8 dic. 2010

Competing at the National Level!? (part 3: special olympics)


**Though the primary focus of our programs in Camoapa, Nicaragua is education, The Sunrise Foundation and our staff members are highly involved in other community development projects, especially those that benefit local children and adolescents. We especially believe that team sports activities can be a crucial component for childhood development, especially here in Camoapa, where a lot of youth turn to drugs and alcohol at an early age.**

Olimpipitos 2010 (Special Olympics)

Los Pipitos from Camoapa, the organization that works with children with disabilities, also traveled to Managua to compete at the national level, in the Nicaraguan Special Olympics (Olimpipitios 2010) after placing first in the regional competition. Two of our children, Diego and Delvin, participated and Diego took home a third place medal in 4 X 500. To watch this touching video, capturing the emotions and excitement of the day (published by La Prensa), click here.



3 dic. 2010

Competing at the National Level!? (part 2: girls softball)


**Though the primary focus of our programs in Camoapa, Nicaragua is education, The Sunrise Foundation and our staff members are highly involved in other community development projects, especially those that benefit local children and adolescents. We especially believe that team sports activities can be a crucial component for childhood development, especially here in Camoapa, where a lot of youth turn to drugs and alcohol at an early age.**


Girls Softball

Also recently formed and brand new to Camoapa is a girl’s softball team, organized by Emily Mew, our Program and Development Coordinator, and Bismar Sanchez, a local elementary school gym teacher. (Bismar is also a member of the Youth Boxing Commission and has donated his time to give gym classes to the children in our program.)

After less than a year of practicing, the initially small team of just 10 girls played and won a critical and decisive game in Teostepe (the only other girls team in the region) to qualify for Nationals. And in July, having recruited a few more girls, they traveled to Managua to compete in the Nicaraguan National Softball competition. Winning their first two games in the first round, the team classified for the semi-finals. They lost in the semifinals, but with their record, placed third in the tournament, winning a trophy as well as 3 medals for individual players (best home-run hitter, most runs-batted-in and best pitcher.)

Since then, after more than a year working with these girls, many of whom had never previously picked up a ball or glove, the team has really started to gain momentum. More and more girls are coming out to practice. Placing third at the National level is an enormous achievement because softball is very uncommon for girls in Nicaragua and was unheard of in Camoapa until now. Congratulations to the team!

30 nov. 2010

Competing at the National Level!? (part 1: youth boxing)


**Though the primary focus of our programs in Camoapa, Nicaragua is education, The Sunrise Foundation and our staff members are highly involved in other community development projects, especially those that benefit local children and adolescents. We especially believe that team sports activities can be a crucial component for childhood development, especially here in Camoapa, where a lot of youth turn to drugs and alcohol at an early age.**


Youth Boxing

Sebastian Laguna, our local Program Director, and Jim Ferriera, our long-term American volunteer, were both instrumental in the development of a Camoapan Youth Boxing Commission to support a local project. With donated space from a local Camoapan resident and the vital support from the Police Department and the Mayor’s office, a gym was established and a retired professional boxer was recruited and hired from Managua. Five nights a week he trains any and all interested youth, both male and female. A total of 48 young men are involved at various levels. The majority are at-risk adolescents, some of whom are reformed alcoholics or drug addicts. He also trains some younger boys, age 9-12, and an additional 15 adolescent girls.

Since opening the gym in February of this year, there have been 4 locally sponsored fights here in Camoapa against other teams brought in from Boaco and Managua, as well as 2 fights outside of Camoapa (one in Managua, another in Yalí.) All 4 local events attracted huge crowds from town and served to raise team spirit and community camaraderie. As a team, Camoapa won all 6 fights that they have participated in, and 7 of the most dedicated boys qualified to fight at the national level. The national event, called Futuras Promesas, was held in Juigalpa, the last weekend in November. Two of the 7 Camoapan boxers won in the first round but were then eliminated. Despite no one making it to the semi-finals, it was a huge accomplishment to make it as far as they did. They will continue to train and will come back stronger next year.

29 oct. 2010

Networking & Fundraising

... & a plan for the future

As the end of the sixth academic year of our programs approaches, The Sunrise Foundation is looking to the future. Because of our strong programs, we have earned the respect of the Camoapa community. People come to us when problems arise and consequently, growth is necessary and inevitable. Therefore, we are asking our staff and community leaders in Camoapa to help our Board set priorities and make plans for the next 5 and 10 years. During this planning period, we are also seeking professional capacity building expertise to help develop our board, staff and fundraising capabilities. Our programs in Camoapa are growing in a beautifully organic, healthy way. We see that our US support needs to grow to keep pace with them.

In order to prepare for this growth, we are really revving up our fundraising efforts. Over the past couple of years, we have been expanding our support base in the Western Massachusetts area, where our US nonprofit is located. We recently organized our 3rd annual book sale in downtown Northampton, MA. And this winter we will hold our second annual raffle fundraiser at Packard’s bar and restaurant in Northampton. And we recently joined the Northampton Chamber of Commerce to raise awareness of our project and expand networking opportunities.

Our short term plans include increasing visibility in other areas of the United States where several board members live, remodeling our website to reach more readers, and seeking foundation grants to support our Capacity Building needs. In Nicaragua, we envision further development of our organic farm, and plan to continue hosting volunteer group brigades. Our long term plan is to diversify our revenue sources in order to increase our sustainability potential because currently we operate solely on individual charitable donations from people like you.

So… we need your help! How can we sustain and grow our programs without your continued support? Imagine the satisfaction you will feel knowing you have helped us continue our work in Nicaragua keeping at-risk children in school!

If you are in the Western Mass area and would like to get involved, please contact:
Lisa Hall (Board member) @ 413-268-9271 or lisahallg (at) gmail.com to find out what you can do. If you are not from this area, there is still a place for you in our community! Contact: Emily Mew (Program and Development Coordinator) @ emilymew (at) gmail.com for more information.


And please consider supporting our current and future initiatives by making a donation in one of three ways:

  • Go to our website, click on the Paypal link and make a one-time online contribution
  • Write a check to The Sunrise Foundation and mail it to : P.O. Box 210, Williamsburg, MA 01096

To learn more about our programs, go to our website, find us on Facebook, or write to us at hogarlda@yahoo.com.

20 jul. 2010

Ayudame a Crecer

Our Newest and Biggest Initiative

The Idea


Six years after founding our center, and with our first program at
Hogar Luceros del Amanecer well established, we decided the time was right to expand and to make more of an impact on the community. Since our mission is “to promote community development through education” we decided to branch out and address the needs of more children in Camoapa. In January, we initiated a new program, Ayudame a Crecer (Help me Grow) to provide our signature wrap-around educational services to 54 additional children.

This new program provides more limited services to double the number of children in our established program. These 50+ children have now been enrolled in the public school system. We make regular visits to their homes and classrooms, maintaining contact with both parents and teachers. In addition, we are offering daily extra-help sessions at our center to target their specific needs, including homework help, social skills development and time for play. With support from the Ministry of Education, we have also been able to provide them with new backpacks, school uniforms and school supplies.


The Process


Literally walking from barrio to barrio, we identified and selected these children based on their poverty level, living conditions, family situation, academic level and age. The majority are in 1
st grade and between the ages of 6 and 10. Most of these children have never been to school, or started school at some point but dropped out. (50% of children in Nicaragua drop out before the 5th grade.) Several of the children are over the age of 12 and are entering school for the very first time. Still others are in 2nd or 3rd grade, but need extra help and/or encouragement to prevent them from missing days of school, falling behind, or being pulled out of school by their parents. In other words, these are the children who are likely to grow up illiterate or with very little education, due to life circumstances of extreme poverty, family conflict, learning disabilities, etc.

The Obstacles


Our new program continues to be a challenge. Sometimes we find that a child has missed school because a mother keeps her 7 year old home to babysit for her 2 and 3 year olds while she goes to work to feed her family; or because it rained all night and the road into town is impassable due to mud; or because the child is too far behind his or her classmates and feels inadequate. On several occasions we have met with families over and over, only to finally learn that their child has missed a month of school because they don’t have money to buy shoes. The old shoes fell apart and they were too embarrassed to send their child in flip-flops. We continue to try to troubleshoot with each problem that arises, but the challenges are endless.


The Success


Despite these obstacles, however, we are seeing success. The kids who are persevering are learning to read, to add and subtract. They are learning how to relate to other children and adults outside of their families. Despite all the odds, there are children who are arriving at school every single day and coming to the extra help sessions regularly, even though they are sometimes dirty or hungry. At times it can be heartbreaking, but their determination to get an education no matter what, continues to give us the hope to keep fighting for them.


14 jun. 2010

Recent Events

TRACK COMPETITIONS IN JUIGALPA

Two of our children from Hogar Luceros del Amanecer, Delvin and Diego, recently traveled to Juigalpa with Los Pipitos, the national organization that works with children with disabilities. The group of 9, representing Camoapa, competed against several other municipalities and took home 14 medals(!), more than any other municipality!


INTERNATIONAL CHILDREN'S DAY

On June 11th, our two programs, Hogar Luceros del Amanecer and Ayudame a Crecer, came together and celebrated El Dia del Nino. After weeks of planning and gaining sponsorship from over 40 local businesses, the staff put together a gran fiesta in honor of the children. It included pinatas, a clown, dance competitions, games, food, cake, prizes and more. The party was a huge success, with the local radio station and TV channels playing clips and interviews with both staff and kids. Felicidades!


As usual, to see the complete collection of photos, visit and become a fan of our facebook page.

3 may. 2010

Cleft Lip & Palate Surgeries

Hogar Luceros regularly partners with the local Ministry of the Family in order to coordinate health care services for people living in extreme poverty. One of our ongoing projects is to work with children with disabilities.

Over the past several months we have been in regular contact with a group of children who were born with cleft lip and palate and we have been helping to organize their multiple operations in Managua. This past Friday, a group of 9 children and their parents traveled to Managua for either their first operation or a follow up operation. Due to circumstances of physical health conditions, only 6 were operated on. But we continue to be in contact with all of them and their families in order to coordinate the necessary visits to give them the smiles that they deserve.

To see more pictures, visit our Facebook Page.

9 abr. 2010

Come to Nicaragua!

Looking for an opportunity to volunteer? Maybe you are a student and you have the summer off, or maybe you need to just get away for a few months (or years) to experience what the world has to offer. Whatever the case, our children need your generous help!

With the development of our new outreach program Ayudame a Crecer, we are in greater need of some good people with warm hearts (and who can speak some Spanish) who are willing to volunteer their time to help our children grow and learn. They deserve this opportunity and many of them have never had it... until now. Many have been kept out of school in order to work as vendors in the streets or to raise their younger siblings. Others have just never been provided the resources for a free education.

Other volunteer opportunities include working on our organic farm or community outreach to local families in need of intense support. (This last one is only for those who are Spanish proficient.)

Please contact us at the email to the right if you are interested in this life-changing opportunity. And find us on Facebook to see more pictures of the fun you could be having!

25 mar. 2010

Upcoming Opportunities

February’s parents’ meeting was particularly exciting for a few reasons:

Sebastian Laguna, the Hogar Director, spoke to the Mothers and Fathers about the many vocational classes being offered through El Instituto Nacional Tecnologico (INATEC), a government agency that works for economic and social growth in Nicaragua. If we can sign up 20 interested people, INATEC will send a trainer to Camoapa for in-depth classes in computers, house wiring, bread baking, sewing, cake decorating, or any number of other vocations. This was met with a significant amount of interest and so we will be keeping in touch with a representative from this agency.
We also had special guests, including two of our US board members Lisa Hall and Carole Lapidus as well as Maggie Marshall, the Camoapan Peace Corps volunteer. Lisa spoke to the mothers who had taken our first set of sewing classes, acknowledging all their efforts and the beautiful costumes they made for the folkloric dancers. (See our August '09 post.) She also spoke about the women from the Haydenville Congregational Church in Massachusetts who donated their sewing machines and fabric to make these classes possible and to encourage further small business development. Maggie, a business major, offered to help anyone at the meeting who would be interested in taking some of the first steps needed to start a business.

As an agency that works with disadvantage children, we hope to do all we can to offer opportunities not just to the children, but to their families as well. We encourage them, too, to pursue their dreams!

13 mar. 2010

Ayudame a Crecer

It as been a grueling couple of months, but our new outreach program (Ayudame a Crecer or "Help Me Grow") is starting to make some good headway. In January, we hired a new Promotora, Maricela, who together with our Director Sebastian, located 54 children (ages 5 to 16) from some of the periphery barrios of Camoapa. Some of these children have never been to school, some have dropped out, some are just barely learning their letters and numbers. All of them are extremely poor and vulnerable. Working together with the Nicaraguan Ministry of Education, we have placed all of them in a school setting that works for them and their families. Some attend during the day, some at night and some on the weekends. Additionally, we have begun a reinforcement program that happens twice a day for two hours at a time, here at the Hogar Luceros del Amanecer. Local teachers in training are receiving credit from their university program to assist us in giving these children extra homework help and socialization experience so that they can be successful in school and in the future. Many of these children do not have the experience of socializing with others outside of their own homes, so this is a critical part in helping them thrive.

It has been a tough project to get off the ground. Many of these children are intimidated in class, some are expected to work when they are not in school, others are living so far away that it is difficult for them travel back and forth. We are doing what we can with the resources that we have and we are maintaining communication with the families of these children and their teachers so that we can target the difficulties that each one is struggling with. We are also strategizing ways that we can collect more school supplies by requesting donations from local businesses and organizations that are concerned about the education of their local children. Any new program is always a learning experience, so in the words of our Director, Sebastian, "No dejamos de luchar!" "We can't give up the fight!"

Here are some pictures of the new kiddos at work:

3 mar. 2010

Find us on FACEBOOK

Yeah (!!) we are now on facebook! We have both a GROUP page and you can become a part of our CAUSE! Please become a fan and a cause supporter and spread the word about the difference we are making in the lives of many children living in Camoapa. Let them know that they can help make a difference too. For more information about how, contact us at the email listed to the right.