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Showing posts from 2010

Feliz Navidad!

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Great excitement at the school in San Igancio yesterday.The summer school Christmas Party was on, and a tremendous success.
La Esperanza Granada is holding summer school in three locations this year, and we transported the children from Elba Zamora school, and the High School children from La Epifania school to join in Nueva Esperanza school for a grand fiesta.
Kicked off with soccer and games, followed by dance presentations – this time the volunteers did the traditional dancing as a special treat for the students – they loved it and screamed their appreciation.
A big raffle was held for students with the best attendance and Donald was an excellent compeer.This was followed by piñatas – one for each age group – separated into different classrooms – the noise level was unbelievable – fun at full volume.
Celebrations ended with a meal with chicken and vegetables, rice and beans, cold drinks, and a bonus bag of candies for each child to take home with them.All of the volunteers were there,…

Gabriela's baptism - or - Belkys babe

Here are some great photos of Gabriella’s baptism and the party that followed.   Belky’s, our ayudante and proud mother, invited us all to her house next to La Epifania school following the service in The Cathedral, here in Granada.  Former volunteers, Andrew from Canada and Catrina from France, along with ayudante Donald, and our office administrator Karen were the four godparents. 
Here is the photo link: http://picasaweb.google.com/laesperanzagranada/Belkysbabe#
Summer schools are running well in San Igancio, and Elba Zamora, as well as our high school group during the afternoons in La Epifania.  We are planning a big get together of all three groups for a Christmas party – more about that next week.  Will make sure to take the video camera!

Sponsoring a child's education

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Given that only 30% of the schoolchildren in Nicaragua finish primary school, giving them an incentive to stay on in education is a hugely important part of the work of La Esperanza Granada. Currently, our generous sponsors pay the costs for 90 local children to attend secondary school. Volunteer journalist CIARAN TIERNEY met one of them during her visit to Granada.

A belief that there is no chance for them to continue with their education results in alarmingly young drop-out levels from Nicaraguan schools, which is why our sponsorship programmes are so important to the children in the rural communities around Granada.
For just $230 dollars a year, a sponsor can cover the cost of a rural youngster to attend secondary school and this donation can make all the difference in determining a child’s decision about whether or not to continue education after primary school.
Every December, our generous sponsors look after the financial needs of the children for the following year and each of …

Humbled by the welcome of the Nicas

La Esperanza Granada has secured funding from an organization in Europe in order to launch an environmental awareness project in the schools for 2011, culminating in what promises to be an exciting trip to Managua Zoo next November. CIARAN TIERNEY talks to retired teacher and environmental expert Yves Parizeau about his preparatory work on the ground-breaking project which will launch in the New Year.
Nature trails, scenic walks in the countryside, and coloring games based on the plants and animals around them are going to be part of the curriculum of the children in our schools in 2011 when La Esperanza Granada launch a brand new project focusing on the environment in February. Thanks to the dedication of Dutch volunteer Karin Van Eijk, who secured funding from a foundation in Europe, La Esperanza Granada will be in a position to improve environmental awareness in a fun way thanks to a new programme for the schools. The programme was drafted by Canadian volunteer Yves Parizeau, who spen…

Our local role models

A wonderful scheme which allows gifted young students from the poorer ‘barrios’ outside Granada to attend University at weekends, while working for La Esperanza throughout the week, was launched at the start of 2008. The 11 local ‘ayudantes’ play a key role in liaising between our team of foreign volunteers and the local children, schools, and communities. CIARAN TIERNEY profiles three of the ‘ayudantes’, including the first two ever to graduate from University. The local ‘ayudantes’ (or assistants) play a key role in the life of La Esperanza Granada, as they are the first point of contact between our team of volunteers and the staff and management in the rural schools. These gifted young people work voluntarily for the organization for about five to seven hours per day, from Monday to Friday, in return for a stipend of US$80 per month. They liaise with the teachers and volunteers, they organize school tours and dental visits, entertain the children in summer camps, and give them precio…

A magical connection

Patience is a virtue which our volunteers have to learn during their time with La Esperanza Granada, as things do not always run as smoothly or as swiftly in Nicaragua as they might expect back home. Which is why there was so much joy among volunteers, ayudantes, and students this week when we managed to set up our first Skype link between pupils in rural Granada and a school in the United States. Current volunteer CIARAN TIERNEY was on hand to join in the fun.

The value of acceptance was something I learned quickly from former volunteer Barbara Delahayes during my first couple of weeks with La Esperanza Granada when she refused to let frustrations and technological problems get her down.
On three occasions during my first couple of weeks with the organization, I accompanied Barbara and one or two of our ayudantes to the Elba Zamora school, where we had hoped to set up a Skype link with a school in St. Louis, Missouri.
The excitement among the children was palpable as we plugged in a …

Meet two current volunteers!

Age is no barrier to friendship, as newly retired teacher Sandi Berry and school-leaver Lara Spohr have shown during two months of working together as volunteers with La Esperanza Granada. There might be a 40 year gap between them, but they found out that they had a lot in common during their time at the La Epifania school eight kilometres outside Granada. Fellow volunteer CIARAN TIERNEY caught up with them during Sandi's last week with the school, an emotional time as she said goodbye to her students and new friends. They reflect the rich diversity of our current batch of 35 volunteers.

One of them is facing the uncertainty of retirement and the other the unfamiliar world of life after school and yet they have both found fulfillment, and friendship, during the past few months as volunteers here in Nicaragua. There might be an age difference of 40 years between them, but Sandi Berry and Lara Spohr have become firm friends over the past couple of months, thanks to their passion for e…

Out and about with the "computer babes"

For the children in the rural communities outside Granada, the thought of getting a chance to work on a computer was merely a pipe dream until La Esperanza Granada sourced 22 mini-computers earlier this year. Now our crack team, Audrey and Karla, visit five schools in the region every week to give the children valuable educational game time. CIARAN TIERNEY joined them on Monday.

In terms of job satisfaction, it must be hard to beat that experienced by volunteer Audrey and ayudante Karla when they visit the schools around Granada every weekday.
For the children in five schools greet the two attractive young women as though they were two female versions of Santa Claus, because for many of them the arrival of the mini-computers is the highlight of the week.
Their arrival results in mass hysteria, as the youngsters eagerly await the chance to play electronic (but educational, mind you!) games which seem to be far more interesting than their routine classes in the La Epifania, Angela Moral…

A Big Day Out

The end of year tour might be second nature to primary school children in Europe and North America. But, here in Nicaragua, such treats were unheard of around Granada until La Esperanza Granada began to bring the children from half a dozen schools on annual excursions three years ago. CIARAN TIERNEY joined the second graders from the Angela Morales and Juan Diego schools for the first of this year's excursions, which will take place on 12 separate days.

My God . . . what excitement! As the big, old American styled bus pulled up outside the gates of the Angela Morales school, on the road between Granada and Rivas, the sense of anticipation in the air was palpable. As the 11 youngsters piled on board, even their teacher seemed to be excited by the prospect of a day out and a break from the schoolbooks.
Joining us were a group of young volunteers, from Peru, Germany, England, France, and the United States, reflecting the variety of nationalities who come to work with La Esperanza at …

Getting started ....

Almost every Monday morning throughout the year, a number of new volunteers from all over the world (but mostly Europe and North America) are introduced to life as a volunteer with La Esperanza Granada. CIARAN TIERNEY joined this week's group of new volunteers for their Orientation Day before they were sent out to work with the children in the rural schools.

It might be rainy season in Central America, but it was a gorgeous sunny morning as I made my way down Calle La Calzada, Granada's main tourist hub, for the 9.30 a.m. orientation meeting at the La Esperanza Granada office on La Libertad.
Awaiting me were the organisation's four newest volunteers, who reflected the mix of ages and nationalities who make up the small army of between 30 and 40 enthusiasts who usually work for La Esperanza throughout the year.
Most volunteers are probably in their 20s, but there can be quite a few in their 50s and 60s at certain times of year, and in recent weeks I have been struck by how …

Hello and welcome

It is only a matter of going out to one of the eight schools in which La Esperanza Granada volunteers help out to discover what the organization means to the children who live in the rural countryside outside the Nicaraguan city.
The excitement in Elba Zamora this morning, when the volunteers arrived with 22 miniature computers, was palpable. The children welcomed the team with open arms and were thrilled to take their chance to use the computers, each getting a chance to play educational games for less than an hour.
The introduction of these new mini-computers, secured in July 2010, is just one of the innovations brought about by La Esperanza Granada, in a country in which educational resources are extremely limited.
None of the children, indeed none of their neighbours, has access to a computer during their normal daily lives. Which is why their arrival once a week is among the highlights of the school week in Elba Zamora.
La Esperanza have also helped to build new classes througho…