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Aug 12, 2011

Update on Esteli Progress

La Prensa Newspaper Announces New School (Espanol)
La Prensa Newspaper Announces New School (Espanol)

Report on First Semester Activities: January – June 2011

Inauguration of New School Building in La Cruz, Estelí

Celebrations are not very common in La Cruz. The families in this small community on the outskirts of Estelí battle for survival every day, in the most adverse of conditions. La Cruz is a semi- rural community, located less than a mile from the city dump. Nearly all of the adults in the community work in the dump, wading through garbage, competing with dogs and vultures to find recyclable materials that can be sold to generate a paltry income. The homes in the community are made of scrap material found in the dump- flattened barrels, cardboard, fragments of wood. Even the land in La Cruz is unrelenting. The landscape is parched and filled with innumerable boulders, making it virtually impossible to grow trees or crops in the community.

Until recently, the children in the community were going to school at a small building made of sheet metal and wire fencing. Last year, Fabretto began to implement health, education and nutrition programs in the community, providing basic services for the children, and keeping them from working in the dump after finishing their classes at noon. The programs were an immediate success, and the majority of the children were staying at school all afternoon, rather than trudging up the hill to the dump to work with their parents. In fact, the Fabretto programs were so successful that enrollment at the school nearly doubled.

In 2010, there were just twenty-nine students enrolled at the school, and attendance levels were poor. At the beginning of the 2011 school year, more than fifty students enrolled at the school, largely due to the improved services being offered through the Fabretto programs. This presented some interesting challenges for the school’s two teachers, who each teach three grades. The existing school only had room for some thirty students, so with the increased enrollment, a group of the older students were forced to create a makeshift classroom outside, under a tarp that was strung up to extend the roof.

In February, we teamed up with a buildOn, a U.S. based nonprofit organization whose mission is to build classroom buildings in impoverished communities. Fabretto had purchased land in the community in October 2010, with the express purpose of building a new school. Together, we met with the community to organize work teams, as buildOn’s methodology requires direct community involvement and ownership. For twelve weeks, parents and other community members made significant sacrifices in order to work two days a week on the construction of the school. Although there were some difficulties maintaining the work schedule, the community’s commitment to the project was admirable.

Finally, construction was completed during the last week in May, and the building was inaugurated on Monday, June 6th. The entire community was present for the ribbon cutting ceremony, which also included some songs and poems performed by students. Parents, students and teachers were beaming with pride, satisfaction and gratitude. This was the first substantial project ever executed in La Cruz by any public or private organization, and the community played a fundamental role in its success.

In addition to the school building, Fabretto is also teaming up with Power Advocate to install solar panels on the school, since there is no electricity in the community. The solar panels will provide light in the three classrooms, and will also power a small computer laboratory, so the children can begin to explore the world of technology. Also, Fabretto will be partnering with Cross International and Amigos for Christ to drill a well at the school. There is only one well in the community, with a hand pump, which would make it very difficult to provide an adequate water supply to the school.

Inauguration of New School in Esteli!
Inauguration of New School in Esteli!

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