ViviendasLeón, Now more than ever

Who we are
ViviendasLeón  is a non-profit sustainable development organization whose mission is to eliminate rural poverty by teaching capacities for self-sufficiency and educating our youth to become global citizens

What we do
ViviendasLeón works in Nicaragua, helping people living in rural poverty. Our work focuses on rural communities where we commit to 4 years of programming that teaches social, emotional and technical skills, followed by projects that address the needs of the community.  In the last 15 years, we have brought thousands of students to learn about Nicaragua, it’s people and about themselves, while working side by side with rural families on their projects to achieve the goal of improving their lives.

Today Nicaragua is experiencing an unprecedented collapse of its economy, brought about by the recent demonstrations and violent backlash by the government.  Many citizens are leaving the country for Costa Rica and Panama, while those who stay are out of work or struggle to maintain a living.

Average citizens and the families we have been working with for years are suffering now more than ever.

Our Nicaraguan staff has continued to support the rural communities, traveling to work with families on their successful training, farming, small business and youth programs, at times having to avoid the risk of political violence occurring in the country.

How you can help
We are asking for your support to continue the ongoing and successful work of our organization in Nicaragua.  Here is how you can help:

-- Farms: Create a new family farm - $500

-- Water: Improve a well that will provide secure irrigation water - $800

-- Seeds: Seeds for a family for one year - $50

-- Training: Technical farm training for a family for one year - $100

-- Training: Provide capacity training for a new single mother - $700

-- Scholarship: Support a high school student with a scholarship for one year - $500

-- Arts: Support a student in the arts and entrepreneurship program - $200

-- Sanitation: Build a composting latrine for a family - $1,000

Our 4 year cycle of development
ViviendasLeón’s invests in a rural community for 4 years. Our programs recur each year, creating incremental change while building a critical number of self-sufficient families.

Here is how it works and the projects we implement continuously in rural communities:

1. The cycle begins with a community survey, diagnosis and plan:

We conduct a community wide census to gain insight into the local population, and introduce our organization. Surveys are conducted by going house to house, collecting personal testimonials, and demographic data.

Our methodology includes using the SPSS Statistical Program to perform an analysis on the data, the results show the needs of the community and informs us on possible paths towards solutions where they can be actors in their own development.

Group meetings are held to determine the specific programs and their timing in each community.

2. Human Capacity Training

This is the first step to providing the foundation for community development. The program is based on psycho-social training to improve self-esteem, leadership and citizenship, teaching families to become agents of change. It prepares them in the technical aspects of environmental restoration and small scale farming to begin the production of food on their family plots. With time and experience, families produce enough food for their own needs and the needs of 50 other families in their community.

3. Reforestation

Rural communities live with many environmental challenges that contribute to poor public health, food insecurity and persistent poverty.  Many are located on former cotton farms that left the soil contaminated from chemicals in the mid 20th century. The current sugarcane industry produces
soil and air pollutants and diminishes groundwater sources that contribute to these conditions.  Our reforestation program was developed in partnership with Trees for the Future, to train communities how to improve soils, reduce erosion, and restore the forest that supports water security and wildlife through reforestation planting of 10,000 trees a year.

4. Farming

Families learn farming skills and techniques to start food security farms on their land.   We provide continuous support on topics such as irrigation and organic pest management. US travel groups contribute by providing an infusion of manpower, new energy and connectivity between people. Farming breaks the cycle of poverty by building skills and confidence that leads to food security, economic opportunity and self sufficiency.

5. Water and sanitation

Leon is located in the Central American Dry Corridor, a vast farming region affected by climate change and reduced rainfall. Community surveys indicate that many water supply systems (manual wells and micro-aqueducts) are no longer productive due to drought conditions which threaten a family’s ability to farm and develop economically. ViviendasLeón is partnering with Clarkson University to develop a phased, integrated water management system for the communities of Goyena and Troilo, currently constructing phase 1, a project to improve existing manual family wells.

6. Small business enterprises

Our development philosophy is asset based. We work with families and communities to identify personal, communal and natural assets that can be used as resources for development.  These resources include levels of education, self esteem and skills; land, water and sunlight; domestic animals, trees and plants. The program coordinates these resources through training and supports the launch of small business projects like honey production, sewing cooperatives or agricultural businesses.  Through this program families have improved their income,, future prospects and domestic relationships resulting in an overall improvement in attitude, leadership and entrepreneurship among members of the community.

7. Youth Human Capacity Training

Teenagers aged 12-18 play a crucial role in the future of social and economic development in their communities. Many teenagers face problems such as a lack of resources, inter-familial violence, sexual violence, inadequate education, early pregnancy, lack of access to contraceptives or education about contraceptives, and ignorance regarding sexual and gender equality.  Through the Youth HCT program, ViviendasLeón supports all adolescents to stop the cycle of violence while promoting self-esteem, sexual, gender and reproductive rights, and knowledge of HIV/AIDS.

8. Youth Arts Program

Among adolescents in rural communities, studies have shown elevated levels of teenage pregnancy, drug and alcohol abuse. These problems are largely due to unstructured time and periods where parents are absent. This time can be used to help adolescents develop, socialize and identify with others. In an effort to reduce these problems, ViviendasLeón has created a program with support from a $2,000 annual grant from the Art4Moore Foundation. Programa de Arte works with adolescents from diverse and vulnerable situations.  By learning new skills - in handicrafts and salesmanship - these kids develop confidence and a sense of community helping them to establish a strong foundation and set out on a new trajectory of opportunity and potential for their futures.

9. Youth Small business enterprises

After the completion of high school many children in León, begin to support their families economically, meaning many children do not have time to pursue school at a higher level. To help develop skills, confidence and sustainability with the local youth in Goyena, ViviendasLeon created a Youth Carpentry Program. In this program donated pallets are broken down and re-used for their wood. A professional carpenter teaches the kids in the proper use of tools and construction methods. After the furniture is complete it is sold and the money is used within the community specifically aimed at youth programs.

10. Youth Sports

In 2013 ViviendasLeon created the Youth Soccer Program to provide the youth in rural communities with soccer training, lessons in teamwork, leadership and gender inclusion while promoting physical health. Originally the program had 100 youth participants with three US coaches and nine US youth counselors in training. In 2014 the program was expanded to a three month summer soccer league with 120 youths from three different communities in Sutiaba. The teams practice five days a week and play games on weekends.

11. Scholarship program

Studies completed in 2015 show a large number of high school dropouts and high illiteracy rates in Goyena and Troilo. The elevated numbers may be a result of the lack of economic resources due to the extreme poverty that prevents many people from attending school. The main objective of this program is to grant academic scholarships to students while influencing them on actions such as discipline, perseverance and educational development. Currently, the program awards 12 youth scholarship that are a monthly stipend for books, supplies, travel and clothing to attend school. As part of their responsibilities as scholarship recipients, students are required to maintain a high GPA and participate in a supporting role programs benefiting other students in the community.

Thank you for considering a donation to ViviendasLeón!

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