|Source: Presbyterian Mission|
Longtime global mission partner of several denominations in the United States is turning 50. The Council of Protestant Churches of Nicaragua (CEPAD) was founded by Dr. Gustavo Parajon in 1972 in response to an earthquake that rocked the country.
CEPAD is an organization composed of 70 denominational bodies and congregations in Nicaragua that focuses on helping build resilient communities and empower individuals to be in charge of their own development.
World Mission’s regional liaison for Central America, Tracey King-Ortega said, “What was unique about the response Dr. Parajon organized was that it was ecumenical,” she said. “It was different denominations coming together to serve their community in need. Working across denominational lines was so enriching that as the emergency response work wrapped up, those involved wanted to keep it going. They shifted their work to development, have been going strong for almost 50 years and have walked alongside more than 4,000 communities in the country.”
Focusing on providing faith-based training services to rural communities, CEPAD programs are noted for their abilities to raise local leadership capacities, implement sustainable agricultural practices, and provide economic development assistance.
CEPAD helps rural farmers adapt their farming techniques to combat climate change through tools such as reforestation, one of the steps to reversing the damage to land and increasing food production. Long-term, these agricultural techniques also help the land become more resilient.
Jose Acosta, a teacher and resident of a community that partners with CEPAD, supplements his income with farming.CEPAD partnered with his waterlocked village to build a bridge that allows farmers to take their crops to market, which becomes difficult during the rainy season. The bridge has also made an impact on the community at large, helping the village keep essential communications during the rainy season, and allowing a safe way for children to get to school.
Another CEPAD village that received assistance was La Esperanza. This is where Maura, a mother and grandmother, resides with her family. She participated in CEPAD’s Family Gardening Program. Previously, villagers like her used labor intensive farming practices that eroded the soil of nutrients and were highly labor intensive. Since learning about CEPAD, she and other villagers have attended workshops on planting, diversifying her crops and producing her own seeds. She was also taught how to make her own pesticides and compost by using available resources.
“In my ongoing accompaniment work with partners like CEPAD, ‘hope’ remains central to our conversations — not just the nature of hopes for the future, but how and where — and if — hope can be found in situations that engender despair,” said King-Ortega. “CEPAD continues to be a source of hope in situations of despair. I am excited to continue to walk and celebrate with them throughout their golden anniversary year. The fullness of life they bring to Nicaraguan communities, and by extension us, is a blessing and a gift and indeed a reason for celebration.”
Source: Presbyterian Mission