Jul 21, 2012

Happy Birthday Ella

Just returned home from delivering a birthday cake to Laguna Apoyo.  Outside my job description I know, but these things come up from time to time.

A student group from Derby High, UK, has been painting the school at Pablo Antonio Cuadra.  At the end of a week of hot hard work, they were spending today cooling off at the Laguna.  Today was Ella’s 17th birthday and as a surprise for her, her friends arranged a birthday cake which I offered to pick up and deliver for them.  A vividly colored work of art with ‘Felicidades Ella’ in bright pink.  (The local bakery may have thought it a little strange to be inscribing the cake with what literally translates as ‘congratulations she’.)

I had three bonuses from the trip.  That of helping a young lady, far from home, feel special on her birthday. (in later years she is going to forget the homesickness, and just love telling people she spent her 17th swimming in a volcanic crater lake in Nicaragua).

I had the joy of watching Nico swim for his ball in the Laguna – no effort at all as there are always local children wanting to do the throwing for him.  With his tail wagging as doggedly paddles back, ball in mouth, it is treat to see.

And while driving down to the lake, in a green archway formed by the trees, a guardabarranco  flitted across in front of me. (Guardabarrancos are Nicaragua’s brilliant national bird)  In the dappled sunlight it was like a cascade of glittering colored gems fluttering past. 

What a blessing to count the treasures of an ordinary day volunteering. 

Jul 2, 2012

''Be happy with the small achievements''

Volunteer Michael Schulmeyer about his work for la Esperanza Granada

How did you come to work at La Esperanza and what are you doing here?
We were planning our round the world trip and wanted to do some volunteering during the trip for 2 months. We searched on the internet for organizations in Central America and stumbled across the La Esperanza page. We liked the concept and reviews and established contact with Pauline ... and here we are!

What was your education like?
I am a computer scientist and I have a Master degree in Computer Science. I don't have any educational background and had never worked with little children before. I only taught a course at a University in Vietnam once before, which I enjoyed a lot. 

What has been your best experience working here?
     After 5-6 weeks there are finally some kids who really want to work and appreciate the help that is offered. Especially that one boy, that is usually always hyperactive and aggressive, now really starts being interested and it turns out that he's rather not challenged enough.

     What is the most challenging part of your life here?
     Definitely the school system. It's really hard to see how bad the school system is and that you can't do anything (or at least not much) about it. School is not taking place on regular basis, classes are big, breaks to sparse. The levels in the classes differ too much, some kids take more than 2 hours to copy 3 sentences from the board, others are done with all the work within 15 minutes and then get bored, therefore disturbing the class, fighting or whatever. I knew that it would be different than in Europe, but it's worse than I expected.

     What advice would you give to future volunteers?
     Don't give up! Maybe don't have too big/fancy expectations of what you can do or change here. Rather be happy with the small achievements. It's not the organization's fault, neither the kids'. And all the grievance just shows, that there's still a lot of work to do - little by little. And there are those few kids, that really appreciate your help and for whom you will make a difference!  

Jun 18, 2012

Chocolate dreams and city living

By past volunteer David Drezner
In Granada Nicaragua, there is an isolated atmosphere of artificial leisure on Calle Calzada, an island of First world civilisation in a sea of small houses full of poorer people, replete with mariachi bands,  American and European cuisine,  European music, native hawkers, and continuously flowing booze. Surprisingly, the chocolate here is delightful and the ice cream is delicious.  Even the cheap commercial brands of ice cream have a rich flavour which enchants.  The city centre features ceramic tiled colonial adobe buildings, homes dating from the 19th century.  At night, all the homes in the centre of the city have open doors, all the better to bring the cool air into the house, while the inhabitants sit outside on wicker rocking chairs having quiet family and neighbourly chats.
Poverty is an accepted part of Nicaraguan life, and it is reflected in Granada.  It isn’t unusual to see an expensive pickup truck parked next to a shanty house, or a horse and cart carry a refrigerator. A sea of tin roofed shanty houses surrounds the main city and is slowly being given the facilities of a city, one by one. The people of this new community steal electricity with the permission of the authorities, and they are just now getting paved streets.  In the rainy season the dirt streets become a muddy mess.  They live a hard life of poverty, driven to the city by a lack of work in the country. They raise their families in their small shack-houses, and manage to feed them for the most part
After an initial surge of Sandinista excitement for education, the country has settled into an established indifference to the idea. Many of the schools in the city are built by foreign NGO's, and many teachers and volunteers help the schools here. The help is needed. The level of funding for the schools are extremely low, even by Central American standards. Teachers in the Primary system here are paid about 70 dollars a week, and they're glad to get that much sometimes.
As a medium term volunteer for La Esperanza Granada, I am here to see how education is carried out in such an environment, and how I can give what help I can in the limited time I have. People  of all ages come from all over the Western world to give what help they can. I am one of them.  I am a  teacher’s assistant volunteer, it is my job to help teach the children. For the summer season, no regular teachers were available, so volunteers taught the primary school summer school children.

Most of us had no experience or training in managing a Primary school, so it was a catch as catch can experience for all of us. We had no supervision from professionals in this, though Nicaraguan students  did a good job making sure we didn`t mis-manage things too badly.  We carried out some simple classes in basic skills with the children.  Some of volunteers managed to make well run and educationally efficient classes. I admire all of them for this talent.  Most of us tried hard, and did as well as we could. For the most part, the students responded by trying their best.  I’m told that the Education department of the city of Granada was pleasantly surprised by the results.  The kids actually liked to go to school to learn reading, writing, and math.
Recently, the normal school season has started, and my role has been reduced to helping the teacher in the normal class curriculum.  It is interesting to see how schools can operate with only a whiteboard, copy books, some schoolbooks that never leave the school, very few materials, and a will to teach and learn.  Some classes run to 50 students, and discipline in the lower grades is a serious problem. Still, there are students that want to learn, and they try their best. We volunteers help them do this to the best of our abilities. If you have good Spanish, it isn’t hard to tutor First to Fourth grade students in Spanish.  The students make it easy with their ready smiles and willingness to listen and learn.  Teaching an entire class is another matter, requiring talent in classroom management.  Teachers in the Primary grades seem to spend half their time getting their children to sit quietly and listen.  I’m happy to just be a helper in this situation, though other volunteers with more ambition wish for a larger role.  This is not our school system, and we are not there to take over.
In my time here, I’ve discovered the joy of working with children that genuinely want to learn, despite their occasional attendance. During  summer school, attendance was fully voluntary.  When they came to school, they came with a willing heart and an easy smile.  Though they may be lacking in attention span, when they do learn something, you can see the happy glint of understanding in their eyes, and it is profoundly rewarding. I am not a 'natural' teacher, though I try my best, and in trying my best, I get an admittedly corny warm glow inside when one of my students grasps something as simple as the phonetic spelling of a word, or perhaps the uses of the number ´0´.
 I’m not sure I’m helping any more than any given other person, but the fact that I care, and I want them to learn must be some form of positive motivation. It is one of the most rewarding things I have done in my life, and is just as rewarding for all the other volunteers that I work with.   

Jun 5, 2012

A new level of education

Pauline Jackson - Operations Director La Esperanza Granada 

Where have you lived before you moved to Nicaragua? 
I was born in the UK, then I lived in Canada and after that in Australia. My parents moved there so I moved with them.  I moved from England to Australia because of the climate. I still own a house in Australia which someone is renting from me.

Are you married, do you have children?
No, I’m not married and I don’t have children.

When did you make the decision to move to Nicaragua and why?
Three months before I came here I was in Nicaragua for business. Then the founder, Bill Harper, died. I knew him before. After he died they asked me if I wanted to work for La Esperanza. Since the 25th of May  I’ve been  here for seven years.

What do you like about Nicaragua?
I like the fact that we are doing something useful here. I think it is very important to do something for the children. The organization is running well. 

What do you like about your work and what do you not like?
I like different things. If you ask me what I really love to do, that would be working in the schools to help the children. But if I would work in the classroom, I can’t do my job at the office. There always has to be someone who works fulltime. That’s why I need volunteers who come here to work in the schools.

What makes La Esperanza a successful organization?
I think La Esperanza is so successful because we focus on education. That main focus is very important. When you are doing a lot of different things, it is often difficult to continue focusing on your long term goals.
In the beginning it was a really small organization with only a few volunteers. So I can say that we grew a lot in 10 years.

What is the worst and what is the best experience that happened during the time you are working for La Esperanza?
The volunteers are the best and also the worst. Most volunteers are wonderful and do a really great job, but some are not so wonderful. I had fights with volunteers about their rent, some lose their keys and lie about it. It happens all the time. For example, there was once a volunteer that made a copy of the key and gave it to her boyfriend, who was not working for La Esperanza. She left and her boyfriend still lived in one of the volunteer houses, without paying rent. Sometimes it is really frustrating.  Besides these kind of situations, the volunteers are doing a really great job and that means a lot for me!
It is always a good experience to open a new school. It is great to see what that means for the high school students. 

An important consideration in our work is that our work depends on the rules that the government sets. We have to be very non confrontational.

What are your goals for the future?
The goal for myself is to stay healthy enough to keep continue my work. I am 63 years old now, so I will see for how long I can do this job.

For the future of La Esperanza I would like to have more volunteers, more ayudantes and built more classrooms. Besides that, I would like to start a program for teenage mothers and their children. There are a lot of teenage mothers in Nicaragua and there are not really any facilities for them. Once they have a baby, they have no expectations, no plans for the future and their consideration of themselves is very low.

The idea for the program is the following:
The teenage mothers have to come with their children to the kindergarten. The children will learn basic things there as counting and drawing. The mothers will participate with their children. Eventually, we will try to get the teenage mothers back to school.

I really believe in the concept. I am sure that if the program becomes a success, two out of ten mothers will go back to school. In the schools they give education about sex and contraception, but that doesn’t break the cycle of young girls getting pregnant. It is a good thing to learn, but it is not enough. If the mother goes to work or back to school, she is going to make sure that her child is not going to do the same things she did. In that way her kid will have the chance to a better future.

In short the mission is:
a new level of education 

The first kindergarten has to be in the outskirt San Ignacio. I am planning to write about the program so we can get a ground for that. If  the donors give money for not something specific, we can use that money to support the program.

Do you want to stay in Nicaragua for the rest of your life?
No, I definitely want to go back to Australia one day. If I can’t do my work here anymore, I will go back. But I will see what happens!

May 28, 2012

About our volunteer Svenja

I am Svenja Fillet from Belgium. I am volunteering for three months for La Esperanza and I am giving sport lessons at all the schools. My school in Belgium recommended La Esperanza.

I am studying to become a teacher of sports, it is 3 years in total and I am in my last year. I don’t think that you can compare it to the education here, because the education and also the job are totally different. It is way more relaxed and they don’t have to learn the same things as we learn in Belgium.

What I like about the work, is that  the kids come every single day to say hello to me, because they are so happy that there is a volunteer from another country to help them and to teach them different things. The challenging part, is the difference between cultures.

Besides my work, I like to go to the market, because every time it is an experience! If I had 24 hours left in Nicaragua, I would spend them at Isla de Ometepe. I really like the nature there and the many animals that you see. It is less touristic there and I like it better than all the cities where they live from tourism.

If I can give one advise to the volunteers, I would say ‘’Do as much as you can, because otherwise, you will regret it!’’

May 13, 2012

Nataly wins a prize!

Nataly de la Concepción Hernández Flores

Nataly is six years old, in her house live six people. Her mother, Ivania del Carmen Flores, her father Fredy Ramon Torres, and three brothers and sisters.  Sister Daniela 10 years, Brother Wilfor 9 years and baby brother Varrilio, 6 months.
The family would love to have wooden boards on the outside walls of the house, it is made with pieces of roofing iron, and that makes it very hot,.  They also wish it could be a little larger as it is very small.
They only have one bed, without a mattress, where the mother and father sleep, and the children sleep together on a mat on the ground. 
Nataly’s father abandoned them when she was in the womb, and now they have a stepfather Fredy.  Fredy works at the abatoir killing pigs.  Ivania is a housewife.
Some other notes:  There is no job or work that Ivania can get, and Fredy’s work at the abatoir is a job where he is on call when there is work available, not a job with a regular salary.
All three of the children attend the school Nueva Esperanza each day, and Nataly’s name was drawn in the raffle of children who have perfect school attendance.  For the pictures her mother dressed her in the best clothes they have. 
The photos and interview were done by Tatiana, one of our local volunteers who lives in the same barrio, and Donald, also local who is our volunteer coordinator.  I would not have asked (as an outsider) to go inside and take pictures.
The house and yard are swept clean, and everything is as good as they can make it.  
Now Nataly has won an attendance prize at school - her name was drawn of all the children with perfect attendance.  She has won the home improvements donation of a U.S. family who will visit in July.  They are aiming to bring enough money for a whole new house.  $2500 will build a brand new house - $3000 including a latrine.  Nataly's family has a latrine, many don't.  
Families in this barrio desperately want a better future for their children.  They know that education is important and send their children to school.  This gives an extra incentive to make sure they are there every day.    

Apr 19, 2012

Heavy work during a hot summer week!

 Even the children from the Pablo Antonio school love to help the group during their break!

Builders Beyond Borders – Advisor Karen:

I am Karen Meyer (in the middle) from New York and I work as an advisor in the Builders Beyond Borders (B3). I became associated with B3 in 2010 while I was working at a Peace Corps Water & sanitation volunteer heading a project in Peru. I traveled with the April C-4 team to Ecuador in 2011.
The students that I work with are from different high schools in Connecticut and New York. Most of them heard exciting stories from friends or family who also worked for B3, and that is when they got interested.
The students do a great job, I never could imagine that they would work so hard! For the students this is a big difference compared to their own country. Some students even change their mind about their study plans for the future. I think it is a good experience for them to get to see something of a poor country. For example, a high school student that always wanted to become a dancer, changed her mind after working with Builders Beyond Borders. Eventually, she chose for an international study so that she can work abroad in the future. 

Builders Beyond Borders – students Vincent & Stefan:

We are Vincent and Stefan from the Buiders Beyond Borders and we are working on expanding the high school so that the kids can graduate. Every day we have different tasks to work on. That is why we like this work, it never gets boring! We work together with a couple of high school students from Nicaragua, to improve the interaction. Together we do a great job!
We are here for a week instead of our high school break. Before we came here, we raised money for this project. 
We are staying in a private house in Granada. The owner, George Berenschot from the Netherlands gave us permission to stay there so he could help with the schools here too.   Besides our work here, we have trips in the afternoon to see something in and around Granada, for example a boat trip to Las Isletas.
We think that all the volunteers from La Esperanza do a great job here! We really like the way how Pauline runs the organization.  

Builders Beyond Borders – student Wendy:

I am Wendy (on the right) and I am also here with the Builders Beyond Borders group. Last year I went to Ecuador with B3 to work on a nursery home for children. I liked it so much, that I really wanted to do it again.
Compared to Ecuador, it is really hard to work here with these temperatures. But I really like the kids here.  In Ecuador they were kind of afraid and here the kids are so excited and willing to help us! Nicaragua is so different from my country. It is hard to communicate with the locals if you can’t speak Spanish. If I had the chance to stay longer than a week I would love to do that, because one week is too short to really adapt to the country. What I love about this building work, is that you can see a big progress that we make, every day.

Mar 30, 2012

Monthly Blogger Update - March 2012

Hola La Esperanza friends,

It’s that time of month again – your Blogger update from the volunteers! We’re so glad to share with you what we’ve been working on again this month, and have a lot to say. We are getting ready to head off all over Central America with Semana Santa coming, and will have vacations from March 30th to April 10th. Hopefully we’ll return well-rested (tan!) and ready for more work in the schools!

This month, we welcomed two groups who gave quite a hand in the schools. We had a new group from Builders Beyond Borders (B3) in the USA, who also helped us out in February, working on the new technical high school in San Ignacio. Although we have officially opened and have over 50 students currently enrolled in the school, the building was not yet quite complete. The B3 group finished off the construction of 3 final classrooms, one of which was an extra large room for technical courses which will help the students  for future careers. We also welcomed back carpentry students from Montreal, Canada for the fourth year in a row. This collaboration has been a wonderful exchange – providing desk repairs for the underfunded local schools and practical work experience for the students who come down to help. Win-win! A big thanks to both of our groups for their hard work and we hope to see you back soon!

In other news, we’ve continued our work in 4 primary schools – Nueva Esperanza, El Escudo, Jose de la Cruz Mena, and Pablo Antonio Cuadra. As always, we work promoting education and an interest in learning for our young students. However, sometimes life here has other ideas. We constantly battle with poor attendance: an issue that plagues the Nicaraguan education system. This month, we faced a bit of a challenge in Pablo Antonio Cuadra, as the teachers went on strike for three schooldays to protest the firing of the School Director. This put several of our volunteers out of work while the teachers and Ministry of Education figured out a solution.

However, we took the time to reflect on how this type of thing affects the environment and learning of the children, and what our role is in all of this. Normally, we have to worry about the kids not coming to school, not the teachers. There was no news, only rumors, as to when school would resume. The kids came every morning to see if maybe they would have classes that day. This abrupt interruption is detrimental to the kids and education as a whole, and emphasizes the need for better communication.  However, here it was the kids who suffered. While Nicaragua is making progress, these interruptions are unfortunately still a reality. We must work hard to improve and maintain good communication, and most of all, make sure the students are getting the best education possible, which is why we’re here after all!

In other news, we also had a generous donation from 2 volunteers who left us this month, Graham and Joan, from Canada. They took part in our Families for Families program, making a donation to rebuild the home of a local family in need in the San Ignacio community. We use this program to reward good attendance.  When we have a donor every student with perfect monthly attendance gets put into a raffle, and a name is drawn at random as the winner for the home repairs. Thanks to their donation, Franklin from Nueva Esperanza primary school won improvements for his family! The family of 6 (2 parents and 4 children) were living in a one-room home, with walls made from black plastic trash bags and old scraps of tin. Volunteers pitched in to construct a new house with wooden walls and put up a new roof from subsidized Government metal, which can hold up against the hot Nica sun and horrible rainy season. Many thanks to our volunteers, and of course Graham and Joan, for all of their work and support!

Just can’t get enough of La Esperanza Granada news? As always, you can get more detailed information at our website www.la-esperanza-granada.org and by giving us a Like on Facebook here! If you’re interested in donating, volunteering, or would like more information on LEG projects, please e-mail us at la_esperanza_granda@yahoo.com and we’ll absolutely get back to you!

Colleen K, on behalf of the The LEG Volunteer Team

Mar 26, 2012

La Esperanza Celebrities!

Two adventurous travelers, Hayley and Andy, just recently made a pit stop on their road trip of Central America to help out at La Esperanza Granada. And now we've hit the Aussie news!

Hayley and Andy appear in their local newspaper for their work with La Esperanza Granada

The two joined us for a little over 2 weeks as part of our Families for Families project, a program that allows families (or couples, or groups of friends) to raise funds and sponsor a local family for home repairs. Local families are selected from a raffle when students have perfect attendance (low attendance rates are a common problem of the education system) and make a list of possible home improvements. Depending on the financial contribution and needs of the families, volunteers then begin work on the house! 

The Guliteries family was living in a poorly ventilated one-room house, with plastic trash bags for walls and a low-hanging roof. Hayley, Andy, and a small group of hard working La Esperanza volunteers constructed a new home for the family around their old structure, with a sturdy roof and wooden walls to protect the family from the hot mid-day sun and keep the water out during the rainy season. On the final day, smiles and hugs were passed around between the couple, the family, and volunteers! 

You can read all about it in Hayley's hometown paper, just follow the link here!

If you are interested in sponsoring a family or volunteering with La Esperanza, please write us at la_esperanza_granada@yahoo.com.

Mar 22, 2012

Amazing new video!

We are so lucky for all of the support we recieve from volunteers, donors, and friends of the organization. A big thank you goes out to volunteer Nabila Amarsy who created this video to show the world what La Esperanza Granada is all about. Watch and see for yourself! And share with your friends!

If you are interested in becoming a volunteer (which after that, who isn't?), send us an e-mail at: la_esperanza_granada@yahoo.com and come join us in making a change!

Mar 9, 2012

Inauguration of San Ignacio High School!

Last week on Feb. 27th, we celebrated a huge accomplishment for La Esperanza Granada... the opening of our brand new technical high school in San Ignacio! 

This project has been a long journey, supported by many generous individuals and groups. We broke ground December 31st, 2010, putting up fencing around a plot of land located just down the road from the primary school Nueva Esperanza. Over the years, thousands of dollars and many people have supported the project, from gathering funds to constructing latrines, building classrooms, and painting the buildings. Thanks to all of this hard work, we were able to officially open the high school for the 2012 school year with a class of over 50 students!

We of course celebrated the occasion with much happiness, appreciation, and gratitude! After the ribbon cutting, we welcomed words from early donors to the school, Karen Van Eijk and Tom Daniels as well as the group Amped for Education. Without the early support and enthusiasm of these donors, this project simply could not have gotten off the ground. La Esperanza also sent a deeply felt "thank you" to groups from Westfield State University and Builders Beyond Borders who constructed a total of 7 classrooms for the school! Several school directors also shared kind words about the wonderful opportunity this school represents for the young people of San Ignacio. 

Perhaps the most moving speech came from a parent of one of the students. Many families living in San Ignacio come from circumstances of extreme poverty and need, and education beyond the 6th grade often seems like a lofty goal for children of these families. Hearing this local mother say that this school, a school built entirely from the goodwill of caring individuals, will give her child an opportunity that she thought never possible is what truly makes our work worthwhile. 

With many of our supporters, volunteers, school staff, and the new San Ignacio students present, we wrapped up the ceremony with Nicaraguan folk dancing, local pastry treats, and lots of smiles!

LEG Operations Officer, Pauline Jackson, and Delegada del Ministerio de la Educación, Luisa Amanda, at the ribbon cutting ceremony for San Ignacio High School

Our 2012 Ayudantes 

A great turn-out of volunteers, students, and friends of LEG!

You can also find more photos from the event on our Picasa website here!

Mar 3, 2012

Monthly Blogger Update

Greetings La Esperanza Granada friends,

We are excited to bring you our first Blog Edition of the Volunteer LEG E-Newsletter! As with our monthly e-mail newsletter, the Blogger Monthly Update gives you a quick view of our biggest highlights in the last month. We are just completing our first month of the 2012 school year and have many exciting updates to share with you.

We started classes on February 13th, and have been hard at work assisting in the primary schools, teaching English, and providing Computer classes to hundreds of students. This year, we are more in touch with the Ministry of Education than ever before and are pleased to be working so closely together to improve children’s education here in Granada. We are primarily teaching and tutoring in 4 primary schools right now: José de la Cruz Mena, Nueva Esperanza, Pablo Antonio Cuadra, and El Escudo. These schools are all located in very poor barrios of Granada and experience overcrowding and underfunding year after year. The primary schools have two “shifts” to handle all the students within the areas, and still some classes top 50 children. We are bringing our best and working long hours to engage the children and support the teachers in any way that we can. Our biggest accomplishment thus far has been the inclusion of our English classes into the graded curriculum. This means that our students actually get marked on their report card for their progress and results in our volunteer-run English classes!

Furthermore, La Esperanza has hit a high point in our volunteer numbers this month with over 150 total volunteers! As of this newsletter, we have 48 individual volunteers, two high school groups visiting from the U.S. to build classrooms, 14 ayudantes, an all-volunteer Board of Directors, and long-distance volunteers helping with translations, promotion, and website updating. This is a huge moment for LEG and we would like to thank each and every person who contributes their time to supporting our mission and projects. We just simply could not exist, much less be successful in our work, without these amazing volunteers. Big thanks to all of you! 

We wrapped up this month with a celebration to commemorate the inauguration of San Ignacio High School, a new technical high school completely funded and built by LEG and its generous supporters. It will surely be an exciting event for all and we are very much pleased to see our donations and hard work go into place, brick by brick.

Just can’t get enough of La Esperanza Granada news? As always, you can get more detailed information at our website www.la-esperanza-granada.org and by giving us a Like on Facebook here! If you’re interested in donating, volunteering, or would like more information on LEG projects, please e-mail us at la_esperanza_granda@yahoo.com and we’ll absolutely get back to you!

Colleen K, on behalf of the The LEG Volunteer Team

Feb 22, 2012

La Esperanza History!

This week is a very special time for us here at LEG...

we're currently operating with 150 volunteers! 

Counting all of our individual, group and Families for Families volunteers plus our volunteer-only Board of Directors and local Ayudantes, we have never had so many wonderful and enthusiastic people helping to support  our mission of improving children's education in Nicaragua. Many thanks to our volunteers, both past and present, who have worked so hard to make La Esperanza Granada the wonderful, thriving organization that it is today!

We are so happy to mark our upcoming 10 years with such an outstanding accomplishment!

Feb 13, 2012

Last day of Summer School

On Friday February 3rd, our volunteers celebrated the last day of summer school with their students at Nueva Esperanza primary school. After 2 months of hard work - planning, teaching, and tutoring over 100 students - the day was a joyous occasion filled with smiles, laughter, and lots of fun!

Anxiously awaiting the entertainment

Students and volunteers putting on a dance

The festivities lasted all morning and included live entertainment! One class put on a play, written by our very own volunteers and enjoyed by all. Other groups put on dance shows and even included a dance routine with the volunteers and their students. Later, students broke up into activities groups, playing games and three-legged races. We ended the day passing out goodbye gifts of candies, snacks, and schools supplies to all the students purchased with funds contributed by the volunteers and other gracious donors!

A pre-school student, smiling for the camera

Leaving summer school with a smile and prizes

We look forward to starting a new school year this week and will miss all of our summer school students!

Jan 26, 2012

Hot off the press

We have some wonderful new articles written by our very own volunteer, Lynda Smith. Lynda is a journalist from the UK and has been working with La Esperanza as a volunteer in one of our schools, Nueva Esperanza.

She has written 3 fantastic articles that highlight a few of the projects that La Esperanza supports. The first, Sponsorship and Scholarships: Maria Antonia's Story, features one of our very own ayudantes and does a great job of examining the difficulty of obtaining an education for many Nicaraguan children. She also writes about our Families for Families project in The house that Kathryn and Rick built, where two very generous volunteers came to Granada to complete a 12-day home improvement project for one of our local families. Finally, La Esperanza had the pleasure of taking our students on a school excursion at the end of their 2011 school year. Thanks to a major donation from the Body Shop Foundation, we took over 500 children to the zoo and had a picnic outing for the day. You can read all about it in Lynda's article, A Grand Day out.

All of these articles are available by clicking the links, or you can go to our website, www.la-esperanza-granada.org, to see a full collection of La Esperanza Press Articles. Thanks again Lynda, great work!

Jan 23, 2012

Thank you to our Westfield State University volunteers

La Esperanza Granada had the pleasure of welcoming back a group from Westfield State University (WSU), USA this month. For the last two weeks, students and staff from WSU worked with local builders to complete a new high school in the San Ignacio community and contributed over $7000 for building materials and construction. Together with last year's fundraising, Westfield has donated over $10,000 to the new high school building project! We hope to see the group back again next year!

You can read more about their volunteer and fundraising experience here.

Jan 19, 2012

Welcome to our new site!

It's a new year and La Esperanza Granada was in need of a new look! Please click around and check out the new site. You can follow us on Facebook, see our youtube videos, or look through pictures on picasa!