So my mom keeps telling me "You haven't updated your blog!!! We're all waiting to see what's going on with the funds you raised while home over Christmas break!"
I totally understand and apologize for not getting this entry together sooner. But in response to the many requests, here is where some of your donations are going. Thank you so much to all those who have supported the Nicaragua: A Dream Come True fund. Your contributions are already having an impact in Somoto!
Since arriving back in Somoto, I have begun a new adventure called teaching at an elementary school. The school, called Monte Sion, is benificiery of the funds you all have donated. Monte Sion was started by a good friend, Glenda Espinoza, 2 years ago. The school has about 70 students and includes pre-school through 4th grade. It is technically a private school because it doesn't receive funds from the government, and stays afloat by charging 5$ per month for each student. These funds are used to pay the 5 teachers a below average pay of about 50 dollars each month. The public school teachers are paid better (and to be honest their salary is pretty horrible as well) but have to deal with worse teaching conditions.
Glenda started this school because she felt the Somoto community needed a really good quality school. One that gives personal one-on-one attention to its students, has classroom's with small class sizes (the public schools have up to 60 kids in a classroom while Monte Sion has a maximum of 23), and instills good values and morals like respect, discipline, honesty, patience, and understanding.
All the kids receive one class a week in basic Biblical studies that teach and reinforce these values. But don't worry this is not a radical religious school. The kids that attend are actually from various religious backgrounds.
I must tell you that having worked there several weeks now teaching English and giving basic lessons in health and personal hygiene, that these kids are bright, so well behaved, they are absolutely adorable and most importantly eager to learn. Each morning as I enter the school to bring them a new lesson, they swarm me at the gate, saying "Good morning Miss Lima" trying to practice the new English they learned. Some even hug me and others have bought me snacks at recess time to show that they appreciate me. At the end of each day, they are so excited to practice with their friends the new vocabulary they have learned and are sad when I tellt hem I won't return untill the next week.
This is why I think it is so important to invest in the school and its students - because it has so much potential, just lacks funding to provide the basic things it needs like textbooks and other materials and enough money to pay a decent salary to the teachers.
So far the Nicaragua: A Dream Come True funds have been used to give 1 year scholarships to 3 students who couldn't afford to continue their education. I have met and taught these three students and all are very hard working and good students. Unfortunately, they come from very poor families that are struggling to keep their kids in school. In the next week I hope to take a picture with them so that you can see who is benefiting from your generous donations.
Today, I will be spending some more of the fund's money to buy textbooks for 3rd and 4th grade. The textbooks will be for Spanish and Social Studies classes that are currently taught for these grades. The school's director, Glenda, and I sat down last night before my trip to Managua to decide which books and for which classes, and let me tell you she is just absolutely thrilled that her students are going to now be learning with textbooks. She was practically in tears as we discussed the integration of this new learning tool into her school.
If we receive more donations in the coming months, I will be buying more textbooks for other classes such as science and math. But meanwhile the kids are going to learn so much quicker and better how to read because they have materials to practice and develop their skills with. Here are some pics to help you get to know the Monte Sion school and its students.
The entrance to Monte Sion school. It is located at the side of the Baptist church which provides the classrooms free to the school. The church also is sponsoring 3 students this year with scholarships.
Alison with 4th grade kids Edward, Noe, Hansel, Judith, and Adriana. (this pic and the others was taken last December at the end of the school year. Some of the kids didn't return to the school this year, likely due to an inability to pay the 5$ fee)
3rd graders hard at work
The school's Director, Glenda Espinoza (right), with one of last year's teachers and our 3rd grade darlings! (Fran, Marcio, Ivania, Cristel, Janielska, Gorgieli, Jorge Ramon). Uniforms are required in all schools in Nicaragua, public and private alike, but as you can see some kids can't afford them so they wear their regular clothes.
Gorgieli presenting her work while Cristel and Ivania look on. These 3 are some of my best students in that class.