Women’s Faith & Hope Cooperative Home Building Project, Jiquilillo, Nicaragua


In the remote, impoverished communities of northern Nicaragua, along the Pacific coastline, you will find a women’s cooperative group that has developed by women living in extreme poverty as a self-empowered, collective response working together to change the trajectory of their children’s lives and for future generations.

For these women, they all face a common threat of losing their most basic homes to the local economic or environmental factors.  Each woman has her own unique story and a common dream: a better future for her children and a safe place to live that cannot be taken away from them.
In reading each of their stories, it is easy to understand the impact of each dollar going towards building stable housing for these hard working women and their families to support their dreams of a better future. We are raising funds to build 10 homes with latrines for 10 families. Target: $200,000.00 CAD

We will be featuring each family's story in the upcoming weeks!
To support this project please make your charitable donation by cheque or  by clicking on the link below.
Thank you!

http://speroway.com/ways-to-give/nicaragua-home-building/

ADVENTURES IN DENTISTRY

Setting Up a Dental Clinic in Jiquilillo, Nicaragua
 

By Dr. Jerry Isenberg, BSC DDS FICD

In conjunction with Together Works Society and Speroway, we have set up a dental clinic to serve the local people of Jiquilillo and nearby villages located on the North Pacific coast of Nicaragua. So far, in piloting this project, we have held three five-day clinics over the past 6 months and treated 250 patients.
 

This project came to be as a result of two experiences. One was my participation in regular medical-dental missions to various Central American countries run by the Canadian based charity Speroway. In these missions our dental team would set up in different towns daily, fully equipped to do extractions and fillings. Our key piece of equipment was The Aseptico II unit which is basically a dental office in a suitcase. It contains a compressor to power HV suction, handpieces, air/water syringes and an ultrasonic scaler.

The second step that led me to this current project was our discovery of Monty’s Beach Lodge. This resort of cabanas on a beach is, in of itself, a fantasy beach get a way. However, its most extraordinary feature is the theme with which it operates…..giving back to the local needy population. Guests staying at Monty’s have the opportunity to help build homes, teach English and share any kind of other skills that would benefit the locals. As a result, continuing under the auspices of Speroway, I have found a permanent home for some of the dental equipment previously used on missions. With the help of many dedicated volunteers, we set up this past August, seeing many patients and more importantly setting up the framework for an operation that will provide opportunities for other dental professionals to man our clinic year round.

We are now in the recruiting phase with the hope of providing regular dental care that will have a significant and long term impact on the dental health of these most welcoming, appreciative people.

This extraordinary opportunity for dental professionals offers a unique combination of highly fulfilling work and holiday. It is an experience that rewards volunteers with an exhilarating change of perspective that extends far beyond the trip itself. 

For further information please contact:
mary@togetherworkssociety.com

To make a charitable donation:
http://speroway.com/jiquilillo/

International internship sparks love for sustainable tourism Kimberly Viveiros, Student, Humber College, Toronto, Canada

Hiking through dense vegetation up the Cosiguina volcano in Nicaragua, Kimberly Viveiros was a little out of breath. But what she saw at the summit took her breath away completely. 
The view was so vast, she could see part of Nicaragua, El Salvador and Honduras from where she stood. It was experiences like this that reinforced Kimberly’s decision to do her internship in Nicaragua. 
The 21-year-old Toronto native is set to graduate from Humber College’s Tourism Management program in May 2016. 
Part of her studies included an internship with Monty’s Beach Lodge. It’s a rustic get-away in the small northern Nicaraguan community of Jiquilillo that mixes surf and sand with getting involved with community projects that benefit local families and the surrounding environment.   
When Kimberly arrived for her internship in January, she was no stranger to this Central American country. 
She had already visited Nicaragua with her professor, Mary Lendway, earlier in 2015 for a volunteer excursion. Though that program didn’t offer academic credit, it did include requirements of Humber's Global Citizenship Certificate. There were plenty of personal and professional benefits too – one of which was igniting her love of Nicaragua. 
“That was such an amazing experience,” said Kimberly. “I got a little taste of ‘Nica.’” That taste included unspoiled beaches, warm friendly local families and quickly being welcomed into the community. 
She returned to Humber and began thinking about an internship. Initially, she assumed she would find something in Toronto, but Mary encouraged her to think bigger. Why not Nicaragua? 
Mary suggested Monty’s Beach Lodge and Kimberly grabbed the baton and ran, pitching the owners the idea of having her as an intern. Discussions about possible projects and time frames followed.  Once agreed upon, Kimberly was back near the equator as Monty’s first intern. 
What made her internship so unique was that she was able to have a say in which projects to pursue. At first, she was a little overwhelmed. But that quickly turned to excitement, as she created a multi-faceted work experience. 
She delved into projects that used tourism as a means of assisting with the development of the local community, such as encouraging guests to get involved in community-building efforts like a nearby English language centre. She also gave Monty’s a much-needed presence on social media, helping them reach a much greater audience through social media channels. 
She also assisted a local guide in giving tours of nearby attractions like hiking up volcanos and kayaking through natural estuaries. 

“I’ve been immersed in the community here, and I’ve met some of the most wonderful people,” said Kimberly. “Everyone smiles at you here, in fact, it’s weird if you don’t.”
One of the best smiles belonged to a 16-year-old named Felix with whom she’s become good friends. 
He helped Kimberly with her Spanish and Kimberly helped him improve his English. With the language barrier broken, she set out to help him start a small business of creating colourful string bracelets, which he sells to tourists. 
She helped him get materials, and taught him the basics of running a small business, giving Felix a much-needed source of income to offset the unreliable fishing jobs he sometimes takes when not in school. 
Now that Kimberly is finished her schooling, she has her lens focused on sustainable tourism. As she puts it she plans to seek “anything that can get a community up and running, not damage the environment, and have the money go back into the local economy.”
Not surprisingly she plans on returning to Nicaragua. 
“It’s untouched,” she said. “The big resorts aren’t here, the big tourist companies aren’t here…it’s so genuine and authentic. I’d like to be involved in some way to keep it authentic. I know how things work. I know where I can help out.” 

Written by Sean McNeely on location in Jiquilillo, Nicaragua Feb 18, 2016

LANGUAGE LEARNING GOES WELL BEYOND CLASSROOM

Teresa Craig’s English classes do far more than provide language instruction – they provide the chance at a better way of life.

The 24-year-old from Redding, California is the English language instructor and program designer for Together Works Society. She teaches classes at a makeshift classroom built around a metal shipping container with an extended roof to shield the sun, near Monty’s Beach Lodge.

Joining Together Works Society in February 2016, she’s a one-person show, designing, planning and giving the lessons herself. And she loves it.

“I often leave class more energized and fulfilled just because of the energy and love my students bring to the classroom,” she said. “It’s the human connection…they have such a sense of community.”

She teaches four classes a day and each class is an hour long. Her classes range from advanced instruction to beginner for those wanting to say their first words.

Her students range from four-years-old to 26. The classes are totally free, and they attract as many as 40 students, but the average number is about 20.

“No one is forcing anyone to be there, so it’s really encouraging that they are here by choice and want to learn,” said Teresa. “They understand the benefit for their future. For kids specifically, it will be beneficial to them in response to the huge influx of tourism and potential job opportunities in the future.”

She has already seen that benefit first-hand, watching her students use their newfound English skills to create new ways of generating income.

One student, Ramon is 21-years-old. One of 12 kids, he began learning English five years ago and started coming to Teresa’s class for the past two years. (Prior to being with Together Works Society, Teresa taught classes in this community through a US-based international volunteer organization for three years.)

With Teresa’s help, his English improved so much, he now takes groups of tourists out in his boat on the nearby estuary and gives tours in English, earning an income that he never could before.

“He takes tourists to his house and cooks them lunch and gives them a genuine Nicaraguan experience,” said Teresa.  

Another student, Alvaro, 17, moved to Jiquillio two years ago to live with his sister.

“He’s such a flirt,” said Teresa smiling. “When I met him the only English he knew was cheesy romantic song lyrics and silly pick-up lines. The first thing he asked was what does ‘kiss me’ mean?”

He regularly comes to class and has turned that commitment into income, giving Spanish classes to tourists. He’s become so fluent, a neighbor recently asked him to give English lessons.

Felix, a friendly 16-year-old has been working with Teresa to improve his English in order to talk to tourists about his new bracelet business. Making colourful bracelets from nylon and string, his inability to connect with tourists was holding him back.

Under Teresa’s guidance, he’s becoming more and more confident talking to tourists, and that has translated into more business.  “English has given him more of a chance to interact,” said Teresa. “Tourists are more likely to trust you and be keen to buy your product when there isn’t a language barrier.”

One of her classes that she teaches at a nearby community centre attracts a group of young mothers eager to learn, with the potential of starting small home-based businesses for tourists.

“They are young and want another option, another form of education and way of bettering themselves,” said Teresa.

“Both education and female empowerment are ways to break the cycle of poverty so it’s been so inspiring to see that. If they can speak English, they can dream bigger and think bigger.”

Written by Sean McNeely, February 18, 2016, Jiquilillo, Nicaragua

GRAND OPENING OF VILLA NUEVA ESPERANZA!

So we have saved this announcement for a Christmas, just because it is so great and wonderful. No actually I lost my memory card with all the photos, but now I found it and can share this wonderful news and pictures with you!

The third of December 2015 the inaguracion of Villa Nueva Esperanza took place! This means that all the 30 families now are settled and they are living in the community Villa Esperanza in Jiquilillo. The day was filled with fun activities for the children like a bouncing castle and piñatas! The mayor of El Viejo held a great speech so did Gerry Caceres and the American Nicaraguan foundation.

It is a great project that have and is going to change the lives of many persons, but it has not come to an end. This is just the start, new projects are in the making in order to improve the living of the people of Jiquillio. We would like to give out the biggest thank yous´ to everyone who have made this project possible.

GIVE – Without them they would still be cleaning the terrain!

Color My World

American Nicaraguan Foundation

Rotary Club Of Port Elgin Ontario

Montys Surf Camp

Instituto Nicaraguense de la vivienda Urbana y Rural (INVUR)

Alcaldia Municipal de El Viejo

Humber College

But most of all thanks to all of the families who have worked so hard to build all the beautiful houses, you are all so worth it and you are amazing!

HERO Humanitarian Efforts Reaching Out

 

    On January 31, 2016, a group of volunteers with HERO (Humanitarian Efforts Reaching Out), a not for profit organization aiming to build sustainable communities and provide professional healthcare to people in developing countries arrived in Jiquilillo. The 30 medical volunteers spent their morning organizing materials and medical tools that they would need for the next 5 days of operating medical centres in communities of Nicaragua. 

Their first day of work took place at the medical centre and container in Jiquilillo and was open to everyone from Jiquilillo, Los Zorros, and Padre Ramos. The system was set up with 6 stations – triage, doctors, eyes, physical therapy, vet service, and pharmacy. Patients would go through the triage to explain their ailments to a professional and would then be redirected to a doctor to receive a diagnosis. Many people had the opportunity to receive professional healthcare that would not be readily available to them and would be very expensive had they not had this option open up. The clinic was open for several hours and saw hundreds of faces that afternoon. Along with treatments, medicines, and eye glasses - people also received tablets to prevent them from having parasites. 

For the next four days, HERO travelled to the nearby communities of Apascali, Los Laurels, Buena Vista, and Cosiguina to offer professional healthcare to patients there. Each day they served hundreds of people and made efforts to solve any issue that was brought forward. Like the first day in Jiquilillo, people received professional treatment and medication, as well as medicine for parasites. It was clear that everyone who had come through the medical centres were more than grateful. The look of relief on some of the patients when they received treatments was the perfect indication of a job well done. 

Congratulations on the successful mission, HERO! There were over 500 patients that were attended to this time around and we’d like to thank everyone involved for giving their time and service to the people of this country. Nicaragua is grateful! 

Class is on!

Upon hearing the thrilling news that English classes were starting up on February 1st, 2016, the kids were not only ecstatic to begin learning, but were also excited to welcome back their beloved teacher, Teresa.  Meanwhile, the last few weeks prior to the start of classes, I spent a couple days travelling through Los Zorros and Jiquilillo with Teresa, recruiting students. To no surprise, they jumped at the sight of her and almost every child approached her with open arms and kisses. Very early in our journey, a few of her young students, Jenifer, Angeli, and Maria Jose decided to help us spread the word about English classes being available again. They were a great help because they knew where every child in the community lived – giving us a huge advantage and making the entire process quite a breeze! 

To no surprise, seats were occupied with enthusiastic children the following week. At times, a class at the container attracted almost 30 students, which seems overwhelming, but the children are so well-behaved. They have a lot of respect for their teacher as she gives them the respect they deserve. They are attentive and many students like Gildrenth and Keyling, love to show off how much they already know. However, not every child is at the same level. There are many kids that can form sentences in English, but there are others that do not know a single word. At first I thought the kids who are new to English would be discouraged and would not enjoy attending English class; I was wrong for assuming this. These kids always make it to class and always try their best to absorb as much information they can. They ask questions and constantly participate. What seems to be a huge motivator are the interactive teaching methods Teresa has brought to the table. Unlike a classroom setting where most students might grow bored, the kids learn through interactive games, which helps keep everyone interested and involved. (cont')

Now, when you think of school the general idea of it revolves around children. However, Teresa has offered classes to adults in the surrounding communities. She has a young adult class in the morning and another adult class at 4 in the afternoon. What’s unique about the 4pm class is that it is entirely occupied by mothers in the new community of Villa Esperanza. There are roughly 10 women in this class, with many of them being regular attendees. It’s lovely seeing the same faces constantly show up each day, ready and willing to learn. They enter the classroom at 4pm, filling the space with laughter and bright smiles. The women are all good friends and this has established a comfortable learning environment considering that they are incredibly helpful and assist each other when necessary. When you think of motherhood, it’s a well-known fact that there are a constant whirlwind of responsibilities.  For many of them it is difficult to find time out of their day to put effort into a class that isn’t seen as beneficial to the older, established community. However, these women see the value of education and learning a second language. By going to class every day, women like Daysy, Eveling, and Marta set exceptional examples for their children, who currently attend or will soon attend school. They set a standard for their children and other children of the community. It is believed that women are the key to breaking poverty and by empowering women and having them embrace education; they can pass this on to future generations. Children will then see the importance of education and put an effort into expanding their minds and making positive changes to their community and eventually, to the world. 
Overall, the classes have been successful and have helped paint a positive picture in Jiquilillo and Los Zorros. We hope to continue attracting more students and spreading the joy of education. With everyone’s effort – we can make a real change! 

English Classes, Motivation & Frustration

December 09, 2015

First of all sorry for the silence from here, it´s not that we have been relaxing on the beach and enjoying the beauty of this country – it´s the exact opposite, or we do enjoy the beatuy of it but we do work as well! There has been a lot going on here regarding the English project! The last post treated the new mini project, giving classes in the two public schools Los Zorros and The school of Jiquillio. The plan was to give 3 classes a week in the two schools but in mid-November the other English teacher left so I have been alone giving classes in the schools and at the container. This have resulted in a lot of planning, puzzling and hunting down students.

I have been giving 2 classes a week to both of the schools. 2 hours of English class a week is not a lot, but at least it is something. The main reason for doing this was to raise the awareness but also to inform of the importance of learning English, particularly for the 6th graders who are all going to secondary next year were there will be English classes. The classes have been fun and rewarding both for me and for them, but it has been a challenge. To be more precise, the motivation to go to school every day is not very high among many of the students, and sometimes not among the teachers either. Many days I have arrived at the schools finding absolutely no-one, and on my way back being informed by some student playing around that they finished class early, the teacher didn´t come, the teachers had a meeting (there have been many meetings!) or some other excuse. This have been very frustrating, but it is what it is. It have resulted in that I have left to give class 2 hours earlier to surprise them and asking “Can I please give an English class today, since we didn´t have one yesterday?” and so on. That have worked several times!

Another thing is the attendance in school. The class in Los Zorros have 29 students and in Jiquillio 31 students, I have never had a full class. Normally there are between 10-20 students, but I have also somedays given class to 5 students. The reasons for their absence are as many as there are days in a year, but I have found out some of the main reasons talking to parents, students and teachers. It can be that the students have to help their parents at home, they are tired and don´t want to and the parents don’t really force them to go, they are “sick” etc. The pattern I have identified and also what the teachers told me is that school is not that important for the parents, and then neither for the kids. Why study if it only costs money (the school is for free, BUT food and school material isn’t!) and you can earn great money fishing? This way of thinking is normal and it goes deep and way back in generations, of course not everyone think like this, there are many devoted parents and students, but they are not the majority.

Last week I did an evaluation with all the students (35 students in total from both schools) about the English classes, what they think about the importance of English, why and if they want to learn and if they would like to have English as a part of their curriculum. All 35 students think that English is very important, in order to have a better future, to get good grades in Secondary, to have a career as a doctor, architect, lawyer or working in tourism and they all want to learn! It is such a shame that there is no funding in order to have a permanent English teacher in the two schools since the students obviously are eager to learn. Even though we have the English Academy (the container) offering free English classes many students answered this why they don’t come is because it´s too far away or their parents won´t let them or that they don´t have time due to normal school. That´s why English classes in school would be the perfect solution.

Last week was the last week of school before the Christmas holidays and I attended two parents meeting, one in each school. I got invited/invited myself by the teachers to talk to the parents about the English Academy, the courses, how we work and the importance of English. There were about 20 parents attending in each school and they seemed interested and asked a lot of questions. Also the teachers backed me up when informing about the importance of learning English and what it could mean for their children in the future. We also talked about the opportunity of taking English classes at the container, the classes are for free and it is rather close! I do hope that all this information motivated the parents to send their children to English class during the holidays.

This was a rather long update and summary of the motivation project that I have been doing the last few weeks, and I would love to show some pictures, BUT no one is allowed to take photos of the students while in school, so sorry for that. Please leave some comments or ask me anything if you have any wonder anything!

Stay tuned for more updates!

/Sandra

TEACHING ENGLISH IN JIQUILILLO

Everyday 6 wonderful individuals from Humber took part in teaching English to the children of Jiquilillo and the surrounding areas. Cimoan Atkins one of those people wants to share her experiences with you.

I have been struggling with how to begin. Partly because I do not know where to start but mostly because writing this blog post solidifies the ending of one of the, if not the most amazing experience I have ever had. For that I am truly grateful because I am so blessed. To be in the presence of such amazingly warm and generous people, I am still beaming with love and gratitude.

I get so emotional talking about my experience teaching English. The students I had the pleasure of teaching and learning from are some of the most intelligent human beings I have ever come across. Tatiana, Thomas, Norvin, Guildrenth, Kabiria, and Guilberth words cannot express how grateful I am to be given the opportunity to learn from you. So eager and open to learn and take on the task of learning a language at such a young age is commendable and inspiring. I am so proud and in tears of how much I miss being surrounded by such beautiful people. I must admit, the first day “teaching” I was so scared because I absolutely had no idea what I was doing. But because I felt welcomed and that we all were all open to take on the challenge, me assisting in teaching and you all learning, we bonded right away. From our hour lessons at the beginning of class to the games we played until the sun and humidity took over, I was in the presence of brilliance. I will never forget the time we shared and will cherish the experience forever. I will hold each and every one of you close to my heart and look forward to the day we see each other again.

Love,

Cimoan