Here are some highlights from the SosteNica visit, one of the results of which is that I will be working as a Sustainable Development Coordinator here until August, which I am very excited about.  Also some pictures from Somotillo, where I am starting to help a group from Scotland channel funds to a group of women who need to repair and improve their irrigation systems to grow tomatoes, peppers, and other vegetables.  These two projects are my work for the next six months – along with bopping home to the states occasionally.

Alan Wright, the president of SosteNica, meeting one of the farmers in the Reforestation project in Nagarote.  I will continue working with the project for at least another six months.  The project encourages farmers to companion plant, build soil fertility, reforest river bank, and create an integrated development plan for their farms that uses the natural resources available to their full potential.

Yamilette, the wife of one of the participants, has participated in all the workshops offered by the project enthusiastically, and has already been promoting the project to her neighbors who have riverfront property.  The next phase of the project will be open to new clients, provided that they qualify for a commercial loan from the micro credit company first.  The involvement of women and children in the project is fundamentally important – everyone benefits from a prosperous and sustainable farm.

My new colleagues Jay Pressman and Chris Bell.  We witnessed the signing of an agreement between the National Autonomous University here in León and CEPRODEL.  The agreement means that they can get funding internationally to expand joint projects, such as the reforestation project which incorporates students and faculty into the education component, and also work with research projects such as seed banks and investigating new biological controls that can benefit our clients.

We visited several offices in the department of Chinandega, north east of León.  Chinandega is hot.  The offices serve a mixture of agricultural clients and small business owners, and in order to be accessible the offices in the city are located inside the actual markets.  Also remarkable in Chinandega are the teams of women responsible in the offices.  Here is the departmental Director, Eneida, with one of the cashiers Erika and me.  As Chris pointed out, next generation SosteNica and CEPRODEL, represent!

The celebration of signing another year contract with CEPRODEL, whose motto in English should be “Not Just Microcredit”.  Working with housing cooperatives, sustainable farming, food security, commercialization of agricultural products, and integrated regional development along with municipal governments, CEPRODELs impact potential is much greater – and much more positive – than your average micro credit company.  This year, to celebrate their 20th anniversary, they have rearranged their company motto to: “Socially Just, Fiscally Responsible, and Environmentally Sustainable.”  Congratulations CEPRODEL.

This is part of the group of 34 women and their families who are organized in a cooperative in Villa Nueva.  I will be helping with a small project to repair drip irrigation systems and support them to better cultivate their tomatoes and peppers.  The project, funded by a group in Scotland, is called Agua Pa’ Todos and has their own website which I will be posting on regularly.

Cheers to a future filled with hard work, exciting projects, a more sustainable countryside, faith in the power of cooperation and solidarity, and more exploring in Nicaragua!