Coci-Nica and Clinica Apoyo June 2017 Newsletter

Dear Friends and Family,

Our return to Nicaragua and the Comarcas de la Laguna de Apoyo after several months absence was filled with joy at seeing how well the projects do in our absence and pride in the staff of both Coci-Nica and Clinica Apoyo.  Their hard work, conscientiousness and enthusiasm day after day, under trying circumstances, is remarkable.

Eight Coci-Nicas are being delivered to their new homes in a rural community outside of Granada.

CN Horse cart


Anita assisting on a well baby check with vaccinations at Clínica Apoyo

CN women with baby


Both the clinic and stove factory have learned to extend their reach by working with an ever changing cadre of volunteers that help fill in the gaps in services, provide supplies, provide training for staff and community and add a measure of cross cultural awareness to the entire program. Many of the volunteers are Nicaraguan; others come from the U.S. and around the world. Our volunteers help to stretch your contributions to cover more people and projects.

Javier, below, the 15 year old son of Ana, our medical assistant, often volunteers at the clinic when he is not in school.  Here he is working with Thelma, the clinic’s regular dentist.

CN boy on operating table

I want to begin by introducing you to our youngest volunteers. We believe that it is important to teach kids the value of helping out in their own community. We hope as they grow into adulthood that they incorporate this value, and that they will pass it on one day to their kids. These pictures show some of the results of that effort.  Pictured at left is 7 year old Eric helping a team clean up the streets in the community. He is learning that the community spaces belong to everybody, not “nobody”.

CN boy wheelbarrow

CN dentist

Edwin, center, is 14 and our main translator.  He learned his English by attending English classes on Saturdays sponsored by Susan and Bill Dryden. Pictured above, he is translating as American dentist Theresa Noe,  a volunteer from Oakland, works on a patient while simultaneously teaching Yadira one of our health promoters how to spot dental problems.

One of our young volunteers, 15 year old Sabrina Cabarcas, held a fund raiser at her Florida High School to collect school supplies for the children of the community.  She raised over $2500 to purchase the supplies.  Then Sabrina and her parents, during spring vacation, brought the supplies to the clinic for distribution in the two grade schools.  More than 300 children lined up to receive the much appreciated supplies.

CN children in line

Nuri Bruner, our 19 year old grandson and Andrei Eugenio spent a month last December volunteering for the Coci-Nica project making a promotional Video about the stoves.  They did a fabulous job which you can check out at:   

CN kayak

They also had a lot of fun as you can see them messing around in our pool checking for leaks in their kayak before venturing onto the lake.

Health Promoters

CN promoters with Geyda

Our health promoters are our most consistent and hardworking volunteers.  These six women plus Christian and Ana represent all the different sectors in our community.  These young women help with cleaning the clinic, education projects, dissemination of information in their sectors, organizing events such as brigades, dental clinics and fund raisers, as well as acting as our eyes and ears as to the health concerns in their neighborhoods.

CN mopper CN Geyda getting honors

Pictured above is one of the promoters cleaning the clinic and two receiving honorariums for their work.

CN Two women in white medical garb

Volunteer dentist Theresa Noe is pictured here with Yadira, one of our health promoters. Yadira volunteered for more than 50 hours to assist Dr. Theresa and learn how to clean teeth.  Theresa worked on more than 40 patients, cleaning teeth, filling cavities and doing extractions. She also taught all the promotoras how to teach others to brush their teeth. Theresa did an incredible job introducing the community to the importance of good dental health.


After a few years of trial and error, we have hit on a system that works for the clinic and the health promotoras. These women are volunteers.  In exchange for their service, they get free health care for themselves and their immediate families.  They also get small honorariums periodically throughout the year. As these women have paying jobs or are students, we try to keep their group meeting time to a minimum. They meet as a group once a month; otherwise they help out when they are free, generally on the weekends and periodically during the week, early or late depending on their individual schedules.  We also have begun using the health promoters as substitutes for our regular employees. As the promoters have learned skills, some are now able to do patient intake and help in the pharmacy.  This way the promoters earn some money and the clinic has trained back up when needed.


Puedo Leer

These children, dropped by the clinic library after school.  The library, sponsored by Yo Puedo Leer, is organized by our volunteer Eunice Guadamúz. Thanks to one of our donors we have just started a bilingual section, as we have several kids that are learning English thanks to other donors who provide scholarships to individual children within the community.

CN Puedo Leer

The staff called Jeff Wolinsky “The Magician” because during his two and a half week stay he fixed nearly everything in the Clinic.  The electricity now works everywhere, the computers are networked, the compressor works as long as our neighbors don’t steal our electricity, the blood pressure cup is fixed, the telephone works again etc. etc.

Jeff Wolinsky spent over two weeks fixing everything electrical and mechanical in the clinic and noodling over the design process of the Coci-Nica.  He came up with a way to cut the doors of the stove more rapidly while putting less stress on the bricks.

CN Magician


Dr. Jim Kimball a pediatrician from Tennessee examines patients at Clínica Apoyo as part of the Open Eyes Brigade.

CN Medical Brigades 2


Volunteer Medical Brigades and Medical Professionals

CN medical brigades

Occasionally we receive visits of visiting medical brigades.  In early June Open Eyes Ministries provided a one day clinic including, doctors and nurse practitioners from the states, as well as medications and vaccines to treat about 50 community members. Ministry of Health doctors come to the clinic monthly to provide a variety of free health services.  We call these MINSA days.  The doctors generally see between 25-50 patients on those days.

CN children with doctor CN Doctor with woman

Dra. Thelma, our regular dentist, teaches kids in the community about how to care for their teeth.  Aaron Walsh a Seattle nurse in training, is pictured here out in the community checking up on the more remote residents of the community.

A pediatrician from the Ministry of Health assists at the clinic. MINSA sends a cadre of doctors each month to help out at the clinic and provide a variety of free services. Clinic staff work right alongside them insuring continuity of care. With sheets for curtains every space in the clinic becomes a private consulting room.

Jerry Walsh, an American nurse living in Granada is one of our best volunteers.  He can often be found on his motorbike traveling the back roads of the community, checking on shut-ins and the elderly.  He is an honarary health promoter and beloved in the community.  Jerry can be seen talking with Laida, a water cooperative employee who works daily to help to keep the clinic running smoothly.

CN 2 people and desk

Coci-Nica Volunteers

CN Cocinica volunteers

We’ve had fewer volunteers working with Coci-Nica, but the ones we have had have been great.  Last fall a group from Deloitte came down and spent a week with us improving our marketing plans and making it easier to track profitability.  They also helped us set up our first internet fund raising campaign this past January.  In a little over a week we raised $2000 that is being used to market the Coci-Nica.

Our newest volunteer is Federico Pas, a graduate student at the University of Washington.  Federico will be in Nicaragua for a month looking at the question of stove acceptance from a cultural standpoint.  In other words why or why not do certain people easily adopt the stove, while others don’t?

We seem to have solved our manufacturing problems, although it took us well into the spring to do so, and now are working on the marketing.  In the meantime we have 180 stoves on order, and more than 200 stoves in stock.

CN cube tiles CN Stove fire

Pictured above are stoves drying in the sun and Frank, co-owner of Coci-Nica showing off his “Jumbo” stove, used by commercial cooks who cook in large oil drums.

What’s on the horizon?

We have more volunteers coming this summer.  The NGO, Courts for Kids, is sending down a team from the University of Kansas at the end of July.  For one week these 25 students will, with community volunteers, construct a sports court for all-community use.  They will stay in the Comarca with families, finding out what typical rural Nicaraguan life is like.

We are also going to break ground on our child enrichment center/ community gathering space.  Working with the Nicaraguan NGO “Casa de la Mujer” their German donors, we are in the design process for the facility.  With volunteers from the community we hope the project will be complete in early 2018.

Brian and I want to thank all our volunteers and those people that passed along information about our community to those who might like to donate their time and energy.  With the help of our numerous volunteers who donate their time, expertise, money and supplies we are able to control project costs and provide expertise and services that are generally unavailable to communities like the Comarcas. In this newsletter we have highlighted only some of our volunteers.  We have not mentioned all of those people who bring things to us from the states, all of you who recommend us to your friends, people who drop by and just drop off supplies, people who give us their ideas and share their enthusiasm for what we are doing.  There are so many of you and we thank you all.  We hear over and over again how much community members appreciate what you all have done and how it has improved the quality of life for the 3000 people living here.

Here is what we need to continue these successful projects:

  • Tax deductible financial contributions

This is easily made by going to our web site at:   

            Press the donate button

Or write a check and send it to:   NICA Fund

                                                            c/o Terri Marlett

                                                          2425 Cedar Springs Road      

                                                          Dallas, TX 75201 


100% of your donation goes to the projects.  The NICA Fund does not                             charge an administrative fee for their generous services.

Your donations will be used to fund clinic operating expenses, expand the marketing and sales of the Coci-Nica business and build the new community center.

  • In –kind donations

We always need medical supplies, school supplies, books in Spanish for children and adolescents, and gently used small sized clothes and shoes. We also need volunteers to carry the stuff down here in their luggage.

Even our doctor Reyna gets in to the act working with the community to clean up the roads.  She believes that part of her job is to model healthy behaviors throughout the community. Reyna commutes more than an hour each way just to get to and from the clinic.  Her patients love her and she may be the most respected person in the community.

CN Woman with wheelbarrow


  • Resources to provide meals for the 500 students in our community.

About 70% of the children in our community are under nourished lacking protein and micro nutrients in their diet.  To address this we want to start feeding all school age children a healthy meal each day as they attend school.  We are looking for resources of food or money in order to prepare about 500 meals each school day.


  • Medical and dental volunteers to work at the clinic.

Medical specialists are always welcome, as well as medical practitioners who can provide training to our staff and health promoters.  We prefer Spanish speakers.


  • Someone to organize a small group of U.S dentists to volunteer their time at the clinic on a yearly schedule.


  • Volunteers to help us build and staff the community center


  • Ideas for making the community center self- sustaining

It has been such a pleasure to write this newsletter.  As I went through pictures, I realized how much has been accomplished in the Comarcas.  I remember all the wonderful people that work on the projects. We feel so privileged to have met and know these volunteers and staff. They are among the great people in this world. We only wish that you could know them too.

One of the translators that came up with the last brigade told me how person after person that she was encountering told her, un-asked, how much Clínica Apoyo and Coci-Nica had improved their lives and the lives of their families.  This is what all you have accomplished.  Thank you.


Nancy and Brian Davis

June, 2017


  1. pauline jackson

    June 23, 2017 at 8:58 pm

    Well done guys, you are to be congratulated.

  2. Jerry Lee Hoover

    June 25, 2017 at 9:23 am

    I enjoyed reading your article, it is wonderful to see how God has blessed your work there. I have personally purchased some of your stoves to give away as gifts, and they are great.

    God Bless,
    Dr. Hoover N.D.