January 12, 2008


This is a test post from flickr, a fancy photo sharing thing.

December 27, 2007

Phenomenal Photo Stream from Nicaragua

Empowerment International in Nicaragua uses photography to help at-risk youth stay in school and as a creative outlet.

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May 22, 2007

New Website!

This marks our 9th year working within communities in Nicaragua and Costa Rica where we currently have enrolled more 300 at risk youth and street children in schools and have worked in depth with their families and communities to reinforce the educational efforts of each child.
In this time, we have learned much about the people, the cultures, the politics and the barriers to education and community development in this part of the world. We believe the stories of the kids, families and those of our staff and volunteers provide an interesting perspective -- a very different view of the world we all live in.

We've just launched a new website and encourage you to visit us at http://www.empowermentinternational.org/ . Our new website is an on-going initiative to bring these perspectives to light, to share the heart-warming and heart-wrenching stories and to explore the questions "why?" and "why not?"

May 20, 2007

Dreams - A young Nicaraguan girl learns her dreams can come true

It is amazing how much we take schooling for granted in developed nations. I can recall often not really ‘wanting’ to go to school each morning but ‘having’ to attend. It’s not that I was a bad student by any means, actually I was an excellent one, but I think I truly took school for granted like so many others in the world. It was not until my adult life, while living in Central America, that I realized that for many children outside my country, attending public school is often a privilege not a right.

For Josephina (name changed for privacy), school is something she takes quite seriously, despite her many responsibilities that to an outsider would seem more appropriate for a 30-year-old woman than a 14-year-old girl. Josephina seized the opportunity to return to school when in January 2006 Empowerment International announced openings in the program.

Each morning she awakens to the roosters crowing at 5:30 AM. Hopping out of bed onto the earthen floor in her tent-like home made of plastic (like heavy garbage bags), she bathes in the traditional Nica fashion (a “bucket bath”), and dons her pristinely washed uniform and perfectly polished black shoes before walking 2 miles on a muddy path to attend the morning shift of classes from 7 AM to noon at one of Granada’s best public schools, Padre Pablo Antonio Estella.

After classes are dismissed at noon, she travels another 2 miles (further from her home) to the market to purchase supplies so her mother can start on a batch of plantain chips or enchiladas to sell. Josephina has lunch, does her chores and some homework, before going out to sell the food her mother has prepared. She and her sister work from 3 PM to 6:30 PM each afternoon in the streets of Granada. In the evening, she eats dinner then finishes any pending chores and homework before heading to bed. This working family team is common in Nicaragua, especially in the countryside. This family earns about US$40 a month.

In 2006, Josephina was able to return to school with the assistance of EI. It was that year that she began to realize that her future holds many possibilities, far beyond street sales. At the end of the school year in 2006, she announced that she wanted to be a doctor to help all of the poor people that were sick get well. This year she has discovered she has other talents as well while competing in the Mathematic Olympics Competition. Although she took the exam with the best students of each area school, Josephina reported that she was not nervous because she had studied so hard. When the results were announced, the ecstatic Josephina was called for second place. She received a banner with the colors of Nicaragua (blue and white) that stated “Academic Excellence 2007” along with a certificate. With this success, she is now also considering computer engineering as a potential profession.

Josephina is grateful to Empowerment International which has provided her the opportunity to discover her potential in school, motivated her to continue working hard in school, allowing her to become a better student and person each day. Her mother feels very grateful to all the people that make Empowerment International possible because she says that she could not afford to send her daughter to school without their help. She is also extremely proud of her daughter. And so are we at Empowerment International!

March 25, 2007

Big Hearts come in all ages and sizes....

What a surprise for us to find out a young boy (age 10), Kian from California chose to help us put a child to school after he visited Nicaragua. Below is his picture and his story. Thank you Kian for your big heart! We look forward to seeing you in Nicaragua someday soon! - Kathy

My name is Kian (2nd from left) and I am 10 years old. My family visited Nicaragua last January and I loved it there. When I got home I decided that I would like to help a Nicaraguan boy my own age have an education and be able to play on a sports team. I decided to have a bake sale and invited a couple friends to join me. We sold mostly cupcakes and brownies I looked at many organizations but chose Empowerment International. It seemed like it had a very personal feeling and the money I earned could do so much! I can't wait to be in touch with my new friend . Author - Kian

March 24, 2007

An Amazing Year! (From EI's Newsletter)

There have been so many changes since the beginning of 2006! Empowerment International and the communities it serves have moved forward in every way. Amazingly the increase of parental meeting and event participation rose from 35% to 98%. We now have active local and community volunteers as well as our amazing international volunteers. We continue to grow our partnerships with other organizations to leverage our combined resources. With a wonderful collaborative effort from our ground team in Central America (Dan Boyer, Kevin Boxer, Anielka Gutierrez, Marshall McCormick, Kelly Meeks, and Darcy Phillips) and the program participants (the children and their families), Empowerment International’s program is something we believe our donors and supporters can truly be proud of. Our program has continued to shape itself into something much more powerful than just providing scholarships.

Over this past year, we have witnessed a revolution in the interest of the children and their parents in school and education. There is a shared passion for education and the opportunity it brings. It is wonderful to walk through Villa Esperanza and see children outside their homes with their school books studying, often with their older siblings and parents sitting with them and participating. Children will often proudly run up to volunteers and visitors to show them their notebooks and exams.
The parents often will stop a volunteer or staff member to share concerns and questions. In the past year, we have learned techniques and processes for fostering this passion, interest, and investment in the future of the participants in the community. We feel we are getting closer to establishing a true community-maintained program in Villa Esperanza which will allow us to dedicate our personnel resources to other needy communities.
The gains this year have been due in large part to the dedication of our program volunteers. These volunteers have given three months to over one year of their time (and often over 40 hours a week) and their passion and dedication shines through in all they do. Along with the increased community participation, they have also built an infrastructure, such as a web-based database with participant information and a streamlined Sponsor a Child program that can be readily scaled as we expand to other communities. In addition, we have an annual Nicaragua Adventure Tour which all donors and interested supporters of EI are invited to attend. In the United States, our Board and volunteer staff continues to grow as does their dedication to the program, amidst their busy lives.

I am very excited about 2007 as we look toward continuing to refine our program to meet the needs of these communities and start the process of creating a reproducible program for another location in Nicaragua. I would like to thank each and every one of you for your ongoing support and belief in us and, most importantly, in the future of the children of Costa Rica and Nicaragua.

February 17, 2007

More of getting ready in Costa Rica

Supplies and uniforms needed to be organized and we had a great team to help. Mothers and older students helped readily and happily.

Two of our star volunteers, Effrain and Jaqueline (long time participants)
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