Sponsoring a child's education

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 them gives a five year commitment to help the children finish second level.
We also have the wonderful ‘ayudante’ (or helper) programme, launched in 2007, in which young Nicaraguans who attend University at the weekends are provided with a basic living stipend to work alongside our volunteers in the schools from Monday to Friday. Currently, we have 11 ayudantes, who are each being sponsored to the tune of $1,250 per year.
During my time with La Esperanza Granada, I was touched by the visit of Bonnie Ditlevsen, a young widow from the United States who came across our second level sponsorship programme through our website.
Having taken her two young sons to Costa Rica for a volunteer project she came to Granada to sponsor and meet a gifted youngster who is determined to stay in school after finishing his primary studies.
So we found ourselves in the La Esperanza jeep, on our way to the Elba Zamora school where the principal had chosen a bright 11-year old, called Israel, to benefit from Bonnie’s sponsorship over the next five years. Israel dreams of becoming a computer engineer, and it was moving to see his reaction when he met the woman who is set to finance his high school studies.
It became an even more moving experience for Bonnie, who lost her husband in a road traffic accident, when she discovered that Israel’s mother also is a widow.
“We visited Israel at his school and learned that he is the youngest of six children, and his father died, which means that his mother has to struggle even more to help his family get by.  Like most people here, he lives in abject poverty,” wrote Bonnie in her own website, www.roadschoolwarriors.com.
“We very much enjoyed meeting Israel and we wish him all the courage, fortitude and luck in the world.  May he someday become a computer engineer—engineering positive change in his community and country!”
She described it as an eye-opening experience to visit the school and another one of our schools, San Ignacio, to see how the people lived in corrugated tin huts in which they have no running water.
Bonnie was moved by the joy, and quiet determination, of Israel, who clearly appreciated the fact that this woman from the US was taking the time, trouble, and expense to sponsor him through secondary school for the next five years.
“The neighborhood around San Ignacio Elementary is only a year and a half old, with shacks on bits of land that were parceled out to homeless families. I did not even want to imagine those families’ harsh conditions prior to settling in this barrio,” said Bonnie.
“But meeting Israel gave us great enthusiasm and hope for this region and for these people.  Through educational opportunities and fruitful networking over the coming several years in Granada, this young man might change his family’s trajectory.
“He seems like a serene, thoughtful person, but the clever spark in his eyes communicates a great ambition to learn and experience the world. We look forward to updates about Israel’s successes between now and 2016.”
Bonnie and her sons have already begun exchanging regular letters with Israel and his family and it looks as though their friendship will endure over the coming years. For details about sponsoring a student, see the La Esperanza Granada website or email la_esperanza_granada@yahoo.com


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