Category Archives: Blog

Crisis Response: Income Generation

In April of 2018, protests broke out in Nicaragua that resulted in over 3 months of unrest, widespread destruction of public property, and more than 300 deaths. Thanks to your generosity, we were able to respond to the crisis and provide families with support in the areas of food security, medical attention, water distribution, and income generation.

Fabio López with one of the first batches of “Sol Frijol” (Rayo de Sol Beans)

One of our greatest concerns during the crisis was the loss of income for many people. In Matagalpa, many small businesses were forced to close and others had to reduce staff to stay afloat. Many of the people that we work with were affected by the economic downturn. Also, the small farmers that we work with had beans planted, but the local markets have been unpredictable. Pricing and transportation became more complex and many farmers were in jeopardy of losing money on their crops.

We decided to work with small farmers to ensure that they earned a fair price for their red bean crops. We set up a small business, purchasing beans from small farmers at a fair price (20% above other buyers), packaging the beans and selling them in local markets. In the process, we also generated some temporary employment for two women who helped to weigh, package and label the beans.

One of the farmers who was most anxious to work with us on this pilot project was Fabio López. Fabio has been one of the most enthusiastic biointensive farmers in his community and he had a small plot of red beans planted as well. Like most small farmers, he desperately needed cash to cover his family’s expenses, but was concerned that the buyers who were flocking to the community were paying an extremely low price for beans. We offered him the opportunity to work with us and he happily sold us 600 pounds of high quality red beans. We paid him 20% more than what he would have made, which allowed him to better provide for his family. We hope that this pilot project can grow into a more substantial micro-business in the future.

Crisis Response: Water Distribution

In April of 2018, protests broke out in Nicaragua that resulted in over 3 months of unrest, widespread destruction of public property, and more than 300 deaths. Thanks to your generosity, we were able to respond to the crisis and provide families with support in the areas of food security, medical attention, water distribution, and income generation.

María Aguilar and her grandchildren with their new rain harvesting tank

Access to clean water is a serious problem in many communities. The public water supply system is insufficient to provide water to many rural communities. Most rural families rely on hand dug wells or mountain springs for their water sources. Providing water for their families often means traveling significant distances to haul water in buckets and pitchers. Some communities also depend on water that is delivered by the municipal government in a large truck. Unfortunately, that truck was destroyed during protesting.

We wanted to make sure that the most vulnerable families had access to water, so we decided to expand the rain harvesting project we started last year. In 2017, we installed systems for 45 families that would allow them to capture rain water and filter it for consumption. This year, we replicated the same system, with some minor improvements, for another 31 families in the Cerro de Piedra and Las Lomas communities.

María Aguilar lives with her children and grandchildren in a very remote area of the Cerro de Piedra community. The nearest water source is about a mile from their home, in the middle of the mountains. The family has to go the spring, which is not particularly clean, to wash their clothes and haul water back to the house for their drinking, cooking and bathing. They are very excited to have the new rain harvesting system, which will provide them with 660 gallons of water right at their home. This will help to dramatically improve their health and hygienic conditions, especially for the children.

Crisis Response: Medical Attention

In April of 2018, protests broke out in Nicaragua that resulted in over 3 months of unrest, widespread destruction of public property, and more than 300 deaths. Thanks to your generosity, we were able to respond to the crisis and provide families with support in the areas of food security, medical attention, water distribution, and income generation.

Families who live in the rural communities we serve have to travel considerable distances to receive medical attention. Going to the public health clinic means catching the first bus at 5 a.m., riding an hour and a half into the city, waiting in line for at least two hours and hoping that they are treated by a physician. Usually, there are very limited medicines at the public health clinics, and patients are handed several prescriptions that they often can’t afford to fill. During the period of unrest, many people simply did not go to the clinic because of the risks.

Our concern was that there many patients were probably not receiving medical attention in the rural communities because of this situation. We decided to respond with medical clinics in the most remote communities, to ensure that both children and adults were receiving proper care. We began clinics in late July and the response has been overwhelming. There are many people who are in desperate need of quality medical attention.

One of the patients that most impacted us is Fátima Montenegro, a four year old girl in the El Carrizo community. Fátima has suffered from a chronic skin problem for more than a year. She was treated at the health center, though her illness was not cured. During the protests, her parents were unable to get her to the public clinic. Fátima was immediately detected by our doctor and has been in treatment for a month. She has already shown great improvement, which has brought great joy to her parents. We will continue to follow up on her condition to ensure that she receives the highest quality care possible.

Crisis Response: Food Security

In April of 2018, protests broke out in Nicaragua that resulted in over 3 months of unrest, widespread destruction of public property, and more than 300 deaths. Thanks to your generosity, we were able to respond to the crisis and provide families with support in the areas of food security, medical attention, water distribution, and income generation.

Darling and her son Marlón

One of our greatest concerns was making sure that families who had been affected by the crisis would have enough to eat. With loss of employment and lack of mobility due to the violence, many of the families we serve were at risk. We established a “food for work” initiative so that parents could help out with tasks in their communities, at school or at our office. In exchange, they were provided with a food package that included beans, rice, flour, corn and cooking oil. During a two month period, we provided food assistance to 120 families.

One of the families that benefitted from this initiative was that of Darling Martinez. Darling and her husband have two children, Guadalupe (6) and Marlon (3). Marlon has special needs and we have been assisting with his medical needs for the past couple of years. Darling’s husband works in construction, but during the civil unrest, he lost his job. With virtually no possibilities of finding employment during the crisis, they were in jeopardy of not having enough food for their family. They were enthusiastic participants in our work for food initiative, helping us to clean around the office and package food for other families. They were grateful to have the support during such a difficult time.

Playing for Peace

“And the streets of the city shall be full of boys and girls playing in its streets.”
– Zechariah 8:5

The situation in Nicaragua has been stressful for everyone, especially for children. The exposure to conflict and violence can be traumatic for children, causing deep, emotional scars. In response to this situation, we have looked for ways to provide children with outlets for their energy and emotions. Last week, we organized a sports competition with four urban schools, dedicated to promoting peace in Nicaragua.

More than 150 students from the 15 de Septiembre, Napoleón Baldelomar, Edmundo Castellón and Lucidia Mantilla schools spent playing kick ball, hand ball and a variety of other local games. It was, more than anything, an opportunity for the children to forget about the stress that has plagued their lives for the past three months and to play in peace. Teachers and parents supported the event, motivating them to perform to the best of their abilities.

Thanks to your generosity and compassion, we will continue to provide safe opportunities for children to play, learn and grow.

Play Ball!

The time of year has come for the annual Rayo de Sol Games to begin. Teams are formed at each school to compete in kickball, handball, and a variety of other fun and crazy games. We love to see the excitement of the children as they train to represent their schools. Teachers, students, and Rayo de Sol staff alike had a great time breaking out of the normal routine to get outside and have some fun. Steven Dávila, a fourth grader at Edmundo Castellón Elementary School, gave us his take on the games and Rayo de Sol’s involvement with his school.

Steven represented his school in handball and proved to be a excellent addition to the team. Although they didn’t win it all, he loved getting to play and compete against the other schools in his community. Even if this year didn’t result in a major victory, Steven and his classmates still have bragging rights from last year when their school achieved 1st place in the soccer tournament. Sports events like the Rayo de Sol Games are critical in encouraging healthy exercise, building teamwork skills, and making school a place where the students look forward to going.

In addition to the sports events, Steven has been deeply impacted by other ways Rayo de Sol partners with his school. He told us that since Rayo de Sol started working with Edmundo Castellón Elementary, “there is more happiness in our school, and more fathers and mothers are coming to the school to help out.” Parents help prepare and serve nutritious meals to the children, cultivate school gardens, and assist teachers with cleaning and other tasks. We have found that encouraging parental involvement in the schools we serve has a tremendous positive impact on educational outcomes for their children. It is a beautiful thing to see the way parents and teachers partner together for the good of the children in their community, and we are grateful to be able to serve a Edmundo Castellón Elementary School.

Investing in the Next Generation

In our work, we always strive to focus on long term impact. That’s why whenever possible, we involve scholarship students in the various programs we carry out, training up the next generation of Nicaraguans to respond to the needs of their community. This month, Magdiel, Ashlee, Litzy, and Francis helped lead our children’s ministry programs at Máximo Napoleón Baldelomar Elementary School.

Under the supervision of staff member Martha Cortedano, the girls led group games with the kids and assisted in teaching a lesson about the life of Paul. Through a fun animated video and review games afterwards, the children learned how Paul’s encounter with Jesus on the way to Damascus changed his life. Despite being a persecutor of the church, God transformed him into a preacher and missionary that gave his life to spread the gospel. The kids also learned about the persecution Paul faced as a Christian.

The main focus of the lesson was that no matter what difficulties we go through, God is always there to help us. This message is especially relevant given the current situation in Nicaragua, and we are so proud to see girls like Magdiel, Ashlee, Litzy, and Francis stepping up and sharing hope with those who are younger than them.

Allan’s Story

If you’ve ever visited the Rayo de Sol office, chances are that you’ve met Allan Altamirano. He’s almost always working, singing (very loudly), or trying to practice his English with you, and he’s constantly bringing laughter to those around him.

Allan Altamirano is a Rayo de Sol university scholarship student, and he is the first person in his immediate family to attend college. Thanks to the scholarship he receives, he is able to continue his studies and have a say in his future career.

Apart from being a role model to his family, Allan is also a great example to his peers in the community. He is a volunteer leader at his local Young Life club and regularly travels with us to help run the rural Young Life club in the Piedra de Agua community, where he leads games and shares biblical messages.

“There are some young people that are caught up in vices, whether that be drugs, alcohol, or any of that. So we are volunteers who help those people to follow God and not go down the wrong path.”

Allan has been a tremendous blessing to Rayo de Sol, and we pray that he will continue to grow in his faith and his leadership role in the community.

Elvin’s Story

Elvin is an active member of the Young Life club that Rayo de Sol coordinates in his community. Last year, Elvin was injured, and the Rayo de Sol team ensured that he received the medical attention he needed. His mother sells tortillas to support her family and could not afford to pay for his medical care.

I was so glad to have Rayo de Sol’s support when I had a medical problem last year. The staff took excellent care of me and made sure that I got the treatment that I needed. Today, I am better and my mother and I are very grateful for the support we received.”

A Day Isn’t Complete Without a Visit from Oliveidi

A day at the Rayo de Sol office is not complete until Oliveidi has come for a visit. Oliveidi is eleven years old and is in the third grade at the 15 de Septiembre School. She lives with her parents and eight siblings in a small house, located a few blocks from our office. Oliveidi’s parents work hard to support the family, but they have faced a lot of difficulties. She should be in the sixth grade this year, but her education has been affected by her family’s economic situation.

This year, we are happy that she is back in school and anxious to learn. Oliveidi participates in all of our children’s discipleship activities and the reading club at her school. She is usually one of the first to show up for after school activities and is often the last to leave. Oliveidi has grown to love reading and also enjoys making art. She has developed very close relationships with our staff and they often help her with her homework as well.

Her teacher has told us that she has been much more focused on her school work this year and has gotten excellent grades so far. We are so excited to see her succeed this year and will continue to support her in her personal, spiritual and academic development.