In early 2014, Fabretto opened two new SAT centers in the communities of Sonis and Cacauli, outside of the town Somoto. Fabretto also welcomed 152 new students to the SAT program. In 2013, SAT students created seventeen small business initiatives, and students have added ten new businesses in 2014. A total of 78 youth and 7 parents are actively generating income through these productive initiatives, which include growing coffee and chia, selling used clothing, making fruit smoothies, beekeeping, and raising chickens.
One of the youth driving this progress is Gilberto, the newly elected president of the San Isidro de Bolas school cooperative. “When I came to Fabretto, I was only interested in playing soccer”, Gilberto admitted with a smile. He had heard about the San Isidro SAT program through his cousin, who also mentioned that soccer was popular in the schoolyard. “However, with the SAT program, I soon began to understand that life is not just a game,” he explained.
Today, Gilberto is in his final year of the SAT program. During his term as the cooperative's president, Gilberto's main ambition has been to motivate the cooperative’s members to start their own projects. Gilberto worked at an artisan workshop in the past, and he dreams of starting a hammock business. While preparing his business plan, Gilberto has inspired his peers to take action as well, and the cooperative is receiving more loan applications than ever.
Gilberto aspires to use income from his business to fund his university studies after graduating from SAT. He also wants to use his new position to improve the lives of others. “Being president helps me to become an entrepreneur myself. But apart from my personal needs, I can also help other people; help them to work hard and work hand in hand with them. I also want to support my family and serve my community by providing work for those who need it.”
In 2014, Fabretto's Primary Education Enrichment program has continued to bring quality education and nutrition to children in vulnerable communities. A key component of this program is improving teacher preparation. In Nicaragua, one quarter of public school teachers are not formally trained. In rural and historically underserved communities, where children are often struggling or behind, this percentage is even higher.
Fabretto responds to this need with comprehensive teacher training that develops effective educators who create a positive classroom environment. Most teachers in Nicaragua rely on traditional blackboard lessons where the teacher talks and students copy into their notebooks. In contrast, Fabretto training sessions helps teachers use updated teaching methods and facilitate activities that encourage student participation. Teacher training can have an enormous impact on student performance and attendance; we have seen that good teachers keep children in school and help them truly learn, which is especially crucial in the communities where we work.
This year, Fabretto has selected primary school teachers who show leadership potential to attend training sessions that cover teaching reading and mathematics, fostering creative and critical thinking skills, and promoting positive values (respect, responsibility, etc.). To multiply the impact, Fabretto has designed training sessions to prepare participants to replicate the training sessions at their schools for their fellow teachers as “teacher-trainers” (see infographic). Fabretto staff also follows up with regular classroom visits to support teachers as they implement the new methodology.
Teachers and students alike are benefiting from excellent teacher preparation. Sindy, a first grade teacher in Somoto, has worked with Fabretto's primary enrichment program for four years. The day we visited her classroom, her students were working independently on an interactive literacy lesson, creating words by matching slips of paper with syllables. Jean Luis, age six, told us proudly that he was able to write "hard words" now. For Sindy, Fabretto's training helped her design creative lessons to teach the basics of reading, the most fundamental academic skill. She explained, "The children are motivated... I've visited their homes to motivate their parents too." With improved teaching techniques, Sindy and her fellow Fabretto teachers are awakening children's interest in learning and building a strong foundation for their futures.
For children living in poverty in Nicaragua, joining Fabretto’s primary education program can literally change their lives. One inspirational story of the transformative power of Fabretto programs is the story of Fatima, a young girl from in the tiny community Imires in rural northern Nicaragua. With Fabretto, Fatima found the resources and support that she needed to overcome a life-threatening illness and continue her education.
In 2009, Mike, a volunteer at Fabretto’s education center in nearby San José de Cusmapa, noticed that Fatima, then seven years old, was suffering from health problems. At the time, her body was malnourished and swollen due to a kidney disease. After speaking with her family, Fabretto’s staff found out that Fatima’s mother had passed away several years earlier from a similar disease. Her father and stepmother were very concerned about her health but lacked the resources to take her to the hospital.
Fabretto helped transfer Fatima to a children’s hospital in Managua, over six hours away by car, where she received treatment for her kidneys. With just three injections, her swelling slowly reduced. After her treatment, Fatima was able to walk again and return to class as a second grader in 2010. With help from Fabretto teachers and afterschool enrichment classes, she caught up with her school work and passed the grade level.
Today, at twelve years old, Fatima is a healthy sixth grader. Each morning, she goes to Fabretto’s education center for enrichment classes, which reinforce basic academic skills in addition to teaching new skills such as English, music, and art. In the afternoon, she receives a daily meal through the nutrition program and attends the local primary school, where teachers are trained by Fabretto to provide excellent primary education. Fatima’s younger sister attends the same school, and both girls are looking forward to a new addition to the family—a little brother or sister—very soon.
Fatima’s father, Felipe, is her biggest supporter. “My father motivates me to study hard,” she said. “I want to continue my studies in the future.” With support from Fabretto’s primary education program, Fatima is well on her way to achieving her dreams.