Norwalk/Nagarote Sister City Project

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Saturday College

Posted on April 18, 2012 at 12:40 AM Comments comments (0)

Fabiola, one of our Saturday College students, also serves on our staff as a tutor and mentor.

In Nicaragua, they have Saturday College. Classes are only held on Saturdays. Tuition is very low and most of the cost of higher education for our Project kids is the bus fare from Nagarote to Leon or Managua where the universities are. By only attending on Saturday, they are able to work during the week and their transportation costs are much lower. Of course, they live at home. We give each of our college scholarship students $110/year. That doesn’t cover all, or even most, of their expenses, but it is a big help for families living on $2/day. Four of our college scholarship students, like Fabiola pictured above, earn money by working for us as tutors and aides. The amazing part is that most of their parents never went beyond sixth grade.

New Community Center

Posted on September 21, 2011 at 12:50 AM Comments comments (0)

From Tish Gibbs:

Here are some photos of our new community center and the 25th Anniversary Celebration and Grand Opening in Nagarote on August 18th.

Art teacher and student painting our sign Inside the main room

Our office administrator, Mercedes, in the office she shares with Ramon.

Some of the 400 people who attended the celebration

Mayor Juan Gabriel Hernandez Rocha at the ceremony

Mural painted by art students

It's the smiles

Posted on July 10, 2011 at 10:25 AM Comments comments (1)

It’s the smiles – and the laughter – that get to you.        

We have jobs. ----- They eke out a living.

Our houses are spacious. ----- They live in one-room shacks.
We drive from place to place. ----- They walk.

Yet they smile….

… and titter

… and laugh with an openness and glee that make me seem the beggar. 

Susan Pascucci

The preschool project

Posted on July 9, 2011 at 3:19 PM Comments comments (0)

Have you ever stopped to watch a 3 or 4-year old play? There is something about watching preschool children that makes you want to smile. Is it their enthusiasm or their curiosity? Perhaps it is their sense of wonder, discovery and their desire to learn. I have been working with preschool children for 30 years, so when I heard about the Diana Preschool in Jeranimo Lopez, Nagarote I was excited and naturally wanted to become involved. I began collecting classroom materials that should be in all preschool classrooms – paper, crayons, scissors, books and more. I also made a collection of teacher-made math and science games/manipulatives to take to the school. I have had the opportunity to visit the preschool twice and both times gave workshops to their staff on early childhood education. They seemed so excited and thankful to have us take an interest in their school. We also taught them games and songs. On our second trip to Nagarote, we saw how they have implemented suggestions from our first trip. The school is pitifully lacking of supplies and what they do have is old and worn. In spite of their poverty, the children all come to school clean and with smiles on their faces – just like preschool children all over the world. I am so glad that we can give the children of Jeranimo Lopez, one of the poorest barrios in Nagarote, the opportunity to attend preschool – something many other barrios do not have.

Priscilla Woyke

A trip to the Beach

Posted on July 9, 2011 at 3:18 PM Comments comments (0)

Several years ago one of our delegations included a trip to the beach for the kids of the Jeronimo Lopez barrio. We crowded 50 kids and 15 adults (staff, delegation members and parents acting as chaperones) into an old school bus. While this would never pass muster in the U.S., the rutted dirt roads in Nicaragua kept our speed low enough so that safety was not an issue. The potholes were so large and so frequent that young children filled them with dirt and then stood on the side of the road, shovel in hand, hoping for a coin or two from a grateful passing motorist. (On our way back the bus blew out a tire from the ruts.) Although the ocean was a scant 15 miles from Nagarote, most of the kids had never been to the beach. The section we chose was on the shore of a bay near Puerto Sandino, a commercial harbor. A power plant was on one side. We chose the location for safety; the children could not swim, so we needed calm water with no surf. We parked the bus on a dirt lot and walked the balance of the way to the shore. The beach was littered with debris and we shared it with some grazing horses. By our standards it wasn’t beautiful, but to the kids it looked like paradise. I will never forget the expression on the face of Jose David, one of our preschool teachers. He was 21 years old, a hemophiliac, and had never seen the ocean. The path from where we parked the bus led over a short rise, and as we walked over the crest he saw the ocean for the first time in his life. He let out a gasp or air, stopped walking and stared. “It’s beautiful,” he said. How can one value the sight of the ocean for the first time? How little it costs us; how precious it is to these kids. John Woyke

Early Days

Posted on July 9, 2011 at 3:15 PM Comments comments (0)

“In the mid eighties I planned a trip to Nicaragua to visit friends.  I was aware of the Sister City Project and difficulties that were faced getting supplies and shipments to Nicaragua.  I offered to take 700 pencils for the children in Nagarote.  My visit was in Managua but we planned to drive to Nagarote to deliver the pencils in person.  We did make the trip to Nagarote over horrendous roads and after a two hour detention in customs where I was questioned repeatedly about the pencils.  Inflation was about 700% in Nicaragua in those days and the authorities were sure I planned to sell the pencils.  I finally recalled that I had with me letters of thanks from the children in Nagarote for some other supplies that the Sister City project had managed to deliver and I was allowed to enter the country with my 700 pencils.”  Anita Behnken

The Reading Circle - Pequenas Poetas

Posted on June 21, 2011 at 10:14 PM Comments comments (0)

Can you imagine ten 9 to 12-year old kids squished into little desks in a preschool building on a hot Saturday afternoon reading and discussing books and writing poetry – voluntarily?

            You would be hard pressed to find such a situation here, but in the Jeronimo Lopez barrio of Nagarote, these kids gather once a week under the direction of Jose David, one of our former Youth Project students who has taken on this project inaddition to his work as Director and aide in the preschool. A lover of poetry and a great reader, Jose David decided to share his passion with young peoplein the barrio, many of whom have never owned a book and many of whom struggle to read and write.

            With books sent by the Norwalk/Nagarote Sister City Project and some instruction byretired English teacher and board member Susan Pascucci, Jose David and Junieth, another Youth Project graduate, are exposing these children to theworld of imagination and adventure that reading and writing unveil.


It Gets Better Every Time

Posted on April 18, 2011 at 9:21 PM Comments comments (0)


            I swear it gets better every time.


            This is the sixth time I’ve been to Nagarote. The first time, six years ago, I went down with Ronnie Maher to establish the Photo Project. And now those thirteen, fourteen, and fifteen-year-olds who were delighting in the imaginative dimensions of the digital camera are college students with prospects of a productive future stretching out ahead of them. They are the leaders and role models for theyounger kids in the project – they teach in our classes; they tutor scholarship students; they work on the organic farm and in the tree nursery.

             If ever we needed proof that through the project we are helping to break the cycle of poverty, there it was in front of us – eight delightful, engaging young men and women, full of life and optimism and giggles – lots of giggles – talking to us about their passions and dreams and pride in their country. I couldn’t help but compare them to the mothers of our younger scholarship students who had met earlier in the day.  They had looked weighted down, with a couple of toddlers on their hips, and I thought that there but for the project would be these girls as well. And I also realized that we have another target audience – these young mothers.  By giving them some support and hope, we can better reach their kids.

             And that’s what seems to happen every time I go down there. I come back buoyed up with the good stuff I see happening, in awe of the warmth and generosity of the people, and with a whole notebook full of ideas for ways to expand and improve the project. It’s what keeps me going.

                                                                         -Sue Pascucci