In August of 2019 — which feels like a decade ago, despite only being a year and a half back — community members in Central Comején, Nicaragua, came together with Outreach field staff to take on a new project: revitalizing their local school.
To grasp the significance of this, you have to understand that in the rural areas of Nicaragua schools are strategically placed, often in remote areas, in order to provide services to as many communities and students as possible. Schools are a gathering place and focal point for the surrounding area.
Learning for the Sake of Learning
The parents, teachers, and community members associated with the Rafaela Herrera school gathered together with the common goal of addressing the issues faced by the school: overcrowded classrooms, unsanitary learning and inadequate meeting conditions, damaged desks, a shortage of learning materials, and school dropouts.
Though they faced an uphill battle, community members worked together to overcome fear and adversity; together, they learned how to advocate for their students and school to local authorities and external agencies. By early 2020 they began to see their hard work pay off as they secured 30 new desks and materials to repair 15 more, as well as over 300 school books for primary and secondary students.
Then COVID hit.
While it could have understandably thrown a wrench in their plans, the parents and teachers of Rafaela Herrera took the global pandemic in stride. They pivoted and prioritized the sanitation portion of their plans, securing handwashing stations throughout the school, sanitary water storage, and new drainage to improve conditions.
Moving Forward, Together
One mother, Auxiliadora, shared a reflection on the process so far:
“I am happy to see how teachers and parents are supporting each other, although there are difficulties we always see a ‘light of hope’, we value the effort to maintain hygiene and hand washing in this time of pandemic. God bless everyone who helps us.”
Fatima, a community leader, shared similar feelings and stated, “Working together is what makes it possible for us to move forward.”
This team of superstars has secured benefits and positively affected the lives of more than 600 children in their own community and three neighboring communities — and they’re not stopping there. They are continuing to advocate for their school and expand their work to secure better and better outcomes; they’re excited to share more updates soon!