The Board Discovers the Adaptability of Cardboard

After working closely with Physical Therapist Andrew Suseno to provide workshops on adaptive design and basic rehabilitation in Tipitapa, our Board of Directors was eager to learn more about how cardboard, a ubiquitous material worldwide that is very strong and highly versatile, could be used to improve lives. So when we were all invited to visit New York-based organization Adaptive Design, which engages children and families in adaptive design solutions that enhance the developmental, social and academic potential of children with disabilities, we were very excited, and also very curious…

Adaptive Design runs their office and workshop from the heart of Manhattan, and as you look around you start to realize how many things are made of… cardboard! The seats we were all sitting on, in a variety of customized designs, footrests and a storage unit/office desk which covered an entire wall. Before letting us loose in the workshop, Executive Director and Founder Alex Truesdell explained how important and relevant the organization is throughout society – it investigates ways to integrate people with disabilities, it is not only environmentally friendly but also environmentally sustainable, and it offers grassroots solutions for tackling all these issues, bringing together therapists, teachers, parents, students and children. Two short videos, Among the Giants and A World of Difference with Cardboard provide an inspiring introduction to their work, and leave you wanting to know more about how you could help.

Alex began the workshop by building a simple box – at least, she made it look simple! But once we had learned the basic skills through narrating her actions as she glued, cut, perforated and bended the cardboard, we were on our way to creating our own “adaptive designs”. By not using verbal cues when teaching us how to build, Alex had demonstrated that sharing the skills of working with cardboard was not dependent on speech, and linguistic barriers can be broken down. This is especially relevant to our work in Tipitapa.

The finished productsWithin the hour, most of us had made a box out of cardboard, the only rule being that the box could not be four sided. The chairs, stools, tables and cardboard educational tools around us started to make sense as we learned how to seal any gaps, make curved edges, and increase the strength. A coat of Primer and then paint further secure the cardboard structures from deteriorating over time or water damage, creating a durable, colorful, fun piece of equipment. We will be showing some of these at our Fall Fiesta – please do come and take a look!

With huge thanks to Alex Truesdell, Kathy Goldman, Andrew Suseno and the team at Adaptive Design for this fantastic opportunity. For more information please visit the Adaptive Design website:

Food for Thought – What Should Your Taste Buds Expect on the Delegation?

It may not be the first thing you think of when you decide to go on a delegation, between seeing our projects firsthand, meeting the communities you support and traveling logistics, but food plays an important role to any visit to Nicaragua. And it’s not just about the ubiquitous rice and beans! Nicaragua has a raft of national dishes, and the best way to sample these on one of our trips is in the communities where we work. Our volunteer Marina is an excellent cook, and never misses a thing when preparing “la comida nica” for the uninitiated. Here are a few of the things you might expect…

Gallo Pinto

Hearty and healthy, Gallo Pinto is Nicaragua’s traditional dish. It can be served as breakfast, lunch or dinner (and is often all three for Nicaraguans) on its own or with eggs, cheese or tortillas. Made from rice and red beans and cooked with onion, garlic, red pepper and salt, the recipe for Gallo Pinto (‘Painted Rooster’, from the maroon coloring of the beans) barely changes. A bit of cilantro or hot sauce will spice it up a bit if you find you are eating it every day of your trip.



These are usually served on special occasions, but they sometimes crop up for a nice Sunday “brunch”. Similar to Mexican tamales only a lot bigger, nacatamales consist of a corn mix (or “masa”), potatoes, pork, rice, beans and tomatoes, along with spices and seasoning, all wrapped in a large banana leaf. It’s no wonder they are only served in times of rest, and they are so tasty it’s impossible to leave any behind!


Pio Quinto

Allegedly named after Pope Pius V because of its five ingredients (cake, custard, cinnamon, raisins and rum), this is a Nicaraguan dessert made to perfection by our volunteer Marina. The Flor de caña rum is hidden at the very bottom of the cup, meaning you have to dig past the cake with your spoon to reach it.


Indio Viejo

A hot beef, tomato, orange and achiote stew might not be the first thing you think of when it’s 90 degrees out, but if you’ve spent the day digging trenches for water pipes, building shelves for the libraries or walking dusty paths to visit rural communities, it might be just what you need. Legend has it that the name goes back to the days of Conquistadores in Nicaragua, who would take advantage of food offerings from the local population. Eventually, tired of having to share their food with their oppressors, the indigenous Nicarao waited until one Conquistador asked what was cooking. “It’s an old Indian (indio viejo) who had breathed his last breath”, he replied. That night, and from then on, the Nicaraos were able to enjoy their beef stew alone.

Tipitapa Communities Continue the Great Work of Andrew Suseno

Testing arm flexibility and muscle strength in the final workshop By Andrew Suseno

In our final advanced round of workshops Rosa, Gretchen and I were honored to be joined by Alejandro Aldana Solares, a physiotherapist from Guatemala who traveled to Tipitapa especially to share his training with local communities. Alejandro quickly integrated into the curriculum and took on a leadership role which would guide the community rehabilitation teams beyond this weekend.

Thanks to a successful meeting with the director of the Tipitapa hospital and a very supportive Director from the Ministry of Health, we were able to schedule a fourth workshop in Tipitapa while I was still in Nicaragua. The Director commented that my method of teaching was unique and that she wanted her educators to learn how to palpate, stretch and exercise muscles, evaluate children and learn my pedagogy. They would be joining us in our final “talleres”.

The workshop in the center of Tipitapa went very smoothly. Challenges were presented on how to turn a box which could be stood upon into a balance board or balance chair, and participants were tested on the joints of the body to figure out how best to help a child with cerebral palsy to stand up. Five participants in this workshop also attended the Advanced Workshop as per the request of the Director of the Ministry of Health, along with 20 others from Ciudadela and San Benito. Here we focused on reviewing rehabilitation skills, working in rehab teams and the construction of four pieces of adaptive equipment for children in their communities. By the end of the day, I could feel that the educators were hungry for more and participants were super charged, ready to continue developing their skills, and ready to work in teams to make a difference in the communities.

I am so grateful and appreciative to the donors, the Dos Pueblos staff, Alejandro, and the open hearts of all 70+ family members and educators who attended these workshops. I drew such joy from feeling their sense of accomplishment and empowerment, and their new understanding in being able to evaluate and treat another person through the construction of beautiful, functional and specific adaptive equipment. I am looking forward to supporting and building this project. Since we were able to raise above our minimum target, we have resources to support Alejandro in teaching more “talleres” in the months to come. We also discovered several leaders in the community ready to stand up for the underserved or unseen, and ready to make well-being and quality of life for all in the community something to fight for.

Jermania from Tipitapa Shares her Thoughts on the Adaptive Design Workshops

In the Basic Rehabilitation and Adaptive Design workshops recently held in Tipitapa, Board Member Gretchen Craig spoke to Jermania from Ciudad de Dios. Jermania’s community recently worked together to dig trenches for pipes, and now they have been attending workshops with Physical Therapist Andrew Suseno to see how they can improve the lives of children with disabilities. These workshops will provide caregivers with the necessary skills to construct rehabilitative equipment out of cardboard, and to integrate all members of the community, regardless of their disability.

By Gretchen Craig

Q: How will you use the information you learned in the workshops with your family or community? A: I can use what I learned in many ways. As a community leader, I hope to share the workshops with other leaders, educators, and parents so they too can learn what I did. I can show them the tools they need to work with disabled children and sensitize leaders to offer more support to disabled people in our community, teaching them that many children can recuperate – maybe not completely, but by a great amount with the right therapy. As an educator, I can also share these skills so that the needs of disabled students at school are better understood. I would like to form a cooperative to make adaptive equipment for parents who can´t afford to buy it elsewhere.

Q: What was the best part of this workshop? A: For me the best part of the workshop was constructing the adaptive equipment out of cardboard. I didn’t think we would be able to complete several large pieces in just two days. Once it was painted it looked just like wood. I also liked learning more about physical therapy exercises and massage.

Q: Would you like to learn more about physical therapy and/or the construction of adaptive equipment using cardboard? A: Primarily I would like to learn more about the physical therapy exercises, because they are what people need most. I think that the basic movements are the most essential thing for disabled children.

Q: What did you think of how the workshops were conducted? A: The methodology used was excellent. The workshops were creative, participatory, and very hands-on. Now I understand that with more support, disabled children really can do more. Overall, I loved how easy it was to learn because it made us think and we could be creative. When working in a team it’s great to imagine, create, and find solutions.

Q: Is there anything else you would like to share? A: Well, one thing is that for many the boxes are hard to obtain and people can’t afford to go into Tipitapa or Managua to pick them up. It would be great if we could have a central place near our communities, such as the school where the workshops were held, where we could get boxes and borrow tools to make adaptive equipment.

See what Jermania thought of the workshops in this short video: Tiptapa interview

An Ironic History of Water Scarcity in the Land of the Lakes

Collecting water in Ciudad de Dios Called “The Land of Lakes and Volcanoes,” Nicaragua supposedly received its name from the Spanish Conquistadors: a hybrid of Nicarao, the chief of a local indigenous tribe, and agua, the Spanish word for water. How ironic then, that the country boasting the largest supply of freshwater in Central America suffers from a chronic scarcity of safe drinking water.

According to El Porvenir, more than two-thirds of Nicaragua’s rural communities lack access to clean potable water, with serious consequences for infant mortality, health, and even education – women and children are often forced to travel for hours each day to find water, leaving little time for school or work.

So if Nicaragua has such an abundance of water as a natural resource – with availability that is more than five times the average for the Central American region – then why do its citizens struggle to access it every day?

The answer lies, in part, in the country’s long water policy history. Under the Somoza dictatorship until 1979, much of the water system was owned and operated by the private sector, meaning that consumers had to pay full price for operation and maintenance of the system. This made the price of water inaccessible for Nicaragua’s poorest populations. Although today the country’s water supply and sanitation is a public good, pollution and service problems continue to restrict access. The city of Managua had been dumping untreated wastewater into Lake Managua for over 80 years, and the Nicaraguan Water and Sewerage Enterprise estimates that effective coverage is still less than 60% due to insufficient and unreliable service.

In attempts to fill this gap, local water committees and organizations such as Dos Pueblos and El Porvenir have undertaken water projects with local partners. With the generous help of the Cottonwood Foundation, Dos Pueblos’ potable water project works with local Nicaraguan communities, empowering people to come together to lay pipes, build wells, and ultimately develop community-owned small-scale infrastructure to guarantee sustainable water access. Over the past year, Dos Pueblos has transformed five rural communities, improving health, education and governance, and demonstrating just how important water is. But millions still lack access to this vital resource, and there is much to be done. See how you can make a difference - donate or volunteer today!

Adaptive Equipment Makes a Difference

The first workshop in Tipitapa: Andrew shows parents and children how to use cardboard as a means of physical therapy By Andrew Suseno

“1, 2, 3, Freeze. Please stop measuring, cutting, and gluing!” The eyes of four closely huddled groups willfully peeled their attention away from their projects to look my direction. They were engrossed in their last cardboard construction challenge of the intro workshop: to make a cardboard box strong enough to stand on. “Okay," I said, "I want you to take one minute to reflect about the past 15 minutes with your group. Together, name one good theme and one bad theme that arose in your experience of working together as a team. And think of something to do differently to address the bad theme.”

The approach to this taller - or workshop - differed greatly from the first. Rosa and I realized that this was the first time that all seven of the different communities would be together. Many participants did not have much experience working creatively in groups – and some were perhaps too used to being the outspoken leader of a group! I also learned from my first taller that touching each other with attention was so new to some of the students that we would have to do much of it to overcome the initial shock, in order to begin engaging in learning about the body.

And so when the director of the Ministry of Health came to observe what we were doing that day, she arrived to see five different groups clustered together attempting to figure out how to find the exact beginning and end of the bicep muscle. When a group was ready, I randomly chose two members and brought them outside to demonstrate how to find the muscle on my arm. If they were unable to locate it or say how they found it, I gave them a tutorial and sent them back to the group to share their training with the others. (I'll share more about the director in the next blog.)

As this taller drew to a close, I could feel a wonderful sense of accomplishment among the students. All the groups had successfully worked together to construct boxes that I - at just under 150 pounds - could stand on. People who had not spoken before now jumped in with ideas and ways to evaluate and treat the final case studies I role-played with them, and those who had previously led listened and welcomed the teamwork. It seemed to me that we had achieved a level of understanding about what a muscle was and that they could help alleviate pain in it, stretch it, strengthen it and make a difference in a community member’s life.

Reflections from Andrew's First Rehabilitation and Cardboard Construction Workshop

Cardboard Construction Chair Design By Andrew Suseno

It’s hard to put into words how it feels to hear that most of the adults who attended the first workshop on rehabilitation and cardboard construction are already talking about coming back for the advanced session. Around 15 adults took part both days, and I can surely say that the “taller” was a great success.

My initial intention was to teach participants how to take a simple history, assess passive range of motion and strength, and to build a small box, followed by balance assessment, assistance requirements and making the necessary equipment from our cardboard supplies on the second day. But we had to adapt some training along the way – we discovered that some participants could not read or write, while others were writing down every word I said. As we determined the character of the class, I realized that we should focus on the skills learned in day one in more detail, and save day two for the advanced session. This meant we were able to devote time to assessing passive range of motion and strength testing at different joints.

The cardboard experience was interesting, to say the least! We had asked everyone to bring in 15-20 pieces of cardboard, but most people turned up with two. Fortunately the first day we were only making single-layered small boxes, and so in preparation for the second day we went to the super market and picked up a trunk full of cardboard. When we started on day two I asked everyone to glue pieces together to form multiple-layer pieces which we would use for our actual equipment (kind of like a cardboard version of plywood). Some planks were three layers and others were 6-9 layers, and in the end we had six planks for just over two teams to each make an inclined seat insert that would change the angle of a seat for a child with hypotonia.

I am very excited to try a new approach for learning with the second introductory class. My goal is to have them walk away with simple but applicable concepts, and more importantly to foster a class where participants can develop confidence with touching each other and thinking about the movement of the muscles and joints of their bodies and others, regardless of their ability to talk or write about it.

I want to give a special thanks Jonathan for translating for me when things got a bit hairy, and Gretchen, Karen, and Rosa for working alongside me with the individual groups.

Dr. Andrew Suseno Teaches Rehabilitation and Cardboard Construction in Tipitapa

After helping children with mobility issues in an orphanage in Managua in 2011, Physical Therapist Andrew Suseno was eager to  continue sharing his skills in rehabilitation and cardboard construction in Nicaragua. After meeting with Dos Pueblos to organize workshops which would train caregivers in adaptive solutions for living with a disability, Andrew is now in Tipitapa. The warmth of those in the communities is more than he could have imagined as he sees months of careful planning come to fruition. Helping the community use cardboard to make a difference

Andrew Suseno:  I finally landed in Managua at 1:30 early Friday morning, and was greeted by Rosa, Dos Pueblos' lead coordinator, and Gretchen, a New Yorker who is fast becoming 'nicaragüense', holding a sign that said "Dr. Andrew".  The sound of confused roosters and the tiny 'zancudos' (mosquitos) did nothing to stop me falling into a deep sleep, ready for the week ahead.

On the first day we headed to the Tipitapa hospital to meet the director. His office felt like the refreshingly cold air of the subway after being outside in the New York heat. He was excited about introducing cardboard construction to the families of Tipitapa, where there was currently no solution to address the adaptive equipment needs of children.

In the afternoon we attended a community meeting, sitting in white plastic chairs with men, women and children on the porch of a concrete clinic. Family members crowded around with interest and concern, mothers held toddlers on their laps, and men sat on the paint-chipped floor. At first I was nervous about how to connect with everyone, but once we started talking they told me about a child with a learning disability, another who is unable to use her entire body except her head, a man who has not been able move his left arm since he was a child, and another young girl who was blind and could not stand. How could we reach a place of problem solving together with such vastly different needs? Then, somehow, between my middling Spanish, the questions I had prepared (What were the prior successes of the community? Tell me about an issue your child experiences in the school system?) and the excitement of cardboard construction and rehab, we began to see that we could engage the community in questions greater than just disability, integrating people with disabilities into a new concept of 'normal'. To finish up, we had an great conversation about creating a new image of the community and everyone left charged to begin the workshops.

To read Andrew's presentation on his work, click here. And we'll be back in touch very soon with news from the first round of workshops in Ciudadela.

Update from the Field: Board Member Gretchen Lands in Tipitapa

Children receive school supplies at Rosa's Biblioteca
Children receive school supplies at Rosa's Biblioteca

In April, after visiting Tipitapa twice as a board member of Dos Pueblos, I made the somewhat spontaneous decision to live here for six months.

Both of my previous trips had given me a fascinating insight into how our local volunteers run our projects on the ground, and as a former student of international development I really wanted to take a closer look and support the communities in making them happen. Having new friends here made the idea of gaining further field experience more appealing, while the low cost of living and some frequent flyer miles made an extended stint as a volunteer possible. All that was left was to get down here and get to work.

After arriving on June 14, my first order of business was to deliver some of the school supplies donated by families at Brooklyn’s Poly Prep Country Day School. Luke Asente, a 13-year-old student who had traveled with Dos Pueblos to Tipitapa, had collected a whopping 300 pounds of donations from fellow students.

I brought down the first installment of supplies, to be shared between the libraries in Oronte Centeno and Ciudadela. While some materials such as air-drying clay were tucked away to be used for group projects, other smaller pieces were handed out as part of a raffle for the children who came to the libraries to borrow books.

Being able to attend the raffle in my Tipitapa neighborhood was a great experience, as it gave me a chance not only to see the fruits of Luke’s labor, but also to meet some of my younger neighbors. There was Moises, a 4-year-old boy who loves to sing, Marcia, a little girl who wants to be both a pastor and a ballet dancer, and several children who wanted to hear all about flying in an airplane. I’m hoping that in the coming months, just like my little neighbors, I’ll be able to visit my local library on Fridays to borrow books (there are plenty for adults) and chat for a while.

My next priority is helping Rosa, our local coordinator and community leader, to prepare for the arrival of Dr. Andrew Suseno, a physical therapist who recently contacted Dos Pueblos to volunteer his skills and time. Andrew will be providing a series of workshops in Tipitapa to train and assist caregivers of children with various mobility disabilities, sharing basic skills in rehabilitation and cardboard construction techniques to address the children’s adaptive equipment needs. Everyone will have the chance to participate, and we are excited to be working with Andrew on such a sustainable model, one which can be shared among the communities and which uses equipment which is locally available. Stay tuned for updates and photos from the workshops!

Meet Our New Intern!

To the inspiring Dos Pueblos community:

I’d like to introduce myself as Dos Pueblos’ new Development & Communications Intern! I’ll be working with Lupe, Helen, and the Board over the summer months on grant applications and appeals, as well as outreach and social media (perhaps you’ve already seen our new Twitter account!) and anything else they may need as Dos Pueblos works to extend its great work to new communities.

A little about me: I’m an International Development student at McGill University in Montreal, Canada, as well as a journalist and yoga instructor. The story of my passion for international development may sound familiar to many of you: it all began in Nicaragua.

When I was fourteen, I went down to Nicaragua on a service trip with Bridges to Community, an organization very similar to Dos Pueblos. Working alongside a team of Nicaraguan masons and community members, my group built two houses and laid pipes for the organization’s new water project.

It was an experience like no other. The poverty that I saw there shook me to my very core, and I couldn’t imagine leaving the people I had come to love so much. I felt inspired and discouraged all at once: by the end of the week, two families had safe, sturdy, and secure homes which they could proudly claim as their own, a huge improvement to their standard of living. And yet, these homes were probably only a bit larger than my bedroom, and there were thousands of families who still lacked proper housing.

The culture shock I felt upon my return was also daunting, as the next night I attended an extravagant, over-the-top sweet sixteen. To say I was horribly disappointed and disillusioned with my peers would be an understatement. Over time, however, I came to see alternatives to such cynicism. I told as many people as I could about my trip to Nicaragua, trying to communicate just a fraction of what I had seen and experienced there.

And I kept going back. Over the next four years, I went to Nicaragua six times, working alongside familiar faces and learning something new every time. In my junior year of high school I even led one of the trips myself.

My experience with Bridges to Community was a wonderful introduction to sustainable development. Local committees dictated community needs, local people were empowered to start their own businesses and projects through microfinance, and through cross-cultural exchanges volunteers were inspired to promote change in their own communities at home. In short, it was about solidarity, not charity.

It is because of these qualities – sustainability, community ownership, and collaboration – and the people who believe in them so strongly, that I was drawn to Dos Pueblos. My first day on the job was the day of the Spring Fundraiser, and the mixture of passion, solidarity, and joy in the room was infectious. I look forward to learning more about Dos Pueblos’ great work over the next few months, and to getting to know many of you better, whether online through blog posts and social media or in person.

That’s all for now—you’ll hear from me soon!


Annie Shiel

Thank You for Making our Event a Success!

When we are blessed with good weather for our Spring Fundraiser, we know that no matter what, it's going to be a good party. With its beautiful garden, the cool, airy house of the Kerwin family is a wonderful place to spend a summer evening, and so everyone was already in high spirits for the Dos Pueblos Spring Benefit. By the time the entertainment started, and Board Member Steve invited the crowd to sing along, everyone joined in to 'sing for the future of Tipitapa.' Donors, friends and families mingled together, putting in bids at the silent auction or learning a bit more about our projects through our photos. Wah, the karaoke DJ, kicked off the karaoke with a fantastic cover of Adele's "One and Only," which eased some members of the crowd into the idea of also having a go!

Gretchen Craig, who just celebrated her one-year anniversary on the board of Dos Pueblos and has recently returned from Tipitapa, gave a moving appeal which reminded us all that local volunteers in Nicaragua are ready to make the most amazing changes in people’s lives - they just need to be given the opportunities. Luke Asente, who attended a delegation to Tipitapa last year (and at 12 years old, was the youngest participant to date), shared his reasons for supporting Dos Pueblos, and explaind how, after seeing children looking for scraps in dumps in Tipitapa, he returned to Brooklyn and went on to collect 300 lbs of  school supplies through his School, PolyPrep, for the Dos Pueblos libraries. Combined, the speeches brought energy and hope to the room, and we know that the generous support of those present will also bring energy and hope to many in Tipitapa.

Young Volunteer Combines Theater and Community Service at Poly Prep


The price of admission to Poly Prep’s Middle School musical Grease, which was performed May 11 and 12, was backpacks, school supplies, and books in Spanish, which will be sent to children in Tipitapa, Nicaragua.

It was seventh-grader Luke Asente, who played Eugene in the musical, who suggested the nonprofit Sister City organization Dos Pueblos as the beneficiary of the musical.

Asente shared with the school that his mother, Monique Luchetti, is good friends with the Executive Director of Dos Pueblos, Lupe Ramsey,  and that his whole family had joined Lupe and Dos Pueblos on a delegation to Nicaragua in January 2011.

When Asente visited Tipitapa with his family in 2011, he was the first and only youngster to travel with the 15-person delegation, and he said he was “astounded” at what he saw. His mom had the same reaction. “We were blown away by the poverty we witnessed in these small villages,” Luchetti said. “And also by the incredible Nicaraguan people and the strong, generous, community leaders we met. People are hungry, social services are non-existent, there is no infrastructure, no stores or businesses, dogs are starving and children are growing up in the worst of circumstances.” But it is certainly not a place with hope, she says, “Despite all this, the community leaders working there with the help of Dos Pueblos are able to change lives and make a difference to the people living in Tipitapa every day.”

Read the full article here

Come Enjoy an Evening of Song and Dance!


You’re invited to the Annual Dos Pueblos Garden Extravaganza!

Please join us for a fun evening of song and dance in the

beautiful Upper West Side home and garden of Brian and Jeanne Kerwin.


Yes! I am attending the Dos Pueblos May 31st Spring Extravaganza to support clean water, preventive health and education programs in Nicaragua.

Can't attend the event but still want to send your support?

All contributions are 100% tax-deductible.


Bringing Water to an Entire Community

Last week I got back from my first trip to Tipitapa.

My time there was packed with so many amazing activities—drives out to over a dozen rural communities, visits with young people involved in our libraries and softball programs—that it’s hard to pick what to write about. But for now I’ll focus on just one community, Marvin Salazar, we visited to follow up on a water project.

After turning off the highway and driving down a bumpy dirt road for a spell, we pulled up in front of an open air church to meet with members of the Water Committee and greater community.

The wind was picking up, so we moved our meeting to a small building beside the church to hear how local organizers put together a water project that delivers water directly to households in their community. As the committee’s president, Juan de Fuentes, described their work, I was wowed by the level of organization this project involved.

Community members standing next to their new electric pump.
Community members standing next to their new electric pump.

After having organized to get electricity in their community last year, community members used support from Dos Pueblos to install a large electric pump that can deliver water directly to people’s homes. Each household bought into the water system by purchasing the piping for their units (about $13 each), and in an effort to make the process as transparent as possible, the Water Committee made a point to manage paper, not money—collecting receipts that showed each household had made its contribution to the project. Finally, in an effort to better manage their water supply and maintain their pump, the Water Committee split the community into four sectors and installed switches in the piping system so that water delivery goes sector by sector, with each receiving two hours of access at a designated time each day.

Water is provided to each sector of the community for two hours at a time using this key.

As we walked through Marvin Salazar, we got to see their new infrastructure at work, stopping at the sector switches and watching as people took advantage of the outdoor taps at their homes. It was inspiring to see so much good come from such a small investment of resources. As a first-time visitor in the area, I felt hopeful that our partnerships with local organizers can make a tremendous impact in people’s lives. But as a volunteer in the US, I also felt compelled to do more to meet the level of work being done by volunteers in Nicaragua. Walking through the most remote area of the community, where more than 400 houses are still waiting for piping to be installed, I looked forward to the next few months of work, and to my next visit, when the piping trenches will be filled in, and the water will be flowing in every home.

Access to Water is a Basic Human Right

That is why much of our work focuses on getting clean water to the neediest in Tipitapa. Potable water protects the most vulnerable, children and elders from water-borne diseases, and frees residents, especially women, from the endless daily task of obtaining what they call “el líquido vital.” It is one of the most powerful – and cost effective – ways of helping communities organize around meeting their basic needs to break the cycle of poverty. In the last eight years, our partners in Nicaragua have coordinated many projects bringing clean water to growing communities (over 20,000 families). With support from our individual donors and the generosity of the Cottonwood Foundation, our experienced volunteers lead the way by providing technical expertise, and the communities always contribute the ?sweat equity‘ to install the refurbished wells. Once the basic necessity of water is met, our volunteers continue to engage the communities in addressing local health and education needs.

The bad news is that the Cottonwood Foundation is closing its doors in May. The good news is that they have recognized our work with a final Legacy Grant to provide healthy water to 10 new communities. This grant will allow us to reach the most rural regions in Tipitapa – those that are most excluded from society – so that they may play an active role in protecting their health and their families. In other words this means child mortality is reduced, schools are built, water pollution is decreased, and economic opportunities begin. Help us provide these basic rights to Nicaraguans. We need your support more than ever to continue this important work. Please don‘t forget to make a generous donation today.

Update from the Field: a Microfinance Success Story

On my last trip to Tipitapa, I was honored to meet Jacquelyne, a mother of three who received a Dos Pueblos microloan almost two years ago. A resident in Oronte Centeno near the center of town, Jacquelyne requested a microloan to help her small business making bags and fixing clothes. The leftover fabric never went to waste, since her skills on the sewing machine allowed her to stitch and darn every last piece of material into something to sell to support her family.

With the loan, and some family support, Jacquelyne sells and sews not only in Tipitapa, but also sends her cousin off to Matagalpa in the north of Nicaragua every month with a batch of bags to sell there, and he always comes back empty handed. Meanwhile in Oronte Centeno, the word of her work is spreading and she has new visitors all the time. "I'm the only person in this community who mends clothes", Jacquelyne says, "I think that's why work is always busy". That and the fact that her bags are beautiful, fully lined and even zipped to keep all your things safe. We'll have some for sale at our Fall Fundraiser on November 7th. Come along and see the bags for yourself and support Jacquelyne!

John McCutcheon Benefit Concert - Nov. 7th


Join Dos Pueblos to celebrate 24 years of solidarity with the people of Nicaragua and to benefit our work in Tipitapa. This enjoyable evening will feature John McCutcheon, one which will "reach into human doings and find strings that tie all of us together."


*All donations go to our communities in Tipitapa so please join us!


    Monday, November 7th, 2011
    Church of St. Paul & St. Andrew
    263 West 86th St. (corner of West End Avenue)
    New York, NY 10024



Food, Drinks, and Music RSVP:, or 917-776-4246


Marina – a Volunteer Against All the Odds

Marina and Emanuel Life has thrown its lot at Marina Garcia Hortado, one of our dedicated volunteers from Chilamatillo, Tipitapa. Despite all the odds, Marina has always taken it upon herself to improve the lives not just of her children, but of her entire community, providing support such as education on birth control and workshops for women so they can start their own businesses. Not to mention that she’s a fantastic cook!

Her volunteer life began in 1985, when she taught at the local preschool in her community. There was no funding for paid teachers, but Marina understood the importance of free education for all from as young an age as possible and immediately offered her services. However, diseases such as malaria meant many children could not attend school, and in larger families children had to spend their time pitching in to put food on the table. Marina attended courses on malaria and diarrhea so she could share her knowledge back in Chilamatillo, and started working with ‘Profamilia’ who provide programs and services on family planning.

When Marina’s husband Jose lost his sight and could no longer work as a mechanic, Marina took a job at the local primary school to support the upbringing and education of her four children. But this did not impede her volunteer work, and her experiences as a teacher gave her the skills to teach adults how to read and to give private classes to children with special learning disabilities. And since improving the lives of the women in her community was her main priority, she continued to share her family planning knowledge, riding around the community on her bike to distribute contraceptive pills to as many women as she could.

Through working with Rosa, our community leader in Tipitapa, Marina is now assisting our microfinance program, and learnt many skills so she could assist the women along the way – cooking, sewing, handicrafts, even beauty classes! She is our main cook when we head down to Tipitapa on a delegation, and even does a hot plate of ‘gallo pinto’ (beans and rice) better than anyone else. When asked of her dreams for the future, Marina replied “To always have the opportunity to help the people in my community. And perhaps one day to be able to thank the donors of Dos Pueblos in person!”

Spring Benefit Art Auction and Raffle

Sandro Chia Nancy Graves



Friday May 6th, 6pm 


Great Art  Good Fun  Tasty Bites  Music Fabulous People

For a $200 donation you are guaranteed an original work of art that will benefit our programs in Nicaragua

Our Spring Benefit Raffle & Auction will be held in the beautiful Upper West Side home and garden of Brian and Jeanne Kerwin

Raffle tickets will be drawn at the event to determine the order of selection

Preview & party begins at 6pm and raffle starts at 7:30pm.  A Silent Auction will end at 8:00pm.

Check participating artists and images of their beautiful artwork NOW on our website.


To RSVP or request more details please contact: or, or call 917-776-4246

Mail checks to:

Dos Pueblos 155 W. 72 Street, #402 New York, NY 10023


An Update from the Field: our Health Center is Secure!

By heading to Tipitapa a week before the 2011 Tipitapa Delegation in January, I was lucky enough to really see community work in action with our Health Center Security Fence in Ciudadela San Martin. The entire fence was built in just over a week, all with the labor and support of local volunteers and Rosa, our local community leader and organizer, supervising the project from start to finish. Whether this meant following up on deliveries of supplies or bringing the working team fresh fruit for lunch, Rosa was always present making sure that the fence would be ready in time for the delegates to see, and in time for the planting of our family vegetable patches in the grounds.

With barely a shred of construction knowledge, watching the fence go up was a learning experience. It was also an opportunity to learn some very specific vocabulary (‘malla’ is Spanish for wire mesh fencing). On the day we transported the ‘malla’ from Masaya to Ciudadela, the accelerator pedal in the hired truck gave way. Never an issue in Nicaragua – our driver threaded a rope through the engine, under his feet and into his hand, and just pulled to pick up speed.

Each day saw new progress, with women, men and children helping to create cement mix, chop down weeds blocking the path of the fence and solder the iron tubes in place. The community was supported by CPC (the Citizen’s Power Council) and CAPS, the National Nicaraguan Potable Water Committee on this project, partnerships which can only serve to strength the work we do.

Now our recently renovated Health Center is secure, and the enclosed family gardens are already sprouting radishes and lettuce. Here, parents and children with special needs are working together to grow sustainable and healthy food to support good nutrition, and we also hope to begin workshops in this secure space to teach preventive health. This one, simple project has brought together so much, from community spirit to health and education.