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!
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!"
Yeah (!!) we are now on facebook! We have both a GROUP pageand 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.
Three volunteers from Switzerland (Johanna, Martin and Frida) have been here for several weeks now. They have been working very creatively with our children at the Hogar, helping them with their homework, teaching English, but also teaching new games and projects that are new to our kids. They learned about us through a program in Granada called Proyecto Mosaico, which connects people, who are looking to volunteer in Nicaragua, to projects that match their interests. Proyecto Mosaico has similar programs in Guatemala and El Salvador. We have been really excited to have them here (the kids have been especially excited!) because of their dedication to the children and the wonderful way they have been interacting with them. We will be sad when they are gone :(
We also received a visit from two of our Board members, Lisa and Carol, who traveled all the way from Massachusetts and New York, respectively. While here, they did some traveling but also participated in a large meeting with all of the mothers of our children about the potential for future projects. [Stay tuned: more information about that to come!] Carol, a licensed social worker, provided a series of workshops on play-group therapy to Aleyda (our in house social worker) and Lisette (our visiting psychologist).
A program of The Sunrise Foundation, Hogar Luceros del Amanecer is a project located in the rural community of Camoapa, Nicaragua. It provides a semi-residential program that includes three meals a day, tutoring, mentoring, supervised recreation, health care, health education and psychological services. Our children are provided with school supplies and uniforms to attend public schools. Social services are provided to the children's families in the form of assistance in accessing health care, adult education and community development programs. We believe that this holistic approach is a great model for strengthening families and enabling them to better handle the challenges of parenting.