Over the years, CoCoDA has fulfilled its mission thanks to many people – staff, Board members, volunteers, donors, champions and our many partners in Central America.  These are people committed to our work, empathetic to the needs of those with less privilege or resource. 

North Americans and Central Americans have worked side by side, managing projects and creating programs for the benefit of the communities because, like CoCoDA, they have commited to improving the quality of life for those in Central America and creating connections between communities and people. 

They agree with Lila Watson, who said, “If you are coming to help me, you are wasting your time.  But if you are coming because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together.”

In this newsletter, we proudly present some of the faces behind the work of CoCoDA.

Bernie and Teresa Bato

Bernie and Teresa traveled to El Salvador in January 1993 with the first delegation from DePauw University WTIS (Winter Term in Service). They worked on the reconstruction of Las Delicias School, which had been damaged during the twelve years of civil war that had ended the year before. Since 1993, this couple have been faithful donors to CoCoDA every month, donating over $40,000 over those 28 years and a great example of perpetual solidarity with those in need. Teresa is so admired by the community that they call her “Santa Teresa de Las Delicias”.

CoCoDA staff and board want to highlight the Battos and THANK them for that incredible perseverance and companionship to the CoCoDA mission – to build such strong relations between the people in the United States and the people in Central America and to rebuild the communities and infrastructure destroyed by the United States dollars during the Salvadoran Civil War and Nicaragua Conflict.

¡Muchas Gracias Bernie y Teresa!

Antonio Pachecho (Chico)

Antonio Pacheco is one of the 26 founders and current president of the Association for Social Economic Development (ADES), one of the partners that CoCoDA has worked with in Central America since 1992.

Alongside Chico, as we affectionately call him, CoCoDA has collaborated with ADES in their aim of solving problems that were triggered by the armed conflict in El Salvador.

This collaboration began through an education program with scholarships for teachers of the Popular Schools, projects such as the Santa Marta Health Unit, the community radio, the purchase of land for the radio station, the purchase of land for communities and much more. CoCoDA and ADES have worked together on water projects in Valle Nuevo and El Zapote, as well as the construction of a solar powered water system based  in the El Rodeo community.

In the area of ​​education, CoCoDA helped ADES fulfill one of the dreams of their youth.  CoCoDA contributed over $80,000 to the purchase of the Casa Iván Villasboa, which provides free lodging for young people who travel to San Salvador from the communities to complete their university studies.

Chico says, “Supporting these efforts is sowing a seed for the future.”

Rosendo López

Rosendo López is a community leader from the community of El Cacao, Mozonte, Nicaragua. He has been a member of the health brigade in his community for 26 years. Far from a clinic or hospital,  Rosendo is often the first person to respond to a health problem in his community.

Rosendo says, “I do this because it is a service that I give to my community, for the love I feel for my people. I would love to see my community develop and move forward, overcoming our many challenges.”

Rosendo, as well as other community members from El Cacao, has been in contact with CoCoDA since 2015. Rosendo has been an important person in the two projects that CoCoDA has carried out in this community.  These projects have been the improvement of the road into the community, which was impassable during rainy season, and the initiation of a composting latrine project.  As a community leader, Rosendo is always ready to help in any way he can.

José Luis Núñez

José Luis Núñez Gómez has worked for the Nicaragua Community Movement from Somoto Nicaragua (MCN-Somoto) for seven years.

Jose Luis says, “My purpose is to contribute to the changes and development of the communities that we work with the support of CoCoDA and their donors.

José Luis has collaborated with CoCoDA since 2016 in the construction of a preschool in Somoto, the water project in Zacataloza, our composting latrine initiative and the water project in Motuse that will start next year. Jose is the perfect liaison, understanding the way CoCoDA works as well as the needs of the people in the communities.  The face of CoCoDA in many places is the face of Jose Luis.

Genevieve Ryan

Genevieve Ryann is one of the newest members of the CoCoDA Board of Directors.  As a Masters of Public Health student at Indiana University, she traveled to Nicaragua twice with CoCoDA in 2016 and 2017.  The second year she was one of the student leaders.  Inspired by her time in the community of Zacataloza, she worked with other IU students to create a scholarship program for the young people of that rural community.
Previous to the scholarship program, most youth in Zacataloza ended their education at 8th grade.  This program enables youth to continue onto high school through support for clothing, supplies and transportation.  Genevieve has successfully raised over $2,000 a year to sustain this program and recruited a cadre of faithful supporters.  The program began supporting its first college student this past year – a young woman – Iriz Gradiz – who is studying nursing.  

When people ask us why we take North Americans to Central America, Genevieve Ryann is the answer.  By connecting North Americans to Central America, we build lifetime connections that change lives both there and in the United States.