By Dustin Hodges, KY3 News firstname.lastname@example.org 6:05 a.m. CDT, April 10, 2013
SPRINGFIELD, Mo – Nearly two dozen members from Springfield churches are in Nicaragua this week helping the Rainbow Network move families into 25 new homes.
Members of National Avenue Christian Church donated $100,000 to build the homes. Now the Rainbow Network is taking members of several churches down there for the dedication ceremony so they can see first-hand the effect that their donations have had on the people.
The organization focuses on four main causes of poverty; housing, economic development, education and health care, in the hopes that they can teach the people of rural Nicaragua how to take care of themselves. “The goal of the Rainbow Network eventually is to make people self-sustaining, and I think that’s the genius behind the organization is that they attack poverty on all levels and bring it to a situation where Rainbow Network is no longer needed,” says Brad Wadle who is a member of National Avenue Christian Church and on the Board of Directors of Rainbow Network.
“It’s almost impossible to bring back the feeling and your heart breaking at some of the sights and the smells, it’s hard to bring that back but I’m sure going to try,” says Melissa Dodd with Campbell United Methodist Church who is attending the trip.
The group will be recording video of the dedication ceremony and helping the people move into the homes. We will bring you a follow-up of how the trip went and show you some of that video when they get back.
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – The Rainbow Network, a faith-based charity based in Springfield, is about to add 25 new homes to impoverished families in Nicaragua.
The organization works with about 100 local churches raising money to build concrete structures that offer protection from the six months of rain they get each year. Most families live in mud and stick structures and have no running water.
National Avenue Christian Church raised $100,000 for this trip which starts Tuesday.
Melissa Dodd, Associate Pastor at Campbell United Methodist, is going for the first time.
“We have to get away from the regular routine that our lives are in, and see that there is literally a whole other world. It puts into perspective the world we live in every day when we get out of ourselves.”
This trip will dedicate the 25 homes, which will also include an outdoor latrine and a water source.
Over the years, Rainbow Network has built 757 cement block houses and still operates feeding centers in Nicaragua.
I trust that he was joking, mostly, when my construction manager in the 1970s was not happy with how much we were getting done.
He would tell us, “I drove two stakes in the ground to set a sight line and I’m pretty sure that I could tell that you guys were moving.”
Progress isn’t always easy to see without a reference point.
When I made my first trip up the Pan American Highway 10 years ago to visit the villages around San Ramon, Nicaragua, seven children had just died from malnutrition. I went out to see Rainbow Network physician Dr. Candido at work in a little wood shack, treating patients by the light of a candle stuck in the top of a soda bottle. Sick children were lying on the ground all around the shack in a scene that looked like something contrived by Cecil B. DeMille.
The Rainbow Network is a faith-based charity that works to help the poor in Nicaragua break the cycle of poverty and become self-sufficient.
Last week I followed a medical team comprised of mostly CoxHealth physicians, nurses and therapists organized by Dr. Will Moore, who has been taking medical teams from among his peers at Cox for Rainbow trips for the past several years.
His team this year was in Nicaragua Feb. 10-16, and he plans to take another team in August and February 2014.
This year, we met Dr. Candido in some of the same villages where I have seen him previously and saw substantial progress. It would be unfair to say there is no malnutrition, but there is nothing like what we saw a decade ago.
Over time, the work of the Rainbow Network, in combination with some advantageous political changes that have seen investments in roads, power generation and schools, has made a distinct difference in the lives of tens of thousands of people.
Scholarship recipients who have not only finished high school but have gone on to college to become teachers are bringing salaries of about $250 a month to families who had been starving on the $50 a month earned on farms.
Some are striking out on their own, such as 22-year-old Heydi Isabeth Blandon Gonzales, who earned a degree in accounting and is starting a business selling health-related products using micro-business loans from the Rainbow Network.
The genius of combining early-childhood feeding centers with medical attention, education support, high school scholarships and help in trade schools is paying off. Villages that were locked into poverty a decade ago now have built houses and schools, and one even has a computer lab in a school that is miles from a paved road.
Rainbow Network founder and president Keith Jaspers got involved in international relief through Habitat International. Habitat’s “theology of the hammer” guides Rainbow as it seeks to express Christian faith in compassionate action rather than in verbal witnessing.
Rainbow Network projects include Protestants and Catholics, evangelicals and progressives, fundamentalists and agnostics as they pool both donations and volunteer efforts to teach through Christian service.
Its Nicaraguan staff also includes both Protestant evangelicals and traditional Latin American Catholics who have learned to work together harmoniously with mutual respect, something not often seen in Central America.
The social changes in Nicaragua are equally amazing. One of Nicaragua’s newest lawyers is Abel Antonia Garcia, who was supported through high school and college by a Springfield family. Abel is now proud to be specializing in representing women who are taking advantage of Nicaragua’s new regulations protecting women against violence and sexual assault.
Nearly two decades ago, the Rainbow Network challenged the traditional machismo of Central America when it started hiring women for management positions. Now several of the doctors, two of the dentists and some network directors are women, some of whom are heads of households. Nicaragua is rapidly changing in how it treats women and is even launching an impressive anti-bullying program in schools.
Because the Rainbow Network is a Springfield organization, it is easy to get involved.
Rainbow Network development director Matthew Ennis helps to coordinate trips for volunteers to work on a medical team or to take a “kick the tires” tour.
The partnership of local churches, physicians, therapists, nurses and physician assistants with the Nicaraguan Rainbow staff is making a lasting difference in the future of a people who are emerging from the violence of hunger, illiteracy and homelessness.
As we say in Nicaragua, “Applause!” for all of the Springfield volunteers and donors who are making a difference.
National Avenue Christian Church (NACC) in Springfield yesterday presented a $25,000 check to The Rainbow Network, initiating the construction phase of a project that will provide safe, secure homes for 25 poverty-stricken families in the Nicaraguan village of Hilapo Dos.
The milestone gift is the latest in a 10-year partnership between the congregation, which also sponsors the village of Hilapo Dos, in our San Ramon network. This specific donation is the product of an intense fundraising effort by the church to secure contributions totaling $100,000 – $4,000 for each of the 25 homes being built. With this initial payment, construction will begin within two weeks, with completion expected in March 2013. Last month, church members traveled to Nicaragua to dedicate the land for the project, and excitement has been extremely high ever since. The project has its own Facebook site and has received some great media attention by local outlets.
“This project has offered a chance for everyone to serve, to get involved, to change the lives a person half a world away,” says Senior Pastor Laura Vail Fregin. “From youth group fundraisers, to major gifts from core members, even an online donation program – we all have the same end-goal, and are all working together to help these families have hope for the future. It’s a joy to see our faith community’s passion for justice being put into action.”
The homes are simple; 400 square feet of cement block walls, with corrugated metal roofs, concrete floors and two doors and two windows. While eight months may seem like a long time to construct such basic houses, that extended timeline allows for an important aspect of the overall Rainbow Network program, according to Founder & President Keith Jaspers.
“The majority of the work on these houses is done by the future homeowners,” he says. “They still must earn their meager income and keep up with the strenuous demands of day-to-day life during construction. But when finished, these are homes they built with their own hands. That sense of personal ownership and investment becomes the stepping stone to their independence.”
The summer container has arrived in Nicaragua and the opportunities it held are already transforming lives! Here are a few pictures for you to enjoy.
Above, students from the cottage school in La Laguna, San Ramón show off their new Spanish-language picture books with pride. El Paraíso school also received education materials – 186 picture books and an encyclopedia – and expressed their gratitude with a thank-you letter, saying the books will increase the effectiveness of their teaching methods.
Here, Hector Arceda Urbina finally receives the P.E.T. he has been waiting for. Childhood polio caused his immobility, but now he can move independently around his village in Ciudad Sandino.
Meet Leda Carolina Medina. Leda Carolina was born with Cerebral Palsy, leaving her unable to walk. She was outgrowing her old wheelchair, saying it caused her pain, and was overjoyed to receive a new one on the recent container. She is pictured here with her grandmother, who she lives with along with her single mother and two younger brothers.
Time to have fun! These kids were excited about their new toy from the container. Learn it in Spanish: “Jugar futbol con balón nuevo” – Play soccer with a new ball!
Once again, we send a big MUCHAS GRACIAS to everyone who helped make this container shipment a reality. Didn’t have a chance to help this time, or did help and want more? You can be a part of Rainbow Network’s next container project. All summer, Rainbow supporters are collecting toys which will be sent in the fall to arrive in Nicaragua by Christmas. In the fall, we celebrate “back to school” in the U.S. by collecting school supplies which will arrive in Nicaragua before the start of their school year in February. We will also need sponsors for each container, to host, load, and cover the cost of shipping. If you are interested or just want to learn more, contact Alex in our office at 417-889-8088.
For your reference, here is the list of items that can or cannot be used in Nicaragua.
Recently, Rainbow Network sent a container to Nicaragua. If you’re not familiar with containers, they are giant, stackable metal boxes that can be packed full of goods and easily transferred between trucks, ships, and rail to reach their destination.
Some Rainbow Network supporters, however, are quite familiar with containers; it takes a small army to load one! Earlier in May, Byers UMC in Joplin hosted a container in their parking lot. St. Paul UMC (Joplin) helped load all the donated clothing, shoes, school supplies, and household goods to be sent to Nicaragua. We would like to send a big THANK YOU to all the supporters from Joplin, the Container Project, Springfield, and the surrounding areas who added donations to the container and made this and other shipments possible!
Get in on the Action!
There are two big container shipments planned for the remainder of 2012. Both are in severe need of donations; what can you or your group do to help?
It may be hot out, but it’s time to start thinking about Christmas! All summer, we are collecting toys for children in Nicaragua. The container will be sent in late August or early September to arrive in time for Christmas. Be sure to check the list below to make sure all your toys can be shipped!
Our most critical container will collect school supplies in August-September and ship in October. Pick up a few extra supplies while they are on back-to-school special or contact us to learn how you can buy supplies by the pallet with a special deal for buying bulk. If your Sunday school classroom is getting a new board, please donate your old one! We are in need of chalk and marker boards for our primary school classrooms.
Other requests: There is always a need for quality folding tables/chairs, walkers, bicycles, and wheelchairs – these can go on either our summer or fall container!
Check this list for the most needed supplies and to learn which goods cannot be shipped.
Containers like this one make it possible for neighbors to gather goods and send them to Nicaragua as efficiently as possible. If you have a passion for giving or an idea to benefit the poor in Nicaragua, please give us a call. Contact Alex in our office at 417-889-8088 to see how you can host, fill, or ship an upcoming container!
With summer just around the corner, warm evenings outside are often interrupted by the buzz of unwanted guests; mosquitoes, along with their partners in crime, ticks and fleas, are familiar foes in the U.S. Here, West Nile and Lyme Disease exist, but afflict few compared to the density of parasite-related afflictions in Central America.
Near the Equator, in communities like those served by Rainbow Network, parasites and pests are a serious drain on daily health and well-being.
The Issue: Numerous internal parasites and external parasites such as lice plague nearly all of those living in rural Nicaragua. Biting insects carry dangerous diseases and parasites compound malnourishment, damage the digestive system, and can even cause seizures if they reach the brain.
Medicine – Every six months, each adult and child in one of our communities receives an anti-parasitic pill and school children are treated with lice shampoo. Severe parasite cases are treated by Rainbow doctors.
CleanWater - Every community served by Rainbow Network has access to chlorine for treating water. Residents take what they need from a central location in the village and use it a few drops at a time on their water at home. Many in rural Nicaragua walk long distances to water sources, so Rainbow brings water to communities in 2 ways: digging wells and laying pipelines to area springs or public water lines.
Public Health Education – A volunteer Public Health Committee in each community is responsible for educating their neighbors on public health and keeping them updated with meetings and door-to-door visits. Public health volunteers teach the proper use of chlorine, the importance of keeping chickens and other animals outside the home, and basic hygiene.
Shoes – Providing donated shoes is not only a matter of comfort, but of health and safety. A number of parasites commonly enter the body through the soles of feet – an easily preventable condition.
Rochelle Collette, Director of Music and Media at Wesley United Methodist Church and Medical Mission Translator, is all too familiar with parasite issues from 12 years of taking trips to Latin America. She shared her experience to emphasize the necessity of parasite control programs, “I have watched thousands of children with grossly distended bellies full of parasites tell of their lack of clean water, the symptoms of excruciating diarrhea and vomiting, the loss of appetite and complete lack of energy…One of the reasons why our medical teams love partnering with Rainbow Network is their commitment to bringing life-saving education and treatment to the poor of Nicaragua. Something as simple as an inexpensive pill every 6 months or basic education on purifying drinking water and safe food preparation literally SAVES LIVES! Investing our resources in this type of education and prevention is one of the single most powerful things we can do better the lives of our brothers and sisters in Central America and around the world.”
How you can help:
Give to our Medical Fund, whose services include parasite prevention, public health education, and treatment.
Make a general donation to an area of greatest need.
Donate new or gently used shoes. Drop them off at our Springfield, MO office or contact Alex at (417) 889-8088 to discuss setting up a shipping container in your area.
During the past week, Rainbow Network founder & president Keith Jaspers has been traveling with two separate groups in Nicaragua.
The first, from tornado-ravaged Joplin, MO, is La Rosas village partner St. Paul’s United Methodist Church. Their team of five people spent several days in that village, meeting sponsored students, delivering donated supplies, and helping out in various capacities. Photos from their trip are posted on the church’s Facebook page HERE
The second group includes Roger Ray, former Board Member, pastor & columnist for the Springfield News-Leader. While in-country, he submitted three stories that were published as a series by that publication. We invite you to view the stories below, or on our Press Coverage page HERE.
Please share them with individuals who you know that have supported Rainbow Network in the past. Despite several challenging years, the Rainbow that we have built together continues to shine brightly in the lives of rural Nicaraguans. Read on to find out what our brand of Hope looks like today.
Rainbow Network has a new Student Sponsorship sheet; open it up and take a look!
The new sheet’s benefits are twofold; it makes it easier for you to share students with friends and family as well as streamlining our office’s tracking process for unsponsored students.
The sheet includes 8 students, a description of our education program, and a mail-in form for sponsorship. We will periodically update the document as students are sponsored.
Print one for yourself, one for your Sunday School class, one for your men’s or women’s group, one for your reading circle, and one for your softball team; get excited about these bright young students, and what you can do to literally transform their lives through education, leadership, and support in love.
The classic individual profiles will still be sent to sponsors after payment is received.
Upon returning from his most recent trip to Nicaragua, Keith was excited to share success stories and words of thanks from people impacted by Rainbow Network programs.
One such story is that of Eunice, a 29 year old woman living in the Nagarote network. When Rainbow arrived in her community 12 years ago, Eunice was newly orphaned and raising her two younger brothers in a tiny mud hut. She said they survived on handouts from the kindness of similarly impoverished neighbors, but there often wasn’t enough food to share.
With Rainbow scholarships, she was able to attend first high school and then trade school for a year to become a professional seamstress.
Five years ago, she moved into a Rainbow house, where she now lives with her husband and 2 year old son. They make much of their living with a sewing machine bought on a RN micro-loan, using cloth from another loan.With the profits from each piece of clothing, she is on track to paying off their mortgage. She was grateful for the opportunities afforded through Rainbow, speaking of answered prayers.
Think now of her son, who at two is watching his parents, educated entrepreneurs, pay off their home. He has a safe place to play, grow, and learn the value of education and hard work from his mother and father. When the opportunities of Rainbow combine with the hard work of people like Eunice, the impact ripples through generations.
Funding a micro-loan is a sustainable way to change lives; you really can’t go wrong with a program that cultivates work ethic, takes steps toward self-sufficiency, provides business training, bolsters local economies, and, when paid off, repeats the whole success story by providing the funds to another family. A family’s way of life can be transformed with a micro-loan for only $300. Click the donate button to the right or contact our office to fund a micro-loan.