We have a lot of respect for the local ministry partner we’re working with in rural Chinandega, Nicaragua. The team there is deeply committed to being God’s instrument of mercy, and its members strongly believe that every person — no matter how underprivileged — should be respected and engaged in that ministry process. They want every individual to feel called by Christ to greatness and make an important contribution to the work being done.
As staffers, volunteers and community members get their hands dirty making dreams come true — from solving water access problems to promoting education and building stronger economies — the line between beneficiary and benefactor eventually fades and a single community of faith develops.
Take, for example, Moises Narvaez, a farmer who lives with his wife, daughter, son-in-law and two grandchildren in a poor rural area. Moises could have just focused on his own family’s needs, but he chose to volunteer to help a neighboring community build a pig nursery. What’s more, he did this without knowing that months later he himself would become a beneficiary of the pig program, which helps families run successful businesses raising pigs to sell at the market.
The actions of Juan Aguilera also demonstrate this shift to stronger community involvement. The retired teacher and grandfather recently modeled the value of neighborly love and service by organizing a group of local volunteers to clean the streets of their village, La Chuscada, so the children could march in a parade celebrating their national Independence Day.
Some Chinandega teens have also embraced this call to service. Having had their lives transformed through projects such as education support and water system construction, they formed youth committees that organize and teach after-school classes for younger students.
On a larger scale, the call to serve can manifest as a whole community standing in solidarity with its neighbors. Recently, the community of San Benito finished installing a new water system. Just two weeks later, the residents were already hard at work assisting the community next door with the installation of a similar system so that others could enjoy the same blessing of clean, abundant water.
To implement such water projects, our partner also sometimes depends on the cooperation of local landowners willing to donate a parcel at a suitable location to drill a well. This is a contribution they offer with joy, knowing the benefit the system will bring not only to their neighbors but also to their own families.
Related: Fighting Poverty in Latin America
Though trust and a spirit of collaboration may seem like easy virtues to promote — in rural Nicaragua, extreme poverty can harden families and make them skeptical about working for the benefit of others.
A typical worker earns just a couple thousand dollars a year. That’s less than $5.50 a day to buy food, clothes, medicine, school supplies and other necessities and keep a roof over one’s head. This income level seems unsustainable, but without academic credentials or expendable capital, there is virtually no way for these remote communities to achieve higher status.
Instead, families accept a life of hardship and suffering, in which they lack many of the most basic modern amenities, from flush toilets and running water to a way to cook their food without filling their lungs with smoke.
But when you walk into a community that has partnered with our friends, you don’t experience despair. Instead, you sense a growing spirit of love and hope. Parents who have toiled in the fields their whole lives with little to show for their efforts express a strong conviction that things are changing, that their children have a bright future, and that they can do big things if they work together.
Through the prayers and generosity of Cross Catholic Outreach donors, many Nicaraguan communities have been blessed with modern water systems and other transformative programs — and the joy we have seen in those communities inspires us to keep working!
Right now, more than 170 communities in the Chinandega department still lack access to clean, running water and sanitation infrastructure — as do many communities in developing countries around the world.
You can be a part of the solution to this global water crisis by giving online today. Your generosity will quench thirst, prevent waterborne illness and encourage those in need with the love of Christ.
Proceeds from this campaign will be used to cover any expenditures incurred through June 30, 2024, 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.