Registered Charity No. 1028085

Issue 40, Nov/Dec 2012

Supporting educational initiatives and projects in Nicaragua

Casa Esperanza / Hope House

Members of Casa Esperanza in the town of El Viejo display the piñata dolls they have made. Read more inside. SRF Newsletter No.40, Nov/Dec 2012, page 1

SRF supports Casa Esperanza
One of the educational projects supported by our partners, the Berriz Sisters, is Casa Esperanza (Hope House) in the town of El Viejo, Nicaragua. Casa Esperanza provides education, training, therapy and hope for people with learning and physical disabilities. In June this year, two SRF trustees paid a visit to Casa Esperanza and found some really good work going on. Sister Ruth from the Philippines is in charge of the programme there and she has a bevy of young helpers – teenagers from El Viejo. During the visit, Casa Esperanza members were making greetings cards (for later sale) as well as piñata dolls. A piñata is the name given to a celebration event at which a papier maché doll, full of sweets, is repeatedly struck by a blindfolded person until it breaks and all the sweets spill out. There then follows a mad scramble by all present to gather as many sweets as possible. The photos show several piñata dolls made by members of Casa Esperanza. The visit was only a short one and after talking for 20 minutes with the members, the helpers and Sister Ruth and after making our purchases of greetings cards, we took our leave. Brief though it was, we were left with strong impressions of the calmness of the room (despite the busy work that was going on), and the number of very competent youths helping in the care and attention given to members of Casa Esperanza. The lasting image in our minds was of the dolls hanging from the ceiling.
Note 1: The SRF trustees wish to make it clear to all our supporters that visits to Nicaragua by trustees are paid for from their own funds and not from SRF funds. Note 2: In future when any of the trustees or supporters of the SRF makes a visit to Casa Esperanza, they will be asked to buy large quantities of the Casa Esperanza greetings cards for sale to other SRF supporters. Note 3: For the last few years the SRF policy has been to channel money for projects in the Cosigüina Peninsula of Nicaragua as a global amount through the Berriz Sisters based in El Viejo. This means that it is the Sisters who make the decisions about how the money is disbursed among different projects. In turn, this means that the Santa Rosa Fund cannot be certain about precisely which of the Sisters’ educational projects receive our money. Effectively, we support all their programmes and projects.

SRF Newsletter No.40, Nov/Dec 2012, page 2

Other visitors to Nicaragua over the last few months have included a group of sixth formers and three of their teachers from de Ferrers School, Burton-on-Trent, Staffordshire. Rachel Freeman, a member of the group, wrote the following account of their trip and we are grateful to her and to Chris Orchard, lead teacher on the trip, for permission to reproduce it here.

de Ferrers paints Nicaraguan school
After 20 months of hard work, planning and fund raising we were jetting off to Central America; finally our expedition to Nicaragua had arrived. The team were up bright and early on the 17 July 2012, bleary-eyed yet full of excitement and with a great deal of nerves; the team said goodbye to their families and friends for the next 23 days. After a long journey, we reached our destination of Hostal Mochilas in Granada at about 11 pm Nicaraguan time, the 28 hours of travelling thoroughly taking its toll on all the team members. Our first part of the expedition was the ‘acclimatisation’ phase. During these early days we heard the phrases ‘It’s too hot’ and ‘I’m so sweaty’ in every other sentence. We visited the picturesque island of Ometepe and arriving at our hostel, we were met with breath-taking views of the lake. However, the girls drew the short straw with accommodation – 9 of us in one room, and discovered mice, bed lice, a broken toilet and only one shower; it was definitely a culture shock to us. Whilst on the island we trekked to a waterfall, saw a bull fight, swam in a mineral-filled lake and got up close and personal with some monkeys. All in all, Ometepe Island was a beautiful place to begin our expedition and discover the true Nicaraguan culture. Back to Granada and the team were ready for the ‘Project’ phase of the expedition. Through the charitable organisation La Esperanza Granada, we went to a school named Pablo Antonio Cuadra. While there, the team painted five classrooms and produced a beautiful mural on a wall with the quote of ‘La vida es bella’ (life is beautiful). Money donated to the school through us bought fans and lights, and recent updates tell us that some of the classrooms now have electricity which SRF Newsletter No.40, Nov/Dec 2012, page 3

allows them to have lights and fans to keep them cool during the hot days. It is safe to say the project was the team’s most rewarding and enjoyable part of the expedition. Being able to teach English, interact with the children and give the children new, clean surroundings to work and learn in was worth the hard work, lack of sleep and funny tummies that a lot of the team were experiencing. On to the next city of León, and our next phase of the expedition, the ‘trek’ phase. This was physically very demanding but also required a lot of planning. We climbed three volcanoes in three days, one of which had erupted very recently. Once we got to the top of the first volcano, we took the quick route back down and did some volcano boarding; very exciting. On the third day we got up at 5am to see the sunrise over Nicaragua, a truly inspiring sight and one we won’t forget. During our camping we even had to create a toilet by digging a hole and we used a system of ‘vacant/engaged’ (we placed a tent bag on a branch) so there were no unexpected/unwanted sights for team members. Finally, the last stage of our expedition, ‘Rest and Relaxation’. We headed off to a coastal resort by the Pacific Ocean. Each room had air conditioning which we desperately needed and showers that actually worked. There were also definitely no mice, which was a positive. We were lucky to be able to stay in this hotel as we had stayed under budget throughout the expedition, so could treat ourselves for the final 3 days. After 3 weeks of expedition, with a lot of health problems and team challenges, we were proud of our achievement. We grew as a team and had experienced things we will never forget. It is difficult to write everything down in a report for people to read, but then it is difficult to even tell our families about ALL of the fantastic things that happened and what we felt and experienced in Nicaragua. On behalf of the team, I would like to thank everyone who was involved in our fundraising over the 20 months and those who supported us leading up to the expedition; in particular, June Mowforth from the Santa Rosa Fund, our family and friends and the staff of de Ferrers Academy for allowing us to go and for supporting us throughout the entire expedition. Finally, I’d like to thank the people of Nicaragua for making this the trip of a lifetime. Rachel Freeman Chairperson of Team Nicaragua 2012

At the end of their expedition, the de Ferrers group opted to donate the remains of their group funds to a cause that would help the people of Nicaragua. So they chose to send the US$441 to the Santa Rosa Fund. The photo shows SRF supporter Amber Durant (who happens to attend the de Ferrers School) receiving the cheque on behalf of the Santa Rosa Fund from Chris Orchard, Maths teacher at the school and leader of the expedition.

SRF Newsletter No.40, Nov/Dec 2012, page 4

Volcano erupts in Cosigüina Peninsula
Rachel’s report above mentions some of Nicaragua’s volcanoes. Shortly after the return of the de Ferrers team, the San Cristobal volcano erupted on 8 September. The San Cristobal volcano is close to the town of El Viejo which is the base of our partners, the Berriz Sisters. The volcano began erupting on Saturday morning (8 September), shortly after powerful explosions were heard. There were gas emissions and sporadic explosions. Some 20,000 people were under threat of evacuation 'Strong activity' The 1,745 metre volcano (5,700 foot) is the highest mountain in Nicaragua and one of the most active along the Pacific Coast of Nicaragua. It launched a 4km high (2.5 mile) column of ash and smoke into the atmosphere. Jaime Mejia, from Nicaragua's Institute of Territorial Studies, said there was "strong activity" in the volcano, which had a series of small eruptions in 2008. "We do not rule out anything, but call for calm," he told the AP news agency. Civil defence officers were sent to the Chinandega and León provinces to help the evacuation. But hundreds of residents left the area even before their arrival. Nicaragua had been on alert since an earthquake hit neighbouring Costa Rica during the previous week. Aftershocks were felt across the two Central American countries. Sister Abdontxu of the Berriz Missionary Centre in El Viejo sent the following message to the Santa Rosa Fund on 14 September: “You’ve probably heard about the San Cristobal eruption. There was great alarm because it sent out a huge column of smoke and ashes. Fortunately it didn’t fall on El Viejo because the wind took it towards Tonalá and the Monterrosa sugar refinery, and eventually it reached as far as Cosigüina. There was a general alert, schools and all community activities were suspended because of the risk of even stronger eruptions. In fact, communities closer to the volcano were evacuated. It’s a bit calmer now, but we’re still in a state of alarm particularly because two other volcanoes (Telica and Cerro Negro), which are a bit closer to León, have just become active. Nicaragua always seems to be in an emergency ….” SRF Newsletter No.40, Nov/Dec 2012, page 5

Other news from projects in Nicaragua
The Santa Rosa School, Managua
The visit of the SRF’s two trustees in June and July coincided with some of the time spent in Nicaragua by two volunteers, Nathan Rutter from Gloucester and Phoebe Burton from Somerset. Amongst other projects, they visited the Santa Rosa School in Managua where they found the pupils hard at play as can be seen from the photograph. A number of developments have occurred or are being considered:  The new air conditioning in the computer suite was paid for by the SRF. It is now in place and is very effective. A dongle is a small device which fits into a computer to enable it to link with the internet. The school has one of these but would ideally like another as the device can work with only one computer at a time. Liz Light, the Nicaragua Solidarity Campaign’s woman in Managua recently investigated the costs of this for the Fund and the trustees will consider whether to fund it at their next meeting. Four of the computers are operational, but two are very slow. There is a need to replace them. This is not a surprise as the current computers have been in place since 2006 and have lasted well given the conditions of heat and dust that they have had to suffer without air conditioning until very recently. The trustees of the Santa Rosa Fund have therefore decided that they will make a one-off appeal for funding to cover the cost of a replacement computer or two. The appeal will be launched in the new year.

In the first months of 2013 the Santa Rosa Fund will launch an appeal among SRF supporters and beyond for funds to purchase two more computers at the Santa Rosa School.
SRF Newsletter No.40, Nov/Dec 2012, page 6

The Little Cob, Matagalpa
Nathan and Phoebe also visited The Little Cob library in Matagalpa. The Little Cob received a small amount of funding from the Santa Rosa Fund at the beginning of this year and has featured in the last two SRF Newsletters. The two trustees took out with them another small amount of SRF money and the photo shows Nathan and Phoebe handing this over to Dominique Olney who runs the project. It is worth noting that the Santa Rosa Fund’s tiny amounts of funding for The Little Cob remain tiny at the moment because of the trustees’ commitment to our core funding projects at the Santa Rosa School and the projects of the Berriz Missionary Sisters. Future amounts that we donate to The Little Cob will depend on the amount of funding we raise each year. In the meantime, we refer our readers and supporters to the two previous SRF Newsletters for further information along with the project’s blog at .

Los Quinchos, La Chureca
This year the Santa Rosa Fund has received the following message and appeal from Los Quinchos, a project which protects and educates the children who live on Managua’s former garbage dump. The Fund has supported this project in the past through the Wales NSC organisation and, if funds allow, will do so again next year. “Each year we celebrate a lovely Xmas with the boys and girls and adolescents of Los Quinchos, one day when we can share happiness, a toy for every child, an unforgettable meal, a smile full of joy – these are hours which the children don’t want to see ending, a limitless happiness. For this year our Christmas meal is planned for the first Sunday in December. So we are not far off from this great event, but without your help it isn’t possible to offer this happiness to those who normally live and spend their time on the streets. Today they have a safe home – ‘Los Quinchos’ and ‘Las Yahoska’. With your solidarity and humanist support we can make it a happy Christmas for every child so that they can say ‘thanks’ with a smile on their faces.” As for our funding of Los Quinchos, the SRF trustees will consider the funding we can afford to send after our core funding requirements have been met.

SRF Newsletter No.40, Nov/Dec 2012, page 7

New health centre will serve 1,500 residents of La Chureca
On Oct. 26, Managua Mayor, Daisy Torres and the Spanish Agency of International Cooperation for Development (AECID) Coordinator in Nicaragua, José Manuel Mariscal, inaugurated a new health centre that will serve around 1,500 residents of the largest inhabited landfill in Latin America, La Chureca. The Chureca landfill, now fully sealed, is on the outskirts of Managua and stretches for 7 km.. The construction of the new health centre is part of AECID’s comprehensive development plan for Managua’s Acahualinca neighborhood, where La Chureca is located. So far the landfill has been sealed, 258 houses have been constructed, and a modern recycling plant has been installed, with residents being trained in its operation. This project is considered the flagship programme of the AECID in Nicaragua with US$130,000 spent on the construction and equipping of the health centre. The La Chureca project was the show piece presented by Spain at an international meeting on garbage management in Brazil in mid-October.

Sources: Nicaragua News,30 October; Radio La Primerisima, 26 October.

School meals reaching 11,000 schools
On 24 October, Radio La Primerisima reported that the Ministry of Education’s School Meal Programme is benefiting students of all grades in 11,000 learning centres. Students are served meals of rice, beans and corn. Sergio Antonio Galán of one of the teachers’ unions said that school vegetable gardens are also being promoted as a way to supplement the basic meal and “as an educational strategy.” He said that in 2012 food was supplied to the schools 150 days of the year and that the meal improves family food security. Also as part of the programme, the sale of junk food at schools is prohibited. The Santa Rosa School is also part of this scheme, but does not have the facilities to cook the meals. The supplies of food are therefore stored and distributed to families once a week. The photo shows headteacher María Elizabeth Aragón in the store with some of the sacks of food distributed by the Ministry. SRF supporters’ money was used to purchase a set of weighing scales for the weekly distribution.

Chair: Pete Mayston, Rose Cottage, Tuckermarsh, Bere Alston, Yelverton, Devon PL20 7HB Tel. 01822 840297 Email: Secretary: Jacky Rushall, Culliford House, The Down, Bere Alston, Yelverton, Devon PL20 7HG Tel. 01822 841676 Treasurer: Pat Mayston – as for Pete (above) Twinning links representative: Rick Blower, Cloberry Cottage, Brentor, Tavistock, Devon PL19 0NG Tel. 01822 810600 Email: Membership secretary: Martin Mowforth, 51 West St., Tavistock, Devon PL19 8JZ Tel. 01822 617504 Email:

PRINTED ON RECYCLED PAPER SRF Newsletter No.40, Nov/Dec 2012, page 8