I heard of SosteNica through a family connection and was curious enough to take the trip down to see what they are doing for the people of Nicaragua with my own eyes. To my surprise, traveling along side us visitors were board members, an investor, the CEO, and the Founder of SosteNica. Working, sweating, teaching, and learning beside us the entire trip. That is what I, and now my friends and family back home, found so impressive about this organization. The people involved sincerely care for, and want to help these people and their country. There is no doubt that the money of it's supporters and lenders are in the right hands.
The micro-loans they lend to entrepreneurs who need the help getting a small business started is especially great. These people have such potential and it's only a lack of funds that are holding them back. SosteNica helps them with that.
Safe stove building is also so important for the safety and health of families cooking over open fire. Besides the obviously health benefits and greatly reduced burn risk, it requires much less firewood: less need to cut down trees. (And for those with land, a discount is offered for these stoves if the family is able to plant a number of trees). In turn, improving the health of the environment.
I had the privilege of attending a school that was celebrating having easy access to water again, and now a garden to water as well. All this thanks to SosteNica. This was a happy moment, but also sad to witness children with so little and having to face such difficulties in order to get an education. The fact that the government only provides them only with one meal of rice and beans a day, and that a garden with other nutrients from fruits and vegetables is such a luxury to them was hard to know. I was so grateful they had help.
It seems every service SosteNica has to offer is a win-win for both the people in need, and the environment. It is truly impressive.
This organization and the beautiful souls putting their heart and energy into it will stay with me forever. I can't wait to watch what else they will do for the people of Nicaragua and to do as much as I can to contribute with them.
My classmates and I had the opportunity to spend our spring break in Nagarote, Nicaragua with Sostenica. Their incredible staff welcomed us and guided us in our efforts to make a positive impact on the public health of the town. As a team, we were able to construct safe, environmentally friendly stoves out of locally sourced supplies for several deserving families. We also helped in reforestation efforts and cleaned up trash from a riverbed. Sostenica is changing the lives of countless Nicaraguan families, as well as American students, each and every day.
Sostenica is about sustainable growth -- growth you can understand, see, and experience. Over 25 years, they have demonstrated a strong commitment to the principals they promote, while adapting their methods and specific programs to meet the needs and conditions in the communities they serve. There are many good stories, and they share them in their newsletters. Better yet, go to Nicaragua with a Sostenica group, as I recently did. Share in the work and experience the stories first hand. Nicaragua is a great place to visit, and Sostenica's Eco Center in Nagarote is a wonderful base. We visited farms and schools, helped to build a stove and plant trees -- and had a great time with the Sostenica staff and the families they serve.
Sostenica can also help your growth -- invest your money in Sostenica and it will grow even as it benefits the rural communities. I have been an investor for 20 years and they have never missed an interest payment.
My husband and I have been involved with SosteNica since the early 1990's, first as friends/donors and, since 2009, as investors. Our family had the great good fortune to travel to Nicaragua in 2012, spending 2 weeks visiting SosteNica's numerous projects throughout the country. I am currently spending 6 months in Nagarote as a volunteer for SosteNica's newest project, the Eco Centro .
The Eco Centro includes a beautiful demonstration garden to educate the public on sustainable methods for growing food in small backyard spaces through our tours and workshops. Over 150 visitors, including a service delegation of Public Health graduate students from the US, have toured the Eco Centro since I arrived in January. We work continually with families in and around Nagarote to create sustainable, productive backyard gardens. Our services include workshops and training sessions, on-going technical support for seeds, best growing practices, irrigation systems, and training for soil conservation, well maintenance and water management which are crucial as climate change and a two-year drought wreak havoc on growing conditions here. Eco Centro develops and carries out local reforestation projects and is initiating a farmers' market and beekeeping/honey production operation in Nagarote to create new income streams for our producers.
Through our school garden project, we are teaching 250 children in 6 low-income rural schools techniques to create sustainable gardens that will diversify and enrich their school lunches of rice and beans which, in many cases, is the only meal the children get per day. Similar to 4-H projects throughout the USA, SosteNica believes in "learning through doing," so the children participate in all aspects of the gardens, from concept and design, through the digging and preparing of the soil, to planting, harvesting and enjoying the fruits of their labor. The children are encouraged to take their knowledge home and create gardens with their families.
We are also educating people to build clean, eco-friendly cooking stoves in Nagarote, Leon, and Matagalpa. These green technology stoves vent smoke out of the home, improving air quality and respiratory health of families. Our eco-stove design (a SosteNica original) consumes about one quarter of firewood needed for traditional Nicaraguan stoves, which will significantly impact the deforestation crisis of the nation. Additionally, the stoves cook with a more concentrated heat source, reducing cooking time and creating more time for other pursuits for the women of the families we serve. Working with an associate organization, SosteNIca has constructed about 50 eco-stoves in the last year.
The tireless efforts of SosteNica's team to educate and empower families to become more self-reliant, productive and healthy are a constant source of inspiration for me. I am honored to be part of this incredible network.
SosteNica is an incredible organization. I have spent the past nine months planning a service trip to support their many projects in Nicaragua, and I could not be more impressed with the dedication of the team. I have learned of their past work constructing eco-friendly sustainable housing, providing micro-loans to low income families, and planting school gardens. Now, our group of graduate students will be assisting SosteNica in building eco-stoves to reduce smoke inhalation and fuel requirements in rural Nicaraguan homes. I am very excited to begin our service project and proud to be supporting the SosteNica team.
SosteNica's work is based on a holistic vision of sustainable development of the community. Its work addresses the real needs of the small producers that it helps, and aren't just "feel good" projects. Because the economy of the community of Nagarote is still very much rooted in agriculture, SosteNica helps to promote agriculture that is affordable, sustainable and diversified. I volunteered with the team for seven weeks, and it was extraordinary how dedicated the members were to helping the community, as they often rode for great length to each producer's farm to deliver technical assistance and support. In addition to going out into the field, the team also frequently held workshops and demonstrations on topics such as creating organic fertilizers and preserving produce. I also loved how the team started reaching out to schools to encourage the younger generation to have more interest in sustainability and responsibility for their natural resources. In particular, I had the opportunity to help with the sustainable family gardens initiative, which had real impact in providing more food security, economic opportunity and better diets for the producers. All in all, it was inspiring to see how SosteNica developed such a diverse array of complementary projects to support community development and natural resource conservation. I highly recommend you to check out their work on Google+ and Facebook--the pictures are great windows into the meaningful projects that they do!