April 2015 Update
Dear Friends of Rio del Cambio
Our trip to Citalapa in February was full! Everyday of the two weeks were packed with meetings, decisions, activities, travel and of course, being with and experiencing life in the back corners of Nicaragua. The weather was hot and dry – stifling some days, with just a hint of cloud cover to keep the temperature under 35 degrees.
The trip to the beach was once again a highlight. We budgeted for and expected 250 people. Upon arriving, Elias announced 50 more wanted to come. On the morning of, 320 people were lined up at 7am. to board the buses. To ensure we could accommodate everyone, we cutback the lunch menu to include a piece of chicken for everyone, rice and enough vegetables to make a hardy stew. The villagers packed their own food for the rest of the day. It was a great success and a lot of fun! All ages attended – 8 days old to over 80 years. We also took the opportunity to photograph most of the children in the school program for the Sponsorship Program. Any children we missed were photographed on the first day of classes. These photos will be sent out to each of you in the next few weeks.
A special thank you to Esther, Cathy and Doug who travelled with me to Nicaragua. Esther, who speaks Spanish, was unexpectedly recruited to be my translator when the best laid plans did not work out. Esther rose to the occasion beautifully – she performed her new duties graciously, professionally and with a touch of welcomed humour that was greatly appreciated. Cathy and Esther also helped to ensure that we accurately photographed and recorded information about each of the children in the Sponsorship Program. Cathy spent time with the women in the Sewing Program and helped them to improve their skills and self-confidence. My husband Doug, assisted in the planning, purchasing and installation of the new ceramic tiles in the Education Centre. His knowledge and wisdom kept us under budget and on time.
The women of Citalapa participated in a 2 day workshop learning how to build and use the Solar Ovens. They were very excited and appreciative of the ovens. These ovens will help to reduce the amount of toxic smoke the women breathe in and the amount of wood they must find or purchase each day. A normal “learning curve” was witnessed but Fuprosomunic, the local supporting organization, are doing an excellent job of providing the women with ongoing support and information.
Armando and Franz hosted a workshop with the Farmers teaching them about the benefits and uses of the Moringa plant. Although skeptical at first, the farmers quickly began to incorporate the plant into their daily diet and lives. We watched several women drying the leaves in their solar ovens to make tea, and add it to their stews and bread. Moringa is high in protein, vitamins and mineral. It also helps to treat kidney, heart, liver, diabetes and skin disorders. There are now enough trees growing in the village to supply every household with the plant’s leaves year round.
We finished tiling the floor of the Education Centre just in time for the first day of the school year. It was an exhilarating day to see the children arrive, provide them with new notebooks, pens and pencils then watch them settle into their respective classes. They will now be sheltered from the harsh sun and driving rains during their time in the Rio del Cambio Learning Program. Thank you to all that have generously and faithfully donated to this program. Education is the primary focus of Rio del Cambio and we are please to announce that we now have almost 100 children in the elementary program and 35 students in high school. We also have 12 students learning English on Saturday morning.
As I reflect on this past trip, I am pleased and proud of the work of Rio del Cambio over the past 5 years. There has been a positive and measurable amount of progress in the village, and more importantly, a “greater level of human dignity, health and well-being” has been achieved. Citalapa continues to live in abject poverty. This can not be denied but, thanks to your help, together we are making a difference in the lives of the villagers of Citalapa, particularly the children. They now have hopes and dreams for a better future. They now know they have choices and the opportunity to strive for a better tomorrow.
We will again be hosting the Rio del Cambio Annual Fundraising Festival in July. Please mark your calendars for Saturday July 4th and stay tuned for further details. Randy Parsons is lining up some new and amazing talent. Tickets will be on sale in May.
Thank you to all that have supported and donated to Rio del Cambio. Your kindness and generosity is greatly appreciated and is truly making a difference. For more information, please feel free to email info@riodelcambio, or visit our Facebook page, there are lots of great pictures on www.facebook.com/riodelcambio
Rio del Cambio
Founder and Director