Puentes de Esperanza Newsletter
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Welcome! ¡Bienvenidos!

Thanks for your interest in keeping up with our work in Jiquilillo, Nicaragua! You are receiving this newsletter because you have already contributed to our success, either by volunteering with our programs, donating your hard-earned money, hosting a fundraiser for us, or by staying at Rancho Esperanza (thanks for signing our guest book!). As many of you know, Rancho Esperanza, a socially-conscious hostel in northern Nicaragua, has been operating community development programs since it opened back in 2004.
In 2015, after 11 years of running the programs and dreaming of creating a non-profit organization, we secured our tax-exempt status in the U.S. and launched Puentes de Esperanza. We can now proudly and confidently say that we have strengthened and grown our presence in the community.
I hope you enjoy reading about our community and feel inspired by our work. This first edition of our newsletter focuses on the exciting improvements to our scholarship program, our new workshop initiative, and introducing our Program Managers. We aim to keep smiles on the faces of the local kids and hope you feel the warmth of these smiles (and Nicaraguan sun!) across the globe. None of this is possible without the help of volunteers, guests, and the support of our donors. 
Muchísimas gracias!

Shana Falb
Executive Director

The 2017 scholarship students with their parents in our community center. 

More Scholarships!

We are happy to announce our sponsorship of 43 students this year, spread between Jiquilillo’s primary school, the nearby secondary school in Carasco, and a private school in El Viejo. We have increased the number of sponsored students this year from 38 last year, and 22 in 2015. As a result of your generous donations and a ton of hard work, we are now able to keep Jiquilillo’s kids in school longer. We provided scholarships to over half of the primary school graduating class, and twenty of our sponsored students are now in secondary school.
This year we conducted assessments among scholarship candidates to determine socio-economic disparities that revealed the average annual salary among families of scholarship students is U$1,500. Two bus tickets a day may seem insignificant, but it is a deal-breaker when parents decide whether they can send their kids to school. As such, upon receiving the attendance list from the school director, we reimburse U$1.70 per week per student to cover these transport costs. Additionally, students receive a backpack loaded with supplies and a school uniform.
Our needs assessment also revealed that most parents of scholarship students left school by 3rd grade. Therefore, in addition to financial and material aid, our scholarships include tutoring and mentoring support throughout the year. Tutoring Hour is open to the entire community, not just scholarship students. Most students come several times per week as our community center provides a unique environment with textbooks, encyclopedias, dictionaries, books, materials, internet access, and the necessary knowledge and encouragement that the students don’t often receive at home.
The three private school students, Alex, Ana (with her baby cousin), and Yaritza, with Maynin and Shana.

New Private School Scholarships 

This is the first time we are sending three of Jiquilillo’s best students to a private secondary school in El Viejo (35 km from Jiquilillo). Ana, Yaritza, and Alex have been sponsored by us for several years and have demonstrated an outstanding interest in learning, consistently receive excellent grades, and always maintain great attendance records. We are excited to introduce them to a new learning environment: small class sizes, better attention from teachers, and a more complete education. In addition to a high school diploma, these students will also receive a technical degree in business administration to give them a much greater chance of employment upon graduation.

These 9th graders now have a better opportunity to make the most of their talents and lead the way for other youth in the community. Ana, Alex, and Yaritza are dedicated to their studies: they share early morning study sessions on the long, crowded bus to their school (Centro de Ciencias Economicas Imaculada Concepción de María), daily late night study sessions at Rancho Esperanza, and put in several hours of study time in our community center each Saturday. We are super proud of them in their pursuit of education!
Aisha and Maynin planning the upcoming week for Kids Club and Tutoring Hour. 

Meet our Program Managers

Our gifted local Program Manager, Maynin Somarriba, has been with us for nine months. She is responsible for the scholarship program and ensures the students stay on track by regularly visiting their homes and meeting with teachers. Maynin also has a leading role during Kids Club and Tutoring Hour. Her presence as a compassionate, university-educated local woman is invaluable in motivating kids to pursue their dreams.
Aisha Hassan, our Swedish Program Manager, is also contributing her time, knowledge, and experience to Kids Club and Tutoring Hour. She will be working with us for six months and brings her double major in Peace & Development and Economics, as well as her previous experience working for gender equality in Egypt, for unaccompanied refugees in Sweden, and volunteering in social development in northern Nicaragua (right down the beach from Jiquilillo).
Primary school kids playing during recess with the new latrines and fence line in the background.

School Assistance

Jiquilillo is starting to invest more in its education. Enrollment at the local primary school reached capacity this year. We have been involved with the local primary and secondary schools since Nate worked in the preschool back in 2005. In collaboration with the Ministry of Education, we have placed assistants in the primary school to help kids who need extra attention. Shana is currently helping out in the lower grades, and more volunteers are lined up for the remainder of the year.
We also help improve and maintain the infrastructure of the schools. Most recently, in collaboration with the parents of our primary school scholarship students, we built two new latrines, and constructed a brand-new fence line. At the secondary school, we provided the materials necessary to extend electricity to two new classrooms. These projects were essential to ensure the kids learn in a safe and productive environment.
Photography workshop participants. Guests view the student's artwork in the background.

New Workshops!

In December 2016, we hosted our first short-term workshop for young adults. We hired Rosa, a trained local photographer from our neighboring community of Padre Ramos, to teach basic photography classes to nine students. Each student was provided with a camera to learn photography techniques and photo-documentary skills.

The power of having a local woman share her expertise was priceless. The students were engaged in learning this artform, and their successes showed. They finished the course by hosting a photo gallery at Rancho Esperanza. Each photographer presented their work and earned significantly from the sale of their photos. They now realize the earning potential behind this new skill. Just as important, they learned to interpret the world around them, and a new avenue in which to express it.
New secondary school scholarship student, Anthony, with his backpack full of materials and uniform for the year. 

Get Involved!

All this great progress comes at a financial cost. If you’d like to help, please consider making a tax-deductible donation to support our education initiatives. Rancho Esperanza covers all administrative costs so you can be sure 100% of your donation goes directly to the projects. Here are some examples of how your donation will help:
  • U$20 will cover three months of a student's transport costs
  • U$50 will sponsor a primary school student for a year
  • U$150 will host a new workshop, or sponsor a secondary school student for a year
  • U$1,000 will send a secondary school student to private school for the year, including tuition and transportation costs
Any amount, big or small, will help ensure the continued success of our ongoing projects, including Kids Club, computer classes, English classes, school assistance, and more!
If you are interested in volunteering opportunities, check out our website for more information. 

We appreciate in-kind donations and keep an updated list of needed supplies here

Puentes de Esperanza is a US-registered 501c3 non-profit organization.

Our mailing address is:
Puentes de Esperanza
436 29th Street
West Palm Beach, Florida 33407

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