Children splash in the water gushing from a pipe from the new well in El Raisal.
The water test in El Raisal was a success!

Water, Pigs, Faith: Transforming Nicaragua

Last spring, Cross Catholic Outreach challenged donors to expand the impact and reach of an incredible transformation already underway in rural Chinandega, Nicaragua.

Part of the initiative focused on a remote community called El Raisal, which was in urgent need of a clean, reliable water source. To further the transformation of that area, Cross Catholic Outreach and its in-country Catholic partner also developed an innovative empowerment program to help poor farmers tap into Nicaragua’s thriving pork industry.

U.S. Catholics were invited to become involved in this work of mercy, and they answered the call with an impressive outpouring of support. Their gifts, translated into compassionate action, have brought wonderful changes to El Raisal and empowered its families to achieve greater levels of prosperity!

The Water Project

In this Nicaraguan region plagued by a lack of basic infrastructure, we aimed to rescue 70 households from the daily suffering caused by dependence on shallow, contaminated water sources. The goal was not simply to give them a shipment of water or install another low-quality well sure to break down and fall into disuse. Rather, our local ministry was prepared to provide a long-term solution that included:

  • • One professionally drilled well.
  • • A powerful electric pump and a large holding tank.
  • • Filtration and chlorination to remove disease-causing contaminants.
  • • Miles of PVC pipes connecting all 70 homes to the system.
  • • Two water faucets per household.
  • • 24-hour water access.

Related: Cross Catholic Outreach’s water projects around the world.

A woman holds a plastic bucket with a dirty creek in the background.
Zambian women use plastic buckets like these to collect water, often from contaminated sources.

The Pig Project

Our local ministry partner has also been developing an animal husbandry project to empower farmers to breed and market pigs. The goal is that a single farmer might earn as much as $8,000 in profits in just one year — a big boost in a country where 3 in 10 people live on less than $2 a day.

This dream seems closer than ever now that our partner is running the largest pig production operation in the entire Chinandega area. We were asked to provide the final key enhancements needed to fully implement this program and meet the heavy demand.

The challenge: increasing the piglet survival rate and overall supply so more farmers can join the program.

The solution: creating a new piglet production facility capable of producing 2,500 healthy piglets annually.

Related: Support microenterprise for the poor

Results: Achieving Clean Water

It won’t be long now. The dream of clean, abundant water will soon be a reality for the 292 people of El Raisal — and their lives will never be the same.

The well has been drilled, and the water test results confirm everything we hoped for when the project began. The water the well produces is clean, and the system will produce enough to supply the entire community’s daily needs.

Now our ministry partner is working on logistics for the infrastructure improvements that will connect every household to this plentiful source. That is where the sweat equity of the community is critical. In fact, the whole philosophy of this project is that, in order for a solution to be successful, the beneficiaries must want that solution and must commit to participating in the effort and ultimately taking ownership of their new resource.

What an encouragement to know that El Raisal’s people are ready and eager to do everything asked of them. Most of the families have already paid their small maintenance contribution, and they are excited to start digging trenches and laying pipes!

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A Nicaraguan man operates an old well.
Lorenzo is a member of El Raisal’s water leadership committee.

Helping Those Who Help Their Neighbors

We’d like to praise one particular member of El Raisal’s water leadership committee — a father named Lorenzo.

Though the water isn’t here yet, Lorenzo has already picked the exact spot where his home spigot will be installed. He’s incredibly excited by this prospect, and his enthusiasm is contagious.

In fact, Lorenzo’s infectious energy, joy and vision are some of the reasons he was elected to serve on the committee.

Throughout this effort, Lorenzo and the committee have been working diligently to make the dream of clean, abundant water a reality for their families and neighbors. It is their job to promote the project, to mobilize the community and to manage the system once complete.

The day the water begins to flow will be a beautiful and inspiring moment for Lorenzo. At age 47, he has never experienced the peace of mind that comes from having clean, running water at home. Like so many of his neighbors, he grew up drinking unsafe water, and his children have faced the same difficult conditions. For a while, he was purchasing purified water for his youngest daughter; but after she turned 5, he had to switch to well water due to the cost. The effects were immediate. She was plagued by diarrhea and waterborne illnesses.

Speaking on behalf of the people of El Raisal, Lorenzo said, “This is something we’ve never had before, and it’s something we are truly rejoicing over. This will mean so much for our families and even more to the future generation. Thinking about the effects this will have on my grandchildren is really special.”

As a man of faith, Lorenzo gives the glory and honor to God first and foremost for this blessing. He also is deeply grateful to those who funded the water project.

“I wish my entire community could stand in front of those who have made this possible,” Lorenzo said, “because just sharing my gratitude here with you doesn’t feel like enough. I want them to see and know the ways in which they are changing so many families’ lives.”

An animal husbandry specialist holds a piglet inside the new breeding facility.
The pig nursery has been completed!

Results: Empowering Farmers

The new nursery has been completed, and it is a clean, humane area for the piglets and sows to grow! Cross Catholic Outreach funding also provided direct support for the individual farmers who will receive and raise the pigs.

To ensure the project is fruitful and its benefits are lasting, our partner engaged in a careful selection process for the beneficiaries, and we are confident their efforts will pay off. This is an advanced empowerment program, placing big responsibilities on the participating farmers, so every step of the process is important to its success.

Each of the selected farmers (currently five but expected to increase as the project progresses) will receive a high-tech pig pen, 25 piglets from the best stock, and the technical assistance they need to feed and care for the pigs. Once mature, those pigs will be purchased by our partner to sell to a commercial pork company, ensuring a reliable income for the farmers, quality pork for consumers and future investment of capital to ensure the sustainability of the project. The expectation is that the initial 25 pigs will yield an approximately $600 profit. The next cycle will double the number of pigs and potentially double the profit, empowering our partner to produce more pigs and reach more farmers.

Glorifying the Lord

No transformation is complete until it also address the spiritual needs in a community. The pigs and the water systems and all the material aid provided to Chinandega communities are ultimately about glorifying Christ and helping local families experience his light and love.

As the families get motivated to work for change, they are also encouraged to renew and deepen their faith. That faith becomes the glue that holds these communities together and makes these projects succeed.

Our desire is to make Christ more visible, whether it is through someone showing up to help dig a ditch or through how our partner loves and cares for each family. These actions open the door to deep relationships and pave the way for life transformation.

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Proceeds from this campaign will be used to cover any expenditures incurred through June 30, 2022, the close of our ministry’s fiscal year. In the event that more funds are raised than needed to fully fund the project, the excess funds, if any, will be used to meet the most urgent needs of the ministry.