Amigos en AccionAmigos en Acción has been off to a great start this year, and we have so much that we would like to share with you! First, since we haven’t done it yet, we would like to give you a bit of a recap of 2018. It was a fabulous year in the program, in spite of the socio-political issues that began in April 2018. One of the things that made last year so special is the fact that it was our first group of students to participate in the program for the full three years (students who begin the program in 4th grade have the opportunity to participate until they graduate from 6th grade). These students will always hold a special place in our hearts, as they were our “guinea pigs” in everything, and they were an incredible group of students. They grew so much intellectually, physically, and emotionally in the three years that they were in the program. We watched them develop new friendships, work through obstacles, and develop skills to deal with the trials of daily life. And, oh, how they grew in English! I am so proud of how much they learned in those three years, and especially of their willingness and excitement to learn something as new and strange as English – because let’s be honest, English is a tough language to learn if it’s not your native language! As much as miss them this year in the program, we are excited to see how they will continue to learn and grow as they begin secondary school.

In December 2018, co-founders Ashley Sullivan and Martha Rojas had the opportunity to travel to Rochester, NY thanks to Ciudad Hermana Rochester – El Sauce and a generous grant from the Paul Wenger Fund for Peace Through International Understanding through the First Unitarian Church of Rochester. During the visit, we had the opportunity to meet with past donors and connect with new ones through presentations at various public and private schools, universities, churches, and other organizations and groups in the area. We are deeply grateful to those who opened their doors to us to hear about what we do both through Ciudad Hermana and Amigos en Acción to positively impact the El Sauce community. We also received a generous donation of an iPad from one of our donors, which has opened so many doors for our students. With it, we are able to access the internet to allow students to search for information for homework and projects. Plus, we are so excited for the chance to connect our students with students in the Rochester area through Skype calls.

This year, we have our hands full with 30 students actively participating! As it is still early in the Nicaraguan school year, we are working to get to know each of our students and help them to develop friendships with each other (we have students from two different elementary schools, so the program allows them to meet other children they wouldn’t otherwise have the chance to meet). We are helping our students to develop good study skills, to be independent, to take initiative to solve problems, to work with their classmates, and so much more! We took some time at the beginning of the school year to play many get-to-know-you games and team-building activities to break down barriers and help them to develop confidence, and will continue to do so as the year goes on to ensure we maintain a positive environment.

Amigos en AccionWe also would like to invite you to participate in our fundraising campaign, $92 from 92. If you haven’t heard about it yet, check out our previous blog post to see more details:

Remember, ANY donation helps us to make sure we can continue providing this program to our students, which includes homework help and educational reinforcement, a healthy snack, English classes, and other activities to help students develop skills they will need to be successful in school and beyond. Students attend our program from Monday through Friday from 8:00-11:00am, then go to school in the afternoons, and they LOVE participating! A new student recently told his family that he loves coming to the program and doesn’t want to miss, because we have so many cool things for them to use!

If you would like to make a donation, you can do so online or by check. Remember, all donations are tax-deductible! When you make a donation, be sure to designate Amigos en Accion as the recipient. You can follow this link for more specific information about how to donate:

Thank you in advance to anyone who is able to support our mission in making sure these children have a chance to participate in this program!

Dearest friends of the Widows of India,

We share this update to inform you of the latest happenings for the widows in South India, with deepest gratitude in our hearts for all your support, without which none of the following events would have occurred.

Our Om Shanthi Old Age Home has become a strong beam of light in Tiruvannamalai and the outlying area.  Our project has become very well-known as being a very well-run support and haven for aging and abandoned women who here find refuge and loving care during their final years.

Public and civil authorities are recommending our services, as do the many westerners who come to visit after learning of our services to both old and young widows (who very often have multiple children).

The Om Shanthi Old Age Home has become a safe haven, currently housing 29 beautiful goddesses (ages range 70 – 93) who are lovingly cared for round the clock by a staff of nine wonderful women (also widows).

I (Anna) spend three months of the year in Tiruvannamalai, and Paulette typically spends 6 weeks here.  Kirsti Shields (of Journeys of Solutions) and her daughter also experienced the magic and beauty of the widows in the home this year.

Together, we all share in the efforts to contribute the maintenance of this worthy place, where destitute elderly women can live peacefully through the end of their days, instead of out on the streets.



This aspect of our project (the Old Age Home) is flourishing beautifully, and we now have directed our attention to another “hotspot”, where help is urgently needed.

There are many, many young widows with children whose husband has recently passed away, and who now stand facing a huge void in their lives.  They have lost their husband, the children their father, and the women now face the need to support themselves and their children, alone, without resources.

We have three social workers who go out in to the community to seek out and screen the needs of those who are now in desperate straits, often with little to eat.  Our social workers are very well attuned to the suffering of these young mothers, as they are widows, themselves.

Many live in the very rural and remote outskirts of Tiruvannamalai.  The widows and their children are so very grateful when we arrive with a sack of rich, dhal, and cooking oil!  We then sit with them,  listen to their story, and determine how we can best address their most urgent needs.  We help each family according to their specific need.   Every situation is different.

Many times, it is medical care which is most immediately needed:  HIV, malnutrition, and depression is widespread.  Their little hut’s roof in which they live needs repair – rain comes through in the rainy season, while they sleep on the floor.

We then look at helping to find work for these most often illiterate young women, whose only education has been to care for their families.

Last, but not least!  So very, very  important is the education of the children to whom is owed a fighting chance for a future in their country, which is so quickly developing its power and resources.   All widows are very strongly concerned about the future of their children, and it is ingrained in all children that education is the key to their rescue from a life of poverty.

All children are provided with schoolbags, school uniforms, and other materials which they need.  We also look to support children with higher education, as well.  Currently, we are giving support to 95 widows and otherwise destitute women, along with 172 students, of all ages.

The subdued flickering of hope seen in the eyes of the widows and their children upon our first visit is replaced with great joy – we see this in their eyes upon our follow-up visits made after some time of support.

It is because of each and every one of you that we are able to share in this reward for our endeavors, which we herewith share with you!  Without your kind support, none of this could have happened!  There are so, so many more who need our help!


With deep gratitude!

Anna & Paulette