Sisters Assist Nicaraguan People after Hurricanes
By Sisters Sandra Price, SNDdeN
Sisters Rebecca Trujillo and Sandy Price, SNDdeN.
We, Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur (SNDdeN) in Nicaragua work to help alleviate some of the most critical needs, at all times and in many dangerous situations. We are now in the fourth month since two powerful hurricanes devastated north east and west territories of Nicaragua. Many people are unable to rebuild their homes blown away by the hurricanes. The government and many groups and families, parishes and international aid groups were quick to respond to the thousands of displaced families. But as in every disaster, there is never enough assistance. The farthest, and most isolated families still wait for help. The rain continued for days after the second and most damaging hurricane, not heavy rain, but a very wet rain. With roofs blown off and zinc roofing rolled up by the wind like giant cigars, everything inside the poorly-built houses was soaked. Schools lost all their books and materials. Clothes soaked in water and mud did not dry out for weeks.
Hunger Follows Crop Devastation
Families help to load, transport and distribute to those in need the bean seed on donkeys or in trucks.
And then there was the worst…hunger. The crops and seed stored for replanting were ruined. Supplies from the last crops harvested were destroyed. In the weeks following, even wild animals forgot their fear of people and came desperately looking for food. Not even the birds could find food. We will never know how many animals died in what were once beautiful forests. One campesino related coming upon a monkey whose hand was pressed by a huge tree that fell on him. The man was unable to move the giant trunk and there were only two options, leave the monkey to die of hunger or cut off his hand. He decided the most humane choice was to release the monkey by severing its hand. When the monkey was free, he ran off into open field that had once been his forest home.
Sister Sandra aids a helper in measuring portions of beans for distribution to hungry families.
We, Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur in Nicaragua work to help alleviate some of the most critical needs, with very generous funds sent to the Congregation by our donors. We were able to supply some 80 families with 100 pounds of bean seed, the main stable in the Nicaraguan diet, during the planting months for beans in December and January 2020. We purchased a chainsaw so that the families were able to cut trees for the lumber to rebuild their houses. Now we are trying to locate families and communities beyond reach and families unable to receive aid and without food.
Generous Gifts Provide Relief
Some families are still living in igloo-like leaf caves.
Many generous people and groups in Nicaragua have given what they were able to contribute. The first emergency supplies which arrived in the week after the second hurricane are now depleted. From Matagalpa, Sr. Rebecca Trujillo, SNDdeN sent funds received from some donors. The SNDdeN Congregational Mission Support Office provided more funding to assist our people in this dire crisis. Recently, we spent some time in identifying families who are without food, drawing up a budget, dividing and counting portions of beans, rice, corn cooking oil, sugar as well as soap for washing. Everybody has need also for washing supplies, especially for the children. We identified 32 families that we will be able to assist; we are buying 2,700 pounds of each: beans, rice and corn, 1,500 pounds of sugar, 27 gallons of cooking oil and 324 soap. We realize that this is only a little bit that we are able to contribute to our people.
The happiest side of this time, our people celebrate being alive! No lives have been lost, and neighbors are helping neighbors to restore homes that were less damaged. The government has provided zinc roofing for many families; the sun is coming out more often and clothes are drying out. The generosity of so many people gives us hope. As SNDdeN, we are grateful for donor support sent from our Congregation. We give thanks to our God who is so very good.