BUILD: Understanding AVODEC Projects in Nicaragua

by tuftsigl
Jul 18

Written by Jenna Klein, member of BUILD: Nicaragua


I arrived in Nicaragua on June 24th, so I am currently starting my fourth week working with the NGO AVODEC in Jinotega. They have two primary programs: a production program, which works primarily on microfinance and agriculture projects, and a social program, which works primarily on health, housing, and clean water access projects. These projects are all targeted at the population of the department of Jinotega. During my time with AVODEC, I have the opportunity to work on a variety of different projects with them in their different programs.


The first project I got to work on involved data analysis for a nutrition project established by the Portuguese organization, Oikos. The project seeks to increase the production of poultry and eggs in impoverished rural communities in an effort to both increase their consumption for nutritional benefits, as well as increase their sale for income. To get a feel of how the current situation involving poultry and egg production is in the rural communities, AVODEC  issued a survey to a random sampling of families. I used this data to establish a baseline and then calculate how much improvement was needed to reach certain goals that had been previously set by the study's managers. I then presented my findings on the baseline data as well as the goals we were trying to reach to AVODEC. They will carry out the project over the next few years and periodically collect new data to monitor their progress.


Last week, I had the opportunity to work with a medical brigade of three American surgeons that AVODEC brought to Jinotega to work in the local hospital and perform free surgeries that are usually either not available or are prohibitively expensive for the local population.  I helped move patients between the operating and recovery room in the hospital and also had the opportunity to shadow the doctors in the operating room.  One of the doctors is a retired professor of surgery, so he taught me a lot about medicine and the procedures he was performing on the patients. Along with the Americans in the medical brigade, there were local Nicaraguan doctors, AVODEC employees and volunteers such as myself, and medical students from Spain at the hospital last week. The cultural confluence made for a great learning experience and l exchange for everyone there, especially in regards to how health care delivery works and surgical procedures are performed in our respective countries.  


The next project I hope to work on with AVODEC aims to provide clean water to impoverished rural communities in the department of Jinotega. I am here working at AVODEC with two other students in the BUILD Nicaragua program, Tom and Elayne. We have worked together somewhat, but mainly work on our own projects due to our differing interests. Overall, my experience here working with AVODEC and living in Jinotega, Nicaragua in general has been an interesting one from which I have learned a lot and am sure I will continue to. One of the many valuable lessons I have learned from working on different projects with AVODEC is that things often work differently in theory and in practice, so one must least how to adapt to this difference. 


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