’s House clinic (e.g. stethoscope, blood pressure cuff).
$ 50.00 Buys a water filter for a family, giving them potable water and much improved health.
$ 75.00 Gives a micro-loan to develop a home business to support single mother and family.
$ 100.00 Mends the roof of a shack, keeping a family dry during frequent rains.
$ 240.00 Sends a child to school for year; $360 sends one to a year of college.
$ 500.00 Provides part of the medication needed for the dental and medical clinics we run.
$1000.00 Builds a much needed, safe playground for the Children’s Center.
$2000.00 Runs the Children’s Center serving extremely impoverished families for 3 months.
$2000.00 Builds nearly half of a brick house.
If this outreach mission speaks to your heart, please consider supporting our effort during this fund-raising time for the 2012 Mission Trip. As in past years, matching funds from different organizations and individuals are available to extend your contributions and there will be more details on these in the April weekly bulletins. Please use the envelopes marked “Nicaragua” in the pews or send a donation clearly marked for the Nicaragua Project to Bethlehem Lutheran Church, 1000 W. 15th Ave., Longmont, CO 80501.
Nicaragua Mission Trip: June 2011
If you would like to read emails and stories about the 2011 Nicaragua Mission Trip, click here.
Nicaragua Mission Trip: June 2010
If you would like to read emails and stories about the 2010 Nicaragua Mission Trip, click here.
Nicaragua Mission Trip: June 2009
If you would like to read emails and stories from the 2009 Nicaragua Mission Trip, download a pdf of The Nicaragua Mission 2009 - A Collection of Emails from Cathy Goodman.
New Nicaragua Project Website: new for 2012!
The Nicaragua Project is a cooperative effort of multiple congregations in the Colorado Front Range area to provide assistance to the Somoto area of Nicaragua. Bethlehem Lutheran Church is one of the participants. There is a new website for the cooperative Nicaragua Project and if you would like additional information about the Nicaragua project, click here.
Additional Questions and Answers
The Nicaragua Project Account
Questions and Answers
Questions? Contact Cathy Goodman 303-530-3838
Because of You
Donors have been very generous in their giving of encouragement, prayers, material goods, and money for the support of the Nicaragua Project. Because of your support, in 2008, we were able to do the following:1. We had four clinics, two of which served areas that are difficult to access and people have little to no medical care.
2. We taught Bible School to many children. Through our presence in Nicaragua, five women have become “missionaries” in their own area. These five women helped immensely with both the Bible School and clinics
3. We initiated a scholarship program for Ninos y Ninas del Futuro for 11 youths, three of whom are orphans. A bowl-a-thon that raised money sponsored four of the eleven. This inspired others to give scholarships as well. Each student receives $20 a month in needed supplies and food. Every penny goes to the student as the five “missionaries” volunteer their time to administer the program.
4. We were able to start the construction of the children’s program Boys and Girls of the Future (Ninos y Ninas del Futuro) The program will provide medical, nutritional, spiritual, and educational support and technical training for 120 children. In the last stage, an orphanage will be built.
a. Because we were able to speak to a governing board at the mayor’s office about our strong approval and support for the program, the land was donated. A church member donated money to grade the land. Only the cost of running the machinery will be paid as volunteers will do the work and the machinery is being loaned free of charge.5. We started an account to support, for $300 each per year, 30 impoverished students to go to school to learn to be nurse assistants who can do all a nurse can do, write prescriptions, and provide community health education. They come from 30 of 82 isolated villages near Somoto. These villages have little to no access to medical care. They will return to their village after their training to provide medical care where there has been none. They currently get only one small meal a day and sleep on a bare floor together. Donations by sponsors can now be sent through the Nicaragua Project.
6. We provided a roof over the sleeping area for an 81 year old man who had only plastic sheeting to cover his shack.
7. We put money in escrow to complete the Mother’s House in Telpaneca. It will save the lives of mothers and infants during birth. We were able to obtain two volunteer experts to determine the most efficient ways to use funds to finish it and make the house operational.
8. We fit 250 pairs of new eye glasses and left another 100 to be taken by an optometrist to remote villages. People cannot afford them, and the stories of people thrilled with being able to see clearly are numerous.
9. We provided two small cooking areas outside the two homes we built.
10. We built two homes for two homeless families, one of whom is a family in which the mother and two children who have Downs Syndrome are cared for by the grandmother. They were covering themselves in plastic during downpours, trying to protect themselves. Beds were also purchased so they no longer have to sleep on the ground.
We cannot thank you enough for your continuing generous support that is helping the poor and helping the poor help themselves.
“Seeds” Sewn in Nicaragua
Flora, who is caring for the three with Downs Syndrome and was living under plastic, has become an enthusiastic, extremely hard worker with the Sunday School and children's project. Out of gratitude for the 400 square foot brick house we built her and the four beds we gave her, she has been guarding the construction materials for the children's project all night so they do not get stolen as they work on the building. This is at some risk to herself, but no one there can convince her to stop! She then begins at 5:00 AM hauling water by hand to the construction site for the volunteer workers there. The other day, she had a meeting in her little home with Marta ( one of the heads of the children's project) the mayor of Somoto, and a mayor from Spain. She wants to start a Sunday School at her home and the children in her area are thrilled. Others never truly knew her before and she has been a surprise blessing to all there. Marta has been writing us about Flora's energy, enthusiasm, and joy that she is spreading to all around. "Seeds" that we were able to sew there due to your generosity are growing and the results are amazing.
Cathy Goodman, Secretary of the Nicaragua Project.
A NICARAGUA PILLOW?