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Have you met John?

Have you met John?

You should meet John. He’s four. You saved his life. He was a normal, playful little boy, living outside Jinotega in  Nicaragua.

But he started complaining of pain in his stomach. Maybe a bit of bad food, his mother figured. But the pains kept coming — and kept getting worse. John’s energy drained away. He stopped playing. He stopped smiling. They went to a local doctor, but he couldn’t figure out the source of the little boy’s terrible, mysterious pain. His mother found another doctor, and yet another. No luck there either. What they didn’t know was that John had an unusual “mesenteric cyst” deep inside his small intestine — a problem so rare, only 820 cases have been reported anywhere worldwide.

This is a cyst that can perforate the intestine — start internal hemorrhaging — infection — tissue death — and trigger two deadly forms of cancer. But your love stepped in … and rewrote the ending. Your generous support of Esperança enabled us to send a pediatric mission to Jinotega. Dr. Custer and his team looked at John and saw trouble. They scheduled surgery for the very next day. In an intense and complicated operation, three surgeons worked together to remove a very large cyst from a very small boy. Little John was a trouper. After three days of post-op observation, he was back to his old self … laughing, chattering,

playing. His mother could not stop thanking the doctors — and thanking God — for sparing her son’s life.

He’ll turn five soon … thanks to you.





Jinotega for Esperanҫa: Mission Possible

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From the desk and comments from Robert Craig – Esperanҫa Boardmember and Esperanҫa Traveler

Three days after surgery to correct a disfiguring cleft lip, nine year-old Gabriela broke her silence. Accompanied by an adult neighbor from her village, she walked from the pediatric ward and sat at the nurse’s station where members of Dr. Nick Retson’s volunteer surgical team huddled daily to manage surgical supplies and nurse the recovering patients’ incisions to ensure proper healing before their often long journeys home.

The shy girl who arrived five days earlier for evaluation with her hand always covering her face spoke through her interpreter who said, “Gabriela wants to know if she can give you a hug.” This is when you know that Esperanҫa transforms lives.

This February I will return to Jinotega with my wife Robin who will photograph the work of Esperanҫa and their partner AVODEC. Our mission is to help tell the stories of the people we serve through surgical missions and community development projects.

My previous trip with the volunteer surgical team was a true light, to see how everyone plays a role to create a successful mission. You have the surgical teams that dedicate their skill and time away from their offices and patients back home, responsible for bringing all surgical supplies and paying all international travel and local in-country costs. Next is the local partner, AVODEC, who provides local medical mission management. Led by Luis Lanzas, the Medical Mission Coordinator, AVODEC maintains Esperanҫa’s relationship with the hospital ensuring they are prepared to allocate the necessary facilities and extra local medical staff.

But perhaps the most important task is to find the people most in need of surgery—the kind not available to local doctors and surgeons—and bring them to the hospital. From the start of the mission surgical teams hit the ground running, and they want candidates pre-selected, ready for triage on day one, with as many surgeries as time will allow. This requires AVODEC/Esperanҫa to ensure that the people in need are there and ready to have their lives transformed by our surgeons.

The Jinotega Department (think of a “state”) is the largest of Nicaragua’s 15 departments. It stretches from the city of Jinotega on the southern end to the Honduran border and the huge Bosawas Natural Reserve which makes up almost half of this department. To find patients for the different types of surgery, Mr. Lanzas and Dr. David Quezada travel for days, by truck, by foot, and on the rivers by “cayuco”, a motorized wooden longboat, stopping to visit villages in some of the most remote parts of Central America.

This is where you find people with the most severe cleft lips and palates.  Clefts are birth defects with a strong genetic component and wide variation between different ethnic groups. Native Central Americans not only have one of the highest incidences of clefts, but also the most severe. When Luis and David reach the far edge of Jinotega district, a ten-hour 150 km journey down Rio Coco bordering Honduras toward the North Atlantic Autonomous Region of Nicaragua, they are in an area dominated by the Miskito, a sub-group of native people with a distinct ethnicity, language and culture. And their children suffer disproportionately from clefts.

These are the people most in need. People who subsist on farming and fishing, and may have never seen a hospital, People with limited means to travel great distances. As Dr. Retson says, “these are exactly the people I want to treat.”

On February 19 Robin and I will board our flight for Managua on our way to Jinotega. AVODEC has graciously agreed to take us on this journey to the villages to find more patients for Dr. Retson. On this upcoming mission he is bringing a dentist, who will add another valuable dimension to the work of restoring patients to good health. We may also be reunited with Gabriela and her dad in her remote village in the Miskito region, and meet her mom. We understand she has siblings who may also be candidates for corrective cleft surgery.

As a board member of Esperanҫa, I am grateful for the opportunity to see how our donors contribute to the incredible team effort that has made possible over 7 surgical missions in Jinotega last year alone, transforming the lives of 265 patients and their families, and spreading goodwill from our communities in the USA as those patients return to their families, schools, and communities.


Esperança’s CADEP Program Recognized

Esperança’s program partner CADEP in Peru was recently nominated for an award for its ecological housing program in the COP 20, which is a United Nations sponsored Climate Conference that took place in Lima. They received 400 applications and CADEP ranked 7th overall!

The CADEP Program that Esperança supports provides food security and housing improvements to thousands of people in Peru. The partnership started in 2014 and has seen great results! So far, Esperança has accomplished:

  • Distribution of seeds re-introducing native crops to benefit 778 families in cold, mountainous regions where food is hard to grow; this also included training and technical support.
  • Additionally, they constructed 49 ecological homes in four rural highland communities benefitting 49 families directly and 13, 250 people indirectly through training and workshops on home building and associated projects such as irrigation, more efficient farming practices and efficient use of local resources for home and land improvement projects.

Join us in congratulating our partnership in Peru on this outstanding recognition! To learn more about the CADEP program or make a donation, contact Jared Leslie at 602-252-772 ext 101 or email jared@esperanca.org



Esperança To Benefit From CitySolve Urban Race Phoenix

Tickets are on sale now for the CitySolve Urban Race Phoenix on Saturday, March 21, 2015.  This adventure race is a mash up of The Amazing Race and pub trivia. Teams of four people solve ten clues centered on pop-culture and face fun interactive activities all over Phoenix.  This Phoenix Amazing Race style scavenger hunt might take you and your friends through Encanto, Downtown, Uptown and many great places in between.


Tickets are $25 each until January 27 and will increase to $65 on race day.  Esperança is proud to announce we will receive $8 from each registration for the event.  Grab your friends, colleagues or family and register in teams of four and help raise money for Esperança.


For more information or to register for the run, visit: www.citysolveurbanrace.com/cities/phoenix_az/

CitySolve (5 of 85)



Cacao… Transforming Lives?

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What is the best way to learn something new? You learn from the best! Juan is one of the finest farmers in Jinotega, Nicaragua.  He has dedicated his life to agriculture and the production of basic grains. At 63 years of age, his wife and 8 children support Juan in his work and his service to the community as a health volunteer, church leader and Esperança volunteer. today he and his family are pillars of leadership in the community. But, there was a time when Juan and his family were barely surviving, living with limited resources. He had no hope of additional income for a better quality of life.  Little did Juan know, but Cacao also known as chocolate was going to transform his family’s life.

In 2011 Juan took a chance, and because of your support he was selected to be a part of a new organic cacao project. The goal of the project was to introduce organic cacao growing to farmers in rural Nicaragua, creating an opportunity for  economic  growth for the benefiting families. Right from the beginning of the project we could see the leadership of Juan’s experience and passion as a farmer emerge. He quickly became the leader of the farmers benefiting from the organic cacao program.

He organized program beneficiaries into groups of 10 farmers per community served by this project. After Juan went through the training on growing the new crop, he provided training and technical assistance to other growers, volunteered to prepare the land with them, and helped clean and disinfect it in preparation for organic growing.

Juan used his years of experience growing other crops to recommend supplies such as bio-fertilizers and natural insecticides. Once the seed growing period had been completed, the cacao trees needed to be properly cared for in order for them to produce. Through this time Juan dedicated himself to ensuring that the cacao seedlings were tended properly. His wife María was alongside him during this whole time, in the fields with him, at meetings with him. She did this to show that she supported this new effort for their family.

Now we arrive at 2014-2015 when the cacao trees have reached maturity and are starting to produce. These cash crops need access to the local markets and that is where Juan’s and his family’s hard work is paying off. With your help Esperanca is now building a storage and processing facility that will allow Juan and other growers to store and market their cacao! Juan is thrilled now that he is able to earn a living and market his product at a good price. With his hard work and dedication, he has been able to expand his plot of land, which will yield more cacao plants and beans with each growing season. This will increase his income and bring a better quality of life to his whole family while at the same time continuing to increase his production year after year.



Esperança Announces New Office Manager Flor Chavez

Esperança is pleased to announce Flor Chavez has joined the organization as office manager.

Flor will be responsible for coordinating all meetings and functions for the Board of Directors, overseeing all aspects of office administration and providing administrative support to the CEO, program and administrative staff.

Flor de Maria’s most recent positions were with FACES of Crisis Nursery and The Salvation Army: Phoenix Central Corps.  Chavez holds a Bachelor of Science in Nonprofit Leadership & Management from Arizona State University and an Associate of Arts in Elementary Education.   She also holds a Certified Nonprofit Professional Certificate (CNP).



Esperança Honored as 2014 Top-Rated Nonprofit GreatNonprofits.org Award is based on Positive Online Reviews

Esperança has been honored with a prestigious 2014 Top-Rated Award by GreatNonprofits, the leading provider of user reviews about nonprofit organizations.

We are excited to be named a Top-Rated 2014 Nonprofit,” says Tom Egan, president and CEO of Esperança.  “We are proud of our accomplishments this year. Our successes that impact health directly include our volunteer surgical teams transforming the lives of over 1,500 rural villagers, and educating tens of thousands of Bolivians to prevent tropical diseases that kill 30% of their population. Our successes in community health include providing clean water for hundreds in Nicaragua, and building the first safe housing villagers in the highlands in Peru have ever owned”.

The Top-Rated Nonprofit award was based on the large number of positive reviews that Esperança received – reviews written by volunteers, donors and clients. People posted their personal experience with the nonprofit.

Being on the Top-Rated list gives donors and volunteers more confidence that this is a credible organization. The reviews by volunteers, clients and other donors show the on-the-ground results of this nonprofit. This award is a form of recognition by the community.

To learn more about the award, visit www.greatnonprofits.org.




Dollar for Dollar Match in December

Christmas Eve, there’s a picture of it, already, in your head, in your heart, Ornaments and lights. Presents under the tree. Children snuggled safe in their beds, squirming with anticipation. But the picture is very, very different for the children and families we serve. This Christmas, they’ll be walking. Trudging, on foot,mile after mile, simply to stay alive.

Water for Survival
• The families we serve walk an average of three miles every single day of the year — to find water. Children often have the chore of fetching water for the entire family, so they can’t go to school. They even have to make the trek when they’re sick — because there’s no way to survive without water. And even then, the water they bring back is dirty, unsafe and yet it’s all they have. We need to dig more wells.

Growing Their Own Food
• Many of the parents we serve have to walk long distances to find work — they leave home before dawn, return after dark, leave young children alone all day. They have no choice — even though their wages are pitifully small. There’s no alternative. But for $80, we can get a family started raising chickens or pigs, growing a garden, planting crops. Parents can stay home with their children. The children eat better, and get back in school. We need to help more families grow their own food.

Surgical Mission Teams
• Some people walk hundreds of miles — for surgery. One woman carried her baby boy more than 2,000 miles to reach an Esperança surgeon. We can hardly imagine such a thing. Surgery is traumatic for anyone, but I can hardly fathom the pain of having to walk hundreds of miles to find help. It only costs $7,000 to send an entire surgical mission
team to a needy area — and each team averages as many as 45 surgeries. That’s about $156 for an operation (another mind-blowing number). We need to send more surgical mission teams.

I invite you to look through the gift catalog. You’ll find many different ways to change the lives of children and families in serious need. The Matching Challenge applies to anything in this catalog and any additional items. Your pledge will be DOUBLED this month due to our board of directors agreeing to match your gifts up to $100,000!

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Esperança Earns 4-Star Rating from Charity Navigator

Esperança has earned the highest rating available from Charity Navigator, America’s premier charity evaluator.  They awarded its coveted four-star rating to Esperanca for “sound fiscal management”.   Esperança is one of only 37 four-star charities in the state of Arizona.

“Approximately a quarter of the charities we evaluate have received our highest rating, indicating that Esperança outperforms most other charities in America,” said Ken Berger, President & CEO, Charity Navigator.  “This ‘exceptional’ designation from Charity Navigator differentiates Esperanca from its peers and demonstrates to the public it is worthy of their trust.”

Charity Navigator works to help charitable givers make intelligent decisions by evaluating charities’ financial health and efficiency. It calculates each charity’s score based upon several broad criteria, including how much is spent per dollar raised, what percentage of funds goes to programs vs. administrative and fund-raising expenses, and the organization’s long-term financial health. It then assigns a rating from one to four, with four being the best rating.

To learn more visit, http://www.charitynavigator.org/.



Hope for Paula

2Paula is a 40 year old mother of 5 with limited resources and few options for health care in the small community of Sarawaska  about 25 kilometers away from the city of Jinotega, Nicaragua where Esperanҫa operates. Paula has had to deal with two major medical conditions over the years. Her first condition is epilepsy, a condition that causes uncontrollable seizures and is managed by medication. She currently takes medication 3 times a day to control her seizures but this poses a challenge. She also developed gallstones, and with her epileptic condition no local doctors would operate on her. This means for the past four years she has lived with the pain that is associated with gallstones with no chance of relief. The gallstones had reached a point where she could no longer function with the pain they caused.

Then she heard about the surgical mission that Esperanҫa was sending to Jinotega with Dr. Inglis and his general surgical team, and there was hope for Paula. She leapt at even the chance of being considered for the surgical mission and the first day of the mission she was there and ready to be evaluated for surgery. She came prepared and was cleared for surgery and was placed on the schedule for the week. When her surgery time came, it went off without a hitch. She was so grateful for the amazing team and supporters like you that made it possible for her to function again.



Esperança is a 501(c)(3) organization. Contributions are tax deductible in accordance with IRS rules and regulations.