Unsanitary drinking water is still the most prevalent cause of death in Nicaragua. Less than two miles outside of the few metropolitan areas, both water lines and plumbing end.
Water projects have a a great and immediate impact. Coupled with education programs on cooking hygiene and sanitation, they save thousands of lives every year.
Casa Unida uses several approaches to water projects:
Bio Sand Filtration Units
Our largest scale project to date was achieved partnering with Rotary Club, Int’l to manufacture, distribute, install and educate on the use of bio-sand water filtration units. The relatively inexpensive nature, durability, low maintenance and sub $80 USD price point makes a large scale program a tangible reality. Casa Unida provides the local footwork including labor recruitment, manufacturing, distribution, and education programs that will deliver over 275 bio sand filters by end of year 2013.
Municipal Water Utility Pipeline Extensions
The geography and transportation challenges in Nicaragua impose isolation of service in areas otherwise relatively near to public utilities. Pipelines to extend water service to villages are not only feasible, but cost effective in many circumstances. Casa Unida was able to finance a major water line extension from Somoto to Las Riojas – a distance of 3.5 miles. The result was clean running tap water to over 148 homes. Local laborers from the villages served were employed to trench and construct the water line, each taking responsibility for the construction and maintenance of sections from their home to the city junction.
Wells and Pump Units
Wells and pumps still serve as a useful way to provide water to villages more remote. Coupled with bio-sand filters, many times the resulting water is safer than city utilities. Casa Unida provides funds for the construction of wells and pump stations to serve villages in need. A good well when no other methods of water distribution exist will serve several remote villages and hundreds of homes. It is not unusual for rural Nicaraguans to walk several miles for the transport of water back to their homes in large buckets. Wells become community focal points. Good wells stimulate hygiene, agriculture, and family life.
Eben-Ezer School in San Isidro was developed to offer children of any means a superior alternative to the public education available in this small town. Thirteen classrooms are being constructed, and over half of them are in use today. For under ten dollars a month per student, the youth here are exposed to an environment and quality of education that lets them know that they are important and education is esteemed. It is difficult to put the photos we receive of graduates in context. The real journey isn’t walking miles from their dirt floor huts to the school everyday – it is the journey from a young person focused on surviving to a young scholar embracing the prospects of their brighter future as they walk across a stage to receive a diploma and flip their tassels. This is a true transformational experience and sure to pay dividends to the entire region for years to come. Our total outlay for this project that is 80 percent complete is nearing $110,000. About $60,000 more will complete construction and assure us we keep our backpack and school supply donations flowing to the students for years to come!
Melonar School Kitchen
If schools provide meals, children whom often don’t know where their next meal is coming from are sure to attend. If they eat healthy, their prospects for their school day and learning grow astronomically. For a cost of less than $3000, we constructed a kitchen at this public school. It is also across the dirt road from the community center we constructed in 2012. We work with all agencies, public and private. We think outside the box. The goal is education and nutrition. This project achieved both in an area in great need for a small sum of money.
Las Riojas Education Annex
As satellite buildings to our community center, these multi-use classrooms are both the pride and the epicenter of the community. So well equipped are the facilities we construct that the public education officials are working with us to lease them when not used for private education programs. Two more classrooms in another annex are being added in summer of 2013. We know that education is the long term solution for Las Riojas. The same is true everywhere else in Nicaragua. These facilities are like our version of a field of dreams. We build them, and the children and the educators flock to them. When this happens, you know the need you are addressing is underserved. We won’t stop building classrooms of all kinds until the children and the teachers stop coming for miles to utilize them. I think it is safe to say we have a lifetime of work ahead of us in providing education enhancement programs in Nicaragua. Fortunately, we have just the volunteers and donors willing to offer their lifetime of service and support.
Agriculture & Livestock :: Programs & Projects
We have found a diverse array of assistance projects are necessary to stimulate the cultivation of land and raising of animals. They include:
- Land Acquisition for Family garden plots
- Community scale agricultural plots
- Seed Purchases
- Fruit Orchards & Saplings – Land, Implements, and Trees Purchased
- Basic Farm Implements
- Distribution of Goats to families and communites for milk production.
The people of Nicaragua love their land. -they love the land. They know how to work it to survive. A chance to own some land and the means to till, nurture and harvest it is often out of reach. When given the chance, the bounty of Nicaragua comes to life when placed in the capable hands of the villages and family farmers.
Beyond the harvest and the nutritional benefits that comes with it, to the recipient of these programs comes a restoration of the basic fundamentals of a healthy community -the dignity of having work. These projects are an investment infused with a spirit of confidence in the people. Compared to more basic charity-it just feels right for everyone involved. We know our Nicaraguan friends are great custodians of the land and grateful for these opportunities. They prove it year after year by surpassing our highest expectations of the impact this program would have on child nutrition and the spirit of the families and communities.
With your help:
- We have distributed micro loans, grants, and gifts to hundreds of farm and garden projects.
- We have delivered over 300 goats to the yards and community pastures of remote villages
- We have purchased acres of land for communities to do what they do best: nurture it to bounty.
So plant the seeds of hope. Literally. It really is your gift that keeps on giving.
Community Center Projects
We are currently updating our photo collection to showcase these fine facilities serving hundreds in remote villages. You will be astounded at the construction quality and warm environment created by the hard work of volunteers, local laborers, and good old fashioned shovel work. Masonry is tough work – but the primitive methods here yield sterling results when the projects are the pride of a community.
Community Business Development
Sewing Machines for Seamstresses
This program was designed as a self-perpetuating program. In conjunction with Rotary Club Int’l we provided 15 sewing machines and materials for this project. Once the machines were distributed and the men and women trained they began working and earning a modest living. In the spirit of cooperation they agreed to return a small portion of the money they earn to the Foundation in order to buy additional sewing machines for other remote villages. This has been an immensely popular program. We intend to expand this program in the future beyond the scope of coop investment from the local seamstresses. When Nicaraguan women are given the means to provide, or an opportunity to learn a trade -they pursue it with a gusto. It is that enthusiasm to be self sufficient that drives us at Casa Unida to develop more programs and expand successful ones. If we let up, we let our brothers and sisters down. Write us with more great ideas and consider giving to our business development efforts.
Some community business development ideas under review:
- Training Guides to serve the Eco-Tourism Industry
- Creating and Selling Folk Art and Crafts for the Tourist Marketplace