Monthly News Archive

December, 2017

So 2017 has come to an end, and what a terrific year it has been.  A lot of changes for La Esperanza Granada as we have now virtually transitioned from working in the public schools to working in our own Learning Centers.  The centers bring a wonderful range of opportunities for the children that we were struggling to achieve in the school environment.   As development of curriculum has made the activities in the school more restricted over the years, we now find that our scope of teaching possibilities has expanded to a level greater than we ever thought possible.

The children who come to the centers are the same children in need that we have worked with in the public schools, but at the centers they are engaged, active, and learning!  And they had a wonderful Christmas dinner in the centers on 22nd, the last day before the holidays.

Our work in the high school in Nueva Esperanza is continuing as before, and attendance numbers continue to rise as more and more children complete their primary school education.  We have a lot of sponsors who have already signed up for the 2018 school year, but still have lots of children looking for sponsors, so do email if you are interested.  The cost is $185 per student per year, with a commitment of five years should your student make it all the way through.

We are also continuing with our Ayudante program, which is our university scholarship program.  We have four new students this year who will receive scholarships.  There were 19 students who graduated from the high school in December and would like to attend university.

If you are a former volunteer we need some feedback from you to help with decision making about the future of our volunteer housing.  Have typed a list of questions at the bottom of the newsletter – please help us by answering the questions and returning the email – or copy and paste into another email and send to us.

We renovated/built two new houses in December in Nueva Esperanza.  The first was built by a group of Australian students from  St Brendan Shaw School, and the second by the Janus/Lieberman family from Philledelphia, US.  Needless to say two very happy families here.  We also broke ground on two other projects in the Nueva Esperanza barrio; a library being built for Puedo Leer, and a Community Center which is for the local community.

Some wonderful donations this month, volunteer Justine McCoy brought in lots of school supplies she had purchased with funds she raised before coming, Heidi Smithson and family visited again and brought a suitcase full of wonderful things for the learning centers with some great craft stuff that is not readily available here.  A volunteer Maja Klosterman who had attended a European school in Germany had the idea of collecting books from Spanish families of students who attended the school.  She wrote to her Spanish teacher who helped to organize it, and then had a bake sale to pay for the shipping costs.  She sent 40 kilos of Spanish story books to use in the Escudo Center.  Another former volunteer from Germany Christina Mueller raised funds from friends and family and collected 861 Euros for us.   A school in the Netherlands, Primary School Het Talent in Asten made Christmas decorations and sold them in the Christmas markets – they raised 492 euro to be used for children’s eyeglasses.  Simply wonderful.

We also had some donations through PayPal – Jeffrey Gomes sent $98 as a Christmas gift for his friend, James Luth sent $400, Anthony Dumlao $50, Chelsea Strege $10 and Kathyrn Cavanaugh $50.  And another school fundraising to help, this one in Australia, Pembroke School who sent through $705.  Former volunteer Rosanna Gardiner works at the school, well done Rosie!

And lastly anther former volunteer Stephan Daues sent a further $1000 towards a salary for a director for the learning centers.

Volunteer here in December include Cedomir Djordjievski, Dolores Mendez-Benehassi, Jennifer Blanchette, Ruth Thomson, Paul Stroosma, Siiri Kilpelainen, Jonh Hondoy, Justine McCoy, Camille Amount, Cloe Moreau, Marielene Stienz, Antonia Grosshoff, Maja Klostermann, Saveria Giorgi.

And to finish up here is a link to a lot of great photos for you to enjoy:

Thanks to everyone for your support during 2017, and we look forward to sharing 2018 with you,

Happy New Year from all the team at La Esperanza Granada.

Questions if you stayed in the volunteer housing:

Would you have stayed in the volunteer housing if it was not in the historic town center?
Would you have come to volunteer if there were no volunteer housing offered by the organization?
Which would you consider more important – the location of the housing or the facilities of the housing (such as flyscreens, gardens etc.)?
Would you have been willing to pay more for better facilities in the housing?
Which was most important to you: 1. location of the housing 2. Sharing with other volunteers  3. Price of the housing  4. Knowing that you would have a safe place to stay when you arrived.  ?

Questions if you did not stay in the volunteer housing:

Would you have stayed in the volunteer housing if it was better?
Would you have stayed in the volunteer housing if it was cheaper?

November, 2017

Yesterday was officially the last day of the school year here in Nicaragua, so there will be lots of excited children about.  Although that was the last day of classes, the next few days are filled with graduations, at three levels.  From kindergarten to primary school, (cute for the kids and the parents), from 6th grade, completion of primary school, (an important event, 10 years ago only 30% of the children here got that far) and the big event, the high school graduations.  (we will be attending).

This is such a major step up for students in the poorest barrios,  so many of them acheiving this as a first in their families.  The pride of their parents is a wonderful thing to see, and we wish them all the greatest success.

If you want to be part of it, our sponsorship programs for high school students and our scholarship programs for university students are explained in our website – here is the link to the appropriate page:

Our focus is so clearly on education, particularly education where children are living in poverty, and sometimes it is easy to forget all the other problems that assail people in the barrios.  Not only poverty, but things such as losing a job, losing a loved one, divorce and family break ups.  All of these things still have to be dealt with even when you are scratching to put food on the table.  Last year I heard of a family break up where a child was moving from the other side of town to live with a new stepmother in Nueva Esperanza.  It struck a cord with me as we had often moved when I was a child, and the young girl, 11 years old, may as well have been moving to the other side of the country – the far side of town would be so remote from her former neighborhood for her.  I knew of her story as her family has connections with one of our employees.  Today I heard that Maria Mercedes, now 12, is doing really well.  She has completed grade 5 with good marks, and is very happy with lots of friends at school and in her new area.  We have all heard the story of how a homeless man, given food, was willing to share with a passing beggar.  Maybe it is the same with children who have so little, they are more willing to share their friendship with a new arrival.  Not to romantacize poverty, but I have learned a lot from the spirit of cooperation in the barrios here.

Some of our volunteers led by Stien Frassen and Rose Braisher have made a video showing a day in the life of a volunteer.  It is really interesting to see their work, and their play – here is a link:  Hope you will enjoy it.

Volunteers here at present are Lidia Carbo Sanchez, Ines Moran franques, Josep Maria Marti Elias, Elodie Fischetti, Cloe Moran, Camille Aumont, Robin Leloup, Camille Lemercier, Annina Fink, Miriam den Toom, Iraide Paredes Baglietto, Izaskun Villagarcia Pinto, Robert trainor Zintl, Maximiliam Benjamin Richmond, Arkaitz Iturregi Barandika, Stien Franssens, Rose Braisher, Marilene Stenz, Antonia grasshoff, Miriam Ayre, Maja Klostermann, and Justine McCoy.

A former volunteer Benjamin Brough visited this month, Benjamin brought a big bag of things we can give to children as prizes, and also made a PayPal donation of $655 he had raised to help.  You will see other donations brought by current volunteers in the photo link, along with the toys we received from Maya Foundation in Spain that were presented at Pablo Antonio Cuadra School, Salomon de la Selva School, and the Amped Center.  We will be sharing the balance of the toys with the children at our learning centers on the Friday before Christmas.   Here is the link to some pictures:

And a bit more reading for you, in the latest blog by Stien Frassens who is doing an internship with us about house building in the barrio of Nueva Esperanza:

October, 2017

October has been an unusually wet month here in Nicaragua.  Lots of tropical storms in the area have resulted in very heavy rains.  When you live somewhere that all the roads are paved, and peoples houses are well built, it is hard to imagine how difficult life can become for some in times of extreme wet weather.  Not just those who are flooded out and make the news, or at least attract some aid because of their sad plight.  But all the every day people whose roofs leak, whose children can’t walk through the rutted muddy roads to get to school, and families who can’t dry the bedding etc. for days at a time, waiting desperately for some sunshine.  People get sick, pnuemonia stikes both the very young and the elderly, and there are some truly hard times in the poorer barrios.

On the positive side the drought of the past few years is well and truly over, ground water levels have risen and the lake is full, all boding well for the dry season to come.

Volunteer numbers have still been a little low, which is normal for this time of the year, but on the rise now and we are looking forward to when we can open the Pancasan Learning Center.

The final month of the school year is upon us, there is a graduating class of 19 children who will complete 5th year in high school at Nueva Esperanza, who will be hoping to be sponsored to attend university and continue their education.   And there are four times that many who will be starting at the high school next year, completing sixth grade in primary this month.  Please let us know if you would be willing to be a sponsor for either high school or university level.  It is a tremendous help for these young people.

We have had the news that we will have to vacate both our office and the largest of our volunteer houses next year.   Moving the office is inconvenient, and difficult, but losing the volunteer housing is much more critical.  Our volunteer housing does much more than provide an affordable place for overseas volunteers to stay while they are working with us.  This of course is an important facet.  The main benefit though is to the young children that the volunteers are tutoring and mentoring.

Living together in the volunteer housing brings the team spirit and support that living as a family does.  The multiplier effect goes into top gear bringing forth the very best of their creativity, the dedication to help that led them to volunteer,  the support and confidence to give their all to the young children wanting to learn.

I have read a lot recently of social enterprise donations, where people may invest money, and be repaid that money, making the investment for the amount of good their money can do, rather than high interest rates.  Perhaps we should be looking to raise funds to build our own office building and volunteer housing, which could be repaid by the rents, and thus guarantee the sustainability of La Esperanza Granada and ensure that willing helpers from around the world will continue to come and help for many more years.  (any thoughts on this or ideas welcome)

Volunteers here this past month were Robin Leloup, Judith Verret, Lemercier Camille, Goizeder Ariztimuño Ochotorena, Izaskun Villagarcia Pinto, Iraide Paredes Baglietto, Miriam Den Toon, Arkaitz Uturregi Barandika, Annina Fink, Kieran Crichton, Marilena Rossi, Elsa Cappon, Sebastien Guillerm, Maximilian Benjamin Richmond, Rob Zintl, Ruth Verona, Stien Franssens, Kimberly Zito, Shannon Lee, Lidia Carbo Sanchez, Marielene Stenz, Rose Braisher, Miriam Eyre, Antonia Grasshoff, Maja Klostermann  and Ginger Lawrence.

We also had a Outlook Expeditions group from the UK who came did a great job on some of the finishing work on the walls of the new center at Pancasan.

Wonderful donation received this month of $5025.  Our good friend Roger Simmons of Adstock, UK, celebrated his 70th birthday and requested donations in place of gifts.  We are so grateful to Roger who has been taking up a collection in Adstock for more than 10 years, and to all the wonderful people of Adstock for their generosity, and also to Roger’s friends and family that contributed too.

We also had a donation of $300 from Winnie Thai, a former volunteer and her partner. 

Finally here is a link to some great pictures taken in October:

September, 2017

Last week all of our ‘ayudantes’ visited a job fair an a university in Managua.  We use the term ‘ayudantes’ for our university students who have scholarships with us, they are sponsored individually by friends of La Esperanza Granada, former volunteers etc.  These young people attend university only on the weekends and spend several hours each weekday helping alongside our visiting volunteers.  It is essentially a five year internship.  Though during their final year they will often go to do a shorter internship directly in their chosen field of study for part of the year.

It is common in Nicaragua to attend university on the weekends and spread the course over five years.  By far the majority of students study this way as most have to contribute financially to their families.

Our young interns are the best from their local schools, the cream of the crop as you might say, but they still have a long way to go to compete in the jobs market with those who go on to the more expensive universities from the expensive private schools, and to compete with those who have family connections in businesses and professions.  For our students coming from the poorest barrios their families may work at chopping firewood, laboring, selling in the market, or sweeping the streets.  Not the family connections they need to make good contacts for jobs.   So it is a source of great pride to us when our former ayudantes have jobs and aremoving on to building their lives.

Too many of their young friends never made it through high school, failing out in the first year or two.  Not because they were lazy or stupid, just simply because it was too hard for them.  Many children move through primary schools without truly knowing and understanding the basics, and then when they reach high school level where they have to achieve a certain standard to continue, they can’t make it.  The young children coming to our learning centers have the opportunity to practice those basics and develop the skills of learning that will carry them forward.

In the learning center at Sabaneta we have now completed the library/reading area which was funded by the children of St. Bonifatius School in Asten,  through Nica-Friends in the Netherlands.  Just waiting for the bookshelves to arrive, but at the moment we have books on a table, and the children are loving it.   Starting work now on the library/reading area for the center at Sabaneta.

We arranged for a mobile eye testing clinic to come up to the high school to have all the students tested.  This was so much better than having the students all come into town a few at a time.  (the high school students have their eyes examined and glasses when needed as part of their sponsorship).  45 students have their glasses now, and we will be having the clinic come again in the next weeks.

We don’t have so many volunteers in September, it always seems to be a quiet month, both for tourism here and for us with overseas volunteers, but those who have been here have been great and hard working.   During September our volunteers were

Nicola Mendoza Castillo, Angi vilaseca Ribas, Jesse Swedlund, Hailey Karcher, Roser Masso Virgili, Arkaitz Iturregi Barandica, Kimberly Zito, Stien Franssens, Shannon lee, Maria Farners Moya Turon, Lidia Carbo Sanchez, Blake Welling, Marielene Stienz, Rose Braisher, Mirian Eyre, Antonia Graasshoff, Maja Klostermann, Ruth Verona, Ginger Lawrence and Beat Rohr.

Donations from Foundation Fleamarket Deurne who send 500 Euro through Nica Friends to buy supplies for our learning centers, very welcome.  We also had a package with more than a 1000 pencils, plus erasers and pencil sharpeners from the father of one of our former volunteers, Danny Larsen.  It is so appreciated, with so many children attending the learning centers we need lots of supplies.    Another former volunteer Jelle Huybrechts has been in touch to let us know he is sending through 1500 Euro from his pub quiz that he held earlier in the year.  Well done Jelle, and for continuing with this for so many years too.  

Alnd lastly here is the link to some photos from this month, including a very short video of one of our ‘ayudantes’.

August, 2017

So as children are going back to school in many parts of the world, the children here are settling in to the last semester of the year, with close to three months till their ‘summer’ holidays come.

We have completed the building of a new classroom in Escudo as of today.  This classroom is oustandingly the best in the school, and the best of any that we have seen.  It is built to the new national standard, and is the first that we have built with the supervision and advice of the architects from the Ministry of Education.  It is lovely, though a little sad that we could have built two classrooms of the older style to accommodate twice as many children for the same price – but of course this is one of the costs of progress.

We had some visiting groups with us earlier in the month, students from Chew Valley school repaired desks, repaired and painted the bathrooms and painted a classroom at the school Pablo Antonio Cuadra, and Collingwood School students gave a fresh coat of paint to the Nueva Esperanza High School.  We also had a team of five French scouts, led by Claire Rouzet who did lots of the finish work at the Pancasan Learning Center now virtually ready, just awaiting the furnishings to be built.

Heard of a unique idea for fundraising this week.  Ton Hendrix of Nica Friends has been asked by some of his acquaintances to help them learn Spanish – so he is doing it for a fee – the fee being a donation to help La Esperanza Granada.  This could be a great way for former volunteers to keep up your Spanish, and help others who may become future volunteers.  As you would not be charging for lessons you would not need to be a licensed teacher – your ‘students’ would simply be making a donation and you would know that the kids here will be getting the benefit.

Most of our volunteers are now working in the learning centers – with just a few at Pablo Antonio Cuadra.  We have lots of children attending the centers and though there are some teething problems in general it is a great success.  Volunteers here at the moment are Ana Mendingutxia Balil, Felix Osterloh, Thore Pieper, Maria Sanchez Chapinal, Paula Porras Lara, Clement Langlet, Lazslo Samu, Roser Masso Virgili, Maria Esther Parrado Gonzales, Blake Welling, Marielene Stenz, Rose Braisher, Irene Sanchez Cebrian, Alejandro Diaz Santos, Irene Andrea Lope, Sara Ortega Gomez, Shelly Smith, Miriam Eyre, Antonia Grosshoff, Maja Klostermann, Amanda Lesch, Enrique Toquero Lebredo, David Cruz Quevedo, Lidia Carbo Sanchez, Amanda Guthu and Ginger Lawrence.

Donations were received from Emilio Martinez who sent $35, Mariska Lievaart who sent $258, Jim Ludden who sent $1000, Anita Rogers who sent $15, Ray Breswick who sent $100, Elisabeth Zinck who sent $184 and Karla Moggeridge who sent $20.  Alejandro Diaz sent a box of notebooks and colours, and Ana Mendigutxia and Irene Andrea brought lots of materials for the learning centers that the kids will really appreciate.  Special thanks too goes to Esther Parrados who brought a whole suitcase full of books in Spanish, storybooks and texts, 150 in all, and some story CD’s too.    We also received a big shipment of toys for Christmas through Asociación MAYAS in Spain, there are over 4500 that will will distribute to the school children as part of an attendance incentive.

Here is a link to some great photos taken this month:  Hope you will enjoy them.

June, July, 2017

Covering two months in this newsletter so lots to report so for the sake of clarity will try in bullet points:

El Centro Sabaneta – the learning center in Sabaneta is now open.  And it is being used!  The first two weeks were term break in the schools and we had over 500 students the first day.  Now that school has been running for a couple of weeks we are still having more than 400 a day.  The older children come in the mornings for English and computers, the younger children in the afternoons for Spanish, math, reading, art and craft and computers.  We are still waiting for the furniture to be completed so using a lot of plastic chairs and tables at the moment, but we are getting there, and the children of Sabaneta are certainly showing their interest.  The official inauguration was on 5th June – here is a link to a local newscast:       We had a great day at the end of June with all our ayudantes and staff painting the center, and also Godophin and Latimer School, World Challenge group helped with the finishing.

Escudo school – New Classroom – work on this classroom is progressing really well.  While we have always worked with the permission of the Ministry of Education, this year is the first time that they have been involved with the planning and building of a classroom, and it is to be done to a national standard.  This has raised the costs considerably, and a new classroom now will cost approx. $14000 to complete.  We are well on the way, but not sure that we will be able to build many more classrooms with these costs.  Een Aarde in The Netherlands generously contributed €5000 towards the building, and other amounts have been added by the groups who have been working on the building – Wilderness Expedition from UK, Balcarras School and Northampton School for Girls from Outlook Expeditions, and King Edward School from World Challenge.

Lolita Sorayana School – again following the plans of the Ministry of Education we have built a kitchen in this semi rural school.  The groups who have worked on this and funded it too were Bridge of Don Academy and Bromley High, both from Outlook Expeditions.

(a note – although we mention that the costs have increased with the increased involvement of the Ministry of Education, we should also mention that they have been building more classroom, putting roofs on classrooms, building walls around schools etc. and we are delighted to see how much has been done to improve the infrastructure of the Granada district schools)

Mercedes Mondragon – The whole school was given a facelift, the bathrooms renovated and lots of desks rebuilt, by groups Mearns Castle from world Challenge and Carmel High from True Adventures.

La Inmaculada – We have built a dining area for the children to have their school lunches, as well as painting, clearing the yard, and building a stage area, with help from All Saints School, Ysgol Gyfun Bro Morg, Anglo European School and Marlborough Science Academy all from World Challenge.

Pablo Antonio Cuadra – a facelift for the school and bathrooms with lots of painting, and also desk rebuilds with the work done by Radnor High from Outlook Expeditions, a group of Scouts from Belgium led by Margaux Kaesmacher, and Chew Valley school from True Adventures.

El Centro Pancasan –  Work here is really progressing, we will be down to the finishing touches soon.  We had a group with Jeff and Sarah from Amped who worked hard, and they were followed by a group of French Scouts led by Claire Rouzet who are still with us.  

And once again we had a short visit from Blythe Academy who freshened up the paintwork and the school yard at the high school in Nueva Esperanza.  

Lots of volunteers have been helping in the past two months.  We are so grateful that so many people come from all over the world and give their time to make the work of La Esperanza Granada possible.  Thanks to all of these Jesús Unzueta, Karla Carreón, Paola Cosssyleon, Adrianna Unzueta, Lizzie Reynolds, Jonathan Taylor, Aziz Yakub, Sofia Lewis, Rebecca Schwartz, Daniel Babcock, Rosa Van Rysinger, Romain Poddevin, Gabriel Guerin, Albert Tapp Scotting, Dylan King, Madeleine Buchmar, Hanna Davis, Camille Guiraub, Lucas Maletich, Tjorven Rohwer, Fenja Nolting, Lucas Delmas, Miriam Degmayer, Jordan Vitelli, Kristine Vitelli, Hannah Reger, Lara Stavrinoui, Victor Lons, Aylin Rodriguez Martinez, Emma Ruskin, Anzana Maharajh, Daniel Larson, Caitlin Ward, Charlotte Holcombe, Elizabeth Zalucki, Mark Bussert, Laida Prieto, Laire Camara Gonzales, Raquel Toranco, Franzisha Noll, Sophie Moorhead, Andrea Nease, Mathias Alfredo Zulueta, Hannah Mellin, Hugh Orozco, Mark Bussert, Beat Rohr, Eduardo Buil Teller, Batania Muniz, Fabiola Norton, Lucia Arnedo Guallar,  Ana Guimo Mascuñan, Laura Lucia Lucas Soto, Yacine abdelghaffar, Simone de ross, Alexis Brodeur, Margarethe Hoberg, Julia Schmall, Pauline Molleney, Natalia Albinski Euler, Jessica Mitchell,  Ingrid Berdie Garriga, Amanda Gathu, Sarah Debock, Janne delagrande, Konstantijn Herssens, Maarten Callewart, Julia Martinez de Velasco Segarra, Nikola Maravcikova, Alyson Woolley, Elizabeth Maltby, Tiara Horan, Fabiola Guillen, Ellen Kearney-mitchell, Florian Brossard, Annamarie Cooper, Brett Lundmark, Laura Ziegler, Natalia Casamitjana, Andrea Boronat Fernandez, Clement Langlet, Lucia Ros, Leo Gesnoiun, Pierre Cosquer,  Heather Fegan, Laszlo Samu, and Christina Junker.

Wonderful donations that we have received from Benjamin Regorz €150, Beth Kells, Sam Carpenter and Steve Lewine (Directors of Builders Beyond Borders) who contributed $1335 each to help us finish the center at Pancasan, Winthrop Han who sent $250, Karin Van Eijk and Tom Daniels who sent €100 to celebrate their anniversary, Ashli Temple, former volunteer sent $150 contributed by her friends and family, €800 from Sezione Associazione in Italy who held a fundraiser for us thanks to volunteer Sara Marioni, former volunteer,  €150 from Jeanne Langkamp, former volunteer, to take children to the dentist, €520 from volunteers Sarah Debode, Maarten Callewaert, Konstantijn Herssens and Janne Delagrange who raised money selling candy bags at home, $200 from Balcarras School in the UK, $3000 towards the center at Pancasan from Amped for Education, and €150 from Josep Font, former volunteer who held an exposition:   Thanks also to all of those who brought school supplies etc. to our office too. 

And two new members welcomed to our La Esperanza Granada family – Donald and Carlota had a son Matiis on the 19thJuly (day of the Revolution) and Yesinia and Alfredo had a son Ethan on the 21st July. 

And lastly our photo link:

May, 2017

We have had good rains through May with the start of the rainy season coming in well this year.  Everything is lush and green, and unfortunately, out in the barrios, lots of mud too.   There has been tremendous progress in the past years in finishing roads, and lately even sidewalks which is great.  In the barrio of Nueva Esperanza we have been able to finish quite a few laneways which helps some of the children there to get to school without wrecking their shoes, or slipping and falling in the mud.  We hope to do some more of this in the later part of this year.

Our two new learning centers, in Pancasan and Sabaneta, are almost completed now.  Both projects went over their basic building allocation which was $22000 each, paid for by Builders Beyond Borders who then added an extra $2000 for each center.  The ceilings, insulation and fans have been paid for by Een Aarde and Nica Friends in both centers, and Een Aarde has contributed for the furnishing for one of the centers too.  So we are close to having all the funding and they will both be ready to open in July, may just need a little finishing such as painting the walls etc. later in the summer as we receive funds to do so.

Thanks to the grant we received from the Virginia Wellington Cabot Foundation we were able to purchase 38 notebook computers and 40 tablet computers so we will have enough for both of the new centers.

This is an enormous undertaking, we had to purchase the land first as well as the funding for building, and a very exciting step forward for La Esperanza Granada.  So much appreciate all of those who have helped.

Mothers day was the big event here in May, celebrated on the 30th schools were closed for the day, and all had special Mother’s day fiestas on the previous day attended by all the mothers in the community.

Sofia Lewis one of our volunteers raised $715 which we will use for resources for the learning centers, and we had three people visiting our donation store this month too.  Catherine Teller spent $51, Elizabeth McCauley for Katrina Fralick spent $55 and Jennifer Hurn from Australia spent $38.  Other volunteers too brought school supplies and toys for the children,  Leana Jacobs came with three large bags, Emma Ruskin arrived with lots (see in the photos) and Fenja Nolting brought colored pencils and balls.

Volunteers who are here with us now are Lizzie Reynolds, Jesus Unzueta, Paola Cossyleon, Karla Carreon, Adrianna Unzueta, Emma Ruskin, Aziz Yakub, Ansanna Maharajh, Dylan King, Rosa Van Rysinger, Daniel Larson, Madeleine Buchmar,  Jonathan Taylor,  Hannah Davies, Heather Fagan, Camille Guiraud, Lucas Matelich, Alexis Brodeur, Fenja Nolting, Tjorven Rohwer, Lazslo Samu, Lucas Delmas, Hannah Reger, Pauline Molleney, Margarethe Hoberg, Julia Schmall,  Miriam Degmayr, Mark Bussert and Christina Junker.

And lastly here is a link to some great pictures – hover over each photo to see the captions:

April, 2017

Semana Santa was the big event this month.  The whole country stopped for a holiday week of celebrations, family visits, picnics at the beach etc.  However this year our team didn’t stop – we had two more groups from Builders Beyond Borders here with us working on building the new learning centers in Pancasan and Sabaneta.

These wonderful groups of young people gave up their holiday break to come and build, the the Team C4 (23 people) at Pancasan and Team Estrellon (32 people) at Sabaneta, the centers really advanced.  They accomplished a lot, and our local builders will be doing the finishing work through May.   I’m happy to say that the La Esperanza Granada team gave it their all too, with no complaint about missing the holiday, our employees and our ayudantes worked behind the scenes to make all this happen.

Normally we would all have a picnic day together during the holiday, not this year – but to replace that Mark Turner chartered the Bella del Mar – last Friday, and we all spent the day together cruising on the lake, swimming in a beautiful bay, feasting and generally having fun.

This newsletter is a little late due to the May day weekend, yet one more holiday, but considered a very important one in Nicaragua where the rights of workers are held in high regard.

We made the news in April too – with this segment on air last week:

It is entirely in Spanish though, but if anyone out there would like to caption it for us in English do please get in touch.

In our center in Escudo we have nearly completed our special reading area.  Puedo Leer donated 100 children’s story books in Spanish to get us started, which we are very grateful for.  We have built a special room within the center – a special little reading ‘casita’ with a raised floor it’s own roof, and railing around – brightly painted and furnished with cushions this will make an ideal spot for children to sit with a book and read.  Some of the local mothers have also offered to come and read aloud to children too.  

In last months news we missed a donation that Martha’s church choir in Ottawa donated 1200 cordobas.  Thank you.  

Volunteers here at the end of April are Martin Witschas, Sean Hays, Marvin Menou, Lilly Ewert, Paloma Berrocal del Rio Martinez, Cristina Schaberl, Lennart Hochl, Brittney Hickerson, Irene Alvares Rodriguez, Sarah Seidl, Fenja Nolting, Tjorven Rohwer, Merle Anders, Rebecca Schwartz, Alice Dunbar, Lazslo Samu, Povilas Juska, Maite Allo Hernandez, Lucas Delmas, Hannah Reger, Sofia Lewis, Lizzie Reynolds, Brian Mcphee, Pauline Molleney, Margarethe Hoberg, Julia Schmall, Miriam Degmayer, Mark Bussert, Christina Junker,  and Christian Selle.

 And our all important link to photos:

March, 2017

So, we have reached the 1st of April, and excitement is already building for Semana Santa which starts in just seven days. The whole of Easter week here is a big holiday week.   A time to get together with family,  lots of eating, laughing, dancing and going to the beach.  There are wonderful religious processions throughout the week (in fact these have been happening each Friday since Lent started) and even in the poorest barrios there is a kind of carnival atmosphere.

The country is developing rapidly, and due to increased regulation there are less fireworks this year in advance of the holiday.  New and enforced laws go hand in hand with development, and some of that impacts on our work in the schools too.  We now have a 72 page booklet of guidelines to follow with any building work we do in the schools.  In addition all school improvements that we undertake need to be coordinated with the Central Ministry of Education in Managua.   Of course this is logical, but takes some adjustment given the freedom we had in the past to simply go in and do what we saw may be needed.  Another difference is that many of the needs are now being supplied by the Ministry of Education, and by the local government, so this is a tremendous step forward.

We have still been busy in March doing some of what is needed in the schools.  We had groups visiting from three US universities, Appalachian State University, Vanderbilt University and Southern Utah University.  All three accomplished a great deal, making improvements to the school of Mercedes Mondragon, painting classrooms, repairing and renovating desks, and building a new entrance way for the school especially for the younger children.  Also the wall at Nueva Esperanza is now completed and gives a much better security to the school.

Spent a very interesting week with visitors from our partner organization in The Netherlands, Nica-Friends. (  Ton Hendrix and Sandra van Gerwen visited the schools where we work and our new learning center at Escudo, met all the high school students who they sponsor and their ayudante, and saw all the progress since Ton’s last visit a few years ago.  They brought bags of school supplies that they had collected before their trip.    It is great to have an outside perspective on things, from people who are involved and care  enough to really help.   Nica-Friends puts in a lot of effort to fund raise for La Esperanza Granada in the Netherlands.  This was the first time to Nicaragua for Sanda, but suspect it will not be her last.

We received donations in March from Macolm Southward who sent $20, Jim Ludden who sent $500, and Mary Redgate who gave us $300.  We also received school supplies from Ruth Carson, and from Help People Learn

Our volunteers have all been working hard too, and great to see Ryan Olson back with us for his 10th year.  Another long term volunteer who is working with us once more is Anka Verhoeven who will be helping us online to manage the high school sponsorship program.  Wonderful that there are so many sponsored students now at the high school, though there are still a few that would love to be connected with a sponsor, so it is not too late if you have been considering it.

Other volunteer here at present are Peter Driscoll, Sydney Gamble, Laura Messerschidt, Enrique Castrillo Balbas, Lisa Steinfeld, Alice Dunbar, Rahel Winkelmann, Laszlo Samu, Povilas Juska, Victoria Moiny, Joseph Nevins, Judith Verret, Maite Allo Hernandez, Lucas Delmas, Hannah Reger, Sofia Lewis, Alexa Carrenard-Tremblay, Lizzie Reynold, Brian Mcphee, Pauline Molleney, Margarethe Hoberg, Julia Schmall, Marvin Menou, Sean Hays, Sarah Englert, Miriam Degmayr, Mark Bussert, Christina Junker, and Carlos Lopez Navas.

And lastly here is a link to some photos from March we hope you will enjoy:

February, 2017

Firstly my excuse for being late with the news for February – there were only 28 days!

Bullet points again this month as so much has been happening:

– Big event of the month was the Builders Beyond Borders group who worked on building our new learning centers, one in Pancasan, and one in Sabaneta.   These are both densely populated barrios of Granada with a high proportion of people living in conditions of poverty.   

-B3 sent two teams, Rhombos a group of 28 who worked at Pancasan, and Trabajenos, a group of 26 who worked at Sabaneta.  It was amazing to see how much these young people achieved in just six days on the worksites.  The arrived very late at night on Saturday 19th and left very late the following Saturday.  It was intense, and all of our team worked hard too with preparing, organizing, and getting all the details in place.  It was a great success all round.  The Builders Beyond Borders program has it’s headquarters in Norwalk, CT, USA, and has been working with high school students for 25 years now – we are delighted to work with them again for their silver anniversary year. (

– On the 22nd February we welcomed a group from Hopkins Academy in Mass. USA, who stayed a week and made big improvements to the Amped center that we run in Madrona.  They repaired the fences and build perimeter walls as well as giving an overall facelift the the whole area.  They had a great time while they were here, worked hard, and we look forward to their return next year.

– We are happy to say that Puedo Leer have commenced a collaboration with La Esperanza Granada with a donation of 100 story books to set up a reading area in our Escudo Centro de Aprendezaje.  They not only brought the books but gave a workshop to some of our staff and local interns on working with the children with reading, and advised us on the shelving and furniture we will need to set up a library area/reading room there in our center.   Great to be working with Puedo Leer and spread the joy of reading.

– Roger and Kate Simmons from Adstock in the UK visited for several days.  Roger has been making a collection in Adstock for many years now, and the village has given wonderful support to La Esperanza Granada.  They were last in Nicaragua when we had the opening of the primary school in Nueva Esperanza (at that time San Ignacio), where the kindergarten classroom was built with funds to honor Kate’s parents, and is now The Nash Classroom.   At that time in 2009, the primary school had just three classrooms, so it was great to take Roger and Kate around and show them all the progress since.  The primary school now has 11 classrooms and is literally overflowing with children – one class uses a room at the high school, which at that time was not started.  Now the high school (also full) has 8 classrooms.  

– Other visitors from past years were Doug and Barb Christie – lovely to see former volunteers back to visit.  Doug and Barb were here 11 years ago and worked with us for three months – they have been supporters since too and sponsored high school students over the years.  And another Canadian regular supporter, Lyndon Watkins from Halifax spent a few days here and brought us a donation of $500.

– As a follow on from the house building last month funded by Stephen and Gretchen Daus and their colleagues at Mercy Housing, three more latrines were built for families in Neuva Esperanza.  Incredible as it seems that there are families living without their own facilities – going to use a neighbors or cousins latrines down the laneway – it does happen, and now three less families have this inconvenience in their lives, and have their own sanitation.  Sure they are happy.

– We had toys and school supplies brought from France by the Martin family who visited with their friends.  Lots of school supplies too from Hopkins Academy, really appreciated.  Bruce Cambell from B3 brought two gently used Ipads which will become incentive prizes for our university students,  and Trabajenos group brought pencils and crayons, plus other donations came into the office from Otto and Lee Carpentier,  Cecile and Roger Brenes, and Ben Lhullier.   And some four months after he had mailed it we received a package with some great resources for the learning center from John Kersic.  

– Cash donations were received from Mark Turner $400 for repairs on our van,  Doug and Barb Christie 3000 cordobas, Otto and Lee Carpentier 1470 cordobas.  It is wonderful to receive all this help.

– And not forgetting the help of all of our volunteers, at the end of the month – Celine Lamorlette, Marie Labelle, Melissa Morales, Boyd Evarts, Lars Palsmar, Jeppe Lundberg, Moritz Housmann, Lucas Delmas, Ruth Carson, Sira Alder, Earl Gwin, Jessica Stofko, Sydney Gamble, Hannah Reger, Sofia Lewis, Ashli Temple, Alexa Carrenard, Martha Bowers,  ( back again) Jonathan Collins, Allison King, Lucia Amato, Brian Mcphee,  Pauline Molleney, Margarethe Hoberg, Julia Schmall, Johannes Varga, Assohocko Rudich, Lennart Ostermann, Marvin Menou, Sean Hays, Christian Selle, Wiston Anderson, Magdalena Rozsak, Sarah Englert, Miriam Degmayr, carlos Lopez Navas, Christina Junker, Mark Bussert, Lizzie Reynolds and Peter Driscoll.

And a great bunch of photos put together by Luis:

January, 2017

A very big month this January, 31 days seems way too short for all that happened.  Christmas and New Year are like a distant memory!

– Summer school was active all month, more than 160 children attended and had classes for 3 1/2 hours each morning.  This is a great bonus for them to spend their vacation time in classes as they have so little to otherwise do.

– Learning Center is progressing wonderfully.  The three sessions each afternoon are full virtually every day, and the children are so happily engaged.  Volunteers report that lots of kids are making a good progress too, with math and Spanish too.  Even in the arts and crafts section it is a pleasure to watch a young child struggling to cut a piece of paper, glue it to another and then be thrilled with the result.

– Westfield State University were here for their seventh year with us, doing their Global Learning Class.  Fantastic supporters of La Esperanza Granada.  This year they built an office and store room for the primary school at Nueva Esperanza, much to the delight of the teachers there.  They also conducted classes with the children teaching about time, clocks and calendars etc.  and put on a wonderful party for the whole school at the end of their stay.  

– Sydney Girls High and North Sydney Girls High had a team visit us through World Challenge who finished off the new wall/fence at the front of Nueva Esperanza school.  A hard working group, they also gave whiteboards, schools supplies and funds to continue the fence/wall down one side of the school.

– A group from Canada called Changing Stories, came and built a much needed classroom in a little school on Calle Nueve called Primaria Marinata.  Led by Tori Vail, this was their first visit to Nicaragua, but it was a great success and we are hoping they may return next year. They were a group of 20 from all walks of life, who simply wanted to change some peoples stories by helping.

– Stephan and Gretchen Daues who are here for a few months with their children (Stephan has been volunteering with us) have been building a house for a family in Nueva Esperanza.  They raised $4800 through family, friends and colleagues at Mercy Housing, and have been working hard this past week to get it completed.  Stephan has also committed $500 per year for three years to our Generosity fund raising for an employee to run our new learning centers.

– Amy Schroeder Riggo visited from B3 ( putting all the plans in place for their two groups coming in February, one, Team Trabajenos will start building the new learning center in Sabaneta. the other, Team Rhombo will be building the center in Pancasan.

– Lots of new people have signed up for sponsoring a high school student which is great, we still have some students without sponsors though, this year 215 students will be attending the high school in Nueva Esperanza.

– Three volunteers Magdalena, Melissa and Marie raised money through their friends and families and gave out packages to each family whose children attended the summer school, on the last day of summer school.  The packages contained rice and beans and oil, other basics and hygiene products too. Lots of happy families there.

– For the last few days of the month, as summer school ended on the 26th our volunteers have gone out in the community picking up all the plastic and garbage to motivate the children to protect the environment and enjoy a cleaner community, of course the children have taken part too.

– Volunteer Heather Phillips has written our latest blog – Some of our favorite things……

– Our fundraising campaign on Generosity is moving along, if you haven’t checked it out yet, here is the link:

– Donations this month have come through from Wendell Blubaum who sent $250 through paypal to support our learning center director, Greg Sparks who sent $50 to help in the schools, Christopher Kirkpatrick who spent $31 in our donation store, along with lots of people sending through payments for their sponsored high school students.  Lots of donations brought into the office too – Michael and Dominique Matthews from France brought big bags of school supplies, toys and games; Elizabeth Sentilli brought lots of school supplies, Leana Artay brought school supplies, Rob Armone brought a bag of things as did Kristin Memm who has returned to volunteer with us once again.  And all of our groups too, Westfield State gave lots of teaching resources and games andprizes, Changing Stories too, our cupboards are nearly full, but with schools opening next week we will be clearing them out again!

– Volunteers here at the moment are Marvin Menou, Grata Scarpato, Fannny Genti, Boyd Evarts, Ana Luisa Navarro, Rodrigo Haddad, Morizt Hausmann, Sean Hays, Christian Selle, Elise Toortelboom,  Paula Kostrzewa, Maura Farrely, Winston Anderson, Magdalena Roszak, Melissa Morales, Barbara Sander, Jeroen Gerritsen, Sarah Englert, Miriam Degmayr, Heather Phillips, Lebelle Marie, Carlos Lopez Navas, Christina Junker,  Mark Bussert, Melanie schmid, Jahannes Vargas, Rudith Assohocko, Lennart Ostermann, Shellie Dodson, Kristim Memm, Peter Kitchen, and Sue Fernie.

And last but not least, here is the link to some great photos for this month:

Thanks to all for helping us have a wonderful January here at La Esperanza Granada.

December, 2016

Our first learning center in Escudo is now open, and the children are flocking to it. We are so happy to see that the children are enjoying learning.  Without any inducements of snacks, cold drinks, food etc. just the incentive of great resources for them to use, children are queueing up before opening time to get a place.  The four main areas they can chose are math, literacy, computers and arts/crafts, and we are planning to open a library area soon.

With two new centers on their way in the first half of 2017, one at Pancasan and one at Sabaneta, our main need now is for a staff member to be in charge of running the centers.  For the first time ever, we are trying an on line fundraising campaign.  We have a strong support of core donors who continually help, and we want to try and reach beyond this generous group of supporters and see if we can raise the money in a different manner.   Maybe with a little here and a little there we can make our goal, so if you could all pass the information around it would be a great help.  Here is a link to the Generosity site: And a blog that will tell you more:

The primary school Nueva Esperanza is presenting a better face to the world now, thanks to a group from Wavell State School in Australia who came to work with us from World Challenge.  They built a base wall and replaced the fence on the eastern side of the school, and another World Challenge group will complete the west side in January.  They were a great bunch and had done quite a bit of fundraising to help here.

We have measured all of the spnsored students for 2nd to 5th year at the high school for their new uniforms and shoes.  Will be starting on the new 1st year students next week.  At the time of writing we have 18 students who need sponsors to help them attend high school.   In the past we have had people ask about the possibility of paying monthly, and we now have a way to do this for US sponsors, and possibly for those in Europe too – so if you were thinking you would like to sponsor a high school student but would find it easier to pay by the month (about $17 per month) then please send an email and we will get back to you with some details.

We had just one ayudante who graduated this year, Flor Centano Pavo – sponsored by Ita McAuley.  Congratulations to Flor who graduated in Finance and Banking.   Another ayudante who is finishing is Juan Carlos, as he has stepped up to being an employee in our office, though will continue studying for another year to get his degree in English.  We have five new ayudantes this year starting this week, Luis Daniel Garcia sponsored by Jeff and Barbara Reid, Margarita Los Angleles Mena sponsored by Joshua Lunn, Karla de los Angeles Hernandez sponsored by Ira Schiweck, Jarvin Moises Calveron sponsored by Mark Turner, and Carlos Omar Luna sponsored by Pauline Jackson.  Of course there are others that would like to be part of this program, but we are really happy that there are five who will have this wonderful opportunity.

Great donations from Sally and Bob Rasmussen $445,  Ed Wall $1000, Grace and John Vandenbosche $74, Elsi Gee $40 , Kim Walters $25, Jim Ludden $200, Jack Tierney $110, Frank and and Jo Blanchard $100.  We have also received a very special donation from Nica Friends in the Netherlands.  Through Nica Friends, Een Aarde has sent through 5000 Euro to cover the costs of the ceiling, insulation, fans and furnishings for our second new learning center at Pancasan, and Nica Friends have sent through 2900 Euro to cover the costs of the furnishings for the learning center in Escudo.  We really appreciate their support for our new projects, and this is in addition to 14 high school sponsorships and one ayudante scholarship.  You can learn more about Nica Friends on their website:

Volunteers here with us at present are Isadora Stefanovic, Ella Tyler, Sela Buted, Federico Pastoris, Silvia Sensini, Jessica Hanam, Sara Mirononi, Gaelle Henrion, Jonathan Vermeiren,  Natalie Bell, Nicole Giusti, Radiana Arghiropol, Grace Pineda, Heather Phillips, Stephan, Marie Leballe, Stefanie Oehme, Robin Riviere, Carlos Lopez Navas, Christina Junker, Moritz winkelius, Nele Koellmann, Mark bussert, Peter Kitchen and Sue Fernie.

Some great photos put together by Juan Carlos covering our December in pictures:

And now it just remains to thank all of those who have been part of the organization in this past year, volunteers, donors, and friends and to wish everyone all the best for the coming year.

From all of the team at La Esperanza Granada – Happy New Year!

November, 2016:

Came to the end of November and there was way too much happening to send our regular newsletter, decided to make this an “End of the school year news” instead.

Attended on of the most moving events of my life on Friday 2nd, the first graduating class of the high school that La Esperanza built in Nueva Esperanza.  There were students, parents, grandparents, siblings, aunts and uncles – you name it.  The joy was palpable, it felt there must have been a big cloud of it rising in the air as the school yard just couldn’t contain it.  22 students in sky blue caps and gowns with gold sashes, proudly received their certificates.  Professor Elizabeth, who has seen them all the way through from 1st year was overcome with pride and happiness, and it was wonderful to see the students love for her.  The families put together and gave her a brand new bicycle as a thank you.  The whole afternoon was truly inspiring.  And best of all it will inspire all the children of the community to reach the same level as these wonderful young graduates.

On Saturday 3rd, another 20 students graduated from high school at Pablo Antonio Cuadra, and these scenes are being repeated country wide, in areas where previously there were no high schools to attend, or schools that went only as far as the 3rd year of high school, and virtually all of these young people want to go further.

There is a tremendous increase in the numbers of children who are completing primary school too – in Nueva Esperanza this year, 48, Pablo Antonio 68, Jose de la Cruz Mena 45, and Escudo 42.  This is a tremendous rise from just a few years ago – not only because there are more children attending school, but because of the recent government campaign for children to stay on at school and reach a minimum of 6th grade (last year of primary school).  It has been a great success.  So now there are lots of the children we work with wanting to attend high school too, so please do let us know if you would like to sponsor a high school student.  We have been able to keep the costs to $185 per year for a student, and this gives them everything they need for school, extra tuition four days a week, plus dental check and optical.

Granada is in the midst of the Purisima celebrations, so currently there are parades and fireworks every night with the culmination of the celebrations on the 8th.  We are heading into an exciting month, not only because of the holidays, but also the start of summer school on the 5th at Nueva Esperanza, and the opening of our new Learning Center at Escudo on the 12th, more about those at the end of the month.

Check our latest blog:  Featuring our ‘ayudante’ Teadora, written by Nick Dippie.  We are always sorry to lose volunteers who are on their way, more especially those who have been with us several months such as Nick.  This month however we have to farewell a volunteer who has been here much longer than that – this volunteer has been here for several months at a time, twice a year for virtually the past 10 years.  We are very sorry to say adios to Ginger Lawrence.  Ginger has been a mainstay with us teaching English, first at the schools and then giving one on one classes to our ayudantes, and has become very much a part of La Esperanza Granada – no doubt there will now be students in Los Angeles who will benefit from her teaching, as I can’t imagine Ginger sitting still, but she has officially hung up her traveling hat and retired as our very long term volunteer.

Lots of volunteers have left at the end of the school year, but those still with us, and newly arrived are Olivia Verdin, Alexia Minne, Sara Petteruti, Stephan Daues, Marie Labelle, Eimear Kane, Carlos Langa Cabaleiro, Stefanie Oehme, Robin Riviere, Kevin Kane, Carlos Lopez Navas, Christina Junker, Moritz Winkelius, Nele Koellmann, and Mark Bussert.

And last, but not least, some photos from the month:

October, 2016:

October is a rare month here in that it is the only month where there are no holidays at all and school is on every day.  This month the only day with no classes was the last Friday, which is student free every month for teacher planning and training.
Most months there are 18 or less school days, and on any given day classes may finish early for meetings or other events.  This is one of the major reasons for planning our new learning centers.  

In the schools the lassrooms are often dirty, hot, noisy and chaotic.  We have been in those classrooms helping for more than 12 years now.  We will continue to help in the classrooms, but we recognize that we also need to do more. 

We want to provide an area where children can come and learn.  Where they can learn with educational games on computers, where there are books to read and people available to read with them.  Where there are tables to sit at where they can practice drawing, coloring, writing.  Where they can do math worksheets and where there are manipulatives for them to learn to understand numbers, not simply copy them from the whiteboard.   Our first center in Escudo is now set to open in just over a month, we are busy planning.

A major event for one of our team this month, Karen our administrator gave birth to a baby girl on 4th October, Paulin Lillieth and Karen are both doing well, though of course we miss Karen’s help while she is on maternity leave.  (Nicaraguan law allows for three full months of maternity leave)
Plans are underway at the high school for the big graduation ceremony to be held on the 2nd December.  For us it is a major event, having built the whole high school,  we feel a special affinity.  This will be the first time that students will graduate, and those students were the first students when the school opened it’s doors for Year 1 students five years ago.  54 students started at that time and 22 will graduate.  Considering that the high school retention rate, even in the private schools is often as low as 15 – 20% we are thrilled with that number.    All of them are hoping to go on to further education, so looking for sponsorship.   And next year we have around 70 new students to start in 1st year that will be looking for a high school sponsor.  We have been able to hold the costs down to $185 per student per year for high school, and for more information on either high school or university sponsorship here is a link:
Visit our website:
Once again the village of Adstock in the UK has shown their wonderful generosity.  Roger Simmons has made his yearly collection and raised £3005.00, and along with a donation in memory of his late mother, has sent through $4409 to La Esperanza Granada.  Roger and Kate are great supporters of ours, and we do treasure our link with them and Adstock.
Another large donation was received this month from Liam O’Hare in the UK who sent through $7400 in memory of Jane Oram.  More news about this donation next month.    We also received $800 from Paul Munn a current volunteer who collected funds in the North of Ireland before coming to work with us, plus he brought lots of toothbrushes and toothpaste with him. Diana Paiva brought in school supplies and Charis Eindhover from the Netherlands sent through $222.  And from Cairnlough in the North of Ireland, Desi Mcaul sent through $1500 from the charity shop in town – thanks to the volunteers who spend their time working there.
Volunteer Nick Dippie has just update our blog with an interesting article about the volunteers work in the schools:  
Other great members of our volunteer team here now are Helen Curtis, Paul Munn, Maritza Tejada, Bastián Knilboez, Diana Paiva, Ana Rivero, Tabea Selleneit, Jessie Byron, Linda Baranzini, Embla Holmgren, Maxime Benamou, Alexandra Nadal, Erick Jackaman, Imogen Kelly, Christina Junker, Naomi Mitchell, Moritz Winkelius, Nele Koellmann, Paula Regina de Castro Alvares, Mark Bussert, Adriana Alibrandi, and Ginger Lawrence.
And last but not least for the month, here is a link for some great photos taken during October:

September, 2016:

September saw one of the biggest events in the Nicaraguan year, the celebrations for independence day on 15th September. This is a big day for all of the kids in our schools, as they take part in marches in front of their families and the people of Granada. Each different age group has their own march, and even the little kindergartners get one!
September has been a busy month for us too. Alongside the excellent work our volunteers and staff do every month, we have been busy purchasing land in the barrios of Sabaneta and Pancasan for the two new learning centers we will build with Builders Beyond Borders in 2017.
We also held an event at Nueva Esperanza high school where the students with good attendance and conduct records received school t-shirts, emblazoned with the new school logo designed by the school, and bought and printed by us. This may not sound like a big deal, but it really is – ordinarily school t-shirts are the reserve of private schools, so to have them for Nueva Esperanza is a real source of pride for the community here.
Our feature blog this month is about Enoc, one our newest ayudantes. Enoc is sponsored by Amped For Education, and has been sponsored through La Esperanza Granada since high school. Read the full story here:
This month’s photos (prepared by Juan Carlos, here is the link: feature our ayudantes and staff painting the new learning center in Escudo, Pete and Judy Schwanz visiting to bring their donation of school materials to La Immaculata school, and much more. They also brought $100 from their friends John and Carmen of Bradento.
Paypal donations were received in honor of the wedding of Melanie Hughes and Guillermo Suescum, long term supporters of La Esperanza Granada, Iris Spelling sent $202, Jonathon Spitzer $500, Louise Flax $170, Michael Friscia $250, Katrina Craig $55, Carlos Ronisky $28 and Christopher Walton $56.  We wish Melanie and Guillermo all the best for their future together.  And we received a donation from Hon Xing Wong from Edinburgh of $50.  
Another wonderful donation from Mark Turner of $4700 has enabled us to buy a van for taking the computers out to the schools and learning centers, so we now have our own transport.  A big step forward.
And last, but by no means least, our wonderful volunteers who are with us at this time, Harold Derlagen, Alexandra Nadal, Christina Junker, Imogen Kelly, Erick Jackman, Nick Dippie, Naomi Mitchell, Moritz Winkelius, Nele Koellmann, Paula Regina de Castro Alves Pasareli, Mark Bussert, Adrianna Alibrandi, Saydie Grewe, Maxime Benamou, Embla Holmgren, Gema Chacon Lacalle, Jessie Byron, Linda Baranzini, Margarita Padilla, Tabea Selleneit, Markus Meschik and Ginger Lawrence.

August, 2016:

End of August, and we already racing ahead towards the end of the school year here in Nicaragua. The end of this year will bring a very special event for us with the first ever graduating class from the high school that we built in Nueva Esperanza. Just in case anyone wants advance notice to make travel plans, the date of the ceremony is set for 2nd December. This will be the third school where we have helped enable young people to graduate high school. The school La Epifania had only three years of high school until we build the extra classrooms they needed in 2007. And the school of Pablo Antonio Cuadra had only three years of secondary until Builders Beyond Borders partnered with us and built the extra rooms needed there in 2012.

Our feature blog this month is about one of the students who went to Pablo Antonio before it had a full high school. Nick Dippie, who is volunteering with us for a few months has written a very interesting account of Juan Carlo’s time with us as an ayudante/intern. Juan Carlos attends university with a scholarship provided by Mark Turner. Read the full story here:

At the start of the month we had two World Challenge groups from the UK working with us, Bexley Grammar who worked on the laneways in Nueva Esperanza and Southend High who did a big painting job at the school Pablo Antonio Cuadra. We also had three Canadian teachers calling themselves Yorkton Teachers Giveback who came and built a house for a family in Nueva Esperanza. Elora Weist, Christa Schmelinsky and Karen Ward raised the funds, and came down and did the work. What a great team they were, building all morning and then in the afternoons they went along and helped out at the Amped Center working with young high school students. They shared two weeks of their summer vacations with us and changed the lives of a family here.

Yorkton Teachers Giveback also brought first aid supplies, clothes and towels to donate. Rosa Teixido and Fidel Farrus brought games, toothbrushes, story books and exercise books, Meadow Gisi and her son brought a big bag with books pencils, puzzles and building shapes, Daniela Guerrero who had been here helping the Pulsera Project brought in sports uniforms and maracas, and Maeliss Villepontoux brought books. Other donations we received were $412 from Pembroke School in South Australia, $170 to help with teacher’s salaries from Marta Wohrle, and 50 Euro from Jessica Backhaus and Adrian Solar. Also Bonnie St. John and Kevin Ryan each sent a donation of $250 in honor of the wedding of two of our long term supporters, Melanie Hughes and Guillermo Suescum.

In the photos this month you will see some follow through pictures too of some donations from earlier in the year, where 100 children received new school shoes thanks to Rendal School Lierop,  and a reading center complete with books thanks to Ratelaar School also in The Netherlands. Here is the link to this month’s photos:

And last, but by no means least, our wonderful volunteers who are with us at this time, Harold Derlagen, Alexandra Nadal, Simon Egli, Christina Junker, Imogen Kelly, Erick Jackman, Vicky Martinez Richarte, Simon Berg, Nick Dippie, Naomi Mitchell, Rhys Previte, Moritz Winkelius, Nele Koellmann, Yvonne Holthuizen, Margaret O’Leary, Paula Regina de Castro Alves Pasareli, Cristina Hernandez Valiente, Cristina Sanchez Alfonso, Sarah Felicity Turner, Mark Bussert and Adrianna Alibrandi.

Thanks to everyone from the whole team at La Esperanza Granada.

July, 2016:

July began with the term break holiday here in the Nicaraguan schools. Our volunteers and interns didn’t take a break though, we held a fun reading week in the schools of Pablo Antonio Cuadra. Five days of activities all related to reading and the children had a wonderful time. Some of them made real improvement in their reading skills during the course of the week, and all of them enjoyed the stories and making the stories come to life.

And then it was back to school proper, and into the second half of the school year. Hard to remember at times as adults how important school was in our early lives, our main focus outside the home and family. Possibly more so for children here with few hobbies or planned pastimes. And we are doing our best to make the schools as good as possible for them. Not sure that all the kids here love being in the classroom all the time (just like anywhere), but there is certainly a lot of real joy around at recess time, along with shrieks of it!

We have had visiting groups doing lots of painting and maintenance in schools during July. Sibford School and Greig Academy worked on repairing laneways in Nueva Esperanza, Jo Richardson School did painting and yardwork at La Epifania, Bedford Modern and Castle school both did lots of work at La Prusia, and another team from Castle School worked at Jose de la Cruz Mena – they also bought extra desks for the school, and took the kids on an visit to Nindiri on the weekend . Hetton School did more work at Jose de la Cruz Mena, Blyth Academy spruced up the school at Salomon de la Selva and Beckfoot school helped on our new Center in Escudo.

The center is now well under way. The roof is on part of the building, the walls are up, the septic tank has been dug, and drainage laid. It is really starting to take shape and we can’t wait to see it filled with children, computers, volunteers etc.

We had a visit this month from Amy of Builders Beyond Borders, so we are hopeful that we might have some more centers underway with their teams early next year. We just have to get on and get the land first! So currently money for land is at the top of our wish list.

Volunteers currently here are Cristina Hernandez Valiente, Cristina Sanchez Alfonso, Aleix Ramia Rodriguez, Rachel Amanda Hatterjee, Anne Rozieres, Samantha Lee, Belen Caruz Lopez, Paula Sagues, Leire Lazcano Lobato, Heather Newman, Mathilde Tellene, Soizic Houssais, Ana Villaverde Valenciano, Isacc Medina Ramirez, Ines Moran Franques, Rosa Villaverde Valenciano, Valeria Villani, Maria Dolores Hermosilla, Maria Diaz Hermosilla, Manon Delattre Kevin Cariou, Vincent Scobart, JAn-Erick Lehuby, Kenny Larnicol, Josep Font Piñol, Sarah Felicity Turner, Mark Bussert, Thibault Hamon, Andrea Digard, Shaan Becue, Nadia El Arbaoui, Debbie Manchin, Adriana alibrandi, Mauricio Cobos Rodriguez and Benjamin Harter.

Lots of donations brought into our office, by Danielle Millard, teachers who visited with Project Pulsera, Lachlan Holmes, Maria Dolores Hermosilla, and Samantha Lee. We had monetary donations too, former volunteer Linda Heatherly sent $250, and former volunteer Ed Wall sent through $500.

And finally here is a link to some photos this month prepared by our intern/ayudante Juan Carlos:

June, 2016:

We’ve reached the half way point in the 2016 school year, and it has been a wonderful first half. Though the schools where we work are full to overflowing, we have had lots of wonderful volunteers helping us, a consistently great bunch. Some of our volunteers come for a few weeks to experience another culture, some to improve their Spanish, some as interns for their college courses, some for an adventure – they all come to help though, and truly they do. Some are here as part of making great changes in the course of their lives – here is a great blog from one such couple Jenny and Bo:

Our big news this month is that we have started construction on our first learning center. We are building in partnership with Amped for Education. Situated on land we purchased in Escudo (on the south west side of Granada) El Centro will be a valuable resource for the children in this community. Close to 500 children attend the local public school, so we are in an area of real need for extra help.

Julie Thomas once again brought a group of willing helpers from Kentucky and West Virginia to build another house in Nueva Esperanza – we are delighted to see that Julie is becoming a regular, and they do a fantastic job. The Torres family are thrilled with their new house, at the end of the week we celebrated with them with a lunch at the Isletas which was a fantastic day. So great to see this happy family’s life transformed.

This month two houses were built in Nueva Esperanza. Nahomy Franchesca Avendaño who lives alone with her mother Elvira was the other raffle winner. Only seven years old Nahomy is a good student and attends school every single day. Robert Stout, a regular high school student sponsor, and his family were the generous builders of this house. Robert and Becky and their children from Minnasota spent a week working in Nueva Esperanza and completed the house for Nahomy and her mother. They had a great week, their children got to know some of the local children, and all seven of the family did a lot of hard work, well done.

Good news from Rendal School Lierop in the Netherlands who did a fundraising fun run earlier this year. They raised 850 Euro for Nica Friends (for La Esperanza Granada) and at this moment 100 pairs of sturdy new school shoes are being made. We chose the grades 1 – 3 children in Nueva Esperanza and Jose de la Cruz Mena who didn’t have any shoes for school. At this time of the year with lots of rain, and often muddy rutted roads around the schools it is really important that the children can have good shoes. In other good news from Belgium, Jelle Huybrechts raised 2225 Euro with a Trivia night, which he has run each year for the past few years. Such great support from Jelle, who we are happy to say will be visiting us soon too. These funds are the start of our fundraising for the next learning center!

We also received a couple of paypal donations this month, from Thomas Heanue who sent $50 and Anita Rogers who visited our donation store and paid for two dental visits. Lots of goods brought into our office too including a computer from William, a first aid kit from Aranzazu Benito, toothbrushes from Max Newman, and school materials from Jose Cloquell, Fabiana Beilolani, Ester Tomas and Margarita Fernandez.

Our regular summer building groups have started in earnest.   Two groups visited from the United States through World Challenge Groups.One was from Golden High, and the other from Morestown high. Both groups worked on improving the laneways in Nueva Esperanza, some of which if not paved can turn into eroded muddy gullies during the rainy season.

We had a group from United Kingdom too. St. Thomas Aquinas school visiting as part of Outlook Expeditions built a stage at the high school.They had raised an extra $1000 which enabled us to put a roof over the stage too, a very important project. It will be put to special use this year with the high schools first ever graduation. We are really looking forward to that event.

Volunteers here at this time are Irene Martin Mozo, Anna Fitzpatrick, Brianna Gomez, Mia Ayres, Sourav Montany, Romain Khatchkovanian, Sarah Felicity Turner, Constanze Barth, Mark Busert, Nicole Faker, Annie Jonakin, Estelle Fartaria, Miranda Jones, Lachlan Holmes, Thibault Hamon, Andrea Digard, Shaan Becue, Nadia El Arbaoui, Stina Sjorberg, Debbie Machin, Adrianna Alibrandi, Matthew Kinneary, Max Neuman, Ana Santos Cepero,  Violeta Sanchez, Camila Sanchez,  Mauricio Cobos Rodriguez,  Christine Hartmann,  Benjamin Harter, BazilleMargoux, Aminne Karacoban, Danielle Millard, Mariska Lievaart, Anna Jokinen,  Jennifer Gunther, Laura Simons, and  Kenza Benjelloun.   A great team to be part of.

Looking forward to the second half of this wonderful school year and thanks to everyone for your interest and support.

May, 2016:

Earlier this week was one of the most favorite holidays here – Mother´s Day. Most of us know Mother´s day well, we give gifts, cards etc. to our mothers, maybe a meal out with our mothers, or a family get together for our mothers. Here it is celebrated quite differently as it is a celebration of motherhood – a celebration of all mothers, congratulating and thanking all mothers for all of their giving, and for giving life. In Nicaragua Mother´s Day is a public holiday for all government workers, and a half day holiday for all others. There is even a statue in the Central Park in Granada dedicated to mothers. Like so many things we discover working with the children here, it is not just about me and mine. More a shared appreciation of the good of all mothers.

Whilst it is true that there is so much work needed to teach children here the basics of education, such as numbers, the alphabet, even days of the week, months of the year etc. We never need to point out to children here that they should share or that they should help each other.We recognize that cultural differences may make children here less competitive than those in some of the home countries of our visiting volunteers, and we strive to work to help the children without imposing other cultural beliefs upon them.

We are about to embark on a new dimension of our help in the communities with children’s education.  We currently work in the schools, assisting the teachers, during the regular school day.  And in addition we hold a summer school, such as you visited when you were here.  One of the major problems of the education here is that there are not sufficient hours in the school day, children only attend school for about four and a half hours per day, and often start late or leave early, reducing this time even further.  This causes a dilemma for us with such programs as bringing computers in the schools – on the one hand it is a great help to the children with their learning, but on the other hand we have to consider that it also takes more time off their regular school hours.

We have now decided that we could help further by opening some after school centers in the communities.  Running along the same lines as our summer school program, with reinforcement classes run by our interns and volunteers, in these centers we would offer computer learning, sports, reading programs etc. as well as a good, clean, safe and friendly environment for extra learning and homework.  We hope to break ground in the coming week, just waiting for fimal paperwork on land where we will build our first center. We are building in partnership with Amped for Education ( who are funding the building of the center, and who we have worked with for several years. We hope to then move on within the next two years to have four or five centers in the barrios where they will bring the most benefit.

Sometimes we have a bit of a fall in volunteer numbers in May but not this year, here at the end of the month are Evanthia Boling, Anya Jones, Nyasha Mooney, Kelly Kinney, Midori Fujitani, Kyle Lovy, Nicole Romero, Jessica Brown, Rebecca Corbishiey, NiavO’connor, Jonas Reymond, Diallo Gwenaelle, Camille carcel, Anna Jokinen, Matthew Kinneary, Sophia Mihailovic, Adrianna Unzueta, Max Neuman, Ana Santos Cepero, Violeta Sanchez, Camila Sanchez, LoyeMckenzie, Vince Amoroso, CleaMoresi, Mariska lievaart, Melanie Wirz, Danielle Millard, Alexandra Nadal, Justin Liddle, Amine Karacoban, Kevin Dermody,Mauricio Cobos Rodriguez, Christine Hartman,MargouxBazille, MailinKlabes, Benjamin Harter, Debbie Manchin, Jennifer Gunther, Stina Anna Signe, Diego Alejandro, Adriana Alibrandi, Mauricio Cobos Rojos and Ginger Lawrence.

We received donations this month from Carles Guinart who sent $50, Edgar Diaz who sent $10, Anita Rogers who sent through $20 for a school uniform, and $10 from Doug Smith. In addition lots of goods to help in the schools were brought into our office by various people, Vince Amoroso, Max Newman, Inge Koster, Anna Jokinen and Juliette Blume – we are grateful to all.

And to finish off here is a link to some photos from May, hope you will enjoy them:

April, 2016:

This is coming to you from a different location than the usual, in fact from a very cold and wet Irish Sea crossing. I am writing this while away on vacation, but of course La Esperanza Granada is fully active and in the good hands of our local staff assisted by all our visiting volunteers.

Though we always give you an overview of everything that is happening, many of you may be interested in hearing more about individual children in the schools where we work. Those of you who are sponsoring a high school student or a university student have had opportunity for that personal contact of course, but this month our office volunteer Yerin Cho has been out to the schools and done interviews with some of the children. Here is a link to our blog with the first of her Student Spotlights:

While away I was fortunate to be able to visit our partner organization Nica Friends in the Netherlands, such a wonderful group who has concentrated their efforts on raising funds for us to help with the work in the schools.Through them I was able to meet with EenAarde, a terrific volunteer enterprise that helps organizations all over the world, as well as several schools who have been involved too. I met with students at the BS Dierdonkschool where Grade 7 and 8 English studies students asked me lots of questions about the schools in Nicaragua. BS Dierdonk sent the funds last year to build a new classroom including furnishings at the school of Pablo Antonio Cuadra. Next was the school De Ratelaarwhere the children presented a check for 1020.15 Euro collected from their fun run earlier this year. The school was fantastic and though it had only 80 students, it looked like a palace for learning in comparison the schools where we work. Next was the school of T Rendal to be the starter for their fun run, where they are fund raising both for La Esperanza Granada and an educational project in Ghana. How exciting to think that these young students are aware of such far flung countries, and care about them.

In the UK I stayed with friends Roger and Kate Simmons and received a very warm welcome from the people of the village of Adstock. This small pristine village is a real picture, almost like being on a film set of a perfect English village. The warm hearted people of Adstock have been supporting us for some nine years now through Roger’s yearly collections, and it was so wonderful to have the opportunity to thank them for all their help.

Donations were brought into our office this month by Alexandra Nadal, Katherine Hedwig and Kelley Waidley, lots of school supplies, and the Araya family with their sons Sebastian and Reid visited to see one of the schools where we help and brought a large bag of goodies for the children. We received donations through PayPal too, Nicola Coleman sent through $40, and Wendell Blaubaum sent $250.

Oyinade Ifatutori, Bryan Herman, Nicol Niemi, Aileen Corless, William Torres, Tania MuñozMorillo, Brianne Bogen, Gabrielle Ramirez, Felix Hoornaert, Dana Jany, Anya Lindstrom Battle, Andrew Barber, Alexandra Nadal, Justin Liddle, Amine Karacoban, Blake Willing, Ana Maria Robles Gomez, Kevin Dermody, Yerin Cho, Mauricio Cobos Rodriguez, Giulia Tramoni, Leandra sinn, Chrisitne Hartmann, MargouxBazille, MailinKlabes, Magda Molina Cañellas, Benjamin Harter, Ginger Lawrence and Mary Pearce.

Here are some photos taken during the month: (note – we have had to change from Picasa to Flicker so sorry this month’s pictures don’t yet have any titles – we are still working on that)

March, 2016:

The end of March (well beginning of April now) and things are slowly returning to normal after the Semana Santa break. It is such a big holiday here in Nicaragua, a wonderful family time when everyone gets together to celebrate. It is the traditional time to go to the beach too, and we celebrated as our La Esperanza Granada family with a special day at the Isletas for all of our staff and interns, and a few of the regular return volunteers and enjoyed a very special day. 30 of us headed off to the ¨Island of flowing breezes¨ along with all of our food for the day and a couple of kayaks for entertainment. It was the highlight of Easter week for many of us.

For the rest of the month volunteers have been hard at work in the schools. We were able to distribute 800 learning to write workbooks to the 1st and 2nd grade children, the English teaching teams held their first tests of the year, and all the volunteers are back in the classrooms now for the second half of the first semester.

Appalachian State send a group as an alternative spring break, and they worked hard improving one of the laneways in Nueva Esperanza.They had a full week packed with work and activities and various excursions to see parts of Nicaragua and experience the culture.

Vanderbilt State University had their regular alternative spring break with us too, and they stayed for the week at the school, La Inmaculada, in La Prusia – the first school we ever worked in. They were giving the school a bit of a freshen up with painting the classrooms and latrines and clearing the yard.

Lone Star State sent a group headed by Valerie Jefferson to build a house. The group raised all the funds, $3000 and then came on down and raised the roof! For the family Corales Palacio it has changed their lives. A great group from Texas, and achieved a lot during their short stay with us.

It is very hard at times to see volunteers go, especially when they have been here for a long time. Jenny Tatum was helping in the office for six months, and I think we all miss her friendly face. It is great to see so many returns. Earlier this month Wendell Blaubaum and Martha Bowers left, but other returnees still here are Mauricio Cobos, Ginger Lawrence, Ryan Olson, and Graeme and Joan Mount. Volunteers here at the end of the month were Nadine Zettlmeissl, Michael Beal, Brienne Horry, Tomas Dessain, FemkeFierens, Susana Gallego, MargouxBazille, Giulia Tramoni, Antoni Ferrero, Ana Robles, Magda Molina, MailinKlabes, Giovanna Heanue, Johanna Dubois, Marc Roig, Nicholas Cooper, Angel Cobos, Katiebelle Wheelock, Sara Mullery,  Benoit Labelette, Sofie deJonghe, Jessica Martinez, Kevin Dermody, Leandra Sinn, Benjamin Harter, Erick Ovares, Cristine Hartmann, Amine Karacoban, JaimesGetgood, Katherine Currier, Nina Weisert, Bried Collins, Lois O’reilly, Blake Welling, Mauricio Cobos, Yerin Cho, Mary Pearce, and Ginger Lawrence.

Some great donations this month, Christ the King Church in Durango, Texas sent a check for $200, IQmetrix, the wonderful Canadian company with whom we did a big water project in Nueva Esperanza last year, sent us $250, Nicolas Urbano Moyana spent  $55 on rice and beans attendance motivation prizes in our donation store Rona Connick sent $100, Allan Rogers, a long term supporter sent through $100.We also received $1300, from Nils, Ilia, Rey and Pontuz from Sweden who visited earlier in the year and want to support projects here in Nicaragua.

Melanie Dorsey and her colleague, made cards at Salomon de la Selva and later at the Amped Learning Center . The kids were thrilled with the special technique using colored glue and shaving cream (!) It was aptly timed for international women’s day, so all made cards for their mothers. Melanie and her group at Make for Sake in Ottawa also made a terrific donation of $730 from the sale of their cards at home.

Lots of things brought into our office to help, Nikolas and Monica Myhr brought bags clothes, shoes and balls, Ryan Olson brought toothbrushes, Jenny Tatum left puzzles and shoes and clothes, Lois O’Reilly brought pencil cases, and Yerin Cho brought stickers.

Lastly here is a link to a few photos from this month:

February, 2016:

So the school year has officially started – seems like forever already, but in fact it is only three weeks old!
The schools where we work are overflowing with students.  It is wonderful to see how the numbers of children attending have increased.  The Nicaraguan government has made a big campaign about the importance of education and it is having a real impact.  Not only the numbers of children enrolling in schools has skyrocketed, but also the retention rate is much higher, and the number of children going on to high school has increased too.
In the high school of Nueva Esperanza, where we host high school sponsorships,  there are now 215 students.  This will be the first year that there will be a graduating class from this school, as they have added one grade each year that the school has been open.  There are 31 children attending their final year of high school at Nueva Esperanza, which is a tremendous achievement for that community.
This year we have teams of volunteers working at the primary schools of Nueva Esperanza, Escudo, Jose de la Cruz Mena and Pablo Antonio Cuadra.  Our English teaching teams are also working in Mercedes Mondragon which is a large school in Sabaneta a kilometer or so south east of the markets.
A wonderful day on the 28th February, we attended the graduation ceremony of Justo, Maria Los Angeles and Scarleth.  Three more young people who have completed their five years of university with us, and are now legally qualified in their fields and have their certificates.  Justo is a Licenciado of English, Scarleth a Licenciado of Business Administration and Maria Los Angeles Licenciado of Phsycology.  Well done to them.  All three also attended schools where our volunteers worked as primary students, and then completed their high school together with a sponsorship through the organization.  All of us who are part of La Esperanza Granada have been a big part in their lives.
Now we are busy with trying to supply more desks, more chairs for kindergarten, more desks for teachers, and a hundred other things that are needed in the classrooms.  We are currently printing 800 copies of our learning to write workbook to distribute to all the grade one and two students.  They proved very successful last year.
Current volunteers working with us are Johanna Dubois, Chelsea Rysavy, Angel Cobos Vargas, Leandra Sinn, Brienne Horry, Marc Roig Roca, Zanita Lukezich, Carrie Flood, Paolo Picca, Caleb Gray, Dina Marquardt, Erick Ovares, Cherie Ray, Karine Gaudreault, Jenny and Bo Tatum, Mary Pierce, Susana Jurado Gallego, Mailin Klabes, Mary Looram, Magda Canellas, Katherine Currier, Benjamin Harter, Margaux Bazille, Christine Hartmann, Maria Henriksen, Nadine Zettlmeissl, Marta Bowers, Wendell Blubaum, James Getgood, Sian Griffin, Michael Beal, Giovanna Heanue, Esther Diaz, Veronica Ibanez, Magda Kohl, Frances Wetherall, Valerie Moers, Antonella Leoni, Emma Perneger, Helene Hellman, Susana Ibanez, Jessica Belvis, Francesco Agostini, Bried Collins, Lisa Nagel, Simon Pargent, Simon Posluns and Mary Pearce.  We have seventeen young students who are attending university this year now and doing an internship helping in the schools and our office too.
We had some great donations, Holger (Bob) Guse gave us $220 from his friends.  A regular supporter, Lyndon Watkins, visited from Canada and gave us $400,  Anna Byrne sent $100, Sergio de Zen spent $1000 in our donation store.  Karin Van Eijk and Tom Daniels spent a few days with us and gave a donation of $400, they were thrilled to see the progress at the high school.   We had several people who brought great donations into the office too. We had visits from some of our ayudantes sponsors, Lowell Smith and Linda Kush came down, (Lowell spent the week helping in our office) and Deborah Keefe visited Karina who she sponsors.   And a visit from Stacey Cooper who volunteered with us 10 years ago was really interesting, Stacey was amazed to see how much life in Nicaragua has improved over that time.  Sorry if I may have missed anyone in this section, it has been a very full month.

January, 2016:

What a wonderful month January was for us here.Summer school at Nueva Esperanza ran for the full month until Friday 30th, as did the Amped Learning Center we are running near the school of Jose de la Cruz Mena.One hundred and forty six high school students received their uniforms, shoes, back packs and school supplies.Another 31 students have registered and are hoping for sponsors, in the meantime we are doing our best to help them too.

Westfield State University held there Global Learning Course here for the fifth year in a row.This was an exceptional group of young people.They raised the funds, and built a new classroom at the school of Nueva Esperanza. A complete classroom, ready for use next week when the new school year starts. Amazing how much they accomplished in a two week visit.In addition to building they taught specialty math to lots of young students in the afternoons with an abundance of manipulatives donated by Samantha Lee.They held a big party with hot dogs and ice cream for the whole summer school on their final day here, and as usual left behind lots of useful donations.These included really great coloring pencils and sheets for coloring, flip flops, toothbrushes etc.sent down by Tom Covery.

A new classroom was also completed at the high school in Nueva Esperanza.A World Challenge group worked on the completion this month,Glendowie College from New Zealand.Two other World Challenge groups visited and worked at the school Jose de la Cruz Mena, Manly Independent who saw the New Year in working with us, and Engadine Independent, both from Australia.They built benches in the playground, a connecting path between the high school classrooms and the primary, painted, repaired and did lots of yard work giving the school a nice face lift.

We´ve also had volunteers house building this month, Birgit and Stefan Szarzka, Cherie Rae, Melanie Ryall House, and William Christie, led by Peter Kitchen who has become a regular volunteer each year, have finished off a nearly completed house and now built a new one for the Garcia Marina family in Nueva Esperanza.When we do house building in this way (in December and January) volunteers each contribute $200 per week to raise funds for the house.Cherie´s brother contributed the extra needed, and Mark donated some roofing iron, and the result, another happy family.The house they worked on finishing for the Mercardo Sevilla family was thanks to a wonderful donation of $3000 from Michael Kleinheinz who wanted to give a great Christmas present to a local family, he certainly achieved that.

Other donations we received in January were from Lonny Ryall, $70, Robert Stout $10, Chrissi Richter and friends €45 and Gregory Brown, $85.We also had a donation of $490 sent through by Anneli Bode whose friend raised money to help us by making wallets etc. Here is his website – he gives them away but invites donations:!projekte/clypWe also received good news from Maria Ruiz that we have been chosen to receive a donation from Lily in Ireland, thanks to her help in putting us forward.More about that next month.

Volunteers here this month were Farida Morales, Miki Sparks, Hiro Sparks, Juanita Jean, Russell Montgomery, Melanie Klingebiel, Felipe Orozco, Anotonella Leoni, Caleb Gray, Erick Ovares, Cherie Rae, Maura Farrelly, Melanie Ryall House,  William Christie, Holger Guse, Paolo Picca, Anna Diaz, Alex Mouscadet, Simon Posluns, Tania Graca, Dina Marquardt, Helene Hellman, Zanita Lukezich, Carrie Flood, Julie Leduc, Nafi Bozkurt, James Getgood, Vilhelm Lucas, Bridget Way-Brackenbury, Sian Griffin, Wendell Blubaum, Pia Diedrich, Jenny Tatum, Aranza Benito, Valerie Moers, Thoerben Poethkow, Susana Jurado Gallego, Benjamin Harter, Nuria Lanchas Papell, Jorge Medina, Peter Kitchen, Sue Fernie, Linda Heatherly, and Mary Pearce

A great deal is expected of our volunteers when they are here.Working with any children can be very demanding, sometimes more so with children who live in extremely impoverished conditions.Often volunteers have little or no experience in classrooms, and may be immersed in a foreign culture for the first time.However working as a volunteer does mean that you are working as you would in any job, with the exception that there is no pay at the end of the week.99% or more of all the volunteers who come put in a tremendous effort, but sadly as happened this month a few had to be let go, which is distressing all round.Thankfully this is a very rare occurrence.

And to finish off the newsletter here are some great photos put together by Jenny Tatum covering some of the wonderful happenings in January:

December, 2015:

Happy New Year from La Esperanza Granada to all of our wonderful friends and supporters.Here we are so happy with all that has been accomplished this year, and all the help that has been given by our volunteers and our donors to the school children and their communities.

Our New Year´s resolution, to keep on keeping on, to keep on connecting all the generous people from around the world who want to give their time, their money, their goods and good will, to people In need here in Granada, and to keep on taking the local children and students forward to a better future through education.

This month we have been holding summer school at Nueva Esperanza with some 200 children attending, and have also conducted classes at the Amped Learning Center for students who will commence high school in Jose de la Cruz Mena in February.

Our high sponsored high school students attending Nueva Esperanza have been measured for their uniforms and shoes etc.And though it is their holiday time they have also been giving time to helping in the community, including serving lunch at the Christmas party we held for the summer school children.A new classroom is currently being added to the high school.Australian World Challenge groups from East Doncaster Secondary and St. Hilda´s high school have done the foundations and a lot of the walls.

2016 will be the first year that there will be a graduating class from Nueva Esperanza High School.The school opened with only 1st year students, and has grown each year.Hard to describe how great the potential impact of this school in this community.The majority of parents whose children attend this high school only attended a few years of primary school, or did not attend at all.This is the moment of change for this community, stepping forward into the modern developed world.At the present time we still have 15 students who need sponsors.All of the new students going into 1st year of high school have sponsors, but some of the children from years 2,3 and 4 need sponsors, where either their sponsors dropped out, or the students moved to the area when they had already started high school elsewhere.The cost for sponsorship is $185 per year.

It was exciting to attend the University Graduation of Donald and Tatiana in December.Antonia has also reached the end of her studies, and in February we will see three more of our ayudante´s graduate, Justo, Maria Los Angeles and Scarleth.Their achievement is tremendous to have come this far when you consider that some of their classmates only made it as far as grade two or three of primary school.It´s hard not to sound like a proud mother hen!

World Challenge groups from Australia have also been working out at the school of Jose de la Cruz Mena, renovating the latrines, building pathways between the school buildings and the toilet blocks, cleaning the school yard, painting etc.Beaconhills College visited in December, and Manly Independent are working with us currently.Former volunteer and staunch supporter of children in Nicargua, Oyin Bank visited with a group from her church.

The Manning Family came and built a new house for Erika Guido and her family.Currently living in Italy, they have been sponsoring high school students for several years.This year they came for their holiday to build a house for one of their students.Dennis Manning had done a big fundraising through Razoo, and were able to gather together more than $4300 for the project. They also brought lots of lovely children´s clothes which we packaged up and gave as prizes at the Christmas party, along with a big Rice and Beans raffle.Now we are building a house for with a donation of $3000 from Michael Kleinheinz, and the contribution of volunteers Stefan and Birgit from Germany who are working on the building for two weeks.

Volunteers here at the moment are Alexis Mouscadet, Aranzazu Moreno, Benjamin Harter, Daniel Munns, Felipe Orozco Chavarria, Giovanni Ruzzante, Jenny Tatum, Jorge Medina, Lucia Acosta Mozo, Marcia and Stanley Klein, Eva Ridremont, Lina Pira, Vincent Van Loon, Martin Felix Wosnitzka, Courtaney Summer, Ginger Lawrence, Marta Ramos, Mary Pearce, Melanie Klingebiel, Micaela Passalacqua, Nuria Lanchas Papell, Pia Diedrich, Russell Alan Montgomery, Sandra Belloir, Stefan and Birgit Szarka, Susana Jurado Gallego, Tanja Seppanen, Thorben Poethkow, Valerie Moers, Valerie Schogler, Vilhelm Lucas, William O´Brien, Allison Fulp, Linda Heatherly, Diana van de Meent

Wonderful donations this month, former volunteer Chrissi Richter´s present from her aunt Anneliese Eigendorf was a 100 Euro donation for us, Tutoring Fellows sent $100, Austin Hubley,Shelley Morrison, Gabrielle Connelly, Andrea Carlin and Alishia McGlothlin sent donations via our Donation Store (, and so did Deb Christie as a birthday gift for Bill. Former volunteer Edward Wall sent through $1000, and former volunteer Shelley Casey raised $1300 on GoFundMe which will go towards the new high school classroom. St. Hilda´s school donated $2000 which was also towards the new high school, to pay for kindergarten tables, and to take children on an excursion.And the Beaconhills College group put in an extra 5000 cordobas for paint etc. for their work at Jose de la Cruz.

And lastly here is a link to some great photos taken this month by Jenny Tatum, hope you enjoy them:

November, 2015:

We have reached the end of the school year once again.It is always a happy time, celebrations, prize giving etc.This year once again we had the pleasure of rewarding the children for good attendance with wonderful toys that were sent through by Yooou Organization of Spain.So much work goes into a whole school year, that for us there is always a bit of sadness at the end of it too. This year even more so, as we are losing our volunteer coordinator Donald. who is leaving for a new life in Spain.

Donald (Javier Alonzo Carcache) has been a part of La Esperanza Granada for eight school years now.First as an ayudante (intern), with his scholarship hosted by the village of Adstock in the UK, then as an employee, with his university studies sponsored by Yooou, Donald has played a large part in our development in the past years.Now he has finished his studies (extended because he changed courses) and will move to Spain in the middle of December with his fiancée Carlota Ubeda.Donald has been an important part of our organization and grown with us.We wish him every success.

We broke ground on a new classroom for the Nueva Esperanza high school.A World Challenge group from Australia, students of East Doncaster Secondary College dug the foundations and made a good start on the walls while they were here last week.They were also guests at a special event at the high school last Friday.Due to a seismic alert country wide we were not able to take the students on an excursion this year, so instead put on a lunch at the school, with the students providing entertainment by way of traditional dancing, and there was a prizegiving with lots of awards for attendance and good conduct as well as classwork.As we were not able to take the students anywhere we brought some of the world to them, with various volunteers from around the world giving a short presentation about their countries.

Former volunteer Tanja Kratz visited and brought with her funds that she had raised in Germany, a total of 1157 Euro which will be used towards the roof of the new classroom in the high schoolWe also had a great donation of A$500 from Pembroke Junior School in Australia, through former volunteer Rosie Gardiner.During Spanish week at the school there was a dress up day where the students brought in donations.Plus Robert Stout visited our on line Donation Store and purchased a child’s dental visit.

Other interesting visitors this month were Kevin and Judith Ford whose company in the UK, Touchstone Training does a lot of advisory work for various NGO’s world wide.Kevin and Judith have generously offered to assist us with training and training materials, fincance a brochure to give to visitors, provide a scholarship for an ayudante, and to substantially assist in the funding of Justo’s salary.(as part of our re-organization with Donald leaving, both Justo and Scarleth are joining us as employees).Another visitor was Miah Artola of, based in New York.Miah was filming for a documentary featuring the work of La Esperanza Granada here in Nicaragua.

Lots of school materials brought into the office, thanks to Cris, Catalina, Eric Derbez and RC Emerson, and the East Doncaster Secondary College.

Volunteers here at the end of November are, Valerie Schogler. Benjamin Harter, Giovanni Ruzzante, Jennifer Tatum, Daniel Munns, Felipe Orozco, Nuria Lanchas Papell, Alex Mouscadet, Sandra Belloir, Tanja Seppanen, Aranzau Benito Moreno, Alicia Gaudard, Jorge Medina, Eden Wexler, Marta Ramos Mora, Vilhelm Lucas, Valerie Moers, Thorben Poethkow, William O’Brien, Marcia Klein, Stanley Klein, Eva Ridremont, Russell Alan Montgomery, Ginger Lawrence, Mary Pearce, and Pauline Jackson.

And our last photo link from Donald some pictures for you to enjoy:

October, 2015:

We had a great October with La Esperanza Granada due to many generous helping hands in Granada and around the globe.We’re lucky enough to have volunteers from all over the world, from here in Nicaragua to Norway and Taiwan with many other countries represented in between.

October 12th is a special day for the people of Latin America.On the 12th, Nicaraguans celebrate the ¨Day of Indigenous Resistance.¨ The students in our schools cooked local food, dressed in traditional Nicaraguan clothes, performed songs and dances and read stories for their fellow classmates.You can see some of the photos in the link provided.

Most of our students love singing!! This month one of our English teams brought in musical instruments and taught English through song. Getting the students motivated can be a challenge at times but they’re always lively when singing. It’s a great way to teach them new vocabulary without them becoming distracted.

We were thrilled to receive an email from Roger Simmons letting us know that once again the village of Adstock in the UK has given their generous support, sending through a donation of $4269.  Including the good folks of William Hill Drive, and The Cockpit Crew, we have been helped for many years now by this beautiful small village whose origins predate the UK Domesday Book of 1086.

We also received two financial donations during our weekly pub quiz fundraiser last week.The donations will go towards much-needed school supplies for the students.We also received a donation from a current volunteer, Rui Wen (Catalina) Kao, of materials to be used in the preschool classrooms.She volunteers at the preschool here and knows exactly what items will be the most helpful for the students to have.We received our first package in the mail this month from our friends at the Earthed Project in Madrid.It was filled to the brim with pens and pencils, and coloring materials.These supplies are essential to the student´s growth in the classroom and are much appreciated!

We are headed towards the last month of the school year now.November is the last month of classes, and at the end of the month all the students will be sitting their exams, with report cards due the first few days of December.For many of the grade six students, this will be the end of their school days, though we will be doing all we can to motivate them to enroll in high school and continue their education.Our high school sponsorship program really helps with this.We have some names of people who wish to sponsor students next year, but if you are interested, please send us an email.

The high school sponsorship program costs $185 per year, with a commitment of five years (though in fact not all the students get that far).Students who receive a sponsorship have to commit to coming to extra classes two hours a day, four days a week, for revision, computer studies etc. and in return they receive their uniforms, backpacks and all school supplies, dental care and a visit to the opticians, with eyeglasses if needed, two excursions per year, and the professional help of the teachers who run the afternoon revision sessions in the school.We will be sending out information about the students early to mid December.

Our current group of volunteers includes a very hardworking team: Valentine Claviere,Carlota Ubeda, Rui Wen Catalina Kao, Helene Hofmann, Valerie Schogler, Benjamin Harter, Giovanni Ruzzante, Rebeca Osuna, Nuria Gonzalez, Miren Zubeldia, Ane Eguren Egaña, Clara Lundberg, Jennifer and Bo Tatum, Paloma Mingot Argeric, Nuria Lanchas, Elia Ros Cutrinas, Gemma Zaplana, Dar and Beth Krambule, Zoe Robbins, Pedro Bueno, Daniel Munns, Stefanie Safer, Felipe Orozco, Marie Cardona, Leonie Kreissig, Alexiandria Lee, Naomi Steinfeld, Julia Palau, Maria Lindberg, Sivert Bratveit, Tiffany Munier, Susanne Kennedy,Alexis Mouscadet, Ginger Lawrence y Mary Pearce.

And here are some great photos put together by Donald our volunteer coordinator:

September, 2015:

Super September here at La Esperanza Granada – and not only the eclipse, though we did have an excellent viewing of it in Granada.The school kids were so excited to have seen ´la luna roja´!

Three classrooms were completed at the school of Dezambeg.In a collaborative funding between Caulfield school of Vancouver, Canada, our wonderful partner organization Nica-Friends and Reddam House School of Sydney, Australia, we were able to fully complete three classrooms whose walls had been started in 2013.

Thirty two students from Reddham House school did a service project with us as part of their World Challenge trip, and long with their teachers and team leaders they worked non stop to do as much as possible to complete the classrooms, with the last parts done by our local builders.This group made a real impact on the school of Dezambeg, not only materially, but working with the local students too, and on their final day held a big party and invited lots of students and their parents, the teachers and the builders and our university students who helped too.One of the most challenging things when working with the local school children is to try and raise the esteem of young people who are living in poverty.We scored a big success here with the local grade six students giving Spanish lessons each day to the visiting high school students, what a wonderful experience that was all round.

So next school year the school of Dezambeg will have three new kindergarten classrooms, one for each level of kindergarten, all fully furnished, brightly painted and ready to go.Well done to Caulfield Elementary, Reddam House and Nica-Friends.

A big changeover month for our long term volunteers as is usual at this time, end of summer sees a whole new group as others leave to return to college, work etc. but we have quite a good number now with more set to arrive in October.At present our volunteers are James Morales, Carlota Ubeda, Kao, rui-wen(Catalina), Helene Hofmann, Valerie Schogler, Judit Canet Morral, Benjamin Harter, Karla Graño,Philipp Gormer, Giovanni Ruzzante, Josefin Weissbach, Belen Nuñez, Rebeca Osuna, Nuria Gonzalez, Miren Zubeldia, Ane Eguren Egaña, Natalie Duncan, Rachel Gibson, Clara Lundberg, Winnie Thai, Sonja Horrace, Natalie Matias, Cassandra Eerden, Soren Knudstorp, Meressa Pinzini, Calvin Louis Gilbert, Jennifer Tatum, Nita Seng, Francesco Losanto, Paloma Mingot Argerich, Daniel Munns, Ismael Guindo, Mary Pearce, and Ginger Lawrence.

Our friend Desi Mcaul sent over a great donation from the Antrim Coast Lions Club of $2100, Rebecca Plotkin visited our donation store and spent $19, and Corey Simon brought lots of school supplies into the office for the children.  Our group from Reddam house also  gave large amounts of sports equipment and toys and school supplies to the school of Dezambeg, as well as giving us five refurbished Ipads.

A group from New York University College of Dentistry were in town this month as part of their Global Outreach and International Initiatives, and we were able to take 50 children from the school of Escudo for dental care.  We continue to take approx. 24 children each week to the dental clinic provided by New Orleans Dentistry Mission, where we only have to pay a nominal fee for materials etc so a big boost to take 50 children where we only had to pay the transport.

September saw lots of parades and festivities as it is the month of the ´Patria´, or the equivalent of Independence Day, when Nicaragua gained independence from Spain.  Immense celebrations and many days off school, you will see some pictures in the selection of photos for this month put together by our volunteer coordinator Donald:

August, 2015:

Our pride and joy right now is the new kindergarten classroom in Pablo Antonio Cuadra – teachers, parents and children are all amazed – they said it looks like the classrooms they see in movies.The new classroom, funded with money raised by the students from the school of Dierdonk, is now in use, and it is wonderful.(mind you it doesn´t have glass windows, only the window bars, and there is no air conditioning, just fans, and no special vinyl flooring, just cement tiles, but to us it is beautiful)It is bright, has ceiling fans, insulation and a suspended ceiling, lovely furniture for the children and a wonderful place for the teacher to work and have pride in.

Now we will want to aim higher on all the classrooms, all the existing ones as well as new ones.Of course it does cost more, but it really is an investment in making schools a brighter and better environment, conducive to learning, and teaching both.We know from experience that even a coat of paint helps, but this goes way beyond that and gives us a new standard to try and achieve.

Going into the final semester of the school year we also have had a meeting with the school directors and district directors as to what help they need most and how to best assist the children with motivation, raising esteem, and school attendance.Number one on their list was the computer program, followed by the resources for the early grades, and of course the assistance of our volunteers in the classrooms.We also had a very interesting workshop with all the kindergarten teachers at the schools where we work, as that is where the basic education starts.

We have also opened another new classroom in Pablo Antonio Cuadra, and another new classroom in Jose de la Cruz Mena, and a kitchen in the school of Elba Zamora – all with groups from True Adventure, a UK based school expedition specialist.Five teams visted all from Oxted School in Surrey, UK.Oxted School has certainly left its mark on the schools of Granada.

We had large numbers of volunteers with us too helping in all the classrooms, though the numbers have tapered off at the end of August – the months of June, July and August are very busy for us here.Right now our volunteers are Patricia Capsi Morales, Laura Melo Busquets, Merixtell Vilarrasa Vilaro, Mireia Herrero Amores, Claudia Munoz Salvans, Mauricio Cobos Rodriguez, James Morales, Carlota Ubeda, Mary Pearce, Catalina Kao, Ricardo Berger Guralnik, Vivian Moya Gallegos, Helene Hoffman, Valerie Schoegler, Christina Schliesser, Ian Langner, Liliana Farado, Zurine Garcia Estarrona, Judit Canet Morral, Emmi Elo, Maria Valdevieso Coca, Benjamin Harter, Karla Grano Fernandez, Philipp Gormer, Giovanni Ruzzante, Jossefin Weissbach, Belen Nunez Oliva, and Rebeca Osuna Leiros.

Wonderful donations received in August, Reid and Liz Litwack sent $1000, Anita Rogers bought a school uniform at our Donation Store, Steve Marcinuk bought 2 backpackswith supplies, and Nicoletta Bader paid for a dentists visit, Stela Romiero sent $22 for eyeglasses, former volunteer Elodie Moutengou sent $100 and former volunteer Gregory Brown sent $60, and in a surprise phone call we received notice of a group in Granada, Spain – they wish to remain anonymous – the closest we came to a name is ¨mis locos¨ informed us that they had done a three hour fundraising and collected 2651 Euros!

Nica Friends also have given us another $4000 towards our next big project which will take place in September.We will complete three classrooms in Dezambeg that were started some time ago, and had the walls nearly complete.This will be done in collaboration with three main groups, Nica Friends our partners in The Netherlands, Caulfield Elementary School from West Vancouver, Canada, and the students of Reddam House School, Sydney, Australia who are coming on a World Challenge trip and will help the building of them.

Another marvelous donation we have received are 2500 toys from Spain through the group Yooou, to be given to the school children at the end of the school year – right now they are sitting in boxes motivating good attendance and good conduct by a lot of children!

One more thing for anyone reading this in the US – the container space that I mentioned in the last newsletter has been offered to us by Amped for Education.The address to send goods is: Brooke Pashek, 151 Linseed Road, West Hatfield, MA 01088.

And finally some wonderful pictures put together by Donald our volunteer coordinator:

And the new classroom complete:

July, 2015:

 A lot of highlights this month- most exciting for the students was 285 children visited the circus.We had a special donation from a World Challenge group from Chalfonts Community College, and funds available from the sale of beer etc. left behind by iQmetrix, plus their leftover cordobas, and put it all together to create this special event for children from five schools.The circus was in town during the time of the term break in Granada.We held a special course at the schools where we work to improve reading during this week.At the start of the week we had no idea that the circus visit would eventuate, and the children who came school during their vacation week did so by choice – and what a wonderful reward they received.As well as the bonus that their reading is improved.The delight of the children was even more thrilling than the trapeze acts!It was a very special afternoon.

And tremendous benefit for the children here from the children of BS Dierdonk Helmond School in the Netherlands.These children ran to raise money to help the school children here, the result a whole new classroom, not just a classroom but a deluxe version complete with ceiling and insulation and fans and all the furniture.The new classroom is in Pablo Antonia Cuadra and will be for kindergarten children.Well done to BS Dierdonk Helmond.This was thanks to another wonderfulcollaboration with Nica-Friends.( any of our supporters in The Netherlands this is a wonderful organization to join.

A lot of volunteers have been working in the schools with us during July, and right through the month, including the special reading course during the term break week.Lots help in kindergarten and grade one classes, others are teaching English, or working with the young children with our computers in the schools program, and usually one or two to help in the office as well.At the end of the month here were Alexandre Mouton, Mary Pearce, Julia Olive, Laure Girodroux-Lavigne, Rebecca Dayan, Ana Andres Aragon, John Travers, Mauricio Cobos Rodriguez, Helene Hofmann, Caroline Buisson, Mansana Maharajh, Jonna Dromberg, Anais Mire, Cedric Pain, Sebastien Briand, Leroy Lucas, Carlos Muela Martin-Roldan, Paer Nyren, James Comer, Pierre Alexandre Judge, Marta Tabernero Canales, Clara Masana Punsoda, Nora Pita Fernandez, Anrea Aguirre Artiz, Amaia Castillejo Oliva, Alba Vicente, James Morales, Maria de la Paz Pizarro Pina, Anders Svensson, Louisa Lee, Carlota Ubeda, Catalina Kao, TC Vu, Ricardo Berger Guralnik, Vivian Moya Gallegos, Erika Crone, Irene Rubio Sanchez, Andreanne Beaupre, Sophie Richard, Nolwyn Allouche, Andy Cowle, Amadia Kilic, Liam Melville, Bianca Allena, Abe Lahr, Ellen Massey, Rocio Jimenez, Vincent Madec, Gabriel Mastromano, Gloria Durban Gomez, Joelle Helleu, Javier Ambrosia, Aitor Castanos, Giselle Cervantes, Camille Raymon, Marta Sole, Bernhard Winklehner,

And July is a super busy time for visiting groups who come and build or do repairs and maintenance in the schools and the communities.Currently groups from Oxted School with True Adventure are building a classroom at Jose de la Cruz Mena, a classroom at Pablo Antonio Cuadra, and a kitchen at Elba Zamora.A group of French Scouts are building an eating area for the children at Escudo, a Sonati group layed gravel and painted classrooms in Madre Teresa, while groups from World Challenge UK and New Zealand and groups from Outlook Expedition s in UK have built causeways and drainage in the community of Nueva Esperanza, worked on building a wall to improve the school security at Jose de la Cruz Mena, painted the new bathrooms and helped on the classroom building and yardwork at Pablo Antonio Cuadra, built a drinking and handwashing stand and did yardwork in Escudo as well as spending many, many hours with the school children doing crafts, sports, educational games etc. in the children´s free time. Also Sean Hall and family and friends came down from the US and built a new house for the Duarte family.

Lots of donations from all of these groups, they all pay for all of the materials they use for building and in addition the builders who supervise and assist.Other donations we receved this month were from Maria Cruz who sent $28, former volunteer Evan Forsell who donated $150, former volunteer Gregory Brown who sent $60, and great news from Nica Friends, they have committed $4000 towards the completion of three classrooms that were started last year in the school Dezambeg.We will put this together with the funds from Caulfield School in Canada, and only need to find another $3200 to complete this project – then next will be all the finishing and furnishing of the classrooms.We want to have them ready for the next school year.

For anyone in the USA, as your new school year is about to start, we realize that you will be getting new supplies for your children.Don’t throw out that old pencil case!We would like to ask you to please keep things like used crayons, colored pencils etc. that you might otherwise discard.We have been offered space in a shipping container that will be coming from the US A to Nicaragua in November and we would like to ask everyone to collect as many school supplies as possible.Maybe you could do a drive in your area.Please contact us for more information, shipping address etc.This is a great opportunity for us to have things sent economically that will really benefit the children here.

Hope you enjoy the photos put together by Donald our volunteer coordinator, here is the link: Julio | 117280080405531703987

June, 2015:

June is always a fun month in the schools here, with the celebration of International Children´s Day during the first week.This year was no exception.All of the volunteers and all of our ayudantes teamed up to give each child a day to remember.Two video links here so you can see for yourselves:,
The Guillen Ponce family had a wonderful month too.They are now living in their new house, thanks to Julie Thomas and her group from Kentucky.This was their second visit to build a house in the community of Nueva Esperanza.Luis Guillen Ponce was the lucky winner of the raffle at school, his attendance had been perfect which was great, so he was one of those entered in the draw.June is a very hot month, but Julie and her team of workers were out there each day regardless, and the whole family are thrilled with the results.
Another wonderful news item this month is the new bathroom block at the school of Pablo Antonio Cuadra is now open.Een Aarde in the Netherlands funded the building of the new toilets,which are specially for all the small children.They are situated adjacent to the kindergarten classrooms making it both quick to access and safe for the little ones.There are currently 172 children attending kindergarten in Pablo Antonio Cuadra so this is a very important improvement.Een Aarde has been giving wonderful support to the schools here through La Esperanza Granada.
We have been able to make some real progress with improving the kindergarten education not only with volunteers in the classrooms, but also with the wonderful resources that we have been able to put into the classrooms, thanks in the main to the village of Adstock in the UK.Roger Simmons, a long time friend of the organization has done a collection each year for some years, and the village has been very generous.In addition to making the classrooms more child friendly with bright tables and chairs, and being able to supply creative new learning tools, having the funds for the basics always on hand is a real step forward.A kindergarten teacher told us one day in a discussion on how to improve the kindergarten learning levels, that as part of their curriculum she was going to make the weeks lessons focus on learning colors, and in particular the color red. She recounted to us that she had four red crayons, which she broke into pieces to give one little stub of red crayon to each of the tables of six children!
Wonderful donations this month, we received $5800 from the Caulfield Elementary School, BC, Canada that they raised in a very well supported one day event organized by their Hope committee. Anita Rogers spent $53 twice visiting our Donation Store, and Sabrina Luisi also visited the Donation Store and bought a backpack with supplies.Another long time supporter Lyndon Watkins of Halifax, Canada sent us a check for $500.
Volunteers currently here are Angela Owens, Lola Chung, Catalina Kao, Margje Hoogland, Carlota Ubeda, Aili Olichney, Mauricio Rodriguez, Helen Sørensen, Gabriel Mastromano, Laure Girodroux-Lavigne, Geoffrey Louveau, Caroline Buisson, Ansana Maharajh, Jonna Dromberg, Javier Ambrosio López, Alexandre Mouton, Paul Maurice Descours Etienne, Eli Schwartz, Miré Anaïs, Matthew Schlesinger, Cedric Pain, Arthur Trait, Vincent Madec, William Condom, Sébastien Briand, Pierre-Alexis Guillet, Joelle Helleu, Brianna Turner, Roisin Harkin, Ellen Massey, Sarah Allenspach, Viktor Walz, Lucas Leroy, Carlos Martín-Roldán, Evan Champiot-Bayard, Pär Nyren, Oscar Thomas, Paul Demazieres, James Comer, Caleb Lustig, Camille Raimondo, Marta Canales, Ana Aragón, Nora Fernández, Andrea Artiz, Amaia Oliva, Rebecca Dayan, Pierre Alexandre Jugdé and Mary Pearce.
And here are some photos to share with you all some of the special moments in the schools (and in our freshly painted and newly organized office!):

April, May, 2015: News this month not published for technical reasons.

March, 2015:

Busy month here, and now everyone is ready to take a break and enjoy Semana Santa.It is a whole week of celebrations in Nicaragua for Easter, not just a long weekend as in many countries.
We started the month will full teams of volunteers in the schools as well as the English teaching team.Our busiest months for volunteers seem to be February/March, July/August and October/November.One of the drawbacks of being a volunteer organization is that we are not able to decide on what ´workforce´ we need and then keep a consistent number.But there are enough rewards to being a volunteer organization, such as knowing that you are doing something worthwhile simply for the pleasure of doing it, that coping with the challenges almost becomes part of the adventure.
Two really exciting new things in the schools this month are that we have started working with tablet computers in the kindergarten.Ryan Olson, our regular volunteer computer expert installed lots of children´s educational games in Spanish, and now the childrenare spendinga short time each day learning colors, shapes, letters and numbers, playing memory games, etc.A fantastic learning tool, we are waiting to see how the teachers perceive the benefits after the first month or so.The teachers certainly loved using them when we held a workshop with them before taking the tablets out to the schools.
Another big step forward is that we have prepared learning to print workbooks for all the grade one and two children in the schools where we work.Titled ¨Yo Puedo Escribir¨ (I Can Write), each child will have their own book.We have already trialed them in one small school, and they will be in the four large schools Nueva Esperanza, Jose de la Cruz Mena, Pablo Antonio Cuadra and Escudo when the children return from their Easter break.Next step in this direction will be to produce a similar workbook for the higher grades using cursive script, or running writing.Read more about it on our blog:
We also put 150 new chairs in the kindergarten classrooms and 14 more tables, all thanks to the village of Adstock in the UK.
We had three Alternative Spring Break groups from the USA that came and worked with us this month.First was Vanderbilt University Students who repainted the school of Nueva Esperanza, which was starting to look very sorry and faded.Next were students from Appalachian State University who helped us complete the new classroom at Sara Mora school.Both of these universities have been here several years in a row now.A newcomer was Elon University who built a house for the Gonzalez family in Nueva Esperanza.One of the Gonzalez children won the raffle at the school, and now the whole family is happy.
A former volunteer who worked with La Esperanza Granada ten years ago, Greg McFarland, visited.Greg is working with a group called Love Deeply.They contributed $1400 to install a ceiling, insulation, electrical system and fans in a classroom in Pablo Antonio Cuadra.What a wonderful difference in the classrooms that have been completed like this – temperature, noise level and general ambience are all greatly improved.All the classrooms have good roofs now, just a few more need ceilings and insulation.A small group from Blair Academy also paid us a visit in March and repainted two of the classrooms, they look like model classrooms now.
We are grateful to have received a lot of donationsthis month.Volunteer from Spain Ernesto Escandell brought funds with him, $1200 for children´s eyeglasses, and $209 for school supplies.Ellen Eklundh´s parents visited and gave $225 for some school uniforms, Patty and Ricardo visited and gave us $90. Our pub quiz at O´Shea´s raised $110 this month.Marni and friends from IQmetrix sent through $320 to fix up a wheelchair for a young disabled man they met when doing the water project, and to supply some of his sanitary needs, Richard Sandler sent us $100 in honor of the work his sister Ginger Lawrence does with us.Then through PayPal we received $125 from Gregory Brown, $150 from Matthew Fry, $100 from Susanne Koehler, $50 from Juliette Hoad, and Jessica Sabino bought two desks using our Donation Store. There were lots of school materials, games, clothing, and other useful things brought into our office too – volunteers Marta, Hanzel and Megan came with bags full as did Etsy Vardy and her husband from Newfoundland, former volunteer Ira Schiwick and her husband Martin Shriver (who visited their sponsored high school students), Lea Ranalder, Cristina Francini, Help People Learn English and the Mondar family.
Current volunteers here at the end of the month are, Aixa Mercadal, Ernesto Tur Escandell, Margje Hoogland, Lola Chung, Florent Brossollet, Catalina Kao, Lina Gessner, Laura Brandstädter, Bethany Curran, Marijn Kallenberg, Sarah Johnson, Marius Franke, Roman Düring, Hanzel Palacios, Carlota Ubeda, Francisco Martin, Nicole Aili Olichney, Mauricio Cobos Rodriguez, Edmund Pérez Omella, Elmke Hendrix, Sanne Peuters, Silvie Cox, Jake Raina, Maude Boissonneault, Ben Rabone, Megan Lasoen, Symon Oliveri, Herault Camille, Heather Grim, Stefan Lohadje Ekanga, Ginger Lawrence, Mary Pearce, Jim Buckley, Margje Hoogland, and Ryan Olson.A lot of volunteers left at the Easter break.
And to see what has been happening in pictures – these have been put together by Donald Carcache, our volunteer coordinator – hope you enjoy:

February, 2015

Truly I could almost write a book about this month, but will try to keep it to newsletterlength.
Afteran outstanding collaboration 200 homes in Nueva Esperanzanow have clean running water piped to their homes.iQmetrix, a Canadian company was the main player, and with the help of the Nicaraguan Government, the water company, and every able bodied person in NuevaEsperanza we were able to coordinate this tremendous undertaking.
After a lot of meetings with the community, the water company, and local government, the time was set, and the whole community worked to dig trenches for the main supply pipe along the road that connects the community to Pantanal.
Then came the exciting week when the iQmetrix team was here.92 of their employees along with our ayudantes, and quite a number of our volunteers arrived each morning at the Tamarindo tree community area, picked up their picks and shovels and minutes later they were all hard at it digging.The original intent had been to supply water to 50 homes, but in fact the whole area of the community, over 200 homes was completed and they all have water now.In addition the original 50 homes are brightly painted, and each family has a double laundry tub, or pila, as it is locally known.Everyone involved was uplifted by being part of this project, it´s hard to find the words to express how much happiness it created.Here is a music video link that will give you some idea:
The the following week was the beginning of the new school year, with lots of organizing, planning, workshops and making resources for use in the classrooms.
The 2015 school year is now into it´s third week and the schools where we work are literally bursting at the seams.Pablo Antonio Cuadra and Nueva Esperanza each are in need of a minimum of two extra classrooms.Escudo and Jose de la Cruz Mena are badly in need of at least one more classroom each.We need another 165 chairs for the kindergarten classes and have put in 14 new large tables in the past two weeks. There is a large shortage of desks, and school supplies for teaching also. Two main factors contributing to the increase in student numbers are that children are staying on at school longer, and that numbers of people enrolling their younger children in kindergarten have risen significantly.
Just ten years ago only 30% of children completed the six years of primary school countrywide, last year that percentage had increased to 60%.There is a strong push to increase that further, and it looks like succeeding.More students obviously puts a strain on the whole system which is already lacking in resources, but there is a positive feel to it all, with all the schools receiving text books this year, extra teacher education, bonuses given to help with high school graduation, more technical colleges, evening classes to give primary education to older and adult students and tighter controls on higher education costs.
Robert Parent has returned with carpentry students from Center de Formation La Chantier in Quebec.They have set up shop in the schoolyard of Jose de la Cruz Mena and are repairing/rebuilding 200 desks for our district schools.This will go a long way to help allieviate the current desk shortage.
We have four new ayudantes this year.Ayudantes are the equivelant of long term interns, who receive a scholarship to attend university on the weekends, and help alongside our visiting volunteers during the week..The cost to sponsors is $1360 per year, with a five year commitment.New this year are Concepcion, sponsored by Hotel Con Corazon, Cindi, sponsored by Desi Mcaul, Karina sponsored by Deborah Keefe and an anonymous Canadian, and Luis, sponsored by Dorothea and Thomas Lengsfeld.These new ayudantes join our current team of Flor (Ita Mcaul sponsor), Maria Antonia (Christy Myers), Justo (Lowell Smith), Maria Los Angeles (Lowell Smith), Scarleth (Lowell Smith), Juan Carlos (Mark Turner), Yessinia (Nica-Friends), Connie (Project Pulsera), and Teadora (Project Pulsera). We still have other young people who would like to join this program with us, if anyone is interested to support a student it is not too late.In addition Maynor Gaitan who graduated top of his school and was offered a place at UNAN university in Managua is being supported in his studies by the group CCA-74 (classmates from the Central American College year 1974) and a Spanish group Yooou ( are continuing their support helping several other university students.
High school enrollments are also up, we had a lot of new sponsors for high school students this year, but now that the school year has started there are even more new students enrolled.So we are still looking for more high school sponsors too.
Volunteers here currently are Lola Chung, CJ Brown, Florent Brossolet, Kathrin Norda, Antonia Cinquengrani, Sierra Houck, David Smith, Catalina Kao, Lina Gessner, Laura Brandstaeder, Afef Ben Ammar, Mairen Meany, Sarah Pumphrey, Mareike Herrmann, Catherine Carney, Jennifer Taliaferro, Martha Bowers, Ellen Eklundh, Verena Schaupp, Marijin Kallenberg, Wendell Blaubaum, Catharina Wahls, Connie Harris, Sarah Johnson, Marius Franke, Edina Srndic, Skyanne Fisher, Simon Brynte, Kristine Herzog, Roman Duering, Hanzel Palacios, Will Ville, Marta Bove, Hinne Wanrooij, Ignacio de Lasurian, Gaida Aburrunat, Graeme and Joan Mount, Aixa Cloquell Mercadal, Anders Bjorkstahl, Ernesto Tur Escandell, Margje Hoogland, Sue Fernie, Peter Kitchen, Jim Buckley, Carlotta Massera, Carlotta Ubeda and Mary Pearce.
We have received donations from Alba Skar Hawkins $200, Eduardo Sale $640, and our pub quiz at O´Sheas raised $200 this month.Benjamin Plettsent us €50, and material donations have poured into our office.The iQmetrix group brought bags and bags of useful items, Jodie Fleming sent a large box of things from Australia, plus Carrie Mochleder and Cheryl Coull brought in lots of school supplies and children´s books.We also delivered to Sara Mora school $500 of school supplies that had been paid for by William Farr school in the UK when they visited last year with World Challenge.
And to wrap up the month here is a link to some photos from February:
And for more about the water project you can read our blog: And a video made by iQmetrix:  And a CBC news report:

January, 2015:

Summer school ended on Friday 30th after two very successful months.Up to 250 children attended, and we had the help of between thirty to fifty volunteers through December and January.The children attend eagerly, and though sometimesin the classrooms it can be quite chaotic, the studentsall advance and grow during these months.

Very big event the first two weeks in January when Westfield University returned for their fifth year of volunteering with La Esperanza Granada.This year the team led once again by Kathi and Kelli, built a new latrine block at Nueva Esperanza, five extra latrines, a ´bebidero´ which is a stand for drinking water and hand washing with five taps, a mop washing sink, and a new water tank.Plus their students initiated our pilot program of using tablets with the kindergarten children.The little students were simply enthralled by the educational games on the tablets and we know they will be a great success in the classrooms this year.This wonderful collaboration brings a tremendous benefit to Nueva Esperanza and of course makes an important impact on the students from Westfield.

After twelve years of working in the schools we made the mainstream news in Nicaragua at last.We were interviews in January by El Nuevo Diario, one of the two main daily newspapers in Nicaragua.You can see the full page article on this link:

World Challenge Groups visited in December and January, with seven student groups from high schools in Australia and New Zealand.Nga Tawa and Whakatane built a drinking and hand washing stand in Jose de La Cruz Mena , Rangi Ruru High School and Mentone Girls High built a kitchen at the school of Salomon de la Selva, Diocesan worked in the community of Nueva Esperanza building approaches to a footbridge over the creek that many of the children have to cross to get to school (no more muddy shoes), and the schools of Rowville and Asquith worked at the school of Perla de Gran Lago where they completed the new toilets and septic system, repaired lots of school desks, built a dividing wall in the classrooms, painted the school and funded replacing the roofs on the main classroom building.That school has had a wonderful facelift ready for the new school year, including their new classroom.

Hotel Con Corazon will sponsor an ayudante for the coming five years.During the past four years they made a large contribution towards Ramon´s scholarship, Ramon is now our fourth La Esperanza Granada employee.Other new scholarships have been offered by Dorathea Lengsfeld, Debbie Keefe and a friend from Canada, and a regular supporter, Desi Mcaul has offered a scholarship to the student that he sponsored through high school.So that will give us four new ayudantes this year, who will volunteer as long term interns in addition to attending their university classes which are on the weekends.The cost of a scholarship is $1360 per year for a period of five years.

Another of the young students who had been sponsored to attend high school, Maynor Gaitan, came top of his school, and was offered a scholarship at UNAN in Managua.A group of former classmates from the Nicaraguan school College of Central America (the year of 1974) sponsored Maynor through high school and will continue to sponsor him with his transport and book costs, as well as the entry fees etc. and have bought him a computer to help with his studies.So great to see young people succeeding like this.

For the high school sponsorships we have over 160 students sponsored to attend high school this year, and still have a dozen students who are looking for sponsors.High school sponsorship involves a contribution of $185 per year for the five years of high school.

Nica Friends from the Netherlands continued with their wonderful support and sent through the funds to put new roofs on four more classrooms at Pablo Antonio Cuadra.We were able to add to this with funds donated from others, and now the whole school is leak free.Nica Friends are a wonderful group, helping from afar, they are also sponsoring an ayudante and five high school students.

Fantastic donations in the past couple of months since our last newsletter, volunteers Priska and Maggie brought school supplies and toothbrushes, as did Lyse and her friend who visited.Bert Redant and Paulien de Braven came to see the summer school then went shopping for lots of glue, crayons and white board markers which will give a good start to the new school year.

Amanda Gunn-Munro sent through $100 and Ann Gunn-Munro visited our donation store ( ) and spent $22, Melina Sanschagrin sent $100, former vol Todd Studer sent $500, MJ Reale sent $200, former vol Greg Brown sent $100, former vol Edward Wall spent $1005 in our donation store, former vol Linda Heatherly sent $250, Kim Walters sent $25, former vol Julius Knerr sent 500 cordobas, Angus Clark sent $780, Bonnie Dickenson sent $150, Andreas Lindstrom sent $10, Des Mcaul sent $1600, Carl Widdup sent $1500 from his fun run (funds for the roofs a Pablo Antonio Cuadra),and Ann Ogan sent $100.And we received $100 from the Hotel San Francisco and our fundraising at O´sheas with the pub quiz raised $160, and George Berenschott donated $300 to pay for the summer school Christmas party and lunch.Through Institute of Central American Studies we received $500 from Michelle Gates, and $800 from former volunteer Kyle Virgien.What a great start to the new school year.

And most important coming up to the new school year are our current volunteers,Lola Chung, CJ Brown, Florent Brossollet, Benjamin Davidson, Kathrin Norda, Max Sprenger, Antonia Cenquegrani, Verena Riegler, Sierra Houck, Carla Demmering, David Smith, Catalina Rui Wen, David Greenall, Lina Gessner, Samuel Kilby, Laura Branstaedter, Katherine Tote, Afef Ben Ammer, Bethany Curran, Mairin Meany, Sarah Pumphrey, Halle Randolph, Louise Tamiasi, Melanie Wuest, Tyler Mode, Mareike Herrmann, Catherine Carney, William White, Melissa Niedermueller, Karin Hinterbuchner, Maria Pilar, Rachel Glaeser, Peter Kitchen, Sue Fernie, Mary Pearce, Jennifer Taliaferro, Irene Lafuente Munar, Jesus Garcia Castillo, Martha Bowers, Paul Foer, Elizebeth Bengstonn, Magali Fortane, Hidia Combray,  Gael Sigwalt, Ellen Eklundh, Verena Schaupp, and Marijn Kaflenberg,

Last, but not least, here is a link to some photos to share some of our special times:

December, 2014: News this month not published for technical reasons

November, 2014:

So the 2014 school year has come to an end, just the graduations to go now.  As adults it is easy to forget how important the school year is in the life of a child.  Of course for the children here there is excitement at the end of the year, not so much because of the school holidays, but more the end of year festivities,  and the excitement of Purisima and Navidad both to come in the month ahead.  The children in our schools also had the thrill of receiving an attendance prize of toys provided through Yooou ( of Spain.

Another big event for the little children was excursions to the playgrounds at the Zona Turistica on Lake Cocibolca which we provided for all of the kindergarten classes.  Only  swings and slides and climbing frames, but judging by the children´s reactions, they could as well have been in Disneyland.  A lot of fun.

We are very pleased to report the success of all the extra resources and volunteer hours that we have invested in the kindergarten classes this year.  The end of year assessments that were conducted with each child show a marked improvement from last years results.  One of the major problems with educating children who live in poverty is the lack of expectations, not only of the children, but of the teachers too, and indeed the whole system.  Some of the improvements to the kindergarten classrooms included tables brightly painted with letters, shapes and number, hooks for their bags with their names, locally made wooden blocks, little hand size with letters, numbers, opposites etc., lots of manipulatives so they could learn while they played.   Added to this we placed more volunteers to help in the classrooms, who read stories every day, taught a,e,i.o,u, hundreds of times in fifty ways, and helped the local teachers manage with the large class sizes.

How do you teach forty little children what letters and numbers are when they have never seen a book or newspaper in their home?  It is an enormous task, and we are delighted to see this positive progress.  It is hard at time for our volunteers to see significant improvement during their stay, but with results like these, we know for sure that all of their efforts are making a true difference.

Now that the school year is at an end, we are seeking sponsors for children who are graduating from primary school to attend high school next year.  It is a five year commitment costing $185 per year which covers a students needs, uniform, shoes, backpack and school supplies, optical and dental visits, excursions etc.  In return for their sponsorship, the children have to commit to extra revision and computer classes in the school for two hours a day, four days a week in their own time.  We don´t yet have the end of year reports for those of you who already have a sponsored child, but will receive them in the next ten days and will scan and send them this month.

We also have some young students who have completed their high school studies and would like to continue to University and do a long term internship with La Esperanza Granada.  They would like to become one of our ayudantes,  working alongside our volunteers visiting from overseas.  To offer a university scholarship is also a five year commitment,  that can be paid yearly or quarterly (in some cases monthly).  The costs involve university class fees, and a small stipend for the intern of $20 per week to help with their living costs.  Total of $1360 per year.  Please email us if you might be interested.

Christel Muntinga, Leanda van den Berg, Lisa Meijer, and Lisanne Versteegen who volunteered with us for 10 weeks did some fund raising and donated $460 to be used to help with the graduations at the schools.  We also had PayPal donations from Nicosia Vitarelli who sent $5, Richard Bauer $50, Anne Ogan $100, Kaise Bollinger $25 and Berline Bertrand $25.

And other wonderful news on the donation front is that once again this year we have received a grant from the Virginia Wellington Cabot Foundation, of $10,000 to be used for computer resources in the schools.  What a fantastic help for the children, bringing these young people access to computers is vital for their future in this poor but rapidly developing country.

Lots of volunteers here right now, ready to continue on with our summer school program, Lola Chung, CJ Brown,Florent Brossellet, Lyse Koldijk, Kiran Brown, Matt Conrady, Nick Bayly-Jones, Sean Micheal O Duinnin, Rocio Castello, Benjamin Davidson, Kathrin Norda, Barbara Hernaez, Max Sprenger, Leonard Pumpe, Beatriz Lopez  Febrer, Antonia Cinquegrani, Verena Riegler, Ari Spiesberger, Michael Bramsen, Laura  Gamburg, Priska Schweikert, Alex Tanfield, Leonie Maier, Ella Neumaier, Joanne Van Beek, Pawel Okroy, Sara Anton Lozano, Nora Benz, Julia Muller, Aviva, Robin Baptiste, Tatiana Taveau, Anders Bjorkstahl, Sierra Houck, Will Ville,  Carla Demmering,  David Smith, Catalina Kao, Laura Brandstadter, David Greenall, Lina Gessner, Claudia Zabeo, Margaret Mae Johnson, Mary Pearce, Jim Buckley, and Nigel Smith.

And we have a group of students from Ashwood College in Australia (through World Challenge) who are currently working out at the school of Perla de Gran Lago, completing the new classroom there, and starting work on a septic tank and new toilets.  This group did a lot of fund raising at home before they came and have contributed $3000 to the project.

Now here is a link to this month’s photos:

And to see how truly creative and diligent our volunteers are when it comes to a,e,i,o,u check out this video clip:


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: