Wisconsin/Nicaragua Partners of the Americas, Inc.

W/NP is a progressive and viable humanitarian service organization actively implementing programs in both Wisconsin and Nicaragua. W/NP's goals are to promote mutual understanding and establish lasting relationships among citizens and institutions of Wisconsin and Nicaragua; foster volunteerism and self-help attitudes through the implementation of economic and social development projects; leverage development assistance funds from the U.S. Government and other public and private sources.
Mar 26, 2015

2015 Learning Center Trek

Knitting workshop
Knitting workshop

On an annual basis, Wisconsin/Nicaragua Partners of the Americas, offers a special travel opportunity (self-funded) to get an up close look at the Learning Center Project. The Learning Center Trek is a great introduction to Nicaragua, and provides a clear understanding of how “working together, does make a difference”. The financial donations and in-kind support from a wide variety of people have significantly helped expand the scope of classes offered through the “Sewing Centers” turned “Learning Centers", so it is only fitting we offer an opportunity to see first-hand the Learning Center Project in action. The self-governed Learning Centers in Nicaragua have become very successful as they address the desire for continued education and learning new skills.

This past February, W/NP volunteers shared workshops at three of the Learning Centers. The following is a post-workshop report written by the women of the Erlinda Lopez Learning Center.  

“For six consecutive years, we have had a pleasant visit from the people of Wisconsin in our learning center "ERLINDA LOPEZ", this visit has been a boom, since in these visits the people of Wisconsin have taught over four hundred women from Managua in different crafts (canvas, jewelry, fashion, bag making, preparation of cases, Christmas ornaments, ribbon work, weaving, glass worketc.) The knowledge shared from each class is making each woman to improve home economy, improve their self-esteem, reproduce knowledge to other women and families, a better personal growth and even to create small businesses.

Also having a first aid course has helped us to prepare for any emergency, we are in a country in permanent emergency because of the floods, tsunamis, earthquakes, landslides, volcanic movements etc, so then to train women in first aids is more than important so that they can save lives, preserve lives, All this learning experience gives greater value to teaching received.

On Feb 26 and 27, we felt deeply grateful and blessed with the presence of the friends from Wisconsin. I’d like to point out the glass recycling class received on the 26th, we felt it was spectacular and now women are giving use to glass bottles before they throw them away, incomes are being generated for sustainability of the families. This gives us satisfaction as we are generating capacities in women who help their financial situations and personal growthAt the center Erlinda Lopez we work with 55 women but had a total of 113. That means 58 women were from other learning centers (participated).  They all had the joy to participate in all the different classes taught.”

Reviews of learning at Erlinda Lopez Learning Center

  • We appreciate your time and dedication
  • We are happy that you visit us every year but we‘d like it to be twice a year
  • Thank you for teaching because it also teaches us to work
  • We are happy that you come and teach us crafts so that it helps support the household economy
  • Your visit is important for exchange and learning experience
  • Thank you, your visit lifts our self-esteem and teaches us to develop skills
  • Thank you for teaching us and share your time
  • Knowledge makes us free and independent economically
  • With the learning, we can teach other women and involve their families
  • Thanks for the eyeglasses
  • We hope you come back soon with volunteers so that we can continue to learn
  • Thanks friend from Wisconsin for thinking and supporting women in Nicaragua
  • Thanks for being a humanist, for teaching us to be better

Finally, the collective group of women would like to thank all volunteers from Wisconsin, towns, women, youth, third age people, housewives and children, -- we have hopes, dreams, goals, and together we can build a better world of entrepreneurs and peace.

By:  WOMEN COLLECTIVE CASA ERLINDA LOPEZ

 

Eyeglass distribution
Eyeglass distribution
Making pillow cases
Making pillow cases
Sharing post-workshop thoughts
Sharing post-workshop thoughts
Yoga workshop
Yoga workshop
Sewing tote bags
Sewing tote bags
Nov 5, 2014

Herlinda Lopez Learning Center serves 800+

Aura with jewelry
Aura with jewelry

Over the past 30 years, the Wisconsin/Nicaragua Partners (W/NP) “Sewing Centers” transitioned into “Learning Centers” as more skills became increasingly necessary and useful.   All of the W/NP Learning Centers maintain the common goal of providing opportunities for skill enrichment and development, yet each self-governed Learning Center is unique and special in their own ways.  For this reason, in the upcoming reports, we would like to feature various Learning Centers that will help illustrate their distinctive diversity and the significant impact they have upon their communities.

Since it´s opening in 2009, the Herlinda Lopez Learning Center has offered a variety of classes and programs for the women and families of the Managua neighborhood of Plaza España. From 2013 to 2014, this Learning Center directly served approximately 800 women, and through them, impacted hundreds of families within the community.   The classes currently offered at this center include sewing, jewelry making, and a variety of handicrafts such as piñatas, decorative pillows, and flower decorations, among others. The skills learned in these classes help the women of the Herlinda Lopez Learning Center to improve their economic situation and as a result, elevate the living conditions of themselves and their families.   In addition to using these skills at home to make their own clothes or to make and repair the school uniforms of their children and grandchildren, some of these women have also started their own small businesses where they can sell clothing and other handicrafts within their community. In addition to serving women, this learning center offers cultural groups for young adults and, thanks to donations from W/NP, can give out books and other school materials to needy children within the community.

The Herlinda Lopez Learning Center is particularly grateful for the sewing machines, sewing materials, and exam tables that have been donated recently by Wisconsin/Nicaragua Partners. These and all of the other donations from W/NP have allowed the Learning Center to continue to grow and offer important classes within the community. In particular, this Learning Center works for the advancement of women. The skills learned in the Learning Center classes contribute to the betterment of the women and their families, but can also give women greater freedom and financial independence. In some cases, this has allowed women to escape controlling or violent situations at home.

In the words of the Isabel Arauz, one of the Herlinda Lopez Learning Center Coordinators:

We have gown as people and as human beings. Due to the furniture donations from W/NP, we have better working conditions which have allowed us to better serve the women, young adults, and children who come to the center. All of the donations from W/NP have allowed us not only to stimulate and bring joy, but also to break the limits put upon retired women in our community.”

During 2014, the Herlinda Lopez Learning Center hopes to touch the lives of 400 new women in Plaza España community.  The center offers women opportunities to better their own lives and the life of the community by giving them the tools to develop both individual and collective community goals for growth and advancement.

Thank you for helping to make these and many other opportunities possible through the W/NP Lifting up through Learning Projects!

Luisas specialty is costura (sewing)
Luisas specialty is costura (sewing)
Maritza and Maritza specialize in making pinatas
Maritza and Maritza specialize in making pinatas
Housewives learning basic sewing
Housewives learning basic sewing
Former WI Lt. Gov at Herlinda Lopez LC
Former WI Lt. Gov at Herlinda Lopez LC
Variety of classes offered
Variety of classes offered
Jul 3, 2014

"...to talk English is to open doors"

English classes at the MGA Office
English classes at the MGA Office

Introducing new classes and opportunities as well as providing ongoing support and continuing education for Learning Center (LC) Project volunteers in Nicaragua is a vital part of W/NP program development.  Many of the Nicaraguans have expressed their desire to learn English. Petronila, LC student turned leader, was inspired by Sherin and Lynda, two longtime WI volunteers, and as a result took on the challenge to pursue an English Career at UNAN and offer English Classes to other LC volunteers in Nicaragua. Isabel, another cornerstone of LC activities and former English teacher, is also volunteering her skills to help others learn English. It was a delight to hear the following comments during the project monitoring and evaluations:

Sandra, “I am an active volunteer. I am motivated to learn English because I want to talk directly with Wisconsin volunteers and be able to share my feelings.   To have English skills will provide me other opportunities to earn income, for example, to translate for other LC’s I work with. To talk English is to open doors.”

Aura, “It is so important to attend classes. I felt encouraged to start over again after studying English in the past. English skills will help me to be able to communicate with any American people, and I have relatives in the U.S. and this will help me when I go there. My goal is to teach English in my neighborhood and community.”

Aura shared with us that she found out about the English Classes while attending the Monthly Learning Center Meetings that are held at the Managua Office.   Having the Learning Center Leaders/Coordinators gather monthly has proven to be an effective method of sharing ideas, information and coming up with new ways to achieve their goals.

The English class participants invite English speaking volunteers to be part of the program, either via Skype or during their visits to Nicaragua.

For more information please contact the W/NP office wnp@uwsp.edu and thank you for helping these volunteers achieve their educational and personal goals.

Students of all ages
Students of all ages
Aura and Marcia sporting their UWSP shirts
Aura and Marcia sporting their UWSP shirts
Isabel sharing her skills
Isabel sharing her skills
Diddman our "repair" specialist studying hard
Diddman our "repair" specialist studying hard
Learning is forever
Learning is forever

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