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.
The 2014 school year began in February, including new programs in two communities outside of the town Somoto, Soní and Cacaulí. This year, SAT continues to prepare students for economic success. SAT tutors engage students in business activities to develop entreprenuerial spirit, in addition to providing excellent preparation for university studies and formal employment. In rural Nicaragua, lack of economic opportunity forces young people to migrate to urban centers to seek low wage employment. With quality education that teaches skills relevant to the rural environment, SAT helps talented youth succeed at home and develop their own communities. The two SAT student cooperatives also allow students to apply for loans and start small businesses. SAT promotes gender equity in all activities, and in 2013, 60% of the students involved in business initiatives were female.
Olvin, from the tiny rural community El Castillito, is one exemplary student who has benefitted from SAT's focus on relevant skills, particularly in agriculture. The SAT program has given Olvin a chance he never had before: access to education beyond 6th grade. Olvin had worked for seven years after finishing sixth grade, but when his mother attended a community meeting and found out about SAT, he enrolled immediately. This year, he will completed the program and receive his high school diploma in December.
In 2013, Fabretto selected Olvin for a scholarship to study a technical course in Administration of Coffee Farms in Jinotega, Nicaragua. Although the scholarship was originally intended for a Fabretto staff member, the staff nominated Olvin for his great potential. He completed the course and since then has provided technical advice as a consultant to the 5 de Junio Coffee Cooperative, originally created with Fabretto's support. Olvin's knowledge has helped the cooperative with crop diversification and the development of a new initiative to grow and export organic chia.
Olvin plans to continue working in agriculture, and SAT has opened up many opportunities to continue learning and progressing. This year, he will apply for a scholarship to study agricultural engineering at a university in the closest city. He currently is involved with a business initiative to grow strawberries and make strawberry jam with his fellow SAT students. Further in the future, he hopes to manage his own coffee farm in El Castillito using the skills he learned in the course in Jinotega and join the 5 de Junio Cooperative. In our interview, Olvin reflected, "All of us in SAT are young, but we have a vision: moving forward." With the SAT program, Olvin and his fellow classmates are driving economic and social development in their rural communities.
Coming straight from her classroom, Maura strode into the meeting room with confidence, a pencil tucked into her hair. “¿Comenzamos?” she said immediately. “Should we start?”
From that moment, she guided us through the story of her life, her strong, enthusiastic voice revealing her natural talent for teaching. With no reservations, she told us of struggles and heartache, but all that was overshadowed by her unflappable determination to move forward and provide a better future for her children. Maura knew from a young age where she wanted to go, and, with support from Fabretto, she is on her way there. As a parent, student, apprentice, and teacher, Maura has taken full advantage of the opportunities provided by Fabretto and has become a leader in her community. Her positive attitude and commitment to achieving her dreams is a true testimony to the spirit of Fabretto.
Maura’s life has not been easy, but she never stopped believing in a better future. Tears came to her eyes as she spoke of her difficult childhood in rural Nicaragua and moving alone to Managua to support her family as a young adult. Three years ago, Maura began attending Fabretto’s parent training sessions and enrolled her children in Fabretto’s educational programs. Later, she joined the vocational training program “to learn to make jewelry to make progress on her own.” But Maura didn’t stop there. “Since I was 6 years old, I had always dreamed of being a teacher,” she recalled. Over the years, she worked as a nanny, factory worker, and even a salesperson on the streets, but she never gave up on her dream. “Teaching is a calling,” Maura stated with conviction. “Fabretto was my path to enter.”
Now, Maura is entering her final year of her degree program to become a teacher. She recently completed a 3-month internship at a Fabretto’s Education Center, and when Fabretto’s director noticed her potential, she offered her a temporary substitute teaching position. “I had faith that I would find a job after my internship ended,” Maura explained. “I just wanted to learn… As a teacher, I am constantly learning.”
Maura became animated as she described her experience as a teacher at Fabretto’s Center. “The children are so sweet,” she said. “In just one week, there was tremendous love between us. The children’s love has also helped me grow.”
As we listened to Maura, we were not only impressed by her life experience, but also motivated for her future and the future of other Fabretto beneficiaries. “I want to show my children who their mother can be,” she said, her eyes bright with emotion. “With Fabretto, I have been growing, and my children too… and they are proud of me.”
In Nicaragua, receiving a quality primary education is so much more than just getting children to attend school. Fabretto creates a safe and fun environment for learning by encouraging and explaining to parents how they can support their child’s education, giving teachers like Maura the resources and education so they can make their passion for teaching more effective, and providing a daily lunch so they can grow and lead a healthy life. Together with your support, we can continue education programs so that the children like those that Maura teaches are not only be inspired by her, but have the opportunity to learn and develop the skills needed to reach their goals.