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Reaching the Most Vulnerable

A Letter from Jhan Dotel-Vellenga and Ian Vellenga, serving in Nicaragua

Spring 2023

Write to Ian Vellenga
Write to Jhanderys Dotel-Vellenga

Individuals: Give online to E132192 in honor of Ian and Jhanderys Dotel-Vellenga’s ministry

Congregations: Give to D500115 in honor of Ian and Jhanderys Dotel-Vellenga’s ministry

Churches are asked to send donations through your congregation’s normal receiving site (this is usually your presbytery).


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Dear friends,

February has finally arrived. The second month of the year for us is always welcomed with excitement. Partly because being football fans, we get to enjoy the Super Bowl, partly because of Jhan’s birthday, and also we usually like to go for a special meal on Valentine’s Day. But mainly it feels good to leave January behind. The month of January feels like one big, long Monday of the year: after relaxing with some time off and celebrating the Christmas season in December, January is a stark reminder that we need to get back to work.

2023 started off quite busy. Marcella started preschool. We are preparing for churches and groups to visit Nicaragua (after a hiatus due to the pandemic). There is the closing service for CEPAD’s 50th anniversary celebration. We also had to take a short trip back to the U.S. There were a lot of things that suddenly needed attention. We went from the short re-adjustment/re-settling period after moving back to Nicaragua to a suddenly fast-paced super busy February. There was a lot to catch up on.

But there are also things that remain constant that always need our care. As an institution, CEPAD is facing a lot of challenges. Nicaragua is the second poorest country in the Americas, where access to many basic needs and services remains a challenge. And with the closing of many of the NGOs by the government, CEPAD’s work is even more vital. And of course, the current issues of inflation, climate change, natural disasters, increasing migration and the political climate do not make things any easier. This may seem a little repetitive, but we cannot ignore nor escape the realities that affect us and the people that we work with and for. Unlike us, misfortune and bad circumstances never take time off.

As many of you know, CEPAD’s objective is to reach the country’s most vulnerable communities and individuals. Its projects aim to promote self-sufficiency and sustainability of communities and individuals in the face of rising food costs and limited resources. And to be honest, besides what has been previously mentioned, things are not particularly great in Nicaragua. Globally, we are all facing challenges. We are blessed and lucky to have partnerships and friendships that cared for and supported CEPAD all these years. Some of the partnerships have been going on for almost 20 years, and that says a lot about people’s commitment to serving Nicaraguans in need.

We know there’s an all-around need for the work, and sometimes it is difficult to provide help and assistance to all of those most affected, and sometimes it can feel a little overwhelming. We as humans also have limitations, be it physically, emotionally or economically, but without the accompaniment and support of partners and friends, the labor is even harder. We are consistently focused on continuing the efforts of CEPAD and its partners for the betterment of those communities and individuals that need it the most.

We are grateful for your continued support for both us and the people of Nicaragua.

Ian and Jhan

As always, we are grateful for your support of this ministry. We want to thank all of you for supporting CEPAD during its 50 years of work and service.

Creative_Commons-BYNCNDYou may freely reuse and distribute this article in its entirety for non-commercial purposes in any medium. Please include author attribution, photography credits, and a link to the original article. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDeratives 4.0 International License.

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