Sep 30, 2016

Ayudante profile #2: Enoc

This is the second in a series of profiles of our ayudantes. Ayudante means ‘assistant’, and is the name we give to the young people receiving university scholarships through La Esperanza Granada. Alongside their studies, the ayudantes are long term interns who give 5 hours of their time every weekday to support La Esperanza Granada. Our ayudantes are so much more than assistants – they are critical to our success. More information about our ayudante programme is available here. 

Enoc is one of our newest ayudantes, and began his internship with La Esperanza Granada just 9 months ago. He is based in Mercedes Mondragon school, where he teaches English to the children alongside some of our international volunteers. This can be challenging, with classes routinely containing up to 35 children, but Enoc enjoys it. He cites one key factor to their success - teamwork.

“Everything about our work in the schools is done together. We plan our lessons together, and teach alongside each other. Even when we are able to divide the kids into groups for different activities, we are still working to the same plan.”

Enoc knows what a difference a strong ayudante and volunteer team can make – he was in the 6th grade at Nueva Esperanza school when La Esperanza Granada volunteers started to work there, and remembers how it changed things.

“They introduced lots of new activities, games and sports, which really helped to keep us interested and engaged. The teachers just don’t have enough time for that sort of thing, but it makes a huge difference to the kids.”

After primary school, Enoc found himself drifting, struggling to adapt to high school and losing interest in his studies. A high school sponsorship from La Esperanza Granada gave him the opportunity to change school, re-engage with learning and embrace a more optimistic outlook.

“The new school was totally different. They taught a wider range of subjects, gave us more support and really sparked my interest in learning again.”

Enoc is now in his first year at UCAN University in Masaya, studying software engineering and learning how to code, build databases and more. He has always been interested in technology (and has also taught computing for La Esperanza Granada), and this course has provided the opportunity to take his understanding to a new level, and turn his interest into highly employable skills.

“The opportunities in Nicaragua are getting better all the time. Once I have finished my studies, I hope to find a good job that makes the most of the skills I’m learning now.”

When asked if he has anything else he want to add, Enoc has only one thing on his mind:

“I just want to say thank you for the opportunities I’ve been given through La Esperanza Granada. Without the support of my sponsors, I wouldn’t have finished high school and could never have dreamt of going to university or working alongside volunteers from all over the world. I’m delighted I’m able to give something back by working for La Esperanza Granada whilst studying, and I hope to help support many other kids like me to go on to high school and university.”

Enoc’s unprompted enthusiasm is a good reminder of why La Esperanza Granada is here – to support young people to get the education they need to take control of their lives and realise their potential.

Aug 31, 2016

Ayudante profile #1: Juan Carlos

This is the first in a series of profiles of our ayudantes. Ayudante means ‘assistant’, and is the name we give to the young people receiving university scholarships through La Esperanza Granada. Alongside their studies, the ayudantes are long term interns who give 5 hours of their time every weekday to support La Esperanza Granada. Our ayudantes are so much more than assistants – they are critical to our success. More information about our ayudante programme is available here.

Juan Carlos first heard of La Esperanza Granada when he was around 17 years old. He had always dreamed of going to university, and of the opportunities higher education would bring. But as a student at Pablo Antonio Cuadra (one of the schools where La Esperanza Granada is now most active), he had found his options limited.

“At that time, Pablo Antonio Cuadra was only able to offer three years of high school education, instead of the normal five. So after three years I had to move to technical college, where I studied to become a mechanic.” 

Two years after graduating and starting work as a mechanic, Juan Carlos heard about the scholarships offered by La Esperanza Granada from the Principal of his old school. He jumped at the chance to apply.

“When I heard that I had been accepted on to the programme, I was so happy I almost didn´t know what to think. I´ve loved reading and writing ever since my mother taught me when I was small, and the chance to continue studying and learn a new language was a dream come true.” 

Just a few months later, Juan Carlos began his degree in English at Unadenic in Managua, and started volunteering 5 days a week for La Esperanza.

Juan Carlos´ first role was as an ayudante in Jose de la Cruz Mena school. He spent a year supporting international volunteers working with pre-schoolers, before switching to the team teaching English.

“For me, working in the English team was perfect. When I started my degree I spoke very little English, but working with volunteers from all over the world taught me lots of vocabulary very quickly.”

Around four months ago, Juan Carlos moved from the school to La Esperanza’s office. He is involved in almost all areas of the office’s work, and is responsible for answering queries from future volunteers, organising airport pickups for new volunteers, and many other things. The switch was challenging, but Juan Carlos sees it only as a positive. 

It is an amazing opportunity. Working in the office involves lots of reading, writing and speaking in English, which is tough but great practice.”

When asked about the importance of local and international volunteers working alongside each other, Juan Carlos is forthright.  

“It´s essential. The ayudantes are here for up to five years, which is far longer than most volunteers. This means that we really get to understand how the organisation and schools work. That is good for us, and good for the other volunteers.”

Juan Carlos has two years left of his studies, and is considering becoming a high school teacher when he graduates. Whichever career path he chooses to take, working with volunteers from all over the world has given him a new dream – to save money, travel and see more of the world himself.  

Jul 28, 2016

Spotlight Volunteer
1) Introduce yourself:
-What is your name?
Michel Antoine
-How old are you?
I’m 26
-Where do you come from?
New-York (U.S.A)
-Why did you decide to do some volunteering?
I wanted to help others who are less fortunate than myself. I wanted to make a difference. I also wanted to improve my Spanish.
-What was your Spanish level before coming?
My Spanish level was between intermediate and advanced. I feel that my Spanish has improved a little but it is still not where I want it.
2) What are you doing here in La Esperanza Granada?
- What job are you doing? (teacher,….)
1st grade teacher assistant
- In which school?
Nueva Esperanza
- How many weeks are you staying here?
4 weeks
-What are your first impressions (of the school, the children,…)?
My first impressions were feelings of sadness based on all of the things that the children don’t have. The desks, books, pencils, erasers were all in very poor conditions; or there was a lack of these items. I also felt really excited to help out as much as I can. Despite these children not having a lot, they find ways to entertain themselves, like chasing after animals in a harmless and playful manner.

One surprise for me was the variation in academic levels in the same class. Some children can read short stories while others can’t identify letters and numbers. I wish there were more resources for these children.

May 20, 2016

Student Spotlight 2!

This time we had a nice conversation with Marta, a twelve year old kid attending the third grade in Nueva Esperanza school.

When she starts mentioning her family’s members the list seems endless: they are eight brothers and sisters and the ninth will be born in a month! Under the same steel roof, in this house in Pantanal Community, Marta is living with her parents, six brothers, (three older and three younger), a younger sister- nearly two-, a sister in law and a niece. Animals aren’t missing of course: three dogs, a rooster and some chickens complete the picture.
“Yes, we are a lot! But sometimes we are even more when grandparents and uncles come to visit!”
She keeps on smiling and the crowded atmosphere of her house doesn’t seem to bother her.

Her father works fixing electronic devices such as fans, mobile phones and televisions; the older brothers have a job as well: one of them makes and sells bracelets in La Calzada street, in the center of Granada, another one works in the coffee harvest field and the third one makes shoes. Her mum usually stays at home where of course she has a lot of work to do(!!), but last year she worked in a farm in coffee harvest, too.

Every afternoon, Marta, as the older daughter of the family, helps her mum with domestic chores, especially cooking beans and selling them in front of their house. “Now that my mum is pregnant I can do it by myself!  I can cook very well!”. But more than her ability in the kitchen, what Marta really cares talking about is how is likes school and how she never forgets doing her homework in the afternoon. “I study every day because I really want to improve!”.

What’s her dream? She would like to be a doctor: “One day I will be a doctor and I’ll work in a hospital!”.


Esta vez hemos hablado con Marta, una muchacha de doce años que asiste al tercer grado en la escuela Nueva Esperanza.

Cuando empieza a nombrar los miembros de su familia la lista parece interminable: son ocho hermanos y hermanas y la novena va a nacer dentro de un mes. Bajo el mismo techo de zinc, en esta casa en la Comunidad del Pantanal, Marta vive con sus padres, seis hermanos (tres mayores y tres chiquitos), una hermana menor -casi dos-, una cuñada y una sobrina. Los animales no faltan, por cierto: tres perros, un gallo y unas gallinas completan el dibujo.
“Si somos muchos! ¡Pero algunas veces somos aún más cuando mis abuelos y mis tíos vienen a visitar!”.
Ella sigue sonriendo y no parece que la atmosfera abarrotada de su casa la moleste.
Su padre se ocupa de reparar instrumentos electrónicos como abanicos, celulares y televisiones; los hermanos mayores trabajan también: uno de ellos hace y vende pulseras en la calle La Calzada, en el centro de Granada, otro se ocupa de recoger y cortar café y el tercero trabaja en una zapatería. Su mamá habitualmente está en casa donde por cierto ya tiene mucho que hacer (¡!), pero el año pasado trabajó durante algunos meses cortando café en una finca.
Por la tarde, Marta, como es la hija mayor de la familia, ayuda a su madre con las tareas domésticas, sobretodo cocinando frijoles que venden en frente de la casa. “Ahora que mi mamá está embarazada lo hago yo sola! ¡Cocino muy bien!”. Pero en vez de hablar sobre su habilidad como cocinera, Marta prefiere contar cómo le gusta la escuela y que nunca se olvida hacer sus tareas por la tarde. “Estudio todos los días porque quiero seguir avanzando!”.
¿Cuál es su sueño? Le gustaría ser doctora: “Seré doctora un día y trabajaré en el hospital!”