Rural school makes education a reality for working kids
The dusty hard-scrabble town of Somatillo lies along the Honduran border, a four-hour drive north of Managua. In this combination truck-stop-and-farm-town, villagers scrape a living from the dry earth and service to truckers traveling between the two countries.
Food for your child. Shoes for your child. Choose one.
It’s a decision no parent should have to make. In Somotillo’s public schools, students must wear shoes and neat uniforms and arrive promptly each day at 7:30 am. Most town parents can barely afford food—uniforms and shoes are out of the question. And at 7:30 am, entire families are well into their workday. By age ten, most children in Somotillo contribute to family income—baking tortillas, shining shoes, selling produce, gum or trinkets.
The most desperate abandoned kids sell their bodies—the only thing they own—to transient truckers.
Flexible curriculum keeps at-risk kids in school
The difficult educational needs of these youngest workers are met at Escuela San Ignacio di Loyola, a school funded by Connecticut Quest for Peace (CT Quest). “The quality that distinguishes San Ignacio,” says CT Quest coordinator Randy Klein,”is flexibility.”
Working children—more than half the school’s third graders are laborers — are “given special consideration to accommodate their needs,” Randy explains. Classes are conveniently held in both morning and afternoon sessions so children can attend school before or after work.
The school was built with the help of Fe y Alegria (Faith and Happiness), a social justice organization founded by the Jesuit order in 1955. San Ignacio is considered a “private school”—all funding relies on your donations—for street children.
The school serves 302 students of all religions and ethnicities. Escuela San Ignacio consistently maintains the highest retention rate of all Nicaraguan schools serving this socioeconomic demographic.
School feeds hungry minds and bodies
In addition to providing solid academics for grades 1-8, the school offers classes in carpentry, machining, computer repair, electrical wiring, woodworking, hairdressing and cooking. Onsite daycare is available for younger siblings aged 1-6.
Escuela San Ignacio doesn’t ignore poor students’ practical needs. Every time Randy visits the school, “the cook, Socorro,” says Randy, “gives me a hug and assures me that no child missed a meal during the year.”
Reach across the miles to a working student in Somotillo
You could buy 30 lattes this month—or pay for one year’s education for a child at Escuela San Ignacio di Loyola. Please make a donation to San Ignacio today.
Give poor students the school supplies they need. Assemble school kits to send to Escuela San Ignacio di Loyola.
Support Nicaragua’s sustainable agriculture at IBRA Farm School
Today the Ibra Farm School is a thriving educational institution, organic farm and community center.
But IBRA facilities—school and farm buildings, 10 acres of cultivated fields, sustainable close-loop energy generator—bear little resemblance to the untilled plot of land that lay in the mountains above the village of Somotillo 15 years ago.
Country folk around IBRA consider the school a near-miracle. And indeed, IBRA’s genesis—as recollected by Connecticut Quest for Peace (CT Quest) founders Randy and Linda Klein—assumes the magically realistic air of a Garcia Marquez story or Old Testament narrative.
Ibra school: Three campesinos dream for their children
Like Abraham’s parley with three angels under the oak at Mamre, the Kleins learned of IBRA from three campesinos—farmers—at a meeting under a tree growing in a field above Somatilo. The meeting had been arranged by Sister Joan Petrik, a Maryknoll nun.
In a pickup truck driven by Sister Joan, the Kleins forded two rivers and drove for a long hour across “some of the worst roads we have ever traveled,” says Randy. Then Sister Joan stopped and deposited the couple under a large tree.
After a wait, three campesinos appeared. The farmers spoke passionately to the Kleins of their dream: a school that would give their children a good education in their own rural community. Randy and Linda rested in the shaded heat, listened to the farmers and eyed the beautiful, empty countryside.
Four hours later the couple had agreed to everything the farmers suggested. IBRA school was born, “and we’ve never regretted it,” says Randy emphatically.
Organic farming and natural “close-loop” technology teaches students reverence for earth
With facilities built by Fe y Alegria (Faith and Happiness), the social justice organization founded by Spanish Jesuits, IBRA provides a holistic education to 104 boys and girls. The curriculum balances rigorous academics with hands-on sustainable agricultural training.
Organic produce grown by students feeds the school community. Ibra uses experimental “closed loop technology.” The students recycle animal waste to produce methane used to fuel the school’s stove and run lighting. Remaining waste is combined with organic matter in worm farms to make soil-enriching humus that “produces some of the best crops you have ever seen!” according to CT Quest coordinator, Randy Klein.
The children’s lessons in sustainable farming extend to the greater community. Students are assigned plots of land for family use and agricultural lessons are reinforced and practiced with support of parents and siblings.
IBRA students’ test scores highest in region
Equally engaged in academics as practical training, the students perform outstandingly on national standardized tests: Out of the regions 8,500 school children, IBRA’s 104 students consistently score highest in both math and Spanish in regional exams.
Help campesinos educate their kids—and sustain the earth
For the price of a month’s worth of organic produce for your family, you can provide a year’s education to a Nicaraguan farm child—and support sustainable agriculture. Please make a secure online donation to IBRA Farm School today.
Lives salvaged at barrio schools for Managua’s throwaway kids
In Nicaragua’s urban slums, children face the same handicaps of poverty, illness and educational deficit as their country cousins. But inner city kids face further risks from:
- Child prostitution
- Police Violence
- Substance abuse—an estimated 90% of all street kids sniff glue
- Gang warfare
As with rural schools funded by Connecticut Quest for Peace (CT Quest), our urban schools “begin where the pavement ends” in Managua’s crowded shanty barrios.
Give hope to students in Managua’s most dangerous barrio
Managua, the capital of Nicaragua, is a city of extremes. As the nation’s commercial and financial vortex, Managua boasts luxury hotels, state-of-the-art hospitals, sumptuous homes and fine restaurants. An elite few Nicaraguans and wealthy visitors enjoy the city’s segregated, attractive neighborhoods.
Managua’s slum barrios could as easily be a thousand miles away. In teaming inner-barrio lanes unemployed and underemployed men, women and children cram into hundreds of corrugated metal and cardboard shacks. With little or no electricity, running water or plumbing, the sewage-filled neighborhoods roil with chaos and violence. Two of Managua’s many volatile barrios—El Recreo and Reparto Schick—are especially destitute, drug-infested and terrorized by gang warfare.
Years ago, when the Sisters of Sion and Teresian Sisters determined to start missions in Managua, they were expressly warned to stay clear of two neighborhoods: El Recreo and Barrio Schick. Naturally, the Sisters of Sion chose El Recreo for their community center, Projecto Generando Vida—”Life-giving Project.” And the Teresian Sisters settled in Reparto Schick and built Colegio Enrique D’Ossó, a co-educational primary and secondary school that educates 1,325 students annually.
Your generosity to CT Quest supports both schools.
Help Nicaragua’s urban kids overcome drug addiction
The culture of addiction ruins lives around the world. Drug abuse combined with widespread poverty, culturally-accepted machismo violence and a dearth of educational opportunities—as in inner city Nicaragua—breeds a unique form of human suffering.
An estimated 90% of all Nicaragua’s street kids sniff glue. A well-known appetite suppressant, a tube of glue kills hunger pains—and is sometimes doled out by desperate parents unable to provide food for their children. The toxic fumes induce a reeling altered state many prefer to the grim realities of homelessness, hunger and physical and sexual abuse.
At Projecto Generando Vida community leaders partner with CT Quest to provide food, shelter, counseling—and to seek new solutions for this stubbornly entrenched problem.
“It is difficult work,” sighs Randy Klein, CT Quest coordinator.
Give a Nicaraguan child an education—and a future
Tell a throwaway Nicaraguan child you care. Support a year’s educational costs for one student at Colegio Enrique D’Ossó or Projecto Generando Vida. Please make a secure online donation today.