January 31, 2006

January/February 2006 School Visit

January 31, 2006
Bob, Tom, Anielka and I went to visit one of the best schools in Granada where about 50% of our kids go. The school is amazing and hard to believe it exisits in Nicaragua. There is a computer lab, library, free lunch and much more. We are trying to encourage more of our kids to go to this school if it is close enough to their homes. Some of you may ask, okay, if there is already a school, what does EI do? Well, we help impoverished children who do not have the money to afford the manatory uniforms shoes books etc attend school and teach them and their families the value of sending them to school vs. sending them on the street to work. Now, I will let the pictures to do the talking!

January 30, 2006

Villa Esperanza Distribution 2006 - Part 2

After the performances Rosanna and her team handed out the backpacks.
I was thrilled to get a chance to say hello to several of the kids and catch up and play.

Bob and Tom seemed to have a blast getting to know them as well!

The kids were having a blast in general too!

January 29, 2006

Villa Esperanza Distribution 2006-Part 1

January 29th, 2006
This was a very busy day from the get go! Aneilka (our only employee) and Jude our wonderful volunteer from England worked very hard to get all the uniforms and shoes sorted and packed in plastic bags so life would be easier for the next step. I need to pause and mention that this year not only were our shoes hand made by a local shoemaker, but our uniforms were made by folks from the same barrio we serve, Villa Esperanza. So, we still had 174 pacs to fill! Wow! The team worked very hard and were running late for our scheduled arrival to the barrio. A wonderful man, named Peder from Holland, helped us transport the packs in his oversized LandRover. It was PACKED with packs!

The rest of us walked to the barrio. Much to my awe and surprise when we arrived there were well over 300 people assembled in and around Ana's (a parent volunteer) yard. Balloons were placed over an archway that invited us in. A large sign said "Bienvenidos Katy y sus Amigos" (Welcome Kathy and your friends) . Carefully placed were an exact number of plastic chairs for each of us in front of what was to be a performance stage. There were urgings for me to enter, I felt nervous. I paused, took a deep breath and finally entered. Tears welled up. Goosebumps formed all over my body in the 95 degree heat as I walked to the 'stage' area and clapping began. I like to help with all my heart, and really feel the best gift I get in return is seeing the children go to school. Somehow this was almost too much for me, the community showing appreciation for the work we do touched me so deeply. Young girls dressed in traditional dresses performed traditional dances, beaming shy smiles at myself and friends. My chills remained (really) as more children recited poetry and sang songs. Then a speech was made by Ana and then I made one thanking them all and the staff and volunteers and Give a Kid a Backpack for making this a reality. In all my years of service with EI, this was the most amazing moment do date.

January 28, 2006

January/February 2006 Granada Nicaragua

January 28, 2006

Amazingly we all scattered from Costa Rica via various modes of transportation with the plan of regrouping in Granada that afternoon and evening. Bob via Tica Bus, Give a Kid a Back pack via Taca airline, and myself who went with Tom (remember him?) via Nature Air . The flight to Granada was stunning yet very bumpy. The most amazing thing occurred during it and stayed wiht us for about 15 minutes! A rainbow BELOW us! As many are, Tom was a bit concerned about the safety of Nicaragua. The war has been over for 20 years. All I see there is peace. I tried to explain to Tom we are about to enter another world. Dangerous Nicaragua is not, while the stigma holds, it is actually more peaceful than Costa Rica. Nicaragua for me is PURE. Untouched still by tourism (but that is going a bit crazy too). Granada is like entering a world many years back except for the few cars on the cobblestone streets you would never know what century you were in! And reality is, it is the oldest colonialized city in the Americas, settled in 1524 by the Spaniards. Then I explained that the 'barrio' Villa de Esperanza, where we worked, was about a 20 minute walk from the main city and that most people that visit Granada rarely see that side of it.

January 27, 2006

Costa Rica Jan 2006 Fiesta and Distribution!

January 27, 2006

The day came quickly to distribute everything! While there were a few glitches, such a Winn getting his bags stuck in customs, we managed to pull everything off JUST IN TIME! Carrying 2 carloads of school supplies and another with 2 pinatas we arrived at the pasture with 110 kids eagerly waiting! We decided, let's play first! The kids pulled together a really sweet presentation of a song and dance for our collaborators Give a Kid a Back Pack Foundation. Later we 'did' the pinatas. Let me tell you, they are quite interesting and I am still not sure who imagined the concept of teaching children to hit an animal full of candy with a stick, blindfolding the child who hitsthe animal, with tons of other kids eagerly standing hear the blindfolded kid with the stick, then all the kids dive in once it is broken while the poor blindfolded kid has no idea he broke it open until the candy is gone! :-) Later once the pinata chaos was over the children sat very nicely in a circle and waited for their names to be called to receive their new school supplies. Rosanna Kingston Director of Give a Kid a Backpack passed out the packs.

Below are Amy and Winn two top notch volunteers Rosanna brought with her!

And a few more random shots....

January 26, 2006

January 2006 Costa Rica - Random Photos

I am posting some photos that sort of speak for themselves.

Below....the front of the Precario

Where the kids play...a pasture adjacent to their homes. They jump the little barbed wire fence to get i . It is also where we have events sometimes.

More everyday life....

Marilyn is another of my/our long term kids....and a great one at that!

January 25, 2006

January 2006 Costa Rica - Erika and Pinatas

Erika Santamaria is a special girl from a special family. She is from the third family I started working with so far the most successfull. Her mother Roxcinia has been assisting EI for several years now. Erika has wanted to be a doctor since I have known her (since 1998). Bob was looking for someone to do a feature story on and I thought she would be a great candidate. We took her out to dinner and he interviewed her for his second article on EI.

Santamaria Family at home

This year we were honored to have Give a Kid a Backpack foundation give us an in-kind grant of backpacks and school supplies which typically we provide along with the mandatory uniforms and shoes. In order to prepare for their arrival we purchased 2 pinatas to use for a party in their honor. Bob and I took a young helper, Efrain, with us to select the candy and pinatas . He also got his first shot at shooting video. Bob wanted a kids persepective on a candy store. By the way Efrain had NEVER seen such a store. A definite first for him! When I told him to start filling bags with candy his eyes just about popped out of his head!