With $20,000 in grant assistance from ORPHANetwork VNDF is working with Colegio Verbo to expand the school's infrastructure and eventually enroll more students from the local community of Veracruz. Heberto Ramirez, Verbo's chief engineer, is overseeing the school's newest project - to add an open-air auditorium which will be used for school-wide assemblies, community events, and more. Heberto has been training some of the older boys living at Verbo's adjacent Casa Bernabe orphanage to help with the construction project. The goal is to have the auditorium completed in time for the school's graduation ceremony in December!
According to global estimates more than 90% of children with disabilities in developing countries are deprived of any education. In Nicaragua only 38% of all disabled children attend primary school, 10% attend secondary school and only 2% go to university or technical high school. Disabled children in Nicaragua don't attend school for several reasons including poverty, a lack of access, poor teacher training, and negative attitudes within the education system and in the community.
However Colegio Verbo in Veracruz is changing that for one middle school student named Daniel. Daniel is one of this year's new students at Colegio Verbo. Daniel is wheelchair-bound as a result of an infection he sustained five years ago; he has not attended school since. His father asked if he could enroll Daniel at Verbo and the staff Directora Nolvia Morales enthusiastically agreed. Previously he was right-handed but lost use of his right arm and now Verbo teachers are helping him learning how to write with his left hand.
It's not just teachers that are enjoying. According to Directors Morales, "the students all love him very much and he is their favorite student. All of them have learned a lot having him in our school." Last week the 7th graders surprised Daniel with his first birthday celebration. The students brought a pinata to school and enjoyed having his family celebrate with them. Daniel's father is thrilled with the school and says that being there has improved Daniel's self-esteem.
According to Nolvia, "Daniel is a great example for all of us that God can heal!" 100% of your donations to VNDF through Global Giving go to help Colegio Verbo help special students like Daniel - thank you!
Well it's official - Verbo Ministries is helping Nicaraguan schoolkids become extraordinarily better than average! The average Nicaraguan only completes four years of formal schooling and only 10% of all Nicaraguan students who do make it to high school ever complete their schooling and graduate. On December 2 Colegio Verbo celebrated the end-of-year graduation - 23 high school students graduated from 11th grade (the last grade in Nicaraguan high school) and 15 middle school students graduated to go on to high school next year.
Isamar, Klenis, Jonathan, Jakson, Lenin, and Fatima were six of the middle school and high school students who graduated or were promoted at Colegio Verbo last week. What's special about these six? They have all spent most of their childhood growing up at Verbo's Casa Bernabe orphanage adjacent to the school. Because of Verbo Ministries they have a safe home with loving caretakers and an opportunity to go to school - an opportunity which too many Nicaraguan children don't have. We are grateful to all the Colegio Verbo staff for their hard work and to YOU for your support. You are truly making hope real this Christmas season!
At the end of the U.S. school year we thought - what if we asked a few teachers to donate items from their classroom that they would otherwise throw away? Wow! We had no idea the response that we'd get! We ended up getting more than 2,000 pounds in donations from four schools in Virginia Beach - Plaza Middle School, Linkhorn Elementary School, Trantwood Elementary School and John B. Dey Elementary School - and two Fairfax County Public schools!! Teachers got their entire schools involved and we ended up with an overwhelming amount of almost entirely new and some gently used items....all of them were things teachers in Nicaragua NEVER get or even have access to.
We believe strongly that the teachers and administration should lead the work on the ground and we work to support them. So Principal Nolvia Morales displayed all of the materials in the school office and invited each class to come see the new items. This was intentional - for the kids to understand the generosity of American donors, and to be encouraged in their academic pursuits. She also talked with all of the parents to tell them the advantage their kids are getting by attending Colegio Verbo through partnerships the school has with American donors and schools.
Afterward we worked with Nolvia and her team to assemble enough materials to give EVERY teacher a complete set of new math manipulatives and create a small classroom library for all the elementary-age class teachers. Nolvia also provided each teacher with a complete set of much-needed teacher supplies (i.e. staplers, paper clips, folders, paper, pens, rulers, hand sanitizers, etc.) and then created a "Treasure Box" that all students can choose from when their teacher recommends them for good grades, exemplary behavior, etc.
On top of all that we had so many beginning level English-language books that we were able to give three other Nicaraguan schools on the other side of Managua with enough materials to start their own English language elementary school programs. That is a HUGE step forward for any Nicaraguan school.
Thank you for investing in Colegio Verbo in Veracruz. In nearly 9 years I have never seen such a positive, hopeful environment. The kids are inspired and the teachers feel deeply encouraged. Your gifts are making real change possible. Remember -- because we raise separate funds for our own salaries and operating expenses, 100% of your donation goes to the school. Every dime and dollar is sent and well-invested!
Thanks again for your continual support!
The vision of Verbo Nicaraguan Development Fund is a lofty one.
“To equip impoverished Nicaraguans with the tools, opportunities and encouragement they need to care for themselves, create a better life for their family and contribute to the restoration of Nicaragua.”
For many organizations this would seem like a daunting taks—because it is. However, through a dedicated and passionate staff, long-term community presence, strong international support network, detailed strategic planning, and persistence to achieve excellence, it is my opinion that the Verbo Nicaraguan Development Fund is accomplishing their vision piece by piece. The organization understands that it’s a long process and their entire team remains incredibly proactive to ensure that this vision is reached over time.
I was fortunate enough to be shown around by Christian and his wife Jen. Christian explained a story to me that I still think about to this day. He was explaining to one of the orphans who was causing trouble at the school how much he cared about him. A philosophy of caring is a core concept of this organization. Christian explained to the young child in his thick southern accent, “That’s not all I want for you. I care about you man. I want better for you. That’s not all I want. I want better.” It was the way Christian said this that made me realize just how much he actually cared. It was not only Christian who wanted “better” for the struggling youth in Nicaragua. This mentality resonates throughout the entire staff that I have interacted with at Verbo Nicaragua Development Fund.
One of the founders of Verbo has been plugging away at providing the “tools, opportunities, and encouragement” for Nicaraguans for 30 years—risking his safety at several points through his endeavors. The vision, culture, and community so strong that it’s truly worth fighting for—making the ultimate sacrifices.
In the United States, Tim and Katie Adams work countless hours to ensure the continuation of these projects. Their efforts combined with the Nicaraguan country staff were responsible for increasing enrollment this past year by 42 students increasing the previous total of 152 to 194. Tim explained in one of his correspondences with me that this was “a remarkable increase given that there are 11 other schools in Veracruz, including 3 public schools which offer free tuition.” Tim went on to explain that the goal of Nolvia, the school principle, is to have “200 students enrolled in the school for the 2011 school year.”
It is evident that the work that is transpiring in this tiny Central American country is having a significant impact. It was truly a pleasure for me to see this organization in action and to fully grasp their work. I have enjoyed sharing their stories with my colleagues and GlobalGiving looks forward to working with Verbo in the years to come.
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Combined with other sources of funding, this project raised enough money to fund the outlined activities and is no longer accepting donations.
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