In light of the current health crisis in our world, I wanted to share some good news on behalf of Amigos en Accion. Before beginning, I want to say that I hope that all of you are staying healthy and safe during these difficult times and are adjusting to your new normal. There are two confirmed cases in Nicaragua, and we are staying informed and taking actions to ensure the health and safety of everyone involved in the program.

Earlier this month, we officially started up the program for the 2020 school year, and we are thrilled to share that we have 38 students currently enrolled and actively participating in Amigos en Accion! This represents a 50% increase in our enrollment compared to the 2019 school year. We are now in our fifth year of providing this program to Ciudad Hermana Scholarship recipients and other children from the community, and part of the fruits of this labor is our growing reputation in the community and respect for the services that we provide. It is certainly quite the responsibility to support so many students, but it is also a blessing to have the opportunity to positively influence their young lives.

Currently, we have suspended class in the program until after Holy Week to ensure the safety of all of our students, staff, and families. Regular classes in the public schools have not been suspended officially, but in conversations with the school directors, we have learned that only about 30% of the student population is attending class currently. After Holy Week (which is the first scheduled school break), we will evaluate the situation and see if it is safe for us to return to the program, and to see how the schools will proceed in getting students caught up with assignments and exams to be sure that we can support them to the best of our abilities.

During the first few weeks of the program, we focused on getting to know each other and establishing routines to ensure that our students get used to the rhythm of the program and are able to get their homework done and have enough time to enjoy their snack and English class or other activities. Due to the increase in enrollment, we have had to change how we function to ensure that we are providing the best possible services to our students. We are lucky to have access to two different classrooms within the same building, so Martha and I have split the students into two groups during homework time, each of us working with one group to be sure that they all get the attention and help they need in doing their homework, studying, and practicing skills. To ensure that the snack is prepared and served on time, we have asked the woman who cleans the center to take charge of the snack; she has been such an asset to the program, and all of our students comment about how nice and helpful she is! It is such a pleasure to watch these children get to know each other and build new friendships, and we hope that we can return to class after Holy Week to continue learning and growing together.

Due to our increased enrollment, increasing the duties of the cleaner, the cancellation of group trips that would have brought in much needed funds, and other changes, we are in need of increased financial support to ensure that we can keep our program open. If you are able to support us with a donation, we would be deeply grateful. No amount is to small, and 100% of donations go directly to supporting the program, thanks to the incredible support that JOS provides. If you would like to make a donation, you can follow the link below for more details – be sure to designate Amigos en Accion as the recipient of your donation:

Thank you all for your support of Amigos en Accion!

Ashley Sullivan and Martha Rojas

Believe it or not, another school year is quickly coming to a close in Amigos en Accion, here in El Sauce, Nicaragua.

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!