Showing posts from November, 2010

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…