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 throughout the region, and recruited extra teachers in schools with the greatest need, since a group of travelers came together with the aim of improving educational facilities around Granada in 2002.
From humble beginnings, La Esperanza Granada has grown into one of the most recognizable NGOs (Non Governmental Organizations) based in the beautiful colonial city of Granada.
Above all, the aim is to allow volunteers to bond with the children, which is why most of those who work with La Esperanza (which means Granada Hope) are required to give a minimum commitment of two months. But some stay a lot longer!
Every day, a small army of between 25 and 40 volunteers from all over the world head out on early morning buses or bicycles to provide the children with one-on-one tuition, sporting fun, or a rare chance to work on a computer.
The volunteers, of all ages and a variety of nationalities, are assigned to different teams who liaise with each school. They provide specialised English language classes, assist with homework, and organising plus administering sports and arts activities. The emphasis is on fun, and giving the children a chance to meet enthusiastic people from all around the world.
Volunteers also bring the children for dental and eye examinations, working in partnership with the Nicaraguan Ministry for Education and a team of hard-working 'ayudantes', former pupils of the eight schools who have gone on to attend University, studying at the weekends and helping out in the schools every Monday to Friday.
Apart from the English language and computer teams, the volunteers tend to stay with the same school during their time in Granada ... allowing them time to bond with the youngsters, their teachers, and their fellow volunteers.
La Esperanza Granada, which is funded entirely through donations, aims to improve the quality of life of impoverished children through education and also provides the volunteers, who can be anything from 18 to 75 years of age, with richly rewarding experiences.
This week, there are 29 volunteers with the organization, and a recruitment drive is underway for more volunteers to help out with summer camps after the end of the Nicaraguan school year in November.
The hope is that La Esperanza can provide hope. Practically, thanks to the generous donations of sponsors, this means that we are currently able to support 88 Nicaraguan children in continuing their education at High School level. A further 11 have been able to go on to University, thanks to our help.
We have set up this blog to allow volunteers to share some of their experiences with La Esperanza Granada, and to provide friends and former volunteers with news of our activities.
We hope to provide an insight into the workings of a small, local organization which has allowed people from all over the world to experience wonderful insights into Nicaraguan culture and the country's beautiful people through time spent with the children in the schools.
Check out our website www.la-esperanza-granada.org and stay tuned to this blog for updates of our activities and experiences in Granada.
La Esperanza Granada Volunteer,