My Nonprofit Reviews
Review for Sostenica Inc, West Chester, PA, USA
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.