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Teach a Man to Store a Fish?















When you think of the old saying, “Rather than give a man a fish you should teach him to fish”, do you ever think of where to store the fish? Food storage is something that most of us do not think twice about. However, most Mozambicans living in rural communities think of this fact every day.

Storing food is something that many villagers have to spend a lot of time worrying about. Not having effective ways to store food puts many at risk of avoidable disease and poor nutrition, especially for the children. The country is still suffering from the effects of a protracted civil war that ended in 1992, historical knowledge about food storage has been lost in many communities. Reintroducing this knowledge will be a key way to address the issue of malnutrition, a serious issue in Mozambique. Currently 44%
of children under the age of five are stunted from poor diet and chronic illness.

Esperança is partnering with local development groups to find innovative ways to address the issue. In the small village of Maciene, Mozambique, 145 miles north of the capital city Maputo, villagers are rediscovering ways to address issues of nutrition and food security. The Mabumwine Community Development Center will be working to reintroduce animal husbandry and food curing methods that have been lost. Women and children will be provided with training and technical assistance on different approaches to agriculture and food preparation. This training will include ways to increase community members’ crop yields, in addition to educating villagers on ways to preserve food, such as through traditional smoking and curing methods. Both efforts will lead to women and children having better balanced diets. Additionally, community members will be able to sell any surplus crops grown to create an alternative revenue source for the community.



Mission Possible – The view as a Boardmember

This past February Bob (an Esperanca Boardmember) and Robin (his wife and Professional Photographer) boarded a flight for Managua on their way to Jinotega. They embarked on a journey to the villages with us to find more patients for our surgical program, for an upcoming mission here is some insight into what he and his wife experienced:

“Esperanca travels twice a year on a difficult, and risky trip into one of the most remote areas in Nicaragua to find patients for our plastic surgical missions. The only way to find these patients is to go to their villages. I sent a clip of a boy taking his grandmother off the boat. She is blind. As we launched on the first day, they had been waiting three days for a boat that would take them downstream where they would walk another three hours to their village. We gave them a ride.  In Siksayati, the farthest point of this mission, we transported a mother and her baby who had pneumonia, dropping them off in a larger village where the child could be given oxygen and antibiotics. On the final leg of our trip up Rio Coco, we brought a women and her infant, taking them to the hospital in Wiwili. These missions cost several thousand dollars per year, and would not happen without support from Esperanca/AVODEC.” Bob Craig – Esperanҫa Board Member



Reaching Out to the Developing World – St. Thomas the Apostle Church

At Esperança, compassion is expressed in many ways, such as monetary and medical supply donations, volunteers, prayers and surgical trips. Since the early days of Esperança, donors and doctors traveled to Brazil. We have continued to reach out with compassion to families around the world.
That wonderful tradition will continue this Easter when a group from St. Thomas the Apostle Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan will travel to Nicaragua on a Mission of Hope. The group represents the people of St. Thomas who have been faithful supporters of Esperança since 1980. Their tithing stewardship has transformed many lives in the past 35 years. The group of 6 adults and 5 teens, accompanied by Esperança staff, will meet with community leaders in the town of Jinotega where they will help dig latrines for neighboring villagers. In addition to manual labor, they will enjoy meals with staff members from our Nicaraguan partners, AVODEC. A visit to the Masaya volcano and a pottery workshop is also on their itinerary.
We are truly grateful to the people of St. Thomas the Apostle Church for their many years of support!



Esperança announces James Hoyt has been named CEO

Jim photo“It is an honor to work with the staff and donors of Esperança who for 45 years have been making such a transformative difference throughout the developing world,” said Hoyt. “It is my sincere desire to increase our organization’s fundraising so that we can bring hope and critical services to even more of society’s most vulnerable.”

James has over 30 years of nonprofit experience in administration and development.  Prior to joining Esperança, he was Southwest regional director at NPH USA for the last 10 years.  In this role, he oversaw planned giving, charitable endowments, bequests, special gifts, sponsorships, major donors and special events.

Previous experience also included two years as executive director of the Friends of the Orphans, and nine years as director of administration and development for Our Lady of Perpetual Help Catholic Church.  He was also a parish administrator for Christ the King  Catholic Church.

Hoyt holds a B.A. in Communications with a Minor in Philosophy from Loyola University of Chicago and a M.A. in Community Service and Administration from Regis University in Denver, CO.


Esperança Announces New Board Member

Esperança is pleased to announce Francisco Tort has joined the organization’s board of directors.

Francisco is a financial advisor with Morgan Stanley.  He’s been in the financial services industry for 10 years and his primary focus is on helping successful individuals, families and businesses protect, grow and transfer wealth.

He is a graduate of the Milwaukee School of Engineering with a B.S. in Industrial Engineering.  Francisco is a former chairman of the Anthem Community council’s Fiscal and Resource Management Committee, and current serves on the Board of the Arts Council of the North Valley and is a member of the Anthem Rotary Club.

“Francisco has travelled extensively within Latin America and has a great appreciation of our mission and how we assist those in need,” said, Jared Leslie, director of development for Esperança.  “We’re looking forward to having him on the board and know he will provide valuable insight.”

For interest in board service please contact Jared Leslie at 602-252-7772 ext 101


Juliet and Her Journey















It’s called a “faucet.” It brings you water, fresh, clean, safe water.

Imagine taking all your faucets away. No more water. When you want water — and you will certainly want water, probably very soon — you have to go find it. Wherever it is.

This was Juliet’s life. She lives in a thatch-roofed hut in Mozambique, in southeast Africa and is the caregiver of her four young grandchildren.

In her 70’s, Juliet has to walk an hour and 15 minutes to the nearest water source, scoop water into buckets, then trudge another hour and 15 minutes back with her load. She managed to carry 20 liters at a time — imagine lugging 10 two-liter bottles of soda.

To care for herself and her little ones, she needed water for cooking, washing clothes and dishes, preparing food, and a bath for just one of the children — she needed 60 liters of water a day. That’s three round trips. Seven and a half hours a day. For water. Something had to change… and something big happened because of you.

Thanks to the compassion and generosityof friends like you, Esperança arrived. We located a clean water source underground, and then instructed the villagers on how to install a new, reliable water-pumping system right in their own village.

It now takes Juliet seven and a half minutes to get there and collect her much needed clean water.

Today, her grandchildren can get a bath as often as they need one. They’re healthier, too. And they’re not alone. The whole village has been transformed.

I’m writing to inform you that your support will help it happen again in another village. Without clean, safe, readily available water, people suffer. Children get sick from disease ridden, polluted water. They grow weak from diarrhea which causes them to miss school.

Donations to Esperanҫa will help us construct a new water-pumping system in another village like Juliet’s.

We’ll work up the plans. We’ll bring in the materials, and the villagers will dig the well, install the pump and assemble the whole apparatus under our direction.

We’ll teach all the neighbors about hygiene, about clean water vs. dirty water, and about keeping themselves and their children healthy.

The long hours of hiking to the watering hole will be over.

The water project you sponsor today will get children back in school … and education will be the key to escaping the cycle of poverty.

Call it water’s “ripple effect.”




The Arizona Super Bowl Host Committee Grants $15,000 to Expand Esperança’s Health Education Programs

The Arizona Super Bowl Host Committee, in partnership with the NFL Foundation and the Arizona Community Foundation has awarded grant funding in the amount of $15,000 to Esperança for Salud con Sabor Latino para los Ninos (Health with a Latin Flavor).  The funding provided will allow Esperança staff to provide health-related preventative education programs, including obesity prevention, oral health and chronic disease management to underserved families who live in Central Phoenix or the neighborhoods that line the I-17 corridor.

“Through the Salud con Sabor Latino para los Ninos program, children in central Phoenix have participated in oral health education workshops and training,” said Jared Leslie, Development Director. “In addition, 75 families have graduated from the obesity prevention curriculum and 80 children, ages 10-14, learned about the appropriate portion size and fun ways to be more active.  Our Salud con Sabor Latino para los Ninos program gives children the information needed to make better lifestyle choices.  We’re extremely grateful for the Arizona Super Bowl Host Committee’s support.”

To learn more about Esperança’s domestic programs or make a donation, contact Jared Leslie, development director at (602)252-7772 EXT. 101.




Annual Skeeter McFee Golf Tournament

The annual Skeeter McFee tournament is Saturday, March 28, 2015 from 7 a.m. to noon. It benefits many worthy charities that the Phoenix Squaw Peak Rotary Club proudly supports. Esperança has been a past recipient and would like to encourage donors, supporters and friends to participate! The four-person scramble is being played at Stonecreek Golf Course, located west of Tatum Blvd, north of Shea Blvd. To register for this fun and worthwhile event, visit: http://squawpeakrotary.com/skeeter-mcfee-2015/.


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

craig story













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 three day 280 km journey down Rio Coco bordering Honduras toward the North Atlantic Autonomous Region of Nicaragua, they are in an area populated by indigenous people with 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 two dentists, 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.

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