Training with a Purpose 1
I wanted to take some time to give you guys an update about our first day of training today.
Today Chico and I went to a community called La Chipopa, we met at pastor Carlo's church. We had visited three communities previously, communities that were having problems with their water wells, these communities are:
- La Chipopa
- Rio Medina
- Rio Blanco
Despite heavy rains that lasted over two hours we started our training at 9 am with 30 participants from these previously mentioned communities. Our first part of the training was Gospel Proclamation, we had time to share the Gospel in a way that was relevant to what Nicaragua is going through. I wanted to make sure that people understood what we need to do in times of despair; trust God and depend on him even more. It was a great session and we had a lot of questions and feedback from the community. I think it was a great time to share God's love, mercy and faithfulness. We had a prayer session with them and different community members prayed for the community, it was great to see different people stepping up and taking a leadership position, it was a process of them understanding that as believers we need to be bold about our faith, especially in these trying times.
The second part of the session was about sharing our vision for WWAP. How we want to empower them and not create dependency. At the beginning it was hard for them to understand the difference between dependency and empowerment, so I tried to use different analogies to help them. I think that when I used the example of parents and how we try to train and teach our children so when they grow up they can become independent, productive men and women, once I used that analogy people understood what we are trying to do and they started to think about how that applies to their community, they understood what our position is as a ministry. This will be an ongoing process of restoring their sense of pride and work ethic that has been taken away by hand outs. This is an issue that needs to be reinforced so that we create a new generation of Nicaraguans that understand that no matter what our current situation is, we always have something to offer.
During this session people started talking about how they can improve the existing wells, take ownership of them. They talked about fencing the wells, planting different kinds of plants around it and also constructing a roof over them. This part was more about involving them in the problem solving, creating ideas for solutions on their own. This was probably the first time in their lives where they were asked to think of solutions, ideas to their basic challenges. This was one of my favorite moments, to see their faces light up with ideas and creativity. I think they took a very important step, they took the step from: being victims of their situations to being a problem solving community. This is the very essence of community development, it starts with ideas and solutions.
Session three, this is where we handed out the manuals and divided the participants into three groups according to their communities. We had small group sessions so that they would feel comfortable asking questions. We had so many different questions which to me it meant that they were invested, interested in learning as much as possible. They asked about every single part, names and their functions. I was actually surprised how much people asked and wanted to learn.
Then there was time for me to go to each group and drill them with questions and they did a great job with them. After the small groups were done we came together and talked about creating water committees in each community. These will be a group of 3-5 people that will be in charge of:
- Collecting monthly fees from each house
- Buying and storing parts for the wells
- Being accountable to the community on how funds are being managed.
Tomorrow as we meet with each community we will begin taking the steps to creating each WC (Water Committee). Once the WC are established we will set a date with them to begin the financial training with them. The purpose of these sessions is to teach them basic financial principles that will help them with managing funds, transparency and accountability to the community.
Tomorrow we will be going to each community to repair/teach. We will be working with community members, taking the wells apart, putting them back together. This will give us a chance to reinforce what was taught today in the sessions. Tomorrow each community will receive their kits. The kits will include all the parts that are necessary to fix their wells.
We will have time after the three wells are done to hand out certificates, interview community leaders and come together at the church for a time of fellowship with a snack that we will prepare for them.
I am attaching a link to the pictures and videos from today, just so you guys know I was not the one taking the pictures. That was Chico's responsibility. If you have problems with the pictures take it up with him.
Thank you guys again for the support.
I will keep you posted on tomorrow's events.
Training with a Purpose 2
Just as promised, here is day 2 of Training with a Purpose (TWAP).
As a recap for day 1, we shared the gospel and had time to hand out the manual. We divided communities into small groups, they had time to read over the manual and ask all the questions necessary so they could fully understand it.
Day 2 of TWAP was about going out to the actual wells and having time with the community to do the work. The first well was in La Chipopa. A community of 50 homes, 400 people. All of which depend on the well for their source of water. There is usually a long line waiting to use the well. The first step of the the session was to go over the the pump parts, names and why each part is important to the functionality of the well. Then we proceeded to take the wells apart. Once we had all the parts above ground we examined each part with the community and shared with them the problems that we detected. In this particular well, because of the use that it gets parts wear out really quickly. Once all the parts were replaced we had the community put it back together under our supervision, making sure that they took all the precautionary steps. After it had been put together we pumped water to make sure that it was working properly, then we repeated the steps three different times with different community members participating. It was a great experience for them, they used the manual when they felt like it was necessary. Over all there were about 20 community members that participated.
The overall takeaway from each community that we trained was that, people want opportunities, they're hungry for knowledge and desperate for help. The current situation in Nicaragua has unmasked a lot of the social and economical issues that we face, now more than even communities struggle with the most basic things. Many non profits and organizations, for security reasons, have decided to either stop their work or leave. Which means communities are having a harder time because donations, help, programs, etc are on hold. This has uncovered the deeper problems withing communities, which is dependency. That is why it is imperative that we continue to empower communities with different programs that can over time become sustainable.
I think that as an organization we are ahead of many others, because we understand that the only way to break the cycle of poverty and dependency is through the Gospel, empowerment and training. Most organizations with their handouts continue to destroy work ethic and deepen the poverty level. At some level communities are realizing that handouts are not a solution, that the real solution is for communities to be empowered. That is the sense I got from the communities. I interviewed many different community members but there is one specific person that really got my attention. His name is Jose, a community leader and also part of the WC (water committee), he talked about how thankful they were not just for repairing their wells but also for allowing them to be part of the solution, he spoke on behalf of Rio Medina and he explained how they were excited to continue to improve on the conditions of their current well. I am trying to find a program so I can add the captions, I will be sending it to you guys.
I think that it is very important that we continue to listen to their voices, continue to allow them to be part of the solution and hold them accountable. We can't continue to do for them the things that they should/can do for themselves. That was exciting for me this week to see how involved they were in every single part of the sessions. We have communities that need a little help getting organized but they are eager and resourceful as well, I am looking forward to hearing from them on how they will continue to take necessary steps to be completely independent from private contractors that were charging hundreds of dollars.
I want to go over the numbers so that you really get the full picture of what these sessions are doing for the communities and how they are changing lives. Private contractors were charging communities $85 every three months for maintenance work on each well. Some wells are completely broken because they don't have the necessary funds to repair them. For the year, they were paying $340 dollars just to keep one well in working conditions.
What are able to do through TWAP, beside training them, we are also lowering the cost of maintenance drastically. Once communities have been trained and been organized in WC their cost comes to $32 per well, per year. Which means that for each family on a yearly basis it comes out to less than $4. That ladies and gentlemen is real impact. Money they are now saving can be used to cover other needs for the families but the other success story is the community taking steps to change habits, culture and working towards complete dependency. This is the first step of many but we are on the right track.
This method was repeated in each community that we visited:
- La chipopa. 50 homes, 400 members
- Rio Medina. 32 homes, 256 members
- Rio Blanco. 40 homes, 320 members
I am attaching a link to pictures and videos but before I finish I just want to draw your attention to the numbers. I want to make it clear we don't measure our success by the amount of people that we serve. Our success comes from serving others no matter what the number is. But you have to understand the impact that we are having on communities, there are over 900 people that will continue to have clean water, that will continue to grow, will continue to learn and eventually reach their full potential. God is good!!
Thank you for being part of this story, thank you for prayers.
Education with a Purpose 1