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Help Nicaraguan Parents Build 5 Rural Preschools

by Special Families Saint Julie Billiart (Familias Especiales Santa Julia Billiart)
Help Nicaraguan Parents Build 5 Rural Preschools
Help Nicaraguan Parents Build 5 Rural Preschools
Help Nicaraguan Parents Build 5 Rural Preschools
Help Nicaraguan Parents Build 5 Rural Preschools
Help Nicaraguan Parents Build 5 Rural Preschools
Help Nicaraguan Parents Build 5 Rural Preschools
Help Nicaraguan Parents Build 5 Rural Preschools
Help Nicaraguan Parents Build 5 Rural Preschools
kids with some new materials
kids with some new materials

Good news in the midst of the pandemic and the powerful start of the rainy season now underway: four of the five preschools planned through this project have now been completed.  “WOW  We did it, all together,” exclaimed one coordinator.

Mulukukú now has 4 new rural preschools, with children running in and out of their new environment not quite believing that this is going to be their new schools. One of the schools is a double preschool because the enrollment doubled during the construction phase and the parents made allowance for this surge.  Each school has a different amount of students enrolled between 15 and 30. Now the parents of the fifth school have started their preschool with the walls going up rapidly.  

It is mid school year with the heavy rain starting up so everyone is anxious. Teachers are anxiously waiting to try out new Montessori materials that had started to arrive before the virus hit Nicaragua.  One of the invisible effects of the corona Virus pandemic is that United States Mail to many third world countries has been interrupted.  We have a commitment from a Montessori school in the USA that is closing to receive their materials but when they went to the post office they were denied. “There is no mail service to Nicaragua.” There are at least 50 countries that the US postal service is not serving at this time because of the pandemic.  We have no international flights coming in so we cannot get airmail.  So the promised material is waiting until there is mail service between the United States and Nicaragua, which we believe will happen.

It seems that the communities in the rural areas of Múlukuku have so far been spared the infection of Covid-19 and the people are not being advised to take any precautions.  Since these schools are part of the ministry of education they have remained open in the midst of this virus.   We know that this is a time when many families are suffering around the world from the effects of Covid 19 and we pray that you be protected from all sickness and economic loses. We give thanks to God and to each one of you who in the middle of such difficulties have made a dream come true for teachers and children of the mountains to have preschools.  Thank you.  A special prayer for children that we are sharing during the Corona Pandemic: “Oh God be good to me the sea is so big and my boat is so small.”

school building
school building
Inagurating one of the preschools
Inagurating one of the preschools

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In order to build a school in Mulkúku villages in Nicaragua it takes a community.  In this mountainous rural area a community of parents, a community of supporters, of teachers and community leaders, a community of builders, and also a community of donors are working together.  Thank you for being a part of this community.  These schools are truly community schools and to have a preschool in a rural area is such a blessing.  When the people come together to build it, to support it, they really begin to own these schools and thus take care of them. These are their chiodren's schools.  There is such a big celebration when a school is completed. Really a preschool is the first step for these children and their parents want it to be a step in the right direction.  Can you imagine the joy in the whole family when they know that their young child is beginning with preschool? Many of these parents didn’t have this opportunity.  So the celebrations are a very big part of their building schools.

 Sister Sandy writes “With grateful hearts we thank the generous donors who have responded to our request for help to support parents of 5 preschools.  Now we are finishing the second of the five schools.  In December parents and children inaugurated the preschool Cristobal Colon.  On the first full week of February the parents and community of this preschool, Estrella del Norte in Kepí, will begin a new year in a new school.  Windows and doors are being installed and bright rose colored paint will reflect the bright smiles and joy of parents and children who proudly celebrate their children’s preschool. “ 

Sister Sandy continues her work helping organize the new schools and has been able to get permission from the ministry of education to continue her training of preschool teachers in Montessori values and methods.  She has a master’s in Montessori preschools and now is being able to use it in an area where preschools didn’t exist plus now there are preschools where they didn’exist  before.                                                                                                                                                                                                            

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   

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Rain and mud equals dengue fever and colds during the winter on the  Caribbean coast of Nicaragua  for preschool classes which are held in inadequate quarters.  However winter as well as the school year are coming to a close.  The children in the communities of Mulukukú rejoice when they can finally come back to school  once the fevers are over. Now they are enjoying their friends, chasing  after squirrels, and chanting “The food, the food”, as mothers bring in beans and rice and tortillas for lunch. In Nicaragua the school year is February to the end of November so the children and teachers have a lot of catching up to do in class more than chasing squirrels, since many missed one or two weeks with their health problems.

The end of October parents, teachers, builders and school directors inaugurated the first of 4 preschools we have all be hoping for since early last year in the community of Santa Rita about 25 kilometers northeast of the town of Mulukukú. It was a great big party and all the communities celebrated.  Now we are hoping and planning for the new school year which opens in February 2020 and for the other 5 preschools, with dreams of avoiding so many health problems when they are attending classes in inadequate classrooms.

But classrooms are not the only thing that will be new.  The teachers are being trained this year and there are 21 preschool teachers who have been studying with Sister Sandra the Montessori philosophy, methodology and materials for preschoolers.  We are planning a new series of workshops of hand-made materials based on Montessori principles.  Preschools in rural Nicaragua have no equipment or materials except what the teachers bring from their own homes.  So with the help of this project we hope to be able to buy some supplies and we  believe we will make some great Montessori materials. We are grateful for those who have donated for the 5 preschools which we are desperately trying to build before the next school year. During the school break would be a good time to build because the climate is dryer and the parents have more time.  They are excited about the possibilities of having the new schools and are encouraging their children to attend classes now promising them that next year it will be better.  Even though it is hard work to build the schools they  are itching to build the schools for their children. These are schools built by the parents on land donated by them for the preschools, they are very proud that it will be their work that will give these children the  possibility to study in adequate classrooms. 

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News from Sister Sandy, who is working to help parents build 5 preschools in the Múlukuku area, deep in the mountainous jungle areas of Nicaragua:   She is listening to the hope of the parents motivated  to build preschools for their children.  They believe in the power of preschools but lack resources for construction materials.

   The parents of preschoolers at Cristóbal Colón have finished the construction of two rooms for the sixty children that until now were sharing the second grade classroom in the primary school and a leaky storehouse.  The classrooms were finished in one month.  This week they will inaugurate the new classrooms which are still without tables or chairs.  But they say that is the least of their difficulties.  “We will find a way to solve that one way or another, but now it is time to celebrate.” 

   Visiting one of the preschools located in the town of Múlukuku I found thirty preschool children and their teacher sharing the back of the second grade classroom where another thirty children were also studying.   The noise level of the second graders drowned out the voice of the preschool teacher who is almost oblivious to the background noise and so continues helping the preschoolers color pictures of the Nicaraguan flag, bird, flower and national tree.  I talked with the teacher and the school director after class about the noise and the almost impossible task of conducting class in such an environment and they proudly showed me two small spaces where the parents had begun the construction of walls.  They were so excited because they could finally get started but they only had enough materials to get two walls built. The teachers and parents continue to hope for a real classroom.

   Meanwhile in the indigenous Mayangna territories the families of the newly constructed preschool in Kiulnawás, are struggling to repair the muddy road into the zone to be able to bring the cement for the floor of the school.  Once materials can reach the school and the floor is finished other parents will begin to build a primary multi-grade primary school in the adjoining community of Awás. Language, culture lack of paved roads, and even sufficient alimentation complicate the process.

   Santiago, our master contractor, waits anxiously for the weather to improve, and that we can raise sufficient funds.  He wants to get that call from the parents saying “all is ready for the next preschool, and we are ready to build.” 

Parents are ready because their children’s education is important, but they still lack materials to build preschools that are a necessity not a luxury.

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Fathers  Starting Work on Preschools in MKK
Fathers Starting Work on Preschools in MKK

 Sister Sandy who has her masters in Montessori and has the only Montessori Preschool in the Nicaraguan mountains, has been giving workshops to preschool teachers in the rural area of Mulkúku.  This is where the five preschools will be built in communities outside this rural town.   While she is giving the workshops she visits the parents and keeps the hope alive that together we will build the preschools that these communities need. According to Maria Montessori: “The most important period of life is not the time of university studies rather it is the first years.  The time between birth and 6 years of age.”

The parents are very anxious because they see the real need for their children, but they are also enthusiastic at the prospect of building the school.  The most enthusiastic is the Director of Cristobal Colon, preschool, he is not waiting around, he already has organized the teachers and started visiting each home of the students to form work crews of parents who will work with the master carpenter to complete the construction.  They have started preparing the ground for the preschool building. It is the rainy season in Nicaragua and the children, three, four, and five years olds are having to walk through mud puddles each morning to get to class.  There are almost 60 preschoolers who are now studying in a wooden shed with leaking roof and rotted boards for walls.  Everyone is hopeful that this new school will very soon receive the remaining funds  so they can complete the building. 

While she was visiting the community of St. Rita, she asked the parents how they were doing.  “Well it is really a big challenge for us because we know that we do not have the economic resources to build the school and each day we see our kids sadder because we don’t have a decent place for them to study.” The children are trying hard to understand their first experience of school by sharing a tiny primary school that is  already overcrowded.  The preschoolers have no place to display their drawings or to keep their toys and supplies without those disappearing. The school belongs to the bigger kids and so they have no space of their own. The parents fear that this will turn their children off to going to school. We continue to try to keep them motivated saying, “We will soon have a good place for you to study.” 

“What we do in preschool is give every child the chance to satisfy his/hers potential to become an independent, secure and balanced person.”  These words of Maria Montessori are what these parents want for their children, but they do not have the means without a school building. Sandy’s visit motivates the parents as the told her, “Now we are really contented that you are working with us to find a way to build a school that will belong to our children and they will have a secure place to learn and play.” 

So now that the rainy season is starting in Nicaragua the parents have to double down on motivating their children to attend preschool in less than decent conditions, but they have hope that they can soon start building their own schools. The parents themselves will do the work but this can only happen if they have the materials to build with and that is where we all come in by funding these five preschools. It is a proven fact that early intervention in education makes all the difference for the students. “Do you realize that from the time of conception to four years of age individuals develop 50% of their intelligence.  Between 4 and 8 years of age they develop 30% more and from 8 years on they develop the other 20%.” Maria Montessori.

Preschoolers walk through mud to get to class
Preschoolers walk through mud to get to class
fathers proud of work on preschool construction
fathers proud of work on preschool construction
Children waiting for preschool class
Children waiting for preschool class
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Project Leader:
rebecca trujillo
Matagalpa, na Nicaragua
$7,480 raised of $25,000 goal
 
38 donations
$17,520 to go
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