Council of Evangelical Churches for Denominational Alliance (CEPAD)
CEPAD is training leaders and strengthening communities through the organization of volunteer community development committees. At the end of 2015, there were 41 committees organized throughout the six regions of Nicaragua where CEPAD works, involving approximately 250 community members, who all want to see and participate in sustainable community improvements in their own communities.
Community leaders are learning how to manage meetings, effective communication techniques, how to prioritize needs, and how to defend individual and civic rights in their community – in addition to trainings on the nation’s constitution and Nicaraguan public policy. After the initial trainings, the community development committees met to prioritize the most important projects they wish to see in their communities. Several of the projects are for immediate improvements, such as improved roadways, better access to clean water, and improved access to electricity. Other projects include more long-term improvements, such as drought preparation, reversing deforestation, and sustainable solutions to food insecurity.
The local governments and the community development committee members, as a whole, have embraced the importance of these projects within their respective committees, and these initiatives are in the process of being incorporated into local government budgets and plans, as well as promoted for support by the community.
The community development committees have provided a space for concerned community members to share and act on important issues in their communities. They have increased the involvement of individuals in community work, and provided a space for individuals to build new friendships and networks. In 2016, CEPAD is continuing to train community leaders on improving written communication to best document activities taking place in the community and to communicate to a larger audience.
In June 2014, I heard a CEPAD commercial on the radio that invited individuals who care about their community to attend an upcoming assembly. I attended the CEPAD assembly, and I met other individuals in my community. At the assembly, I was appointed the volunteer community leader of La Joya’s community development committee.
Before this assembly and CEPAD’s training, my family and I did not know how to address community issues. Now our committee is able to prioritize community projects, and we work with the local government and local nonprofit organizations to improve our community. In the past year, we have opened a new 7 kilometer road. This has greatly benefited the community. Families are now able to take jobs in additional communities and there is better access to medical providers, because of the new road. In addition, families with shops in our community that sell soft drinks, juice, and groceries are seeing an increase in customers from the new road.
I am volunteering in my local church and I lead workshops on leadership techniques based on the information I have learned from CEPAD. I plan to attend more trainings to better develop and manage projects in the community, and to share these trainings with the community. Hopefully, this will result in additional progress in our community and a better future for the children of our community.