Monthly News Archive

October, 2014:

We lost nearly a week of school this month following an offshore earthquake which shook virtually the whole country.  All was fine in the Granada area, no damages done, but sadly those lost hours of teaching are not likely to be replaced.  When volunteers come to work here they are first struck by the physical differences in the schools from those that they attended, then amazed by the noise level and apparent chaos in the classrooms, and often daunted by the limited school hours with days off for heavy rain, teachers meetings, holidays etc.  It can be very hard and very frustrating doing your best under these conditions to help the children learn the basics.  Even living conditions in the town, whilst way better than those of the children we are working with, lack a lot of the everyday things that volunteers take for granted at home.  No hot water, no protection from bugs and bats and rodents.  And yet week after week, at our volunteer meetings, those who are leaving give a short farewell speech, and say that they are so grateful for the experience.  We may all come here to help, but the rewards of giving your time to these wonderful smiling children are truly amazing.

Heartwarming too is the great support given by others who have visited, and become friends of the organization.  In the village of Adstock in Buckinghamshire, UK, people have once again shown their generosity, and sent through a donation of $4300.   Each year Roger Simmons has been taking  up a collection to help in the schools where we work.  The folks of William Hill Drive and the members of The Cockpit Crew are also contributors to this much appreciated assistance.

We are racing towards the end of the school year now, November is the final month here in Nicaragua.  We have already received some letters of application from high schools students who are hoping to receive a scholarship to university and become part of our ayudante program.  As part of this program young locals work as long term interns with us, while attending university on the weekends.  They receive their university fees anda small monthly stipend to help with their living costs.  The cost of a scholarship to the donor is $1360 per year.

We have a lot of volunteers currently, including Mariana Marshall who has an interesting blog .  And we welcome back Jim Buckley who has returned to give us a hand.  Here at the moment are Mary Pearce, Ginger Lawrence, Lola Chung, CJ Brown, Florent Brossollet, Sophie Mueller-Bahlke, Lea Jung, Lyse Koldijk, Kiran Brown, Matt Conrady, Nick Bayly-Jones, Sean O Duinnin, Leo Gleeson, Rocio Castello, Aitzon Azkarraga Zubizarrata, Jon Arcauz Gabilondo, Ben Davidson, Christel Muntinga, Lisa Meijer, Lisanne Versteegen, Kelly Chavez, Kathrin Norda, Mariana Marshall, Julia Penny, Barbara Hernaez Arrazola, Max Sprenger, Leonard Pump, Beatriz Lopez Febrer, Anonia Cinquengrani, Thomas Kelland, Blanca Salvador, Tait Hearps, Verena Riegler, Ari Spiesberger, Priska Schweikert, Cornelius Renaude, Adelie Lorrain, Catalina Saminan Rojas, Alex Tanfield, Leonie Maier, Ella Neumaier, Marvin Kasow, Michael Bramsen, and Laura Pedersen.

A former volunteer and long term supporter Karen Van Eijk has now joined Nica-Friends, who are giving us so much help from the Netherlands.  They recently participated in a great exhibition with Een Aarde in Asten , and spread the word there about La Esperanza Granada.

We received a donation from former volunteer Ardina Moralles who visited our donation store ( ), Ardina is now teaching in California and her 5th grade students at St. Leo´s School have chosen to support La Esperanza Granada.  Carrie Casto and Cathy Torris both shopped for the children in our donation store too.  We also received $124 from Gloria Ballester in the UK.   Cristian del Olmo Delgado sent $5, Montserrat  Sanchez Bellon sent $100 and Vanessa Carratala Garcia sent $30 all in support of fundraising by Juan Dual Tal Carrera.  The Kiwanis Club of New Orleans sent us a check for $262.  It is wonderful to have so many great donations and so much help. Candace Wawry and Darren Anderson brought in lots of school supplies, puzzles and candies for the schools, and volunteers Beatriz Lopez Febrer and Anonia Cinquengrani brought supplies with them too.

And as a final note, here is a link for some good photos around the schools this month.

September, 2014:

The rainy season finally arrived in Nicaragua this month, very late, but better than not at all.The farmers, who have been very badly affected by a continuing drought, are now very hopeful of late season crops.The families of the children we work with have been very hard hit, by higher than normal prices for rice and beans, as well as lack of work as manual labor on farms and smallholdings.

Mid month there were parades and celebrations for Independence Day (which took place in 1821) and for the Battle of San Jacinto which occurred in 1856.Two consecutive public holidays meant nearly a week of no classes in the schools.All the children participated in the parades, though those for the little children were held a week earlier so they could go at a slower pace, and not as far.

Our local interns (ayudantes) kept busy during the break making new resources for the kindergarten classes, which were welcomed by the teachers and are being put to good use.With idea from volunteers, teachers from overseas, and the local teachers, we find that we are able to create a lot of useful tools to help the children learn, without a great deal of expense.Just a lot of willing hands.

A lot of volunteers traveled during the break, some like to take every chance to explore other parts of the country, while some are happy to spend their time immersing themselves in the unique city of Granada.

At Pablo Antonio Cuadra school work is well under way on refurbishing four classrooms with new roofs, insulation and ceilings.Should be completed in just a few days.A great improvement for the students and the teachers alike.

We received donations this month from Lazy Bandido who sent $100, Jim Buckley sent $63, Chuck and Mary Arnondin sent $250 and we had another $100 on behalf of Rob Williams for his running the marathon in Rio earlier this year.Marina Granel brought in school supplies, and Sarah Binks sent two large parcels containing a variety of useful things.

Lots of volunteers here right now; Mary Pearce, Ginger Lawrence, Carlota Ubeda, Lola Chung, CJ Brown, Florent Brossollet, Lea Roya Wissel, Stephan Gruner, Hidia Combary, Robert Williams, Sophie Muller-Bahlke, Lea Jung, Lyse Koldijk, Kristen Slizgi, Gabriele Trabucco, Molly Rogers, Kiran Brown, Gael Morlot, Matthew Conrady, Nick Bayly-Jones, Sean Michael O Duinnin, Leo Gabriel Gleeson, Rocio Castello, Aitzol Zubizarreta, Jon Gabilondo, Ben Davidson, Christel Muntinga, Leanda van den Berg, Lisa Meijer, Lisanne Versteegen, Kelly Chavez, Alonso Leon Jara, Kathrin Norda, Mariana Marshall, Selma Kjartansdottir, and Barbara Arrazola.

Here is a link to some great photos:

August, 2014:

So much new building to report on this month, it almost sounds like the schools are second place, but don’t worry – education is our main goal, our mission, our passion, and what La Esperanza Granada is all about.

Three students, and their lucky families at Nueva Esperanza had new homes built in August.  The first with funds raised by Albert Bacque of the New Orleans Diocese Mission Group, with his Helping Hands project – and him and his helpers did get in there and help with the building during their visit.  The second was funded by David Lindsay and Kenneth Digby of the North Shore, New Orleans, Kiwanis club, and the third by Kristen Kemp and Johan Svenson and their three young children.  What a thrill for these three families, and of course the volunteer builders enjoyed their time helping too.

The mission group, through Bill Wayman, also donated masses of clothing and shoes, plus rice and beans, all of which we raffled at the schools in Nueva Esperanza – giving tickets to all the children who had good conduct marks.  It was a great morning, and hopefully helps with motivation of the kids.

Two Scout Troups from France did a project with us in August.  Four young women from Groupe Jean-Marie Derain BRUZbuilt a kitchen at the Nueva Esperanza primary school, so that school meals can now be cooked on site, and  six scouts from Nancy built a storage room at the school of Elba Zamora.

Little Heath school from the UK came and continued work on the new classroom at Perla de Gran Lago, and Ripon Grammar also from the UK, worked on the new classroom at Sara Mora school. Ripon Grammar gave a gift of $500 to be spent on school supplies, notebooks, textbooks etc. to help the school after they were gone, which was presented in a small but moving ceremony on their last day.

And then there is all the wonderful work of our long term volunteers – who spent close to 1000 hours out in the schools, tutoring, teaching the children and assisting the teachers and giving the children as much encouragement and motivation as possible.  Our volunteers here now at the end of the month are Lolo Chung, Christopher Brown, Pau Illa Sole, Marie-Anne Chauchard, Kristin Memm, Ania Lang, Rebecca Guttmann, Florent Brossollet, Lea Roya Wissel, Stephan Gruner, Ciara Pike-Burke, Hidia Aimee Combary, Elizabeth Resch, Sophie Hammer, Jessica Zewe, Julia Rainer, Claudine Bersi, Antonio del Pino Silva, Guillem Rodriguez, Ana Maria Simo Serrano, Jan Lloret, Robert Williams, Sophie Muller-Bahlke, Lea Jung, Ryan Mazelli, Kathryn Montague, Matthew May, Charlotte Wasser, Jule Biallas, Mary Pearce and Ginger Lawrence.  Kristin returned after some traveling, decided she would rather spend the time helping the children, and Ginger has returned for yet another three months of English lessons for our university students.

Wonderful news from Een Aarde in The Netherlands, through our partner organization, Nica Friends, they have awarded us the funds to put a new roof on three classrooms in Pablo Antonio Cuadra, not only the roofing iron, but also suspended ceilings and insulation.  The children in those classrooms will now be dry and considerably cooler on the hot sunny days, and the teachers will still be able to talk over the noise of rain on a tin roof!  Jelle Huybrechts, former volunteer from Belgium held another big quiz night, and is sending 1500 Euros to help with the Pablo Antonio roof, and also 300 Euros for learning to write workbooks that we are having made for grade one students.  Other former vols Charlotte Vanoverbeke and Jesus Villalobo held a party in Belgium and raised $400 selling papas con queso and arroz con leche, typical Nica street food, that is going to help with the work books too.   Irish volunteer Rob Williams ran a marathon in Rio and raised $1800 to help with kindergarten tablet computers, lots of people contributed to “Rob’s Rio Run”.  Another runner Carl Widdop is doing a fund raising run in the UK calling it “Widdz for Kiddz” to try and help out.   We had donations too from Selina Koller who spent $32 in our donation store, Rebecca Streit sent $100, 7th Darlington Brownies, U.K. sent $100, Ainhoa Galardi Mendiluze sent $200 and John Taylor sent through $500.  Plus lots of donations brought into the office, Steven Stancy and family brought a suitcase of balls, toys and toothbrushes.  


July, 2014:

Happy to report another success story this month, and to welcome our newest employee, both part of the same story.  Tatiana Arias has been an ayudante with us for more than four years.  Her university education has been supported by the village of Adstock in the UK, along with a monthly stipend for her living expenses.  Tatiana was there when Roger and Kate Simmons of Adstock attended the opening of Nueva Esperanza primary school, and has been with us since we first worked in the community of Nueva Esperanza.  Now Tatiana will continue working in the barrio where she lives, in Nueva Esperanza as our liaison with the sponsored high school students.  Robert Dudley of Florida has very generously donated to cover Tatiana´s first years salary, and we are very proud to welcome her as a permanent member of our team.

So much building has been going on this month it is almost hard to keep track of it.  Former volunteer Anna Kurth returned from Germany to build a house in Nueva Esperanza.  Anna had worked at fund raising throughout the year, and then came back and along with a team of our long term volunteers, went out there and built the house.  Now the Miranda family is very happy in their new home.

Groups from Outlook Expeditions, Kings Priory and Guildford High worked on the new classroom at Sara Mora, Hazely Academy and Little Heath worked on the new classroom at La Perla de Gran Lago, and Altrincham Grammar did some much needed repairs at Salomon de la Selva.

World Challenge groups spent time doing service projects with us too, Philip Marant worked on the classroom at La Perla de Gran Lago, Edgebaston High worked at Pablo Antonio Cuadra repairing walls, London Oratory worked at Escudo.

Altrincham Grammar attended the official opening of the new classroom and other improvements that we had been able to do at Madre Theresa school.  Groups from their school participated in the building last year.  Anka Verheoven was also there which was great, as her fund raising paid for the roof of the classroom along with the furniture for the kindergarten children.  Sadly we had to say farewell to Anka this month.  She has now returned to Belgium ready to take up her new position teaching languages in a school in Morocco.  Anka has dedicated a lot of time to La Esperanza Granada, but of course needs to work for her future too.  We wish her every success, and feel  sure she won´t forget her Nicaraguan family here.

We are now into the second half of school year and lots of volunteers here to help the children off to a good start, Mauricio Cobos Rodriquez, Mary Pearce, Joshua Pugh, Carlota Ubeda, Vicenc Tinoco, Ismael Acosta Martinez, Sandra Astudillo Moreno, Sean Cullen, Leire Gredilla Calleja, Alexia Legendre, Anais Morvan, Patrick Mayles, Leslie Watier, Josue Chevez Castillo, Priya Nair, Cindy Chiu, Tessel Stoppelenburg, Theodore de Campigneulles, Cami Thomas, Aleksandra Stosio, Veronika Rozynek, Olivia Benet Munoz, Paula Villazala, Claudia Roca Martinez, Sara Sampe Cardelus, Nora Schnieder, Russell Williams, Gabriela Krzeminska, JP Ideker, Kara Taylor, Florian Kretzschmar, Sophie King, Adam Bermberg, Gaelle Pfister, Luisa Guillen, Febe Vanbelleghem, Hanne Anseeuw, Yannick de Muelenaere, Lucy Cullinane, Ampara Garcia Fernandez, Lolo Chung, y Miriam Murphy.

Exciting news for one of our partner organizations, Amped for Education.  Jeff, Sarah and Doug of Amped have now moved to Granada to take their passion for education to the next level.  It was through Amped´s passion for high school education that we came to build the high school.  Help came from many sources and we managed to accomplish the whole project in a very short time, but the original idea to build a high school came from meeting with them several years ago.  Now their dreams are coming to fruition, and they will be able to dedicate themselves full time to high school education here in Nicaragua.  They are working on building a learning center near Jose de la Cruz Mena school to help young people get the assistance they need to make it through the high school years.  If their past efforts are anything to go by, they will be an outstanding success.

We received donations from Laurence Ginsberg, on behalf of Christy Myers, $300, Mary Coiner bought wooden teaching blocks at our Donation Store,  Julie Thomas sent through $200 to help one of our ayudantes get his drivers licence, and Antonio del Pino Silva sent through $500.  Plus we raised $110 this month doing the regular pub quiz at O´Shea´s Irish Bar.  There were lots of school supplies brought into the office too, from Claudiz Roca Martinez, Sara Sampe, Olivia Benet Munoz, Gaelle Pfister,  Theodore de Campegneulles, Maryruth Priest,  and Alicia Metz.

Lastly here is a link to photos from July:


June, 2014:

June started off with lots of celebrations for International Children´s Day, and then finished the month celebrating Nicaraguan Teacher´s Day.  Another big month.  All of the volunteers got together  to make a very special event for the children at the beginning of the month, and went to a different school each day, entertaining the children, celebrating with the children, and making sure that they knew how wonderfully special they all are. 

From Sydney, Australia, a high school group visited the school of Escudo.  21 young people from Pittwater High School traveling on a World Challenge trip came and built a badly needed storage room at the school and completely renovated the truly dilapidated and barely functioning school bathrooms.  A great improvement to the facilities.  These young people had done lots of fundraising before their trip and brought along $4300 to contribute to the project.  They also took children from Escudo on a day trip to the Zoo which was an absolute highlight for the kids.

A dedicated team from Rebound Orthopedics in Kentucky, USA, led by Julie Thomas,  visited and built a new house for the Vasquez family in Nueva Esperanza.  Jessica Vasquez had perfect attendance at the primary school, and hers was the lucky ticket drawn in the raffle.  What a change of work for a medical group, accompanied by two young freshman, but it seems they all had a great week and a very satisfying time seeing the results of their labors, and what a difference it made for that family.  (they bought all new beds for them too!)

In other exciting building news this month a team of six young baseball players from Massachusetts who came down with Amped for Education, broke ground on building a new classroom at the school La Perla de Gran Lago.  This lovely, but poor, little school is just 6 kilometers outside Granada, to the north, situated on the lake´s edge.

A very hectic time for us at present, it it nearly the end of the first school semester, children are busy with exams etc.  In the coming weeks all of you who sponsor a high school student will receive their report cards.  And it is nearly time for the term break holidays too.  In line with our new push to give an extra good start to the kindergarten classes, this year for term break we are trying a new project.  We will be inviting kindergarten children along with their parent, older sibling, aunt or grandmother, to come to the school each day and have fun with lots of educational games, singing and storytelling.  We hope through this to bring more opportunity for the children to learn at home, and let them see that counting to ten, abc etc. is not only for the classroom, but can be part of their home life too.

Kate Campatti and Kelly Hane visited from Westfield University and pitched in to help repaint the high school at Nueva Esperanza, along with the students of the high school too.  Kate and Kelley provided $170 of the paint too, and the school looks nice and fresh now.

Just in time for a visit from some of the schools builders, Steve Lewine and Amy Schroeder Riggio of Builders Beyond Borders, who happened to be in Nicaragua as part of a Rotary Club project in Nagarote.

Other visitors this month were Ton and Carla Hendrix of our partners in The Netherlands.  Ton and Carla spent a week with us, visiting the schools, spending time with their sponsored high school students and their sponsored university student, and assessing what the current needs of the schools here are.  In addition to the wonderful contributions of Nica Friends, Ton and Carla have been liaising on our behalf with Een Aarde, a Dutch organization who helped us earlier this year with computers for grade 5/6 students in Nueva Esperanza.

In other fund raising Kate Bethany gave her all to do a big fundraiser at the Club Weekend on the lake,  called ´Raise the Roof, Kate and other volunteers worked very hard to make a success of this night, but sadly most of the profits disappeared into the club owners costs for the night, however they did raise $95.  Their goal was to try and help with new roofs for the classrooms at Pablo Antonio Cuadra school.  The pub quiz at O´Shea´s Irish Bar raised $75, Gregory Brown donated $100, Kiwanis Club donated $185, 7700 cordobas from Chipontus Friends, $10 for a child´s dental visit from Mary Coiner, $100 from Luis Ramirez and Leslie Delagneau.  And there were lots of goods brought into the office, all kinds of school supplies, craft materials etc. from Kate Campatti, Kelly Hane, Hope Lybeer, Mary Bruijn and Sjoerd Labee, Sara Vestman, Laura Suban and Eli-Jah Gezel.

Volunteers here at the end of June are Adriana Sedjeu, Mauricio Cobos Rodgriguez, Joshua Pugh, Carlotta Ubeda, Vicenc Tinoco, Kelley Waidley, Matt Bass, Matthew Greenman, Erika Amayo Romero, Ismael Acosta Martinez, Sara Vestman, Sandra Astudillo Moreno, Ted Marr, Leire Gredilla Calleja, Kyle Millar, Maaike Roelofsec, Alexia Legendre, Anais Morvan, Janet Malone, Max Budny, Jesse Nazario, Lauren Youngerman, Patrick Mayles, Christie Kang, Jack Parham, Jessie Poole, Louis Poole, Karen Simon, Leslie Watier, Joel Janson, Alba Fernandez Navarro, Pablo Azorin, Sean Cullen, Mary Pearce, Anka Verhoeven, Paulomi Bannerjee, Farmata Kane, and Samantha Salvata.

And to end the news this month, we have the story in pictures, here is the photo link:

May, 2014

As defined by the school year in Nicaragua, May starts the second learning period of the first semester;  as defined by the climate May starts the rainy season.  It may be a hard year for many as less than the usual rainfall is predicted this year.  But we have had some rains in the past weeks, and like magic, everything is suddenly green again.

Just in time before the rains started, the Lopez Castillo family got a new roof, and their house rebuilt by John Hart,Matt Fry, Eugene and Cathy, a group of college friends from the US.   They raised some funds in the name of ´Do Something Awesome´ and came down and did indeed do something awesome as you will see in the photos of their building.

We had the good fortune to partner with a group called OneSight, a project from Mason, Ohio, who were in the north of Nicaragua earlier this month.  80 children, whose teachers had advised they appeared to have problems seeing, travelled by bus to Chinandega.  There they were given a full optical exam, and those who needed glasses were prescribed and fitted in the same day.  While their glasses were being prepared, we made it an excursion day for the children with a visit to the city of Chinandega.    It was a long day, leaving Granada at 6.30 am and returning at 6.30 pm.,  but a wonderful experience for the children, and a wonderful donation on the part of One Sight.

We only took children from grades 5 and 6 on the trip, now we have lots of little ones who will go to the local opticians to be checked and fitted with glasses.  Taking children for eye exams and dental work are a regular part of our program in the primary schools (as well as part of our high school sponsorship program).    Sometimes an eye exam will find a type of eye parasite that is quite prevalent here, finding and treating this parasite can save a child´s eyesight.  And of course dental care can make such a positive impact on a child´s health, both immediately and to their future wellbeing.  An extra thank you to all of those who give funds to support these important programs.

Volunteers here at the end of May are Mary Pearce, Adriana Sedjeu, Mauricio Cobos Rodriguez, Liam Temple, Joshua Pugh, Gregory Brown, Benjamin Logan, Francina West, Carlota Ubeda, Vicenc Tinoco, Eli-Jah Gezel, Josue Chevez Castillo, Stephanie Anderson, Hope Lybeer, Aileen Corless,  Jordan Nylander, Stela Anderson, Kelley Waidley, Mary Ogle, Jorge Rangel Jr., Valerie Ivester, Richard Spillenkothen, Kristin Memm, Farmata Kane, Paulomi Banerjee, Matthew Bass, Matthew Greenman, Renata Aleman, and Erika Amayo Romero.   We are happy to welcome back one of our regular team, Anka Verhoeven who is here again to help for a couple of months.  Anka is coordinating our high school sponsorship program on a continuing basis.

We were happy to see a former volunteer, Oyin Bankhole visit.  Oyin arrived with bags of boxes of pencils to distribute, both to the schools we work with and other schools she was in contact with through her charge.  And we had a great donation of $200 from former volunteer Karin Van Eick and Tom Daniels, who have given us so much support.

Lots happening in our computer classes, which took another leap forward this month.  Thanks to our award of funds from Een Aarde in the Netherlands we have been able to start computer classes with grades 5 and 6 at Nueva Esperanza, and the students are spellbound. Constant electric power is a major problem in that community, and Nica Friends also of the Netherlands have funded the installation of a battery system which is being installed now – at a cost of $2500.

Now our next plan on the drawing board for computers is to raise some money for some child friendly tablet computers that we can introduce in short sessions in the kindergarten classrooms.  The little children are really ready to learn.

And the month ended with one of the most wonderful celebrations in Nicaragua, Mother´s Day.  The day itself, 30th May was a holiday in the schools to honor the mothers, and on the 29th classes were finished early so that the whole school could celebrate, and the students mothers were all invited to the schools for a party.  The school children put on special dance displays, there was music , and games, and refreshments, and lots of laughter.  A wonderful day.  We gave some raffle prizes in the schools with tickets going to the mothers of children with good attendance.  At Nueva Esperanza we held an extra raffle of 20 clay cooking stoves that had been donated by sisters Nancy Bergman and Terry Leary.  These special cook stoves use about one fifth of the normal amount of firewood used for cooking, easing the burden on the families buying/chopping firewood, as well as a reduced amount of woodsmoke,  and the saving of trees.  A bonus all round.  They just cost $10 each so are a terrific investment.

That´s it for this month, here is a link to our photos for May, 2014:



April 2014:

Main event of April was, of course, Easter.  Semana Santa is the major holiday here.  All the schools were closed for the week.  The other major happenings were the earthquakes or temblors in the Managua area.  Thankfully, in Granada, though we certainly felt the major ones, there was no damage done.  Schools closed a little sooner than they would have for the Easter break, but some areas in Managua and to the north, are still under red alert, so a very extended break for those children.  

All the school classrooms that we have built are to special seismic safety codes, and each classroom has two doors, in case of emergency.  Great in theory, but in practice some of the ‘extra’ doors have not been opened in months – this will be one of our projects in May to make sure that they all function, and that they are all clear to access.  

We had a group from Key Learning Community of Indianapolis, US who painted the new library/storeroom in Salomon de la Selva, along with the existing classrooms.  This is the second visit from Key Learning Community, and they did a fantastic job.  The school looks wonderful now. 

A wonderful thing this month was a visit from the Madorin family from the US.  Katie Madorin had emailed us some months ago to say that they were planning a visit to Nicaragua and her children would like to collect some school supplies or raise some money to help.  We sent some promotional material to help, brochure, power point presentation etc.  To our great surprise they arrived in our office with $1570!  Kaiya and her friend Maya Sozzi, with the help of Kaiya’s young brother Kieran, had made duct tape wallets and elastic band bracelets and sold hundreds and hundreds all to help the children here.  

Their terrific donation will go towards repairing the roofs on the school Pablo Antonio Cuadra.  We have done some patching of the roofs in the past, and made a couple of the classrooms so that they are okay, but in some classrooms there are small waterfalls coming in when it rains.  The children move their desks around the room, trying to cluster in the driest spots, but in heavy rain the teachers just have to give in and cancel classes.   If we place the new roof over the old roof, with some insulation in between we will be able to make the classrooms not only dry, but also almost bearable in the heat.  We can do this for about $1300 per classroom.  

We also had donations from Nancy Tankersly who sent $30, Luis Remirez sent $200, Deborah Keefe sent $50 the Kiwanis Club of North Shore, New Orleans sent $700 which we will use for dental visits, and Helga Manh sent $100. Mrs. Andrews who came on a tour with us gave 2000 cordobas too.  Through PayPal we received $20 for Isaiah McCoy,  $55 from former vol Jim Buckley, and $300 for Wishful Thinking who are trying to help us fulfill the wish of the Nueva Esperanza community for a ‘boxeo’.  Michael, Reed, Landon and Pickett brought in lots of soccer balls, children shoes, flash cards etc., Meldoy and Celia from Spain broth lots of school supplies, Irene Ruiz brought English teaching books, Chris Dawn and Sara Kearns, plus Yvinne von Schaultz and Emma Thout all brought in school supplies. 

Volunteers here at the moment are: Julius Knerr, Loes Hubrechts, Ann-Sophie Deckers, Adriana Sedjeu, Mauricio Cobos Rodriguez, Mathias Braatsveen, Mary Pearce, Ginger Lawrence, Mailys de Loos, Yannick Dues, Liam Temple, Sara Negro, Joshua Pugh, Ryan Menzies, James Lovell, Thomas Fearon, Alicia Personn, Rene Siodlaczek, Matt Stark, Erika Gomera, Izaskun Laboa, Daniel Taylor, Gregory Brown, Anne Klitgaard, Benjamin Logan, Francian West, Carlota Ubeda, Vicenc Tinoco.  

And some wonderful photos this month:


March, 2014:

Six weeks into the 2014 school year, lots happening, and we are working hard.  The results are now complete of the assessment of the students from last year who had completed kindergarten.  This is the standard that we are trying to surpass for next year, with our new resources, help for the teachers, extra volunteers, and full on focus on the first two years of school.
This assessment took place in four schools, and the results were very similar – so it can’t be put down to one poor teacher, one bad school etc.  Some examples: 18% of children knew their alphabet, 22% could write the vowels a,e,i,o,u.  54% could count to 20, but only 22% could read and write the numbers to 20.  Of course lots of children could do parts, and maybe some were not good at being tested.
We will publish the full results this month on our website, and really do hope we will be able to show better results at the end of this years efforts.  And though we hope to be able to publish better results in the basic skills, what we mostly hope for are a lot of lively, happy, imaginative, and confident children graduating from kindergarten at the end of the year to start in grade 1.
Another thing we hope to add to the kindergarten resources are some children’s tablets that we can take round the classrooms to help with learning. 
Three visiting groups have been working with us during March.  Firstly the Rotaract Club from Michigan State University spend an incredible week improving the school Margarita Urbina.  They raised the roof on three very hot classrooms, installed insulation and fans, repaired desks and painted the courtyard, and perhaps their finest achievement, together with the grade 6 students at the school they built a Granada version of a ‘living wall’.  Here is a link to an article in the Nicaragua Dispatch:
Next came Vanderbilt College Alternative Spring Break group who painted the new computer classroom at Nueva Esperanza Primary, both inside and out, plus did lots of fence repairs and brightened up the school.  They were followed by another college that we have worked with for several years now, Appalachian State University.   A group of students from Appalachian spent their spring break laying blocks, and mixing cement etc. at the school of Dezambeg.  They made great progress on the three classrooms that are under construction there and had a very successful trip.
The new computer classroom, built by Westfield State University, at the primary school is complete now.  The only remaining problem we have is with the power source.  That whole community is lacking in adequate power supply and it causes big problems for our computer classes.  We are currently installing a battery backup power system in the Nueva Esperanza High school, and as soon as we have all the kinks ironed out we plan to do the same in the primary school.  Nica-Friends from the Netherlands have stepped forward to cover the costs of the system, which is fantastic.
Longer term volunteers who are currently here include Julius Knerr, Ginger Lawrence, Mary Pearce, Mauricio Cobos Rodriguez, Ryan Olson, Leon Vogel, Irene Ruiz Ruiz, Loes Hubrechts, Anne-Sophie Deckers, Adriana Sedjeu,  Mathias Braatesveen, Mailys de Loos, Christy MacKellar, Yannick Dues, Hannah Park, Isabelle Dion, Marie Cote, Lindsay Morgan, Lara Stegmueller, Chiara Lorre, Aisling Coffey, Liam Temple, Claudia Reinhardt, Sara Negro, Joshua Pugh and Ryan Menzies.  Not so many for this time of the year, but we had large numbers leave near the end of the month.
Our fiscal partner in the US, Institute for Central American Studies, is looking for some volunteer help at the moment, from an accountant.  Our donations last year were so healthy, they need to have their return checked over by a CPA before submitting it to the taxation department.  If anyone can help, please email us and we will put you in contact.

We are welcoming two new ayudantes to our team, Connie and Teodora.  This is thanks to the generosity of The Pulsera Project, who have agreed to fund their university scholarships through us.  Other donations this month have been from volunteers Monica Rojo and Cesar Salvador Soto who gave 4800 cordobas, Nancy Bergman of Hotel San Francisco who have us $100, and Anneli Bode with her friends and family who are funding a high school teacher for the year.  Julie Holmes brought in lots of first aid supplies to the office,  Jim and Rebecca Kleyman came in with lots of footballs, Chiara Lorre brought glitter and toothpaste (not to be used together), and Rachel brough in school materials and balloons.  Volunteer Loes Hubrechts made a great contribution to the schools art supplies for this year, with $1000 that she had raised in Belgium to buy supplies with here, what a shopping spree!
And lastly our photo link.  We had some problems recently with Picasa changes, and how pictures in the link appear on mobile devices. You may be pleased to see we have worked out a way to get the captions back with the photos, by putting them on the pictures themselves.  In case you need a photo for some purpose that doesn’t have the writing on it, just let us know and we can send you the original.


February, 2014:

The 2014 school year has started, and we have a wonderful bunch of volunteers here trying to help get it off on the right foot.

The schools we work with have done an assessment of the children starting grade one, those who completed Kindergarten last year, and we plan to use that test as a control, hoping that our new resources in the classroom, and help for the teachers will pay off when it comes to the end of the year.

The results are both shocking, because some of the children have learned so little, but also exciting, as it is giving such a clear picture of exactly where help is needed.

Amped for Education visited again this month, building benches in the school yard for the Nueva Esperanza high school, and looking towards how they can continue to help here in Nicaragua with high school education.  They are helping along with us with teacher support for the new high school class at Jose de la Cruz Mena.  Another friend of the organization, Rae Ann Hickling has offered to support a teacher for this highschool too.  The numbers at Nueva Esperanza high school are so high, that we need to also fund an extra teacher there too, at least until the Ministry of Education can get in fitted into their budget.

Two former volunteers have joined us this month, Paula Weigand, and Mauricio Cobo Rodriguez, and two more regulars returned today, both Ryan Olson and Ginger Lawrence are back for another session of work with us.

Great news too, that we will have two new ayudantes starting, thanks to the support of the Pulsera Project.  That will give us a team of 14 university students helping this year alongside our volunteers from overseas.  It is so good to be part of this special group, trying to improve the future for Nicaraguan children through education.

Traci Odom Truelson visited our donation store and spent $300 on 3  soccer balls, a bicycle and a school computer.  Pay Pal donations came from Hege Hoivik, $65 and Jennifer Wallace $50.  Regular supporter Lyndon Watkins sent through a check for $1000.  Marie-Claude Perrault completed her donation drive with a contribution of $500 to computers, and the end of shopping spree by her friends that resulted in 25 attendance prizes, 26 backpacks with supplies, 21 dental visits, 2 dozen boxes of crayons, 2 desks, 7 eye exam with glasses, 5 one month of art supplies for a class, 20 packs modeling clay, box of pencil sharpeners, 1 school uniform and 4 sets of wooden teaching blocks – well done to Marie-Claude.

The schools will have lot of art supplies, thanks to Loes Hubrechts who brought $1000 with her from her fund raising in Belgium.  Former volunteer twins, Cristina and Patricia Basarrate celebrated their birthday and asked for contributions and raised $1200, this paid for the hooks with names for children’s backpacks in the kindergarten classrooms, eyeglasses for children, and money for dental visits.

Former volunteer Ray Mendez visited with a big duffle bag of wonderful first  aid supplies and first aid kits.   Another regular visitor Matt Smith (a proponent of travel with a purpose) brought us seven pre loved computers, and lots mice.  Lowell Smith, another very long time supporter of LEG, was here for a couple of weeks helping us and brought an external hard drive, solid state disk drives, and other computer goodies.   Kornelia Diem Otana sent a box of great school supplies, and Adriana Sedjeu brought lots of things for the schools with her.

Our new resource boards are almost complete.  Paid for by the City of Vilvoorde in Belgium, these will be placed on the classroom walls (we have 20 paid for so far) and include, a clock, the alphabet, (capitals and small letters) sequenced numbers 0 – 100, days of the week and months of the year.  Seems simple but it will be a bit boost to the children here.

Volunteers here now are Margot Vappereau, Maja Wegmann, Julius Knerr, Pauline Caclin, Leon Vogel, Ayisha Sahay, Laura Eberlein, Jack Moore, Anneli Bode, Irene Ruiz Ruiz, Loes Hubrechts, Lotte Baert, Vanessa Grebenstein, Ala German, Kevin Skolits, Anne-Sophie Deckers, Martha Bowers, Greaeme and Joan Mount, Mary Pearce, Ginger Lawrence, Ryan Olson, Valentin Clavilier, Ellen Choi, Adriana Sedjeu, Zainab Lawal, Kat Truelson, Cesar Salvador Soto, Monica Roja, Mauricio Cobos Rodriguez, Paula Weigand, Alexaundrea Wilson, Jessica Helms, Mary Moore, Joe Tite, Leanne Fry, Kate Bethany, Mathieu and Veronique Doubleau.  Plus our on line volunteers, we shouldn’t forget, Javier Frasconeri, Lowell Smith, Norbella Pena, and Sue Fernie.

Photo link for this month: <a title=”″ href=”″ target=”_blank”></a>

January, 2014

Fantastic first month here at La Esperanza Granada.

Westfield State University built a computer classroom at the primary school, Nueva Esperanza, during fourth visit to work as an International Service Class with us in Nicaragua.  Their two week stay included building, and classes for the children culminating with a great party day at the school.  This new computer classroom be used for the grades 1 and 2 children who use computers as learning tools through educational games.  Plus this year, for the first time, we will be giving computer introduction classes to grade 5/6 children thanks to our partner organization Nica-Friends and the award of funds of 3000 euros received from Een Aarde.

Salomon de la Selva school was also a building site in January, with two student groups from Goulburn Valley Grammar School, traveling with World Challenge who visited and built a library/study room and storeroom.  These young people had done lots of local fundraising in Gourburn Valley, Victoria, Australia, and funds from Anka Verhoeven’s Spaghetti Fest made up the rest of the cost to build this much needed addition.

Meanwhile our longer term volunteers spent the month holding summers school in Nueva Esperanza, where some 250 children attended.  Most of the classes were revision of math and Spanish.  There were fun activities too though, with regular sport and art and craft. It was a sweet sad celebration on the 31st –  the final day of summer school with some of the children in tears as they didn’t want it to ever end.  A lot of our volunteers felt just the same.

Lots of preparation for the new school year due to start on 11th February.  We have been working with the teachers to plan resources needed to achieve the learning goals for the kindergarten classes, and grade one students. The new tables are made, and we will be painting all the classrooms next week.  Preparing all the high school students too, measuring for uniforms, filling back packs etc. Thanks so much to everyone who responded to Anka’s pleas for sponsors. We have an incredible 54 new sponsorships for this year with just 12 students still looking for a sponsor. Sadly Anka is returning to Belgium, but plans to continue to work with us on-line organizing the high school sponsorship program.

We have some serious shopping to do with our donations store (  Greg Timinsky ‘spent’ $301, Bonnie Ditlevsen $220, Paul Holdsworth $405, and Barbara Reid who chose a house for a family, $3000.  More about that house next month.  Other donations were Chrissi Richter and friends who gave $420 for school supplies, Kyle Virgien sent $800, Peter and Kelly Lake $300, Todd Studer sent $500, Juliette Hoad $50, Margie Pollitzer $200, Benedikt Maerz 50 Euros.  Lyndon Watkins sent us a check for $1000, Network for Good sent $270 as a matching donation for John and Jess Comstock’s sponsorship payment, Project Pulsera gave $250 from a bracelet sale at Appstate University.  Cristina and Patricia Basarrate celebrated their birthday on 20th January (twins) and asked their friends to donate to help the children here.  Many of these people are former volunteers, or friends and regular supporters of the organization, it is really heartwarming to have so much support from them all.

Lots of things brought into the office too by the Westfield Group, Amber Pylant and Martin Serra, Ed Wall, Bailey Ross, Eduardo, and Mary Roth.

Volunteers in January included Mary Pearce, Anka Verhoeven, Jim and Carol Ludden, Oyin Bankhole, Chrissi Richter, Eva Gerstner, Eva Binder, Benjamin Plett, Margot Vappereau, Chris Sievert, Sascha Zenker, Melody Alvarez Vega, Marta Soldevila Garnica, Anna Annell, Maja Wegmann, Denise Hoffman, Anne Deidrich, Sonia Rodriguez, Belen Peran, Christoph Hein, Janna Karel, Sandy Liu, Itziar Hernandez, Kristine Olthuis, Caitlin Dowd, Peter Kitchen, Amber Pylant, Martin Serra, Lawrence Shannahan, Chuck Buhr, Ed Wall, Bailey Ross, Julius Knerr, Alexandra Cullen, John Kilkenny, Kaja Seger, Nick Kinnon, Emily Roseman, Pauline Caclin and Kevin

And last, but not least, our photo link for the month:

There are more photos too on our Facebook page, as well as links to short video clips you might like to see – look for our La Esperanza Granada page, and follow us on Facebook if you like.

December, 2013

Instead of looking back over 2013, to celebrate the start of the new year, we are looking ahead at the great plans we have for 2014.

We are making a big push to improve the first years of school for the children.  Kindergarten, or as it is known here, ‘preescolar’ is such a vital time for learning – in the schools where we help most children have never held a pencil or a piece of paper till they start at school, no crayons at home, no books, no abc or count to ten etc.  We have held workshops with the teachers to find solutions to the problems of taking a class of 40 little ones from scratch to writing their name, saying the alphabet, counting, etc. in one short school year.  The answers are not easy, but we have identified manpower and resources as the main needs.

Firstly the material needs, we are creating a good learning environment, new tables and chairs, brightly colored with numbers, letters etc. on the tables, newly painted walls, with pegboards, and shelves for and a named peg for each child to hang their bag, wooden learning blocks, puzzles, abacus and counting games, plus paper and crayons and paints sufficient for every child to use.

The teachers have set monthly learning goals for our volunteers to work with and we will provide the resources appropriate for them.   And possibly best of all, this is all being done with the collaboration of the Ministry of Education, so we will have measureable results so that these improvements can be replicated in other areas of poverty here in Nicaragua.

We have new buildings coming along too, a new computer classroom for Nueva Esperanza, and a special computer course for the grade 5/6 children who up till now have had no access to computers until they start high school. The school of Salomon de la Selva will have a new library/storeroom and kindergarten area.  Our high school sponsorship program is extending with possibly 150 sponsored students this year (not too late to sponsor a student for 2014).  And this is just for the start of the year, who knows how much more we might achieve!

We have had some donors shopping at our ‘Donation Store’ which is a way you can provide school supplies etc. to help the children.  Visiting the page on our website you can select what you would like to ‘buy’ and the quantities, and then pay by PayPal and we will purchase the goods here in Nicaragua.  Marie-Claude Perrault has had several friends respond to a mail out she sent to support us through shopping this way, plus Troy Heaps and Greg Timinsky each sent through shopping orders.  Other donations have come through from Catherine Keena $500, Hotel San Francisco $100, Eliza Gellman $50, Tom Gwinnett $150, Jim Buckley former long term volunteer $55, Richard Sandler $100, regular volunteer Ginger Lawrence $100, and $197 from Appalachian State service learning group.  In addition we received $350 from George Berenschott to pay for Christmas lunch for the children at summer school.

Two families in the community of Nueva Esperanza have new houses this month, the Perez Castillo family, thanks to Clare Restreppo and family, and the Pilarte Ovando family which was built and paid for by the De Mordaunt family, Reed, Gayann, Bekah, Ben, Olivia, Matthew and Nate – all of who came in the office when they had finished painted the same color as their house!  They said it was a great way to spend the holidays.

We are starting 2014 with a wonderful team.  Karen our administrator and Donald our volunteer coordinator, plus all of our long term ‘ayudantes’ – two new ones this year Yessinia and Concepcion – you will see their photos along with the rest on the photo link here:

Whether you are part of La Esperanza Granada’s past, present, future or all three – we look forward to working together to make 2014 a year that will count in the education of all the young people we work with.

November, 2013

As we reach the end of November, so also we reached the end of the 2013 school year.  It has been a year of many achievements for the students, for our volunteers, our working groups and our donors and we are amazed by how much has been done when we look back.

However at this tine of the year too, we are full of plans for how much we can do in the 2014 school year.  Anka and a team of other volunteers have been interviewing grade six students who have the goal of attending high school.  Seventy one of these young students have applied for a sponsorship through La Esperanza Granada to start high school next year.  Incredible to listen to their hopes and plans for the future, though a little sobering to realize how desperately they need some help to get there.  We have had a great response to our postings on Facebook etc. and now have 27 sponsors committed for the coming year – however there are still lots of students hoping for a sponsor, so please email us if you would be willing to help.  Here is a link to a great You Tube video that highlights the high school sponsorship program:

An item of incredibly good news, we have been awarded a gift of $10,000 by the Virginia Wellington Cabot Foundation for our computer program in the schools.  To give these children access to computers is one of the best things we have been able to achieve.  The modern developed life is racing towards them so fast, and bringing computers to the children helps ensure that they are not left behind.

Nica-Friends also donated funds to us this month, in addition to their prior amount of $1000 for five new computers, they have committed to support one new ‘ayudante’, and two high school children for the coming five years.  Ton Hendrix, who started the organization visited for two weeks this month to learn more first hand about our work in the schools, and help us with some sound planning advice.  Ton and his wife Carla visited earlier this year, and were so impacted when they saw the needs in the schools that when they returned home they started a charity in The Netherlands to give support.  In a very short time they have done great things – their web site is:

In other donations this month we received $175 from Chandni Patel, $65 from Stephanie Burnheuber and from Clare Restrepo, $3000 to build a house for a family in Nueva Esperanza – the lucky family will be drawn by raffle this week.   Donations in the office included, Holly Cook and family who brought bags of soccer balls, uniforms and school supplies as well as a case of peanut butter which raised $45, the Markham Family who brought lots of craft supplies, (and a cash donation) Ton Hendrix brought 130 pairs of designer name eyeglass frames along with school supplies and toothpaste, Ana Serana brought school supplies and toothpaste.

Volunteers here are Mary Pearce, Anka Verhoeven, Oyin Bankhole, Chrissie Richter, Eva Gerstner, Eva Binder, Benjamin Plett, Chris Sievert, Sascha Zenker, Melody Vega, Marta Soldevila Garnica, Valerian Gradoux, Margot Vappereau, Sasha Stedronsky, Serena Seok, Henrike Kolletzki, Maja Wegmann, Tamara Mandler, Lisa Merrill, Jim and Carol Ludden, Denise Hoffman, Lotte Vercammen, Michael Mainardi, Sara Cattalani, Ana Serrana, Sonia Rodriguez y Anne Diedrich.  Jaime Belden, who originally came down to work with us has now started her own project, along with her friend Liz.  They are committed to improving the future through planting and nutrition as well as literacy, and we wish them every success with their project Future Roots.  There is so much need in some of the barrios here that there can’t be too much help.

We’ve also had two volunteer groups with us from Australia.  Both came through World Challenge – the first students from Beaconhills High did a great job of finishing the fence at the school of Madre Teresa along with painting the new classroom and kitchen.  The school looks fantastic now it is fully completed.  The second group Shelford Girls Grammar are working at Nueva Esperanza, painting the new classrooms there and laying the floors.  Both groups did significant fundraising before they came which enabled them to take on these rather large projects, and we are so grateful to them.

In the photos you will see our other major events this month – the school excursions!  What a lot of children, and what a lot of sandwiches to make each day.  The excursions continued for 13 days – grade four children came into the town center of Granada, had a tour of the historic buildings and the museum, grade six children visited the fort at Coyotepe, north of Masaya, and the high school students went to visit The Ecological Museum of the Dry Tropics in Diriamba.  Thanks to all the donors who have supported the excursions funds through the years.   And there are wonderful, heartwarming photos of the children receiving the toys donated by Grupo 2013 in Spain.  The children have had their attendance card stamped each day, their place in the order of selection of toys was based on how many stamps they had – talk about extreme excitement – it was a real joy.  Here is the photo link:

October, 2013

Our special events here in October were the Dia de Raza, to celebrate all the different races and cultures that make up the population of Nicaragua.  And at the same time there is a celebration in the schools for ‘Platos timicos hecha de Maiz’, including a queen of the Maiz.  Maiz was the original staple food of the countries indigenous inhabitants.

Our special event at La Esperanza Granada was the birth to Karen, our administrator and her husband Ismael, of Moises Ismael, born 11th October.

In October we received another very significant donation from the village of Adstock in the UK.  The sum of $4376 was transferred to our account.  Each year for the past eight years Roger Simmons has made a collection in the village.  Their support to assist with improving education here in Nicaragua is outstanding.  I visited the village several years ago, and the contrast between Adstock and that of the barrios where we help in the schools could not be more striking – the only similarity may be the warmth of the  people.   The continual support of this small community is quite incredible, and really appreciated.

We have had several families and groups and individuals who have funded building a new house, or doing extensive renovations for families in need.  Each time we have held a raffle at the school giving a ticket to the students with good attendance, and awarded the home improvements or new home to the winning student’s family.  Now we are hoping to attract volunteers who want to work on building for a week or two, asking for a contribution of $250 per week to come along and work on building, and hopefully get some more homes built in the community.   So if you know of anyone who wants to spend a week or two here, and doesn’t speak enough Spanish to work in the schools, please pass the word about our new program.

The NY College of Dentistry held a very successful brigade here at the beginning of the month.  During the four days they treated 100 of the students from Pablo Antonio Cuadra school.  You can read more about it on this blog by volunteer Anka:

And towards the end of the month we have had a group from Justifi come to visit.  They have been working at the school Nueva Esperanza, and contributed for all the metal work, windows, doors etc. for the two new classrooms that we hope to have completed this year.  They did a great job, and of course the schoolchildren enjoyed all the extra volunteers on hand.
Volunteers in October, Ginger Lawrence, Mary Pearce, Anka Verhoeven, Margo Henry, Aaron Johnson, Sophie Hoefnagel, Rolf Schoeneborn, Anne-Sophie Le Borgne, Oyin Bankole, Jaime Belden, Chrissie Richter, Kellen Hopfner, Lisa Askemur, Christina Neuwirth, Eva Gerstner, Ruben Lopez-Cedron, Juan Juarez Vinolas, Eva Binder, Benjamin Plett, Maria Cristina Vila Maior, Pedro Sousa, Chris Sievert, Sascha Zenker, Melody Alvarez Vega, Marta Soldevila Garnica, Valerian Gradoux, Margot Vappereau, Sasha Stedronsky, Serena Seok, Jacob Lipschitz, Olivia Brancato, Kenrike Kolletzki, Chiara Pili, Anna Anell, Maja Wegmann, Telmo Alberdi, Lili Daraspe and Tamara Mandler.
Donations this month were $60 we received in honor of Karen Tharrington, $400 for desks from the Spring Lake Park Lions Club, $300 for dental care from Kiwanis Club of North Shore, LA.  Volunteer Lisa Askemur and her friends gave 4500 cordobas for kindergarten resources, Stephanie Bernhuber sent $65 with PayPal, and Mary Coiner visited our on line Donation Store and purchases jump ropes and craft scissors for the schools.  Guillermo and Melanie gave us a fantastic new Canon printer, Pedro and Cristina  brought school supplies, and Sasha brought stickers and face paints.
And lastly here is a link to the photos for the month of October:

September, 2013

Another new classroom complete!  Madre Teresa de Calcuta school now has an extra classroom for their kindergarten (preescolar) and also a kitchen for cooking the school food.  It was well underway by the end of August, and now we used funds raised by Anka Verhoeven to complete, including the roof.  The children are happy in their new classroom, only the painting and the official opening to go!  You can read some more about it here on Anka’s blog – in Dutch – and English version:

Our other big news this month is a shipment of toys that we received through Grupo 2013 in Spain.  More than 2000 children in all the schools where we work will receive a Christmas present at the end of this school year, thanks to this wonderful donation.  The goods were shipped through Infancia sin Fronteras and there are 970 dolls, 388 teddy bears, 681 cars and trucks, 256 soccer balls and frisbies, and 240 sets of six foam block puzzles.

Not wanting to waste the benefit of wonderful gift by simply handing out the toys we have made attendance cards for each child to have stamped every school day for the coming two months.  Those children who have the best attendance will have first choice of the presents – and will have the excitement of knowing that they are working towards it each day that their card is stamped.  (Attendance here can fall to as low as 30% in the rainy season and it is a real detriment to the children’s learning, and makes it terribly difficult for teachers too).

In the photos this month you will see photos of more of our new learning blocks – now as well as the syllables for reading, we have the letters of the alphabet, and some fraction blocks that fit together in a special box.  Lots of pictures too taken on Independence day celebrated on the 15th September.

Another former volunteer, Jaime Belden, has returned for a long stay.  And we had a quick visit from Lynda Smith, who still plans to come back.  Other volunteers here at the end of this month are Eduardo di Angeles, Mary Pearce, Anka Verhoeven, Ginger Lawrence, Margo Henry, Aaron Johnston,Sophie Hoefnagel, Rolf Schoenenborn, Anne-Sophie Le Borgne, Alexandre Ouazan, Oyin Bankole, Ana Wheler, Scott Wheler, Christiane Richter, Kellen Hopfer, Jack Nugent, Lisa Askemur, Christina Pulido Leria, Christina Neuwirth, Eva Gerstner, Eva Binder, Ruben Lopez-Cedron Fernandez, Juan Juarez Vinolas,  and Kodee Cloninger.

We received financial donations from MJ Reale who sent $170 to cover a month’s teachers salary, from Geraldine McCaul and Margaret Flynn Geraldine who had a car boot sale in Carnlough Nothern Ireland during their recent festival week and raised £110.
Caroline Parker and Colin Aikin sent funds in support of Emma Aitkin, $44, so two more pairs of glasses, and former volunteer Anneriet Kode who was married in the Netherlands on 20th September pledged the collection from her wedding service. Melanie Hughes and Guillermo Suescum sent us $400 to cover transport and food for children we will be bringing into town for dental work by a brigade from The New York College of Dentistry, which they have been instrumental in arranging.  Pierre and Axel brought in clothes and colored pencils to the office, and Eva Gerstner brought lots of stickers, glitter, sharpeners and colored pencils.

And for those of you who remember the photos of our two expectant mothers in their La Esperanza Granada maternity smocks – Maria Antonia is now the happy mother of Randal who was born on the 12th September.  We are still waiting for Karen!

Here is the link to this month’s pictures:

August, 2013

August is a big month in Granada with both the Hipica and the celebration of Granada’s Patron Saint.   Big celebration in Nueva Esperanza too, our visiting French scouts group completed building the latrines in the Community Area.  There was loud music, dancing, and an official handover of the keys to the locks.  They did a fantastic job, and they made many friends during their stay in the community.  What a credit they were to the French Scouts organization.

British high school students from Cardiff High School and Sandbach High did more work on the classroom at Madre Teresa de Calcutta school, which as I write is just about completed.  Just the doors to be fitted next week, and the floor to be finished.  St. Clement Danes school worked on the two classrooms at Nueva Esperanza and they are now complete up to the roof line.  We still have roof, windows, doors and floors to go there.  While Ashlyn’s School made some more progress on Dezambeg new classrooms.  Thanks to a donation of $560 from former vol Charlotte Vanoverbeke we were able replace the windows and make the office and pre school block of Dezambeg more secure.  There had been a couple of break ins.

Had a short parents meeting at the high school last week to talk about the mid year reports, and it was great to see that so many attended.  It is so hard for parents with extremely poor families to keep these young people in school – of course they can’t get real jobs, there are few of those around, but they could be earning a little bit of rice money laboring in the market, chopping firewood for cooking etc. and anything that can help the family resources is vital.  In addition to a talk about the importance of good attendance, and good conduct in classes, we were happy to award three prizes for the best marks.  Three of the students had an average in the 90’s which is fantastic.

It costs $185 per year to sponsor a high school student.  We only have three months till the end of this school year, but will be awarding sponsorships to new students for the 2014 school year in December, so just email if you would like to offer your support to a student.

Not so many volunteer here at the end of August, seems to be our quietest time of the year for volunteers.  Currently here are Eduardo Carmino di Angeles, Joanna Bernstein,  Mauricio Cobo Rodriguez, Karen Arriola, Olia Gurrutxaga, Eike Luetjen, Drew Johnson, Elizabeth Holland, Eva Tempesta, Elise Whorlow, Rosie Gardiner, Jamiel Peterson, Robert Timberlake, Lukas Thompson,  Margo Henry, Aaron Johnson,Sophie Hoefnagel, Jose Membrilla Perez, Hanna Weikel, Tom Richards, Rolf Schoeneborn,  Danny Green, Elizabeth Perry, and Mary Pearce – plus two returnees, Ginger Lawrence who will be teaching English to our University Students and Anka Verhoeven who has returned for what we hope will be a long stay and will be helping with admin.

We received a donation from former vol Susan Shain who, assisted by James White and Maggie Mayer held her birthday party in Ketchikan, Alaska and raised $2300 which we will use to help Nueva Esperanza School where they all worked.  Other Pay Pal donations came from Ainhoa Galardi Mendoza, $200 and Sally White $100.  Friends and family of former vol Emma Aitkin sponsored her hike of the Three Peaks in Yorkshire,  Emma asked for donations to be sent to us and to date we received $190.

Great news on the computer front too, Nica Friends in the Netherlands have committed $1000 to  buy five more net book computers to use in the schools.  We raised $90 from the pub quiz at O’Sheas, Pluma Woof gave us $200, and another 3000 cordobas as a birthday gift for George Berenschott.  And last month I missed the news that Katharina Scheck sent 265 Euros that she had collected for her birthday.

We had lots of birthday’s celebrations this month – here is a video clip of one for George Berenschott held in his honor, and we had a baby shower in the office for our two soon to be new mothers, Karen and Antonia.  Here is the link to some photos:

July, 2013:

Granada has been virtually awash with visitors in July, including lots of tour groups, and volunteer groups.  During the month we have had 253 (!!!) volunteers working on various projects with us.
We have had 60 of our regular volunteers during July, and 193 from visiting groups.  From two worldwide organizations, Outlook Expeditions and World Challenge, high school students from the UK did a service project with us as part of their trip to Nicaragua.  Teams from Altrincham Grammar and Cardiff High School worked on building a classroom and a kitchen area at Madre Teresa school in Posintepe, teams from Heathfield School, Ashlyn’s School, St. Clement Dane’s School and St. Catherine’s School worked on  building classrooms at Dezambeg School in La Via,  teams from St. Clement Dane’s School worked on the new classrooms at Nueva Esperanza,  Tring School painted and repaired the fence at Pablo Antonio Cuadra,  and Aylesbury Grammar School painted the classrooms at Jose de la Cruz Mena.
We have a group of six French Scouts who are building latrines in the community area at Nueva Esperanza, a project that will take them three weeks, and the Walsh family came for a day and painted the front walls of the school of Nueva Esperanza.
Schools were closed for a week long term break this month.  We held a special reading course at the school of Pablo Antonio Cuadra for third grade children.  Seventy children attended. We were able to give special attention to each child, and lots made real progress as we tried to make books come to life with animation and drama, as well as lots of reading practical work.  Here is a link to a great You Tube video Donald made that week: (Preview)
Bill Wayman and his team of dentists from Christ the Healer have been back at Nueva Esperanza this week doing a follow up on the teeth of all the children they examined before we first started our fluoride rinse program last year.  Though it is too early to say for sure until we get the computer results, the general feeling is that that there is significantly less decay.   Will have a final report in next months news.
Donations this month came from Sheila Bianconi, $56, Hotel San Francisco 2500 cordobas, O’Shea’s pub quiz $90 and On Stage, $25.  Lots of school supplies and goodies for the children were brought to our office too by Empar Martinez and Susana Jurado, Alta Whipple, the Walsh family and Olaia Gurrutxaga.
Current volunteers working with us are Carlos Suarez, Josephine Surhry, Lucy Wilson, Mary Pearce, Kelsey Wayne, Lea Barbier, Charlie Bates,. Libba Moore, Ines Mikati, Florent Malischewski, Jeremy Mouton, Cindy Hang, Mauricio Cobo Rodriguez, Uriel Escobedo Espinoza, Aili Olichney, Joanna Bernstein, Anna Barbany, Adriana Illa, Jelle Huybrechts, Alex Schenk, JP Ideker, Conor Hennessy, Susana Jurada Gallego, Empar Martinez Santamaria, Alissa Christopherson, Alazne Aizpuru Lertxundi, Zurine Irastorza Ascargorta, Noortje Peters, Eduardo di Angeles, Franziska Groebner, Leah Brossard, Anais Rey Galarza, Mia Unverzagt, Sara Lessard,
Karen Arriola, Guy Fairon, Manon Marquis, Marion Atdjian, Olaia Gurrutxaga, and Luis Plaza Vela.
And lastly here is the Photo link for July:
From all of us here at La Esperanza Granada, thanks.

June, 2013:

June saw the celebration of International Children’s Day in the schools here in Nicaragua.  Our volunteers and our ayudantes worked with Donald to create a wonderful days entertainment and fun for the children in the schools where we work.  About 2500 children enjoyed the show, the games, the prizes etc.
Volunteers are the backbone of La Esperanza Granada, and some interesting reading this month with two volunteer reports, the first a blog written by Susan Shain who worked with us earlier this year:  And the second in a California publication, Susanville Stuff about one of our current volunteers, Jim Reichle:
Volunteers here at present are Calos Suarez, Josephine Surhry, Lucy Wilson, Kelsey Wayne, Lea Barbier, Charlie Bates, Libba Moore, Allie DeBruyn, Ines Mikati, Florent Malischewski, Mary Pearce,  Anya La Roche, Jeremy Mouton, Peter Brazil, Allan Howes, Jim Reichle, Chase Lee, Cindy Hang, Frankie Deane, Sydney Emerson, Mauricio Cobo Rodriguez, Sophia Jorgensen, Kayla Hinojosa, Uriel Escobedo Espinoza, Aili Olichney, Michaella Montana, Joanna Bernstein, Anna Barbary, Adriana Illa, Ivan Ferrucci, Meera Ragha, Aaron Bennett, and Olivia Levine.
A team of 17 volunteers came and worked with Jeff, Sarah and Doug of Amped for Education.  They made a great start on building two new classrooms at the school of Nueva Esperanza – contributing $5200 to the building costs.  Amped has done so much to help in the Nueva Esperanza Community now, and their support is growing along with their organization.  Jeff Pluta plans to continue bringing groups to Nicaragua to help with the educational needs here and at the same time to offer a unique learning experience to high school students from the U.S.
St. Catherine’s school from Melbourne, Australia were building here with us too in June.  They were traveling as a World Challenge group and did a great job working on the walls of the three new classrooms in progress at Dezambeg school in La Via.  They put in $750 worth of blocks and cement, bought lots of school supplies for the school, and paid for 8 solid state drives so that we can repair some of the computers that we take out to the school.  The hard drives in them are not standing up well to all the transporting and power fluctuations they suffer.
Sadly on the 18th June we held our last volunteer meeting at Casa Blanca.  Flor Sequieria, our organization president,  has closed the doors of Casa Blanca bar and restaurant after hosting our volunteer meetings for many years.  Flor has always welcomed our volunteers for workshops, get together’s and anything else we have ever asked of her.  Of course this doesn’t mean we are losing Flor as our president, only that we now have a new venue for our weekly volunteer meetings.  Tom of O’Shea’s Irish Bar has kindly offered us the use of his lounge bar.  Once we used to hold our volunteer meetings in the living room of the La Casita volunteer house, but that was a long time ago – now with up to 50 volunteers at the meetings we take up a lot of space.
Exciting news it the past few days – Nica-Friends is now up an running in the Netherlands.  Here is their website:  Not only will we have the support of this wonderful organization, but also we can offer a tax deduction now to any donors from the Netherlands.   They are fully volunteer and do not charge any fees or commissions.
We had more great donations this month, former volunteer Todd Studer sent $500 and former volunteer Juliette Hoad sent $50.  The pub quiz at O’Shea’s raised $40, Fletcher Academy (who knew about us through Rebecca Quick who visited last year sent $520 from their fund raiser.  And we had school supplies donated by Amped for Education, by Annika Roesch, Rick Reichenbach and Leisa Lea.  A great month all round.
Lastly here is the link for this month’s photos:

May, 2013

The highlight this month was the local students volunteering.  The rains have started, and timed to coincide with the rain, we held a wonderful tree planting day at the school of Madre Teresa de Calcutta.  This was a new kind of volunteer project for us.  The volunteers were the students from the high school Nueva Esperanza Secundaria.

It was really an all school kids project, the funds came from 10 year old Rowan Goldblatt from Canada, and 90 students,  the whole high school, came early in the morning, dug all the holes, and planted 150  trees and 100 vines around the perimeter of the school land.  Young people living near by also pitched in to lend a hand and lots of our schools volunteers came along too.  As well as a lesson in environmental protection, it was an opportunity for these high school students to give to others and find the joy that brings.   Most of the students are helped with their high school costs with our sponsorship program so now they had the chance to be on the ‘giving’ side.   It was great to see how willing they were to give their time and labor to helping another impoverished school.  I was away at the time but was fortunate to see this excellent  video on the event – what a pleasure to watch:

Our regular volunteers have  been hard at work all month too – May is usually the hottest month so their dedication is really tested at this time.  We have been able to provide some extra resources for tutoring with reading blocks and blocks for learning numbers, all hand made and hand painted locally – the kids love them and they are a boost to learning.

Volunteers here in May were Mary Pearce, Julie Grim, Malin Hilderbrandt, Charlotte Bell, Sarah Stoebich, Stephanie Rycken, Annika Roesch, Carlos Suarez, Katharina Scheck, Johanna Bjork, Ayla Fjeld Skorpen, Cristo Ortega, Josephine Surhry, Leola Lewis, Lucy Wilson, Stefan Slattery, Pablo Merker-Sague, Javier Lenolar, Kelsey Wayne, Lea Barbier, Charlie Bates, Rianne Bel,  Libba Moore, Allie DeBruyn, Camille Rogers, Lilo Gerdes, Patrick Nogueira, Sahil Khan, Henry Salfner,  Nele Harwardt, Paul Myers, Come Grevy,  Alize Coulais, Tamara Bollendorf, Emma Aitkin and Anna Kurth who had been here since August last year.  We had to say goodbye to quite a few long term volunteers during May which is always a bit sad.

Mother’s day was celebrated in the schools on the 28th May – it is really on the 29th, but as it is a holiday the schools celebrate the day before.  You will see photos in the link.  And Wanda Bulgar-Tamez and husband visited and repaired/repainted the swings in Nueva Esperanza.

We received donations this month from Ayla Fjield Skorpen who had made a collection before she came to volunteer and raised and amazing $1430, from On-Stage an internship organization $25, from former volunteers Bobby Lee, Jasen Liang and Jody Chen who had a special night and raised $1565, from former volunteer Aisling (Ash) Marks and Jacqueline Guderley who held an event at Books for Free, Tufnell Park, London, they raised $216 and Ash went shopping in our donation store, Dan and Belinda Smith were customers once again too buying a school uniform pack.

Also great news from Belgium, Anka Verhoeven has been working hard on our behalf once again, and raised over 3000 Euros at a spaghetti-fest, how fantastic, we are looking forward to Anka returning here soon, and news from the Netherlands that Danien and Alex held a party and raised $600 which they will bring when they visit in September.

Here is a link to this months photos:

Apologies that this month’s news was a little late,

Thanks to all on behalf of us here at La Esperanza Granada,

April, 2013

It may seem that all the news is about building this month, so much happening on a physical construction front – however as per every month we are working hard to build interest in learning for young students, to build self esteem for impoverished children, and to build bridges of communication and awareness world wide through our volunteer network.

Key Learning Community held their Senior class service project week here building the front section of the new fence at the school of Madre Teresa de Calcuta.  They brought lots of enthusiasm and three large cases of wonderful school supplies for the children.  It was a very successful week.

Warren, Catherine, Marcus and Rohan Goldblatt spent the month here, firstly building a house for the Sandino family in Nueva Esperanza, and then moving on to help with building new latrines at the school Madre Teresa de Calcutta.  Warren’s class at Burlington High had raised more than enough funds for the house build, and  10 year old Rowan raised a further $960 so the extra funds went to good use for the new latrines, and to help with the plants and trees needed for the school yard.

Lori Goff and family visited to spend a few days with the Morales family whose new house was funded jointly by the Goff family and Ken Bixby of New Orleans.

And for the last house this month Mendoza family is happy to have the help of former volunteer Christine Guppenberger who raised the funds and has now come down to help with the building.

Ton Hendrix and Carla Holthuis of the Netherlands have been building another country link to helping here starting their foundation Nica Friends in Asten.  This will allow donors in the Netherlands to receive a tax deduction on donations to La Esperanza Granada.  When all the paperwork is finalized donors will be able to deposit money into the Nica Friends account and know that 100% of the funds will be transferred to us, and that 100% of those funds will be used to help with children’s education here.

Former volunteer James White wrote a great account of his time here with us:

Former vol Chiara Pedrazzi is holding an exhibition in Italy, we have a link here to the accompanying video:

Volunteers here this month are Anna Kurth, Mary Pearce, Comy Grevy, Alize Coulais, Henry Salfner, Nele Harwardt, Malin Hildebrandt, Maggie Schenk, Marjorie Lambe, Lynn Vandermotten, Sanne Ceulemans,  Charlotte Bell, Julia Stella, Chad Taylor, Paul Myers, Drew Breswick, Emily Jenkins, Soleda Gosselin, Embla Uleberg, Sarah Stoebich, Tamara Bollendorf, Shelley Casey, Stephanie Rycken, Annika Roesch, Carlos Suarez, Katharina Scheck, Johanna Bjork, Alison MacKenzie, Ayla Fjeld Skorpen, Cristo Ortega, Josephine Surhry, and Noah Lipham.

Donations this month incluye $30 from On Stage, $100 from Scott Gaunt, 2000 cordobas from Janis and David Topp, $300 from Sanne Ceulemans and Lynn Vandermotten, $168 from Amigos Americas.  We received pay pal donations from Grin Tueai Tun, $20 and Sarah Curtis, $10, plus former vol Dan Smith brought a month of art supplies for a class and a set of wooden teaching blocks from our new donation store.

Alicia Butlers and Oceana Gage brought lots of schools supplies as well as an E-reader and an Ipod touch, Janis and David Topp brought in crayons and art paprer, Marion Holman and Shaban Jaber brought school supplies, toothpaste and toothbrushes and Cristo Ortega brought books, games and toys, and Bill Wayman sent down four more boxes of fluoride rinse sachets.

Big news event this month was the marriage of Karen Ocampo our former ayudante, and current administrator – Karen and Ismael Mayorga were wed last Saturday, 27th April.

And just two last items, we now have La Esperanza Granada wristbands, which will help us raise a little extra funding, and we had a visit this month from former volunteer Nigel Pedlingham.

So closing with the photo link for April –

And thanks to all for another wonderful month,
On behalf of all of our team,

March, 2013

We have spent the last week with the wonderful Semana Santa celebrations.  Parades galore, church bells ringing, and families enjoying picnics at the beach, by the lake or by the sea.  That is Easter here in Nicaragua, and it runs for the full week.  Most volunteers from overseas went traveling.  Some who stayed along with Karen, Donald and all of our ayudantes spent a day together at the Isletas for our Easter celebration.

The preschool children at Nueva Esperanza had a special day out during Easter week with a visiting group from Western Conneticut State University.  A small group, led by Dr. Alba Skar, they made a big effort.  They repainted the pre school classroom, took the children and their mothers for an afternoon at the playgrounds by the lake, and provided the funds for learning materials to the tune of $1000.

We love spring break time Vanderbilt University alternative spring break group group stayed for a week and painted classrooms at the school of Dezambeg, they did a great job of it.  Next a group from Appalachian State University came for a week and built drinking/handwashing bases in the school Madre Teresa de Calcutta, as well as building a cement path between the two classroom blocks.  They put in a lot of effort and brought a great benefit to the school, the children loved spending time with them and had a terrific trip to the zoo at the end of the week.  Wonderful to see groups from the same colleges returning year after year.

A new addition to our website – our Donation Store page.  Now you can shop for what you would like to give through our website.  You can also ‘give’ items as a Christmas or birthday present, graduation gift etc. or even have the page for your wedding registry.  We will follow through with thank you certificates and photos.  We had our first customer, Larry Murphy who bought eyeglasses for a student.

We had other PayPal donations too, Hanna Hodel sent $150, Shania Lin sent $200 and Jim Buckley sent $10.  A volunteer who is coming in July, Jelle Huybrechts advised us that he had raised 1250 Euro holding a trivia night.  Also former volunteer Christine Guppenberger has been fundraising for building family homes:  Here is a link to her site.  We also had $65 from the quiz night at O’Shea’s Irish bar, and $16 from our stall at the Farmer’s market.

We are sorry to lose three of our volunteers who have been with us for nine months, Sarah Miller from the U.S. who has been teaching English and revitalized our English teaching program.  Anna Kurth and Svenja Lueschen both from Germany are going to be missed by the children and teachers at Jose de la Cruz Mena.  As well as their work in the school Svenja and Anna were the sort of volunteers always willing to take on extra work and help where needed.  Other volunteers in March were Ryan Olson, Mary Pearce, Peter Kitchen, Jette Roessler, Paula Dietenberger, Come Grevy, Alize Coulais, Henry Salfner, Nele Harwardt, Lukas Jansen, Jed Snow, Sophia Pfiefer, Malin Hildebrandt, Maggie Schenk Jon Thomsen, Marjorie Lambe, Lynn Vandermotten, Sanne Ceulemans, Clara vom Scheidt, Charlotte Vanoverbeke, Albert Mostardi, Charlotte Bell, Yvonne von Schultz, Maggie Meyer, Julia Stella, Chad Taylor, James White, Paul Myers, Emily Jenkins, Tony Offley, Soleda Gosselin, Petros Platis, Embla Uleberg, Sarah Stoebich, and Tamara Bollendorf.

And nearly forgot to mention all the wonderful material donations we received this month,  Appalachian brought down bags of school supplies, Pieter Vanoverbeke sent clothing, a watch, and balls, Stefan vom Schiedt sent school supplies, Clar vom Schiedt brought pens, bencils and glue, Susan Shain gave us notebooks, and Martha Bowers story books.  Over Semana Santa Oceanna Gage and Alicia Batlers brought in school supplies, children’s socks and underware, an ipod and an ereader and Michelle Richards brought down extra bags weighing 70 lbs, collected by her daughters to give to the schools here.

Thanks to all, and here is the photo link for March:

From all of us at La Esperanza Granada, regards, Pauline.


February, 2013

School is in!  The 2013 school year started on 11th February.  The schools we are working in this year are Nueva Esperanza (440 students), Jose de la Cruz Mena (450 students), Pablo Antonio Cuadra (820 students) and Dezambeg (860 students).  We are also helping with English classes in Carlos a Bravo, and the high schools at La Epfiania and Nueva Esperanza.

Lots of volunteers here to cover all that: Anna Kurth, Svenja Lueschen, Sarah Miller, Yola von Rohden, Jette Roessler, Paula Dietenberger, Come Grevy, Alize Coulais, Ana Serrana, Henry Salfner, Nele Harwardt, Frances Buren, Eilidh Pearson, Owen Robinson, Susan Shain, Tatiana Herault, Lukas Jansen, Jed Snow, Malin Hildebrandt, Maggie Schenk, Jon Thomsen, Marjorie Lambe, Ash Marks, Desiree Martinez Cimas, Lynn Vandermotten, Sanne Ceulemans, Clara van Scheidt, Charlotte Vanoverbeke, Christina Wran, Lisa Gittings, Emma Aitken, Elena Bleck, Graeme Mount, Joan Mount, Albert Mostardi, Tim Maskell, Carrie Maskell, Charlotte Bell, Yvonne von Schultz, Maggie Mayer, Julia Stella, Sophia Pfeifer, Peter Kitchen, Mary Pearce, Ryan Olson, Chad Taylor Martha Bowers, Juliane Behnke and James White.

Former volunteer Alejandro Real Peguro has been busy, he wanted to buy backpacks and school supplies for the children he had worked with at Pablo Antonio Cuadra last year – he was really successful in his fundraising, and 110 children there will receive backpacks and supplies this week paid with the €600 he raised.

High school children who don’t yet have sponsors got a bonus thanks to Project Pulsera who donated $1280.  All of the children in Nueva Esperanza Secundaria who don’t yet have a sponsor received their school uniforms, shoes, backpacks and their year’s school supplies.  (note- if you want to sponsor of one these students the first year will now cost only $135 instead of $185.) note: still $270 for those students attending Colegio Diocesano.

Local expats Julie Grimm and Karen Long have now joined us as long term volunteers and have taken on the role of administration of the high school sponsorships.  So for those of you who are helping a child to attend high school you will see a much improved level of communication with your student, and with us.  It is wonderful that without any paid staff for this type of work all the donations go directly to helping the children, but we do get a bit snowed under some times, so my apologies for any late communications.

We have two new ayudantes this year, Jose and Juan Carlos, thanks to Thom Bullock and Mark Turner.  Another long term friend of La Esperanza Granada who funds three ayudantes, Lowell Smith visited this month –  his three students are Justo, Maria Los Angeles and Scarleth.  Nice to see Lowell and Linda back in town. Other ayudantes are Maria Antonio, sponsored by Christy Myers and family, Flor sponsored by Ita McAuley, Jaqueline sponsored by Desi McAuley, Tatiana and Mario sponsored by the village of Adstock, Ramon sponsored by Hotel Con Corazon, Chilo sponsored by Dorothy and Tom Lengsfeld, and Karla sponsored by Esther Summermatter – this year Karla is doing practical work experience in Managua for her final year.  In addition Grupo 2013 of Spain funds 9 students university fees.

Ayudantes are in the schools alongside our overseas volunteers all week, and attend university on the weekend.  They are with us for five years which brings a wonderful continuity to the program.  They are also fantastic inspirational role models for the young schoolchildren.  To support an ayudante costs $1360 per year which includes their university fees and  a monthly stipend to help with their living costs.

Amped for Education visited in February and built another new house in the community of Nueva Esperanza.  They worked hard, got the job done and left behind a very happy family.  (check the photos)  They also brought down big bags of school supplies.

Other donations of materials were from Martha Bowers who brought lots of hard cases for eye glasses, Massapequa High School from New York brought school supplies, Tim and Carrie Maskell brought lots and lots of pencils, and Peggy Olson sent down a big bag of toothbrushes.

And more donations we received were from Dianne Harrod $40, Williamstown High, Melbourne, Australia, $150, from Nova Scotia, Lyndon Watkins, $1500, through PayPal, James Kim $20 and Kathryn Wiss $25, our stall at the Farmers Market $38, O’Sheas pub quiz $76, and through the Nicaragua Forum in Germany, Gerhard Peters €50, Ingrid Wohan €50, Rohr Berndt $110, Dorothea and Frank Scheibner €500, and Marion and Stefan vom Scheidt €200 for the school of Jose de La Cruz Mena.

School desk donations too with 4 from Rae Ann Hickling, 3 from Carrie Maskell, 8 from an anonymous donor, and 5 promised by another volunteer.  There are a lot of desk shortages every year, though this year seems particularly bad – but we are working on it.

A group from Massapequa High School visited just for a day, and made a great start on the foundations for three new classrooms at Dezambeg school.  They contributed $1250 towards the materials needed and did a lot of digging.  We had a large donation to help this school at the end of last year from Balwyn High in Melbourne, Australia.  They did a lot of other work in the school and the funds remaining were $2960.  We had planned to use this to replace a section of the asbestos roof on some of the classrooms – but good news – the Ministry of Education is going to fund the new roof so we have promised the school that we will help with their three new classrooms.  Now we will have the foundations, and a start on the blockwork.  We will ask other visiting groups throughout the year to add to the walls and will aim for completion by the end of this year.

Rice and beans are the staple here, and thanks to Mark Turner we have started an attendance incentive at the school of Nueva Esperanza.  Each student with perfect attendance will receive a raffle ticket and each month there are 25 prizes of bags of rice and beans to be won.  This is a really exciting event at the school and costs about $130 a month – we are hoping it will make a big difference especially once the rainy season comes.

Some news from former volunteers, Kate Mitchell and her husband just had a baby girl, Dan and Belinda Smith had a second baby boy, Nova Fraser is visiting Granada, Sophia Pfiefer has returned to volunteer, as have Ryan Olson and Peter Kitchen.  And our long term Mr. Fixit for the houses, Jim Buckley who has been in and out of retirement with us for about five years, sadly returned to the US for good this month.  We miss him already.

And finally the end of this month’s news with the link for photos:

Regards to all from La Esperanza Granada.


January, 2013

Final day yesterday of our most successful ever Summer School.  Volunteers and ayudantes worked hard together to create an active and educational program.  Over 200 children attended.  These kids it will have a great advantage when school starts on 11th February.

And a wonderful start to this year with a third visit from Westfield State University.  Kathi Bradburn and her students did a wonderful job of building a fence round the big tamarindo tree in Nueva Esperanza, and that area is now officially the community land.  No small task, the area is 540 sq. meters.  On the 16th January the keys to the gates were given to the community leaders with pride.  Westfield have done so much in this community, they also worked with some of the school children, many were education majors, they took children to the zoo, and they held a wonderful community party with chicken for lunch for more than 240.  In addition to the money they put into the fence/wall project they also boosted our supply bringing in large bags of goodies to be used in the schools.

Other great donations of materials brought into the office were by Daniel Morales, school supplies, Ellen Miller, games, Marie-Claude Perrault, puzzles and dominos, Nigel Smith, face paints, Chris Kondas from his dentist toothbrushes and toothpaste, Tatiana Herault, toys and colors, Tim Heltzel and Talia Brinton, craft supplies and balls, The Florida guys, suitcase of school uniforms, and brought down by Jay Gustafson and family, 7 computer monitors from Fishnet Security.

Some delightfully creative fundraising by a former volunteer Joshua Lunn, he challenged himself to live on $2 a day for food and donated the $120 he has saved this month – he is learning a lot about nutrition too.  Barbara ‘Babsi’ Krainer asked for donations in their secret santa and sent through €505, Kate Simmons sent $120 to support Nueva Esperanza kindergarten, Marie-Claude Perrault gave us $300 (and her time), Robert Timberlake sent $100, Bob and Sally Rassmussen $1000, Chris Kondas raised $1000 which we will use for children’s eyeglasses, Richard Sandler sent $200 in honor of Ginger Lawrence, and Ginger sent $125, Dorothy Hale sent $50, and the Appalachian State Service Learning Class students Kelsey Wayne, Diane Creamer, and Bailey Wilson raised $178 as well as getting the word out to lots of people about the work we are doing.  In local fundraising $100 from the Pub Quiz at O’Shea’s, and $60 from the Farmers Market.  The dental group gave $100 and brought $64 from New Orleans Kiwanis, Ton Hendrix gave $15, Kimbal $40 and Jonh and Patricia Dwit $60.  All of this money will be used to help the children and the schools – our admin is paid entirely out of volunteer contributions.

There are 43 students who have enrolled for the first year of high school.  We have sponsors lined up for 23 new students, but there are still students available if anyone would like to sponsor.  The cost is $185 per year.

We had a visit from Bill and Lynn Wayman, and others from their mission group.  Clare and Jeff  Restrepo also funded a new house for a family in Nueva Esperanza and it was wonderful to take them to see the houses that they had provided and meet their families.  Very moving.  They brought lots of supplies with them, including fluoride rinse for us to start the fluoride rinse program in new schools this year.  And along with some of the staff from Sandhills Pediatric and Family Dentistry held a raffle at the summer school giving out 40 bags of rice and beans to students who had attended each day.  Dr. Sydney Brooks was too busy working on peoples teeth volunteering to get out to the school but has committed to helping in this community.

And the hard working people who made it all happen this month, our volunteers were Anna Kurth, Svenja Lueschen, Sarah Miller, Emilie Crouzet, Yola von Rohden, Emelina Biscevic, Jette Roessler, Paula Dietenberger, Juliane Behnke, Come Grevy, Alize Coulais, Ana Serrana, Lauren Dayton, Adrian Blattner, Michelle Palma Aranda, Michelle Horsley, Henry Salfner, Nele Haywardt, Philip Myerson, Frances Buren, Eilidh Pearson, Owen Robinson, Marie-Claude Perrault, Rick Didier, Susan Shain, Andrea Artega, Tatiana Herault, Tim Heltzel, Talia Brinton, Chris Kondas, Nigel Smith, Peter Kitchen, Thom Bullock, Mary Pearce, Lukas Jansen, Jed Snow, Lucas Salzweldel, Malin Hildebrandt, Maggie Schenk, Victor Arias, Jon Thomsen and Marjorie Lambe.

What a great way to the year, thanks to everybody, and enjoy the pictures:

Best regards on behalf of us all at La Esperanza Granada,


December, 2012

Thank you so much to everyone who has been involved this year.  We have had an exceptional year and been able to bring so much help to the children of Granada and their schools.

Big news to end the year on, the barrio known as Ignacio has now been formally named Nueva Esperanza – the community chose to have their area named the same as the school and the high school, which proves beyond doubt how much importance they place on education as a way to a better future.

In other December news:

Five World Challenge Groups:

  • Camberwell High of Melbourne, Australia sent two teams who completed a classroom at Padre Misiere School, and freshly painted inside the classrooms – their donations totaled $4000, work complete.
  • Balwyn High of Melbourne, Australia painted the school at Disamber, and donated $4500 to renovate the bathrooms and help replace some of the asbestos roofing, work ongoing.
  • Brentwood High of Melbourne, Australia painted the exterior of the school Nationes Unidos, fixed cupboards, basketball backboards, toilet doors, fixed water pipes with donations totaling $1300, work complete.
  • Williamstown High of Melbourne Australia painted the interior of all the classrooms in Nueva Esperanza primary, and funded repairing the latrines, with donations totaling $1300.
  • All the groups brought gifts and school supplies, and took a group of children from each school to the Managua Zoo – great fun.
  • The family Hernandez Tellez in Nueva Esperanza are now living in their new house built this month, thanks to Clare Restrepo and family.
  • 200 children are attending the summer school at Nueva Esperanza, as well as 36 from the high school.  These children will have a big advantage next school year from their extra classes through the vacation time.  And we had a wonderful Christmas lunch and party with them all on Friday, 21st.
  • Skype party with Burlington Central High, and some of our English students – they have done a fantastic fundraising of $4600 holding a hurling comp, auctions etc.

We had lots of donations this month, former volunteers, David Bristol sent 250 Euros, Miriam Lammemeit sent 30 Euros, Elise Sainte Rose sent $30, Jesus Valdivieso Lopez sent $100 and Juliette Hoad $50.  Volunteers Lauren Dayton gave $40 and Hayoung Kim gave $41.  MJ Reale, whose family came down classroom painting before sent $200, John Russo sent $50, long term supporter Edward Wall sent $500, Geofrey Newton sent $15.  The Downey Family Foundation in Connecticut have given us $3000.  And the pub quiz at O’Shea’s raised $112.  Daniel Morales brought school materials and Ellen Miller who visited brought games, skipping ropes etc.  We also had a visit from Boris Korablev who brought 50 great pencil cases filled with goodies and notes in Spanish written by the students in his class.

Volunteers right now are : Jesus Villalobo, Lucas Salzwedel,  Anna Kurth,  Svenja Luschen, Sarah Miller, Yola von Rohden, Emelina Biscevic,  Alejandro Landero,  Jette Rossler, Paula  Dietenberger, Juliane Behnke, Come Grevy,  Alize Coulais, Juliette Callebaut,  Ana Serrana, Emilie Crouzet, Julia Bach, Daniel Morales, Noah Mabry,  Adrian Blattner, Thamer Aldubai khi, Hayoun Kim, Mary Pearce, Nigel Smith and Bobby Lee.

And here is this months photo link (thanks to Donald):
Wishing everyone a wonderful year ahead, from all of us here at La Esperanza Granada.


November, 2012

The school year in Nicaragua is almost at an end, though not without a few hiccups.  First we were told that the last day of classes would be on the 23rd November.  At the start of that week we found that classes would continue until 7th December, though in fact most schools are having classes for only one or two hours per day.

High school sponsorship information will be ready soon.  We are looking forward to getting the report cards of grade six children so we can find out which students will be able to attend high school next year.

Only one of our university students was set to graduate this year, Belkis Trejos, sadly she dropped out of both university and the ayudante program in September, with only a few months to go.  For anyone who may be interested in providing a university scholarship there are quite a number of very promising students completing high school this year who would love the opportunity to continue their studies.

Former volunteer Katrina Fralick sent through $430 with donations she raised and matched for her birthday, and we received $200 from the Women’s Philanthropic Investment Group in Seattle thanks to another former volunteer Jen Lyons putting us forward.  Recent visitor Michelle Gates is holding a fundraising too:

Our current volunteers are Jakob Kohler, Drew Breswick, Ginger Lawrence, Mary Pearce, Sarah Miller, Anna Kurth, Svenja Luschen, Louise Henningson, Greg McDowell, Yola Rhoden, Emelina Biscivec, Alejandro Landero, Come Grevy, Alize Coulais, Jette Rossler, Paula Deitenberger, Lucas Salzwedel, Juliane Behnke, Lauren Dayton, Juliette Callebaut, Sandra Sagassar, Shirley Choicer, and Ruth Mendez.

The volunteers have been extra busy this month taking children on excursions, you can find links to the photos and videos on our Facebook page which Donald has been keeping updated.

Lots of building and school maintenance happening right now with three World Challenge groups visiting from Australia, and two more on their way – the schools are Camberwell High, Balwyn High, and Brentwood Secondary College, with another Camberwell team and Williamstown high on their way.  A full run down of what these groups have achieved in the next newsletter.

Former volunteer David Montoya Romero – after a few weeks working with us with the children – decided to do his own project helping renovate a school north of Granada. Escuela Lolita de Soriano now has fresh paint, repaired walls and a new latrine block – funded by David’s hitchiking friends, and the helping hands and hard work of lots of our volunteers the project was completed.


October, 2012

Thanks once again to the wonderful village of Adstock for their continued support of La Esperanza Granada.  This beautiful, historic village, some 50 miles north of London, has done so much to help us help the young students here.  An Adstock resident, Roger Simmons, passed through Granada more than six years ago – the plight of the children entered his heart, and has stayed with him since.  Every year Roger has collected funds for La Esperanza Granada.

I have visited Adstock, green, peaceful, well ordered, hard to picture any possible link between there and the barrios here, but the link is there, a strong link, of good will.

In this years collection Furzedown School contributed $220, the residents of William Hill Drive $191, The Cockpit Crew $319, and residents of the Village of Adstock $3851.

We have had some problems with local bureaucracy in the past weeks.  Here is a link to a short article – it tells a truly heartwarming story.

Lots of volunteers working in the schools now, so many great helpers from all over.  Current volunteers are Jakob Kohler, Drew Breswick, Saskia Schindler, Anna Kurth, Svenja Luschen, Sarah Miller, Jannick Gluck, Asa Soderqvist, Dominic Crossley, Chiara Pedrazzi, Louise Henningsson, Maciej Andrejczuk, Melodie Garcia-Morales, Greg McDowell, Richard Lalor, Uve Grone, Karolina Koziara, Honza Skovanek, Yola von Rohden, Emelina Biscevic, Come Grevy, Alize Coulais, Alejandro Landero, Jette Rossler, Paula Dietenberger, Malte Joergensen, Mikkel Jensen, Lucas Salzwedel, Mary Pearce and Ginger Lawrence.

Tamara, Daan, Esther and Kevin, four young trainee teachers doing an internship with us through On Stage, have just completed their time with us and were a great help with our English teams.  Along with Sarah and Drew, both here for a long term stay, as well as those who were here for just a few weeks our English teams are accepting the challenge of making learning fun for the children, and it is a joy to see it pay off.  We had a Skype link with Burlington Central High in Canada, and grade five girls from San Ignacio made us proud with their responses in English.

We received another major donation this month from Clare Restrepo and family, who sent $3000 to build a new family house in San Ignacio.  Building will start next week so photos of that next month.  Other donations this month were from Juliette Hoad who sent $50, and the O’Shea’s pub quiz $81.  Barb Christie visited from Canada which was great.  Barb had the chance to meet with her high school student, and brought with her 6 watches to give as prizes at the end of the year, plus a cash donation of $107.  Volunteers Heidi, Louise, Jette and Paula all brought school supplies, toys and puzzles.  Another big parcel of school supplies came in the mail from former volunteer Inaki Arriero and friends.

Lots of photos this month, including some lovely pictures of the cultural event at Pablo Antonio Cuadra for Dia de los Raices which was celebrated on the 8th.   Here is the link:

On a personal note, apologies for being late this month – delay due to dengue!


September, 2012

September is the month of the Patria here in Nicaragua, sometimes called Flag Day or Independence day, 14th and 15th are a big celebration with great pride in being Puro Pinolero.    The schools all joined in parades, the early grades at their school, and for some of the higher grades here in Granada center.

Another celebration we held this month was a carnival day at La Inmaculada in La Prusia, the first school that La Esperanza Granada work with.  This special day was in memory of Charlie from Florida, one of the original founding group.  Charlie sadly passed away this month.  The children had a wonderful day, almost as good as the carnival days at the school years ago when Charlie would cook a mountain of chicken for all the community.

Some major work at Pablo Antonio Cuadra this month, we installed electricity in one of the six classroom blocks, and put lights and fans in each classroom.  Now the walls have been repaired, the classrooms are freshly painted, and it looks like a new school.  We also put a storage cupboard in the kindergarten classroom at Escudo so the teachers can protect their precious supplies.

We were sorry to say goodbye to Lynda Smith, who returned to the UK after a full year of volunteering at Nueva Esperanza school.  Lynda made a lot of progress with some of the children there.  She had great ideas and made lots of teaching materials, games for the children etc.  Her students will miss her.

And we welcomed back Ginger, for her sixth 3 month stint of working with us.  Ginger is teaching English to our university students and our ayudantes.  Other volunteers here at present are: Mary Pearce, Jakob Kohler, Drew Breswick, Saskia Schindler, Anna Kurth, Svenja Luschen, Sarah Miller, Tamara van Delft, Kevin de Rooij, Esther van der Zalm, Daan Dangerman, Karen Lomer, Jannick Gluck, Asa Soderqvist, Lena Volmer, Heidi Albert-Hofmann, Anke Russychaert, Kayla Wilson and Harry Thompson.

October should be an exciting month, we are going to kick off two new programs.  Amigos without Borders, is to link classes here with classes in other countries.  The aim is to have a cultural interchange and broaden the perspective both of students here and overseas.  Donald will be making video clips of the various schools and their classes, ready to share with their new Amigos.  So now is the time for any former volunteers and friends are teachers to link up your students with ours.  Simply send an email and say you want to participate in the Amigos without Borders program.  Manny Acosta visited last week and exchanged letters etc. from his wife Wilma’s third grade students at Triangle Elementary in Florida with third grade here at Nueva Esperanza which was great.  (he also brought a lot of school supplies to share with them)

The second is a program we have hoped to do for a long time, to work with young mothers who have young children.  More than 30% of the children here are born to mothers under 18.  In some of the poorest barrios such as San Ignacio there are many young women, still of school age who have children of their own.  We want to invite them to attend group sessions where they will learn initially how to teach their young children simple things such as count to ten, color, play with educational toys etc.  When the young women gain confidence through pride in their children, we will start to introduce workshops on such things as hygiene, nutrition, etc. then move on to simple sewing, handicrafts, and other basics.  Our aim is to lift these young women out of their plight of no future, and give them hope.  We hope some may return to school, that others may start to earn a living, and that it will lead to their children getting a better education and not becoming parents while they are still children themselves.

The program will begin in a spare classroom of the high school, and then we will start to work towards building a communal area to be used for this and other things.  Karin van Eijk and Tom Daniels sent through $765 that they had raised which will go towards this, and we had a wonderful donation from The Friends of La Esperanza Granada in Northern Ireland, of $1000, so we have a really good start.  Margaret and Geraldine held car boot sales to send us these funds, along with Desi they are great supporters of ours.

Marie Garrity from Australia sent us $1000 this month too.  Marie has visited Granada several times in the past years, and is dedicated to helping people here.  Former volunteer from Australia Marianne Edmonds sent a big box of beads etc. too, these will help us when it comes time to start handicrafts with the young mothers group.

We received a big box of clothing and school supplies from Nadja Buhl in Germany, Jannick brought lots of things with him for the schools, and Ginger brought medical supplies.

Hope you will enjoy the photos this month:

And this short video clip of Nueva Esperanza:


August, 2012:

Our main focus is education, that comes first.  For many years now we have also tried to help with children’s health, particularly dental health.

More than nine years ago our founder Bill Harper took a team from Dentists sin Fronteras up to the school at La Prusia.  Following this we brought children in to town when the group was here.  About six years ago we were fortunate to meet Bill Wayman.  Part of the Cristo Sano group, and Keeping Dentistry Alive, Bill and his wife Linda visit regularly and their group has opened two dental clinics in Granada.  For the past six years we have been taking children to the dentist, 20 – 24 each week for treatment at their clinics.  We only have to pay for the transport and the materials used, (in some cases we don’t even pay this).

Even with all this help though it is hardly making a dent in the amount of dental care needed.  When we talk about the beautiful smiles of the children here, we are talking about the joy and warmth in their smiles, not about the teeth on show.

Now, in conjunction with Bill Wayman and his crew, we have started a new program of giving a twice weekly fluoride rinse.  There are currently 300 children in San Ignacio involved.  We are going to seek the permission of the Ministry of Education, and the Ministry of Health, hoping to expand this program to other schools and areas.  If we get the go ahead we will include tooth brushing lessons, and workshops on the importance of dental care.    We are really excited about this and consider it a big step forward.

The dental team examined each child’s teeth, and will be doing a comparison report in one year.  They also brought with them bags of schools supplies, shoes, t-shirts and other useful things.

Some visitors this month were Michelle Gates and family, who also brought lots of school supplies.   And two very welcome visitors from an educational project in Spain, Grupo 2013.  Grupo 2013 is paying through La Esperanza Granada for the university fees of 9 students, an enormous help for these young local people.  Alejandro and Elena spent several days with us, visited the schools where we work, and took all the university students and our ayudantes out for dinner.

Mark returned from the States, bringing us a new printer, plus lots of t-shirts and uniforms from The Florida Guys.

Had a short, but very effective visit from Northwestern University,  graduate class of Kellogg School of Management.  They came and worked hard for an afternoon at Nueva Esperanza building a retaining wall to stop the yard erosion, and repairing the steel mesh fence.  And shared refreshments at afternoon recess with the whole school.  Job well done.

Current volunteers are Lynda Smith, Mary Pearce, Jakob Kohler, Saskia Schindler, Drew Breswick, Pau Illa Soler, Andy Hidalgo, Anna Kurth, Svenja Shuller, Sarah Miller, Emmanuel Montiel, Eladio Obero Diez, Daan Dangerman, Kevin de Rooij, Tamara van Delft and Esther van de Zalm, not many in numbers but great in efforts.

And I should mention some wonderful donations, former volunteer  David Bristol sent €150,  Anne Mieke Penkhert sent €50, Kirsten Wehde sent €50 Tania Ehrle sent €120 all with Miriam Lammenett, Jen Quick sent $100 as a birthday gift for her daughter Rebecca,  former volunteer Anna Bodt sent $250 to help her school Escudo (which was used to buy a supplies cupboard),  we received $50 from the pub quiz at O’Sheas Irish Bar,  and $19 from sales at the Granada Finca Market towards clocks for the classroom walls.

And thanks to Donald, there is a wide range of photos in our album for August:

July, 2012

Our world here at La Esperanza Granada revolves around the schools, so it is a big point in July when we complete the first semester of the Nicaraguan school year, and start with the second.

The schools had a week’s break, and we took that opportunity to give children at Pablo Antonio Cuadra a chance to have a weeks extra tuition in reading.  We chose to hold this with grades three and four, almost 100 children attended each day.  Donald and our ayudantes planned a full agenda for the young students, and we feel the made some great progress.

Lots of other work at Pablo Antonio with two World Challenge groups getting all the classrooms painted.  The first from Derby High did a great job.  They were followed by another hard working group from De Ferrers Academy.  The students from De Ferrers added a mural to the school wall too, and with the support of East Stafforshire County Council they were able to donate a further $1000 to be used to fix holes in the roof, and install electricity and fans in the rooms that they painted.

Amped for Education completed work on the road in San Ignacio (with the support of their family and friends this group contributed $3500 for all the materials for their labors) and two fortunate families had a new house built, as part of the school attendance program.  Amped for Education built a house for Erika Molina’s family and the Brosnoff Family visiting from New York built a house for the family of Nataly Hernandez.  You will see some wonderful pictures of them in the photo link, un unbelievable boost to these families, to go from walls made of black plastic and pieces of scrap to what can be considered a real house.  (though small and somewhat primitive by first world expectations).

Building work happening at Escudo too.  We rebuilt the school gates during the break week to improve the security of the school.  Now two walls are being constructed thanks to Garazi Ozcoidi Maturet with funds she collected in Spain from Isabel Lizarraga ($500), Francisco Javier Orcoidi ($240) and Maria Irene Carturet ($340). Two pairs of classrooms had dividing walls that were in danger of collapse, their wooden frames were eaten by termites, and they had holes large enough for children to pass to the next classroom (not great for the teachers trying to hold attention).  Now the walls are being built of block and will be permanent fixtures.
Keeping up with all the requests for repairs etc. in the schools is never ending.  There is so little funding available, and it just isn’t possible for  teachers to raise money from the families of the students, thanks to generous donors and visiting groups we are able to meet some of the needs.
We had a visit from the team of Project Pulsera last week, they are giving a lot of support to the new high school – they had lunch at the school with all the students, which was a great success giving each group the opportunity for a little cultural interchange.

Amped for Education brought lots of school supplies with them when they visited.  Another educational support group Amigos4Learning also visited and gave us notebooks, pencils etc..  Shairn Villa send down some games with Alicia, Miriam Lammemiet left lots of art materials, Elena Kaya brought tooth brushes and tooth paste, the Brosnoff family donated two inflatable beds, and Rosalind Parducci donated the bicycle she bought while she was here.  Former Volunteer Leslie Hunter-Duvar has been collecting through the last school year in Canada and sent through $2200, Ontario Teachers’ Federation $680.00, Ryerson Heights and Walter Gretzky School Staffs: $920.00, and Cathy Cooper retirement fund (in lieu of gifts and party): $600.00.

Another former volunteer, Todd Studer, when sending payment for the student he sponsors sent extra – in total he sent $3000, so generous.  We had some pay pal donations too, with $25 from Mary Coiner for school supplies, and $100 from Michael Langr.

Karen van Eijk and Tom Daniels did their Kennedymars walk in the Netherlands, sadly if was very bad weather, and they didn’t quite complete the course, but raised a tremendous amount to help here, just over 500 euros.  Imagine they had very sore, wet feet at the end.

Volunteer numbers are still down (hint to anyone wanting to come back, now is the time), we have 24 at present: Mary Pearce, Julien Dao, Joshua Lunn, Wualter Monge, Pablo Titos Sanchez-Cantalejo, Emen Arfa, Pierre-Antoine Filippe Santelli, Grazi Ozcoidi Marturet, Itxaso Legarrea, Franziska Gunther, Pablo Alzela, Sara Bani, Christine Herzog, Ivan Ferrucci, Jakob Kohler, Drew Breswick, Saskia Schindler, Pau Illa Soler, Carla Grandos, Saskia Aandewiel, Vicente Ceamanos, Fernando de la Puente, Andy Hidalgo, and Alicia Villa.

Included in the photos for July are some from our High School excursion – the students from Nueva Esperanza Secundaria went to Rivas to visit the Museo de Antropologia for the day, and lots more:

June, 2012

Wonderful start to the month with Children’s Day celebrations. We made sure that every child had a special day. The program ran for four days with different schools each day.  About 2000 children, imagine how many smiles and laughs that totaled!  Such fun to generate happiness.

It’s not all games though, our volunteers from overseas, and our local volunteers, the team of ‘ayudantes’ really do dedicate themselves to helping the children grasp the basic skills they need.  And our English teachers need to be especially creative.  All of them work hard to teach, and also to make school an enjoyable experience.  The schools here have so little.

Visiting Nueva Esperanza with Manny and Wilma Acosto from Florida who brought down lots of schools supplies, was so interesting.  We arrived at recess and the yard was a whirlwind of 200 running, playing, shouting children.  When the children went back into class, Wilma a 3rd grade teacher in the US spoke to the 3rd grade classroom here.  Wilma spoke fluent Spanish, but it wasn’t so much what she said as how she said it, that the children instantly recognized this was a teacher in their classroom, fell silent, and paid attention.  Sadly not all the teachers are able to control a classroom like that for long, it is hot, humid and noisy, few resources, few textbooks, a lot of hard work.

The teachers had some special recognition this month with Nicaraguan teachers day being celebrated on 29th.  28th was a school party day, and 29th the teachers had the day off, schools were closed.

Students from Knox Academy in Scotland helped with our continuing improvements to Pablo Antonio Cuadra school.  They worked at painting some of the classrooms in the first block and did a great job of it.  We still have quite a way to go with this school to get it into reasonable shape.  We are not aiming for luxury, just clean and in good repair.

Amped for Education are back on the job again.  Jeff Pluta, Amped’s main man, was the instigator for the high school in San Ignacio.  It was his group’s idea to build a high school, and originally we were just lending a hand.  Thanks to the many helping hands we had we sort of took over the project to a degree, but Amped were one of the major financial contributors.  They are just as dedicated to its success as we are, they sponsor a number of students and continue to help finance the ongoing program.

Currently Jeff is here with a student group from Smith Academy, Massachustes, US. Laying stone causeways in the road in front of the school.  Many of the people in San Ignacio have no water in their houses, they collect their water in buckets from the standpipes in the road.  This leads to big patches of mud where the taps are, then trucks churn up the mud, and during the rainy season the road becomes impassable.  Amped has fully funded the project, and as I’m writing this the students are up there digging the road and hauling 100 lb stone slabs to try and fix the problem.

We received donations in the office of school supplies and other goods from…..   Matthew Smith visited and brought full bags with him (check his website, Linda, a regular visitor brought in some goodies,  Rebecca Quick and Errol came to see us in preparation to start a link with the school where Rebecca teaches.  We also had a pay pal donation of $15 from Quinn Olson as a birthday present for her brother Ryan, and another of $150 from Shairn Villa as a graduation present for Alicia Villa who is coming to volunteer with us soon.  The quiz at O’Shea’s Irish Bar raised $100, and through ICAS we received donations from Deborah Keefe of $200, plus from former volunteers Ginger Lawrence, $60, and Robert Burns, $300.  These funds will all be put to good use.

Nice to see our volunteer numbers on the rise again after the quiet month of May.  Volunteers here at present are Mary Pearce, Lynda Smith, Irmgard Schnall, Charlotte Pennicaud, Sandra Spijkman, Jeanine Langkamp, Charlotte Penicaud, Michael Schulmeyer, Stella Werner, Miriam Lammenett, Julien Dao, Will Crumpacker, and Lisa and Jill Antrobus, Karrissa Manchester, Katie Ackland, Rosalind Parducci, Cindy Sanchez, Julia Szabo, Kelley Blakeslee, Joshua Lunn, Melanie Yres, Elise Sainte-Rose, Sean McKillop, Marc Prat Marti, Sonia Cruz Duocastella,  and Wualter Monge.

Don’t forget to ‘like’ us on Facebook, and please add our page to yours so you can receive the latest photos and videos, and help spread the word.

Hope you will enjoy the photo’s this month, Donald Alonzo our volunteer coordinator does a great job of keeping the pictures coming in, here is the link:


May, 2012

The story is all in pictures this month, so many good pictures of so many good things happening.  The family of Ricardo Martinez Badilla has a new house, thanks to Bill and Linda Wayman and their daughter Holly.  The new classrooms at Pablo Antonio Cuadra are full of students, thanks to Builders Beyond Borders.  We have a new look to our office building, thanks to all our ayudantes.  Plus there are pictures of Mother’s Day celebrations in the schools, clothing sales in the schools, and plenty of volunteer photos.

Steve Lewine, Chairman, along with Rhonda Baker, Kathy Jamison and Amy Schroeder-Riggio of Builders Beyond Borders visited to attend the inaugurations of the classrooms built by their groups at Nueva Esperanza High School, and at Pablo Antonio Cuadra.  This group consisting of high school students from Connecticut, U.S.A. brought an enormous contribution to Nicaragua’s development.  In addition to their classroom building projects with us, they built a foot bridge, built a community kindergarten, and built housing for the poor in other parts of Nicaragua this year. 

A former volunteer Ryan Wiggins has been helping behind the scenes to promote our Face Book page.  You can help by adding La Esperanza Granada to your pages – as an organization we can’t be a ‘friend’ but by adding our page to your ‘pages’ you will receive links to videos, blogs, pictures and news.  All of this helps spread awareness of the educational needs of the children here.

More news about the Kennedymars walk taking place in the Netherlands in June.  This started 50 years ago when the then U.S. President J. F. Kennedy wanted to raise the national level of fitness and said that each civil servant should be able to walk 50 miles in 20 hours.  The village of Someren took this on as a challenge and have been doing the walk each year since.  They have listed La Esperanza Granada on their website as a beneficiary too – here is the link:

We received $457 from an Appalachian State University service learning project, where helping non profit organizations was a part of students course work.  The students worked with us through Skype and email, and held events to raise both funds and awareness, they had some great ideas for fundraising.  Their funds are going to be used towards the end of year excursions which are so important for the school children.   Also Larry Price sent us $75, and former vol Michael Geissler sent $140 specifically to help the classes that he had worked with to have enough money for pencils, notebooks etc. for the rest of the school year.   New volunteers Charlotte and Alice brought toys and crayons with them too.

Volunteer here at present are Lynda Smith, Mary Pearce, Irmgard Schnall, Barbara Krainer, Alejandro Real Peguero, Sandra Spijkman, Jeanine Langkamp, Katrina Fralick, Asa Borgas, Lisandro Nanzer, Charlotte Penicaud, Karlijn Nijboer, Ellen Pylad, Manne Tornberg, Alice Cascioli, Michael Schulmeyer, Stella Werner, Miriam Lammenett, Julien Dao, Will Crumpacker, and Lisa and Jill Antrobus.

And here is a sneak preview of International Children’s day we will be celebrating in the schools next week – volunteers and ayudantes practicing for the Snow White play:

April, 2012

Another dream come to fruition as our high school students at Nueva Esperanza had their first computer classes.  So many people contributed to making this possible, but the driving force behind it all has been volunteer Ryan Olson.   Ryan did the computer purchasing, configured them all, designed the furniture, trained the teacher and shared his passion for computers with all.

Our last Builders Beyond Borders group (at this time!), the C4 group came down from U.S.A. and completed the two extra classrooms they have built at Pablo Antionio Cuadra.  These extra classrooms mean that high school students now will be able to complete five years of high school without having to find another school after their third year.  This is a fantastic achievement by the B3 group.

But we are not done yet – we received a report on the educational resources of the Granada district from the Ministry of Education, and there are another 22 schools needing extra classrooms in this area.

Once again a big thank you to George Berenschott who opened his  beautiful colonial home for these young students from Connecticut to stay while they labored at the school each day.  A wonderful contribution from George.

Natalia Jones made a great video of one of the English classes – check this link:  – look at them sing!

The weather is really hot here now, we had a big rainstorm a couple of weeks ago, but the rainy season hasn’t really started yet.  Everyone is feeling the heat with daily temps of 35 celsius.

A request for help from our U.S. treasurer Rachel: Calling all U.S. Volunteers!!!   Rachel Sklar, our U.S. based treasurer and non profit liaison, is looking for someone to join her team.   She needs a combination of moral support, technical support, and help with things like generating thank you notes, staying in touch with donors and developing a more strategic accounting system.  If you are looking for a way to stay involved and have experience with any of these tasks (particularly in the area of accounting or non-profit law/tax consulting), please contact Rachel directly at [email protected].

Lots of donated goods brought into the office, Susan Sanchez and Harry Laski brought lots of games, C4 group from Builders Beyond Borders who filled our office tables with lots of school supplies, Betsy and Mark Lennon brought games, Carmen Chapell Elkin’s parents brought books and things from Spain, and Marcia Bernbaum brought in a highchair, stroller and lots of baby needs which we will use for an attendance raffle on Mother’s day.

It’s a time of some hard goodbye’s at the moment, with quite a few long term volunteers who have left or are leaving soon.  Jenny Opitz, Maren Mylneck, Juliana Damm, Michael Sugue all of whom have been here from Germany for six months or more,  then next week we have to say goodbye to Tona Roig (here since December) Vanessa Colada, Christine Coakleyand David Drezner (here since January).  Always sad to see people like these leave.

Other volunteers here at present are Lynda Smith, Mary Pearce, Linda Heatherly, Irmgard Schnall, Carmen Chapell Elkin, Oliver Quix, Nuria Terrones y Hernandez, Svenja Fillet, Barbara Krainer, Julia Laski, Madeline Laski, Alejandro Real Peguero,  Isabel Navarro Blakemore, Ingrid Pichel, Scott Brenneman, Sandra Spijkman, Jeanine Langkamp, Jack Langree, Aaron Brink, Katrina Fralick, Natalia Jones and Asa Borgas.


March, 2012

So much achieved this March.  Equipo Cambio from Builders Beyond Borders completed two classrooms and a large technical classroom to be used for training in electrical work, at the new San Ignacio high school.  We spent an exciting week with these high school students from Connecticut, U.S.A.  It has a tremendous impact on the high school students here that others high school students are helping build their school, and for the young people visiting the week here would have made a lasting impression.  Their hard work here was the finale of a whole year of work and fundraising that they all did in order to come here and build, and they could justly feel proud of their efforts.

Georgetown University came down for their third year running and laid big paving stones in the road to the high school in a part that becomes impassable during the rains.  And carpentry students from La Chantier in Montreal, Canada repaired over 160 desks for the primary schools.  The children from Jose de la Cruz Mena put on an impromptu thank you presentation that was so touching, there were few dry eyes.  All the guys put their sunglasses on.

Interesting at this time of the USA college spring breaks, we had a group come from Vanderbilt College, Tennessee, which is where alternative spring breaks doing service trips originated some 25 years ago.  They painted half the classrooms in Escudo, and the following week Appalachian State University group came and finished off the rest giving a complete facelift to that school.  Children and teachers were all delighted.

Of course all our longer term volunteers were hard at work throughout the month.  Watch for our blog in the coming weeks as it features some interviews with our volunteers talking about their lives in Granada, what they do, why they came etc.

Volunteers here at present are Maren Mlynek, Juliana Damm, Lynda Smith, Michael Sugue, David Drezner, Colleen Kelly, Vanessa Gancedo, Tona Roig Saumell, Maria Garcia Robles, Christine Coakley, Irmgard Schnall, Oliver Quix, Nuria Terrones y Hernandez, Svenja Fillet, Barbara Krainer, Julia Laski, MadelineLaski, Fernando Quentrequeo, Alejandro Real Peguero, Isabel Blakemore, Ingrid Pichel, Scott Brenneman, Sandra Spijkman, Jeanine Langkamp, Mary Pearce, Jack Langree, Aaron Brink, Katrina Fralick and Natalia Jones.

Some wonderful news this month is that Project Pulsera have chosen to collaborate with La Esperanza Granada with Nueva Esperanza Secundaria, helping us fund the technical classes.  They have made an initial donation of $5000 to be used to fund teachers and/or teaching materials.  There is a great fund raising opportunity too for people at colleges and high schools in the U.S. where they can raise funds for La Esperanza Granada as well as supporting the artisans here in Nicaragua working through Project Pulsera.  This is an exciting new concept for us – their web site is:

Terry Leary from Hotel San Francisco found another great way to help that applies to people living in Nicaragua – currently Claro are offering a free netbook computer to anyone taking a new internet contract.  So if your contract has run out, you can cancel it and take a new one – and like Terry did, donate the netbook computer for us to use in the schools.

Jostien from Norway brought us a used netbook computer too, plus many other material donations brought to the office this month.  Builders Beyond Borders brought bags of things to help in the schools, as well as volunteers Irmard, Svenja, Ryan, Hayley and Andy, the Carpentry Group, Thomas Bullock, and Arzn Serbes.   Through former volunteer Royce Chang’s efforts we received six One World soccer balls, these are unique in that they are supposed to last forever.  People can buy on and another will be donated to where you chose, here is a link:

Pablo Fernandez brought us a donation of $350, Colin Sims gave us $20, Mary Coiner Collier sent $25 and the pub quiz at O’Sheas raised $153.  And we received a second donation from the Gloucester Presbyterian Women’s morning coffee group, in Australia who sent through $200 which will be used to purchase desks for Jose de La Cruz Mena.  Despite all the desks we were able to repair for various schools there are still some children sitting two to a desk (this means sharing the chair too).   Karin van Eijk sent through $95, her and Tom are constantly working at supporting  La Esperanza Granada – currently they are practicing to go on an 80 km walk in The Netherlands and will ask people to sponsor them, it is called the “Kennedymars” and will be held in early July.

Our volunteer Ryan Olson put in a great effort and has now completely rebuilt our website using WordPress which will allow us to edit more easily.  So much happens that it is hard to keep the whole site up to date.  Colleen Kelly who is doing an internship with us is currently revising the pages for us to edit on line.   Colleen, here for an internship in Communications and Promotion has been doing some great work too, including a new brochure we have available.  We will have a link to it on the website soon, but in the meantime if anyone would like to print some, just send us an email and we will send you a .pdf copy.

The Nicaragua Dispatch has published another article by our ‘resident journalist’ Lynda Smith:

And finally we had another home improvement happen this month – thanks to a donation from Joan and Graeme Mount who contributed $1300 to make a family’s dream come true.  Their son Franklin won the raffle with all the children who had perfect attendance getting a ticket.  It is a great incentive to send children to school every day, even though they live in an area where school attendance is not taken very seriously by many.

Here is the photo link, hope you will enjoy the pics:


February, 2012

True joy this month, on Monday 27th we held the inauguration of the new high school in San Ignacio – Secundaria Nueva Esperanza.  The ceremony was so moving, 130 people attended including all of our volunteers and the first year high school students.  The dancing displays were wonderful, the speeches short and pertinent.  One of the mothers from the community, simply dressed said a few words, her eyes brimming with tears, a young boy attending the school spoke on behalf of the students, donors Karin van Eijk and Tom Daniels, Jeff Pluta from Amped for Education, along with other local dignitaries spoke too.  The ceremony was also dedicated to Westfield State University and Builders Beyond Borders who have contributed so much.   It was a very special day.

It came at the end of a very special week for us.  We had two groups from Builders Beyond Borders working with us, one group building at the new high school, two classrooms and a technical classroom, the other group building at Pablo Antonio Cuadra, a new school for us in Pancasan.  There they were building two classrooms so that the school which has over 800 students can have a full primary and high school – in the past students have had to leave at the end third year of high school.
We nearly had a disaster with the BBB group for Pablo Antonio Cuadra, a week before 38 people were due to arrive, a change of Padre’s meant that the local church facility where they had planned to stay was no longer an option – we had 38 folding beds, we had chairs and tables etc. but nowhere to put them.  George Berenschott came to the rescue, along with Flora his project manager.  They generously offered the use of Casa Kiko, Georges wonderful colonial home in Granada – one of the largest restored colonials in town and the group had a complete bonus experience of living there for the week.
2012 school year started on 13th of this month.  In order to help more children we are focusing this year on larger schools in the barrios on the outskirts where there are classes morning and afternoon.  The Ministry of Education is more actively collaborating than ever before, and for the first time will include English classes for the 4th, 5th and 6th grade on the children’s report cards.    They also accepted our summer school, which ended on the 5th February as a formal review for the children who attended.
Karin and Tom flew from the Netherlands to attend the high school opening, and also brought extra donations of $1200 with them, which we will use towards the school of Pablo Antonio Cuadra – some of the existing classrooms which are made of steel are in serious danger of collapse if something is not done soon.  Lydon Watkins visited again from Canada and brought with him a check for $2000.  Steffan Reichel and Tuwasz Misiewicz gave us $15 each, we collected $78 from the pub quiz in the O’Shea’s Irish Bar, and Kate Simmons sent $120 for art supplies for the pre-school class at San Ignacio.   Former volunteer David Bristol wrote to say that he is now working in an NGO in Spain that is supporting education, a career change that followed his experience here, and he sent through a donation of €1500.  Lots of other visiting friends of La Esperanza Granada.  Ita Mcaul and husband Peter from the U.K. visited and met with their university student, Lowell Smith and partner Linda who have hosted three ayudante scholarships visited and met their students, Thomas Bullock from Canada is in town too.  Thom made a donation of $1200 to help us pay for a high school teacher, a donation that Mark Turner our vice president matched.  Michelle Branciforte, another former volunteer also came in to see us, she is currently working in Managua.
Thom also brought a donation from Bullwinkle of $300, Mark made a donation of $500 to top up our funds for administration, and a donation of $1000 to help with the latest home renovation being done by Hayley Cresp and Andrew Whalley. who put in $250 to the house.  Lots of materials brought in too, Melissa Waldo, Brittany Kodo and Bred Burmeister brought toothbrushes, crayons and stickers, Oliver brought pens and games, Jeff of Amped for Education.s family brought bags of school supplies, Robert Maushammer brought puzzles and shoes and towels, and Barbara Krainer brought  five wall clocks, the first of our aim to put them on the wall of each classroom.
So many current volunteers – and before you think to count the number – another first for us this month, when we had the Builders Beyond Borders group here, added to our visiting vols, local vols, directors and on line volunteers we had 150 people directly working with La Esperanza Granada!  At the moment, Mary Pearce, Linda Heatherly, Jim Buckley, Peter Kitchen, Anna Fink, Katrin Hiss, Maren Mlynek, Juliana Damm, Lynda Smith, Sonja Eltrich, Michael Sugue, Jenny Opitz, Elodie Moutengou,  David Drezner, Diana Diez, Jana Moyano Lozano, Colleen Kelly, Michael Geissler, Magdalena Zettl, Vanessa Gancedo,Christine Coakley, Navila Amarsy, Hanna Hodel, Johanna Nilsson, Annika Gustafsson, Irmgard Schnall, Brandon Van Arsdale, Matthew Ingham, Patricia Cervantes, Marina Sirera, Tania Sanchez, Ana Pascua, Carmen Elkin, Graeme Mount, Joan Mount, Oliver Quix, Nuria Terrones, Svenja Fillet, Annemiek Bodt, Barbara Krainer, Isabel Planelles, Coral Moreno, Estefania Domenech, Julia Laski, Madeline Laski, Saskia Belcher and David Waldl.
And last but not least the photo link:


January  31, 2012

Westfield State University visited for their second time this January, and it was a great success. Their students had raised over $7000 which they used to build a computer classroom for the new high school in San Igancio. 26 students from the university along with their three leaders, Kathi, Kelli and Theresa arrived on 3rd, they were hard working and lots of fun. Their visit culminated on the 17th with a big party at the primary school complete with music, dance competitions, games, and delicious food. Fatima and the other ladies who help in our houses started cooking at 3.30 in the morning to prepare chicken and vegetables and rice for more than 250 people. Imagine doing all that over an open fire! Westfield students carried down for us 15 of the computers for the new highschool – we just have 15 to find a carrier for. They also brought down lots of donations of school materials. We look forward to an ongoing partnership with Westfield, it was a great visit.

Amped for Education sent through $1500 towards putting electricity in the high school too. Plus we have been busy in the last week or two preparing for Builders Beyond Borders visit in February when they will construct two regular classrooms and a technical classroom.

With all this focus on the high school we haven’t lost sight of the young children though. Summer school is still running, the volunteers and our ayudantes have been doing a terrific job, with 114 children attending each day.

Donations this month included friends of Iren Nauta who raised $130, Lane Haywood sent $100, Mary Coiner sent $25, Nigel Smith’s family sthrough Klikex Trading $50 and from Reginald Smith $60, Nancy Maher sent $150, Ginger Lawrence sent $125 and Global Village Project sent $680, and Mark Turner sent $500. We also received $3600 from Grupo 2013 in Spain to cover university costs of $400 per year for 9 students.

Four new ayudantes have joined us, with university scholarships – Maria Angeles and Scarleth sponsored by Lowell Smith, Jaqueline sponsored by Desi Mcaul, and Mario sponsored by Nick Lewis. And a wonderful end for one of our ayudantes Donald Alonzo – Donald is now officially our Volunteer Coordinator, bringing our employee total to two. The experience and dedication of these two young local people, both Donald and Karen is invaluable to the future of La Esperanza Granada, and it is a pleasure to work with them.

Lots of wonderful visiting volunteers here too – currently Anna Fink, Katrin Hiss, Maren Mlynek, Juliana Damm, Lynda Smith, Sonja Eltrich, Michael Sugue, Jenny Opitz, Elodie Moutengou, Tamara Kazakova, Dimitry Cheshev, David Drezner, Diana Diez Rogdriguez, Jana Moyano Lozano, Kas Eccles, Colleen Kelly, Michael Geissler, Magdalena Zettl, Mike Burusco Unciti, Vanessa Gancedo, Christine Coakley, Nabila Amarsy, Hanna Hodel, Johanna Nilsson, Annika Gustafsson, Nigel Smith, Peter Kitchen, Maria Garcia Robles, Montserrat (Tona) Roig, Mary Pearce, Saskia Belcher, and David Waldl.

A bit of a get together with some former volunteers too, shared memories and drinks with Christy Meyer, Nigel Pedlingham and Doug and Barb Christie – they were all here some years ago and it was great to catch up.

Good to see Bill and Linda Wayman back in town too with their mission group from New Orleans. They provide the dental clinics that we take our schoolchildren to – through their generosity we are able to take the primary school children to the dentist (about 24 children a week) and pay only for their transport and materials used. Bill also brought down a $300 donation from his local Kiwanis Club which will cover quite a number of dental visits.

Four ladies on an Iguana Tour, Diana Gibbon, Aline Frey, Marilyn Ryan and Virginia Eggleston brought large bags of children games and toys, and rolls of stickers to help in the schools. Dave and Rachael came in with sporting equipment, Kas brought a big bag of toothbrushes and pencils, Christy brought craft supplies and stickers, Helen Roys sent pencils and colors, Vanessa Gancedo brought books and plasticine, Janny brought pencils and sharpeners so lots of things to work with in the schools. Just great how many people want to help.

Lastly here is the photo link for January (sorry not many this month as we had some camera problems):

December 31, 2012

I’m sure that people everywhere had a busy month in December, and here at La Esperanza Granada we were no exception – most of it is in the pictures – some of the highlights were the graduation ceremonies at the beginning of the month.

We had 13 sponsored students who graduated from Colegio Diocesano after completing five years of high school.  What a wonderful event that was to see these young people who had reached that goal.  Sounds so ordinary in our worlds, but when you consider that less than 10% of Nicaraguan students make it that far, you can have some idea of what it means for them.  Also 10 students graduated high school at La Epifania with their proud families watching on.

Primary school graduations were big events too, and it is wonderful to see that the numbers are steadily rising of children who are staying all the way through to complete grade six.

We have scholarships for three of the high school students to attend university and receive a stipend to work alongside our volunteers, and we have sponsorships for 37 students to attend high school which is great.  Six of the high school sponsorships will be hosted by Amped for Education, who have collaborated in the building of the new high school in San Ignacio.  Jeff and Sara visited this week and met with their students.

The final part of our year long project ‘medio ambiente’, which was funded by The Body Shop Foundation was an award for the cleanest school yard, won by Jose de la Cruz Mena, and all the children who took part in the program received a special certificate.  The school was awarded a special plaque for the honor.

Children attending summer school had a big day on 23rd, the volunteers had organized a special day,  with games, piñatas etc. and a wonderful lunch for 114 children was cooked by Fatima and Chilo.  Volunteers here   Anna Fink, Katrin Hiss, Maren Mlynek, Jalle Damm, Lynda Smith, Sonja Eltrich, Alba Luis Ramon, Michael Sugue, Jenny Opitz, Elodie Moutengou, Tamara Kazakova, Dimitry Cheshev, Ineke Indorf, Frank Krueger, Cesar Callebaut, Iren Nauta, Mary Pearce, Miranda Maher, Montserrat Roig, Maria Garcia Robles, Diana Diaz and Nigel Smith.

Nigel from Australia biked some 7000 kilometers before arriving here, and while here is going to help with install solar lights made with coke bottles in the San Igancio community and teach others how to do it.  He has sent a request to his friends to help with some of the costs and we received donations from Callum Smith and Kim Goodwin – you can check his website

Another volunteer Lynda Smith from the UK wrote some great articles which are on our website under press releases

And another very good read is Lauren Slater’s blog, many former vols will identify with her write up about working here:

A must see this month is a fantastic You Tube video made by Sandra Sikman featuring lots of of our volunteers:  and a Spanish version:

And to help us promote La Esperanza Granada locally Rae Ann Hickling, Frank Krueger and Emily Tapia all colaborated to produce a really good flier which we have printed and will distribute around the town.

Nice to see former vol Nigel Pedlingham back for a visit, Vishal Haynes has been in town too.

Lots of donations came in this month, Mark brought down mice and netbook batteries, and a new laser printer for us, Anette Plassen brought toothbrushes and toys, Amped for education brought calculators, pens, colored pencils and backpacks, Thom Bullock brought balls, and the Smithson family brought a big suitcase of toys, crayons colors, paints, and notebooks.  The Smithson’s with their daughters Stefanie and Britney spent a day in San Ignacio and contributed $300 to help the family Cano make some improvements to their house.

We had financial donations too from family and friends of Lauren Slater $521, the Turner/Reale family $200, Hotel San Francisco $40, Thom Bullock $100, Kelly Lake $500, Dara Stillman $50, Mary Coiner $100, Friends of La Esperanza in Northern Ireland, Margaret and Geraldine, sent $1000 that they had raised holding car boot sales, volunteer house El Martirio raised $21 selling Christmas cookies, Rae Ann, Lee and Pauline $30 in the Finca Mercado, O’Shea’s Bar $50 from the pub quiz, Denton and Terry Sparks sent through $760 so we reached our goal of 30 computers for the high school,  plus James and Lorianne Cochran sent a check for $1000.  To be part of an organization that attracts this kind of support is simply wonderful, and I am often humbled by how many people contribute, including all the volunteers who give so much of themselves.

A little sad news is that Jim Buckley our handyman is ‘hanging up his hat’ – Jim’s eyesight is failing, and he feels he can’t keep up with all the repairs on the volunteer houses.  As a parting gesture Jim has purchased and donated 16 bicycles for volunteers to use – and these are being rented for 20 cordobas (90 cents) a week by two of our ayudantes who are maintaining the bikes.  So we have Nigel as a stand in for now, but if there is anyone keen to take on the handyman role, just let us know.

Now for the last link of this very long newsletter, our December photos:

November 30, 2011

The 2011 school year is all but finished.  Schools are still officially open just for preparing report cards etc. but after today there will be no more classes.  Not quite the same for students here, very few look forward to vacation time.  It either means a time to work, or a time with nothing at all to do other than carry water for washing, look after young siblings, sweep the yard etc.

For the children in San Ignacio it will be different, they will have summer school starting next week.  There will be math, reading, writing, computers, art and craft plus sports and games.  Should be lots of fun for volunteers and children.  We will also be offering some classes to the students who will attend the new high school we are building in San Ignacio – working mainly with computers we will help them lift their level in both math and reading, as well as some extra English classes.

We are so proud of Karen O’Campo.  Our young administrator.  Karen has gone all the way through University sponsored our generous donors, and volunteered in our ayudante program, until earlier this year when we employed her. She has now received her University Graduation Certificate and is officially a Licenciada – a long hard road for a girl from a poor barrio, but she made it.  An inspiration for our nine ayudantes with sponsors continuing in the program next year, with a possible three more to be sponsored new university students.

So much excitement in the past weeks with the school excursions.  500 grade three and four children went to the zoo as part of their year long  environmental protection program, funded by The Body Shop.  The gave the children the opportunity to learn about native animals and their habitats, as well as the thrills of lions, tigers and other exotic animals from around the world.

As part of our ongoing school excursion program all the grade two children we work with went on a trip to a lakeside park, and grade six children visited one of Nicaragua’s many beauty spots, Las Isletas in Lake Nicaragua.

Some volunteer celebrations with non Nicaraguan holidays in November – starting with Halloween, and towards the end of the month Thanksgiving when 28 volunteers of 10 different nationalities cooked and ate together and shared their gratitude all the blessings we have.

Volunteers at the end of November are Heath Gabrysh, Anna Fink, Katrin Hiss, Bev Forsythe, Ana Serrana, Conor McMullen, Viktor Nesheim, Anette Plassen, Maren Mlynek, Jalle Damm, Lynda Smith, Sonja Eltrich, Alba Luis Ramon, Michael Sugue, Jenny Opitz, Sandra Sikman, Elodie Moutengou, Leo Revillot,

Amelie Suermann, Lauren Slater, Tamara Kazakova, Dimitry Cheshev, Carmen Munoz, Ineke Indorf, Emily Tapia, Frank Krueger, Cesar Callebaut, Andres Lindstrom, Iren Nauta, Ginger Lawrence and Mary Pearce.

Things donated in the office this month include a lap top computer from Steve O’Connor, crayons, story books from Carmen Munoz, and whiteboard markers from Pluma.  And we received financial donations too – more money for high school computers from Jeanine Rickson, $200, Angie Brekke, $200, Laura Miller, $50, Trisha McGovern, $50, Shawna Peters, $50, Chris Roe, $50 and Courtney Allen $65.   How wonderful that all these people are willing to support the children here.  As well we received $50 from former volunteer Sara Regan, $94 from O’Sheas pub quiz, and $41 from selling home made lime marmalade and chicken liver pate – thanks to efforts of Rae Ann and Lee Hickling.

Also in the news two new babies born to former volunteers, welcome to the world and congratulations to the proud parents, of Ivor born to Julia Steward David and Amine, and to Luca born to Paula and Gonzalo Garcia Broto.

Our photo link for November:

October 31, 2011

Lots happening here in October.  Thankfully Granada has been spared the flooding that has occurred in many parts of the country, though there has been a lot of rain and several school days were cancelled.

A couple more families in San Ignacio have been spared the problems of a wet muddy house due to two home renovations that took place this month.  One raffle was won by a grade three girl, and her house received a new roof, walls etc. thanks to Rick Weismiller and Kathryn Sachs.  Rick and Kathryn were here for a short holiday from the U.S. before moving to Australia, and wanted to do something useful.  You will see some great pictures in the link.  The second house, of the Mesa family was done by the local builders and the family, and paid for by Mark Turner our director.  Melvin, from grade 5, who won the raffle is 15 and has recently returned to school, he works several miles away on a coffee plantation each morning and still managed have a perfect attendance record at school, so good.

A change from the news last month – Builders Beyond Borders will be constructing two extra classrooms at Pablo Antonio Cuadra instead of Jose de la Cruz Mena.  This is a new school for us, but badly in need of help.  The Ministry of Education advised that they wouldn’t be able to put extra teachers at Jose de la Cruz Mena, but took us to visit Pablo Antonio a large school (680 students) in Pancasan a very poor barrio on the northern side of Granada.  This school currently has 12 classrooms, used morning and afternoon for pre-school, primary school and high school – at this time though the high school students have to find somewhere else to go if they wish to continue after third year as all the classrooms are full.  Now with the help of BBB and our collaboration these students will have the opportunity to complete high school without having to try and find a place to accept them at a school in town.

Wonderful news from Ryan in his update on the high school computers: We now have 23 paid for – aiming for 30.  We sent the funds to Ryan for 15, then he has added to this seven more, including one from himself, $260 from his parents, and through his friend Jay, Paul Douglas $190, Patrick Francis $190, Bill Schlueter $15, Jordana Green $65, Larae Rogers $65, Nancy Gustafson $25, and through his company Outside Sales Technology $225.  Each computer is costing about $200 to include the extras and transport, then Ryan is installing all the programs and setting them up to network and protected for school use.  So now we are only seven short of Ryan’s target of 30 lap top computers for the new high school.

In other donations this month Sophia Pfeifer, former volunteer in Germany held a fiesta and raised 200 Euro, plus O’Sheas Irish Bar contributed $100 this month from the weekly pub quiz.  Checks were received from Ginger Lawrence, $25, Jeff and Shea Brasier $300 and Ron and Mina White, $100.  Anette Plassen brought games and colored pencils and crayons with her, plus Amber Dawson came in with school supplies.  Former vol Ginger Lawrence is back working with us again and brought lots of children’s clothing for the sales, and another former vol Kat Coiner-Collier brought in two bags of school supplies today as she passed through on a flying visit.

A student group from Leapnow College were here for nearly two weeks this month, as part of their semester of study in Latin America.  A great bunch of young people, they worked first in Nueva Esperanza, and the following week at La Epifania.  They did lots of painting at both schools, plus spent time helping older students the first week, and kindergarten the second.  They finished up the trip taking 37 preescolar children on an excursion to a play park at the lake, plus special treats of pizza and ice cream.  The group made a big financial contribution too of $880.

More volunteers here now so heaps of help for the children – at present working with us are Nicola Quan-Leach, Heath Gabrysh, Anna Fink, Katrin Hiss, Bev Forsythe, Luisa Sulimma, Theresa Tripler, Ana Serrana, Conor McMullen, Viktor Nesheim, Anette Plassen, Mark Milan, Maren Mlynek, Jalle Damm, Lynda Smith, Sonja Eltrich, Teresa Martin Herrador, Alba Luis Ramon, Michael Sugue, Jenny Opitz, Sandra Sikman (returned), Elodie Moutengou, Sara Griell, Maria Miralles Alfonso, Berta Rodriguez, Eleonore Revillot, Amelie Suermann, Ignacio Arriero Garcia, Lauren Slater, Justin Leonard, Ginger Lawrence and Mary Pearce.

We raised 3200 cordobas in the clothing sales to help the schools with their graduations – you will see photos in the link below and many other pictures, have an abundance this month: