Stories of Change


Our work stretches across the globe, touching the lives of people from Nairobi to New York City. The best measure of our impact is in the stories of real people, of lives changed, of communities transformed.

Here is a sampling of some of our favorites from the past several months.

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#29 -- MSCs Fall 2014
New life new friends
An entrepreneurial spirit, undaunted
#5 -- MSCs Fall 2014
Refugee Finds New Life in Pennsylvania
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Refugee World Cup
Finding Community
I want them to believe that learning is important
Artistic expression of Avtandil
The future's so bright
Photo: CWS
Photo: SSID
Parents' Day Picure 2
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Meet the water committee for the Nance community of Nicaragua. The group was formed in 2011 by a band of individuals, primarily women, affected by Nicaragua's drought conditions. The women come from different walks of life--some are single, some are married but often do not see their spouses because of seasonal work in Costa Rica, others are just tired of the journey for water. Committee elders, Marina and Ramona, did the journey multiple times a day for 27 years, and recall with angst the uphill climb from the banks. A younger woman, Noemi, chuckles while recanting her walk for water while pregnant.  They can laugh about it now because, thanks to the water committee, the Nance community has recently been fitted with an electrically-powered water system, bringing the resource much closer to home.

	 

	CWS's partner, CIEETS, is a huge influence to this committee's formation and progress. Marina shares, "Before working with CIEETs, we were a little sleepy in our efforts. With the organization's training and workshops, we began to realize that it was time to step up, and that we had to be the ones to step up." The committee certainly did step up, and because of their work, three communities (Nance, Cabezera and Santa Elena) have access to clean water. As far as their next steps, Ramona states, "We know this is a sustainable project, and we must now make sure everyone in our communities have access to water."

	 

	Pictured above: Marina demonstrates the new water system.
For Marta Gutierrez, the last five years of drought in the Carazo region of Nicaragua have taken a toll. Having lived on a La Vanilla farm for 16 years with her husband and four children, she's seen firsthand Carazo's rising agricultural challenges, which include increasingly limited water supplies, season creep exacerbated by global warming, a regional dependence on monoculture, hurricanes, and lack of nutritional produce.  The challenges hit home: her husband spends two weeks of every four traveling down to the Costa Rican border to farm in more productive conditions.  But in his absence, Marta is not alone. Walking hand-in-hand with CWS partner CIEETS, Marta is tackling local agricultural challenges one plant at a time, all the while leading community conversations about successful and harmful growing practices.

	 

	Of the 11 community leaders in this area of Carazo, six are women (as of 2016), and several of those women are single mothers. When asked if being a woman in leadership was difficult, Doña Marta grinned, saying it was a much easier task than her other responsibility of singlehandedly running a farm.

	 

	Here, Marta is standing in her plot for yuca, planted for the first time in June 2015. Until this year, yuca was not grown in the community, but Marta is seeing if the root's drought-resistent  properties make it an effective replacement for her quickly dwindling bean production. As it turns out, it is a successful experiment: Marta's plot will yield an estimated 2,000 lbs of yuca! In her leadership role, Marta is sharing her experience and stem cuttings to help other farmers in the community build agricultural contingency plans.

	 

	 
Acefie Dorestyl
Marie Snoute, 57 and the single mother of 7 children, farms with seed and technical support provided by an agronomist  working with SSID's program in Ganthier, Croix-des-Bouquets Arrondissement, in the Ouest Department of Haiti.
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Haiti cistern square
Saron Nith reviews finances with a member of the Rabonh Samaky group. Photo: CWS
Soung Dorn (in white shirt) facilitates the monthly meeting of the savings and loan group and is recording member savings. Photo: CWS
Yuk Vy for web
Cambodia handwashing for web
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Anacleto Montes presents his family's cistern and water catchment system to a group of visiting Wichi indigenous women. Photo: Margot DeGreef / CWS
Betty Joseph square
Yves Charles square
Posyandu cadre Oce (left) with  Martha Nabuasa and her new latrine square
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Loyang Paul