Stories of Change

Magda with a new piglet.

For families devastated by pandemic and disaster, sheep and pigs are little bundles of hope

Families like Magda Rosa Vargas Gutiérrez’s in rural Nicaragua have had a tough 2020. First it was the COVID-19 pandemic, and then hurricanes Eta and Iota struck in the fall. 

“We were first affected by COVID-19, when we had practically no communication–only virtually–and no commerce with the outside world,” she says. “After the pandemic, the rains [hurricanes] have come to us and have ruined us. The roads are totally deteriorated, and our profits that we had planned are gone because I am a producer of chickens. My chickens and those of other friends have also died. We have been really badly affected by these rains–we had three acres of beans and they were damaged. Now we have nowhere to work, we do not have a salary and we do not work for companies. What we needed was to boost ourselves.”

Magda elaborated on the scope of the devastation: “We have nothing, not a single grain of beans because they were damaged–we lost everything. In my family alone we lost 50,000 Córdobas  [about $1,400] that were hard to earn. Now, overnight, we don’t even have 10 Córdobas.”

CWS and our partners had already been working on a program to get pigs and sheep to families like Magda’s in Nicaragua’s Carazo region, where we have a longstanding food security program with our local partner CIEETS. After the hurricanes, this program–which is funded by the generous support of Latter-day Saint Charities–has taken on new urgency and importance.

“I think that my community, my neighbors, my sisters–these animals are going to help us get started and will be of great use, since we have people who do not have an income.” Magda says that she trusts CIEETS to be there to help her community recover, since she and her neighbors have years of experience improving their livelihoods with help from the CIEETS team. 

The CIEETS team talked to some of Magda’s neighbors while they were delivering sheep and pigs. Here’s some of what they heard:

– Rosa Liliam Peña: “The situation that we are going through, first with COVID-19 that greatly affected the economy, and now the hurricanes that affected families’ economy a lot–these animals come as a little reward for what we have gone through.”

– Nohemí Del socorro Martínez Aguilar: “We have had quite a crisis, especially in agriculture. We have lost a lot; COVID-19 has also affected the families and many people. Well now, I feel happy and blessed. I thank the Lord especially because with this animal and with this I can get ahead for my children and for all that I thank God.”

– Carlos José Palacios López: “I am a recipient of pelibuey, or little sheep. I feel very grateful because this project its a blessing from God…I hope it is a stimulus for all the participants because we are in crisis because of this hurricane that happened. It affected us a lot, leaving large losses both in goods and in agriculture. For agriculture it was a true disaster–the crops are not going to be harvested, and the grains and the beans that we sow are at a total loss. This project is going to be a start, it is going to be a blessing, for this NGO to have taken us into account. The agreement is that the first generation will benefit another family, and so on. More than anything, in the community no person is left without this benefit. We are going to benefit, until the last families in the community.”