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!

Peace,
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!

Peace,
Colleen K, on behalf of the The LEG Volunteer Team