Aug 31, 2021

The need for new and improved classrooms

El Garabato's new classroom
El Garabato's new classroom

Wisconsin/Nicaragua Partners of the Americas has many active programs that support our organizations mission of improving the quality of life in Nicaragua. Perhaps what we are best known for is our network of 45 Learning Centers throughout the country.

For many people in Nicaragua, going to university or trade schools is an unobtainable goal due to financial burdens, geographical considerations, or their family situation. Left without access to education after grade school, many Nicaraguans have a hard time finding jobs that pay a livable wage for the limited skills they possess. W/NP’s 45 Learning Centers are all established in underserved communities and provide locals with an opportunity to continue learning. Our Learning Centers serve as a space for community members to gather and learn new skills that they can market when applying for a job. Whether it be a course in sewing, woodworking, crafting, wine making, or beekeeping, the goal is for students to take the skills they learn and use them to generate an income.

Another essential component of the Learning Centers is that they serve as a vital form of social infrastructure within their communities. Forms of social infrastructure are the physical elements of a community that provide spaces to bring people together and build social capital. Most Centers welcome students to come and spend time outside of the regularly scheduled classes and provide a space for community members to gather, spend time, talk about their lives, and share ideas.

Learning Centers are formed in a variety of ways, by a variety of people, with a variety of resources available to them. Many Centers operate out of a community members home who has dedicated a spare bedroom or outdoor patio to becoming a classroom. Others operate out of schools, local businesses, or churches. Only about 10% of W/NP’s Learning Centers are located on land dedicated specifically to being a Learning Center. Because of this, each Learning Center is different in the way they interact with their community, but they all have one thing in common: they are there to help.

Many of W/NP’s Learning Centers are in a position to grow and engage with more community members but lack the physical space to do so. In order to teach more classes, they need to have more classroom space. Some Learning Centers simply need help to afford the cost of repairs to their current classrooms to improve safety while others are in need of a completely new learning space. Being aware of this need, W/NP is dedicating efforts to fundraising for classroom construction projects. Recent Learning Center recipients of W/NP small grants had great success in repairing existing classrooms or constructing new ones with limited funds. 

With a small grant of $265, the El Garabato Learning Center built a new classroom for their very active sewing and craft classes. Their community raised an additional $285 for the material costs and several people volunteered to help with the construction! Students now have a dedicated learning space where they can practice their sewing skills and make items to sell at their local market.

With a small grant of $147 the Gracias a Dios Learning Center was able to enclose more of their classroom so the sewing machines and materials would remain dry when raining. The other opening is being protected by a tent which serves as an additional classroom space for their very active baking and cooking classes!

In the coming years, W/NP plans to raise more funds to support Learning Centers in improving their classrooms. It is our hope that by enabling their growth, they will be able to engage with more communtiy members, offer new classes, and make an even bigger impact at improving the quality of life in their areas. 

El Garabato students love their new classroom
El Garabato students love their new classroom
Improvements to the Garcias a Dios Learning Center
Improvements to the Garcias a Dios Learning Center
Graduates of the baking course at Gracias a Dios
Graduates of the baking course at Gracias a Dios
May 3, 2021

Margarita - an entrepreneurial success story

Margarita, an entrepreneurial success story
Margarita, an entrepreneurial success story

Margarita is a humble, persevering, strong, hard-working, fighter woman with a great spirit of overcoming.  She has two daughters and one son who love and support her dreams and ideas. Currently, Margarita is an active student at the Wisconsin/Nicaragua Partners Gracias a Dios Learning Center.

Long ago when Margarita was 18 years old, she attended her first sewing course but did not finish as she lost interest out of frustration.  It was a hard experience; she was making jogging pants and did not know how to put the pattern pieces together.  She asked her boss for help to teach her how to sew, to which the boss replied that no one taught her and that she learned by observing others. Margarita replied that we are all different, not all of us have the ability to learn by observation so quickly. She commented that she cried frustrated for not being able to assemble a simple jogging pant.  It took her 30 days to assemble the piece, she remembered how difficult it was to unstitch and sew it back. She smiled when she said, but I put it together! She was proud of herself that she did not allow herself to be defeated until she achieved it. 

Over time, that early interest in sewing began to awaken, she continued working on assembling jogging pants  and even shirts, but she never risked creating a piece from scratch, out of fear and lack of knowledge.

Margarita decided to go to the sewing course at the Gracias a Dios Learning Center, thanks to her daughter who suggested and encouraged her to go since she knew the coordinator’s granddaughter who informed her about the course. Doña Margarita managed to participate in the courses and stood out for her perseverance, her responsibility and her hard work.  

Margarita commented that her children are proud of her and motivate her to make clothing. Today, her models are her daughters, and she wants to build a sewing room at home in the future.  She feels motivated and dreams of having a place in the future and being an entrepreneurial woman.

Margarita emphasized that thanks to connection between Terre de Hommes and Wisconsin/ Nicaragua Partners she graduated the sewing course.  The learning experience has been a great blessing, she is happy with the opportunity that was given by both organizations donating materials to start her dream of entrepreneurship. She is very satisfied with the teaching and is still visiting the Learning Center to continue refining the sewing techniques.  Now she is very proud of herself since she can create her own clothes and has received praise for her work.

Comments from the Learning Center coordinators, “We are proud of Margarita, because we have managed to see her grow up together with her family.  Some of her children commented that they never thought that their mother could do so much, seeing the satisfaction and her gratitude towards the center makes us happy. Margarita still cannot believe how far she has come from her learning and everything she has achieved with the help of the center and the support of many people and her family. She is an excellent role model!

Thank you for your support that changes lives! 

Margarita, humble, persevering, strong
Margarita, humble, persevering, strong
Starting her dream of entrepreneurship
Starting her dream of entrepreneurship
Donation of mannequin being so well used
Donation of mannequin being so well used
She feels motivated, dreams of the future
She feels motivated, dreams of the future
Margarita, a woman of perseverance
Margarita, a woman of perseverance
Jan 4, 2021

Learning Center classes during the Pandemic

Students of the LC Hossana, El Comejen
Students of the LC Hossana, El Comejen

One of beautiful characteristics about the Learning Centers in Nicaragua is the self-governing philosophy.  Each center has the responsibility to carry out their classes in the best way possible that works for their community.  In this report we share some of the responses to changing locations and embracing change with the pandemic as necessary.   

  • The Hossana Learning Center, coordinated by Eryada, changed locations from Masaya to Tipitapa. The four women in the photo are from El Comején, Masaya a very remote and poor community. Sharon reported to us, "The students of the Learning Center thank God and this organization (W/NP) for changing lives and blessing families."  The women were outstanding and persevering students, as an incentive and help for them to move forward, it was decided to donate a sewing machine to each of them so they may continue even without the presence of the Learning Center.  Erayda departed Masaya with tears in her eyes as she left the Learning Center in El Comején, but feels the pride that she managed to leave a seed of change and that it will bear fruit.  Now she has resumed classes in their new location in Tipitapa.  Currently only sewing classes are being taught.  In the photo, you will see how a male child attends with his mother, and he has been one of the most outstanding students in the class, both are receiving the class at the same time. 
  • The Elizabeth Jarquín Learning Center located in Estelí is offering the sewing course, they have dedicated themselves to making masks.
  • Santa Rita Learning Center is located in the Rama, and they are resuming classes after two months without activity.  They are teaching a sewing course that will include 54 hours of teaching, a crafts course of 15 hours, a weaving crafts course of 30 hours, and a baking course 40 hours.
  • Catalunya Solidaria Learning Center located in Madriz, teaching courses on making piñatas and sewing.
  • Carolina Learning Center in Managua, is making fabrics and pillows. 

Thank you for your interest and support as we continue to provide educational opportunities for people in Nicaragua.

Happy 2021

Elizabeth Jarquin Learning Center making masks
Elizabeth Jarquin Learning Center making masks
Santa Rita Learning Center
Santa Rita Learning Center
Catalunya Solidaria LC sewing and pinata courses
Catalunya Solidaria LC sewing and pinata courses
Carolina Learning Center utilizing foam donations
Carolina Learning Center utilizing foam donations
Hossana LC, mother and son taking classes together
Hossana LC, mother and son taking classes together
 
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