Our 4th Anniversary Report

On November 11, 2016, Education Plus Nicaragua turned four years old.  Since our humble beginnings in the yard of a local home with 40 children, we have grown to serve 180 children in our full-size community center, Casa de los Sueños.  

CLICK HERE or on the cover image below to read our full Anniversary Report as a pdf, or scroll below for our web version:
















March Newsletter – Stories from the Field

Dear Friends and Family,

   February was full of activity for the students of Education Plus.  Our students participated in the Granada International Poetry Festival, including a meet-the-author book fair and two children’s poetry writing workshops.  Lego Club has been a huge hit with the kids of all ages.  And thanks to two visiting volunteers from Mexico we now have an Ultimate Frisbee team playing daily after classes!

Below: Lego Club is a huge hit

Below: Students play Ultimate Frisbee with volunteers

Below: Students read their poems during the 12th Annual Granada International Poetry Festival

  At Education Plus we believe that just as important as academic skills are confidence, creativity, and play.  Yes we teach illiterate children to read.  Yes we teach English as an essential career skill.  On the same hand, however, we want to give children the opportunity to expand their horizons and develop into young adults with confidence and joy.  

Our day-to-day is aptly expressed in the words of some of our current volunteers:  


“Since the two volunteers from Mexico showed the kids how to play Ultimately Frisbee, the kids continuously play. I am really happy to see how many kids improve in class. At the beginning they didn’t feel comfortable to participate or they were shy and now I can see a big change.” – Carolin (Germany, returning 2015 volunteer)

     “I am enjoying my work at Casa de los Sueños so much. Teaching the kids English is so much fun, especially because they are willing to learn and also are making progress. Playing baseball with them on Fridays is awesome. The boys are asking me the whole week if we’ll play on Friday.” – Jannick (Germany) 

     “Volunteering this week at Casa de los Sueños was productive as ever. In the Big Bears, the children made houses with construction paper and drew many shades of bright colors for the roof, windows, and doors. In the Stars and Superstars we learned about what animals can and can’t do, in English. Playing legos at the end of the day is everyone’s favorite activity. Next week we will create super animals out of legos and talk about their supernatural abilities.” – Josh (USA)

As of today, we have 52 children matched with sponsors.  
It’s now 2016, which means we have a whole new group of children who have entered first grade and now need to be matched with sponsors.  Below are just a few. Clockwise from top left: Tony, Naomi, Nicolas, Jumari, Nicholas, Rebecca, and Conchita.

Click Here to Sponsor a Child Today
If you have not already, please consider sponsoring one of these promising children today.  To see a full list of children waiting for sponsors, please CLICK HERE.  Feel free to e-mail us for profiles of specific children.

Thank you all for being part of the Education Plus Family and for sharing the journey of the lives of our children with us.

With gratitude,

Monica, Jim, and the children of Education Plus Nicaragua

Monica Loveley
Executive Director
Education Plus Nicaragua

(+505) 8599 7392
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November 2015 Stories from Casa de los Sueños


November has already been a busy month for us here in Nicaragua.  This past week, we had a special treat: a pizza party for the children hosted together with our friends at Neighbors to Nicaragua and courtesy of Gary from the United States.  The kids live for these pizza parties – for many, their first pizza party at the program was their first time eating pizza ever.   

 After a wild ride at customs, all of our students grade 2 and above recently received solar reading lights generously donated from our friends at Esperanza Market,.  These lights will allow our children to study and do homework at night despite lacking electricty in their homes.  N2N also brought down lego donations and we have started a daily lego club :). So thank you to all who responded to our facebook campaign and donated legos – and have a look at your donations in action below!  


Three weeks ago we launched our child sponsorship program. We are happy to announce that you generous donors have really stepped up and so far 25 children have been matched with sponsors :).  To see who has been sponsored, just CLICK HERE and scroll down to the bottom of the page.  The kids are soooo excited to write to their sponsors. 

FYI to sponsors: You will receive your first letters and photos from your children via e-mail on or before Monday, December 7, or snail mail sent out on December 14th.  Got questions?  Just send us an e-mail at info@eduplusnicaragua.org.

We’d like to share a story about one of our newest students, Osbaldo (pictured).  Osbaldo is 11 years old and has been studying English with us since July of this year.  Super energetic, outgoing, and with perfect attendance, Osbaldo is a middle child of twelve.  Osbaldo dreams one day of starting his own business, just like his oldest brother.  This brother started a business buying bags and bottles from people who gather them in the dump, washing them, and then re-selling them.  Osbaldo works for this his brother on weekends, and looks up to and admires him greatly.  During his one-on-one conference with his English teacher at our program, he expressed his dreams of going to university and then starting his own business as well.  When his teacher asked him who could help him, he said, “you.”  It was obvious that, with such a big family, he doesn’t get much attention at home.  His teacher told him she told him she would help him as much as she could, but that if he wanted to realize his dreams he would first and foremost have to depend on himself.  Osbaldo became overwhelmed and started crying.  He knew he had only himself to rely on, he told her, but would work hard and do whatever it took to realize his dreams. 

As always, a big THANK YOU for your support, support that allows us to work with children like Osbaldo to help them realize their dreams.


Christmas 2014

Christmas 2014

 IMG_6884 (2015_01_27 23_51_32 UTC) IMG_6888 (2015_01_27 23_51_32 UTC)IMG_6914 (2015_01_27 23_51_32 UTC) IMG_6917 (2015_01_27 23_51_32 UTC) IMG_6930 (2015_01_27 23_51_32 UTC)
IMG_6980 (2015_01_27 23_51_32 UTC)

For the third Christmas in a row, Education Plus celebrated Christmas Day with a Grand Fiesta!  And for the very first time, we were able to have the party in our own permanent home, Casa de los Suenos, the beautiful facility that we opened back in June to serve these amazing kids.

The day before, on Christmas Eve, the Volunteers and Staff distributed brand new backpacks loaded with school supplies and treats to all of the students.  They were all so happy and grateful to get some Christmas surprises.

Thanks to all of our wonderful donors who sponsored the children.  We took videos of all the students receiving their gifts and sent them to their individual sponsors.  Most everyone received their video on Christmas Day thanks to a lot of effort by a little elf.

Then, on Christmas Day, the Fiesta Grande began!  Of course, as in past years, there was much food, fun, games, dancing, and treats for the 200+ children and their families, but this year we ended it with a bang.  Fireworks!  Just after the sun went down, we turned down the overhead lights and turned on the Christmas lights.  The children lit sparklers and the staff and volunteers shot off the rockets and the display fireworks.  It was a spectacular ending to a wonderful day!

Thank you to all of our donors ( you may want to mention the donors who supported the party) , volunteers, and staff who made this magical day happen!  Education Plus Nicaragua is very lucky and blessed to have had such a successful year and yet another incredible Christmas Fiesta!

Celebrating our 2-Year Anniversary

Dear friends,
This month we celebrate two major events – the opening of our third classroom at Casa de los Sueños, and our 2-Year Anniversary.  Education Plus began in 2012 with a handful of students in a local home and very little resources.  Today we are a thriving youth educational center – thanks entirely to your support and the hard work of dozens of volunteers from around the world.
Have a look at our Anniversary Report by clicking on the image below!

anniversary report-page-001

Education Plus Opens “Casa de los Sueños”

Marta Urbina cuts the ribbon to our new school!

On June 16th, 2014 a dream came true when the ribbon was cut at Casa de los Sueńos (The House where Dreams are Made), and the gates of a brand new schoolhouse opened to a brighter future for the amazing children of Education Plus! A simple ceremony, yet a major step forward in the ability to serve the needs of the students and their families.  These beautiful children now have a permanent place to call their own to grow, learn, and mature into productive, responsible, and educated citizens who will someday be able to leave behind the vast poverty in which they now live.

Marta Urbina, the local woman who has allowed the program to operate from her home for the last year and a half, had the honor of cutting the ribbon. Education Plus now has the capacity to teach and feed up to 200 students per day in a clean, quiet, safe, and local center just for them!

The new facility features two classrooms, two bathrooms with flush toilets, a storage room, a modern and sanitary kitchen, a playground, and a covered eating area.  Education Plus is now teaching not only English, but Spanish literacy and mathematics as well.

Students rush to enter the new school for the first time!

Although it was a rainy day, the weather could not dampen the spirits of over 300 people who filled the grounds.  Parents, family members, community partners, and invited guests were given tours of the facility along with a brief meeting outlining the program’s new schedule and services. Everyone was treated to a delicious lunch and the children laughed and played on the brand new playground equipment.

It is hard to believe that in only a year and a half Education Plus Nicaragua has transformed and grown from a dirt floor classroom in the hot sun with 2 classes and about 30 students into a beautiful, brand new building and grounds with 9 classes a day serving nearly 200 children!

All of this certainly could not have been accomplished without the support of donors, community partners, volunteers, and friends. Education Plus’s challenge now is to create and maintain sustainability.  With continued support, there is no doubt that the future is bright for Education Plus and our very special children and their community.

Executive Director Monica Loveley speaks to the community

Education Plus feeds the children daily and teaches English and academics, social skills, values, and provides recreation, but the program’s leaders believe that the most important factor in the children’s success is that everything that is provided for them is applied with unconditional love and absolute respect. The students pass this along to each other and their families on a daily basis. The reward to those involved with Education Plus is in observing this loving and respectful behavior along with seeing the students’ positive educational and social growth.

Thanks to everyone involved for making this new beginning happen and for loving the children of Education Plus Nicaragua!  We look forward to more great news and progress to come!

Jim Durham
Development Director


Volunteers serving refreshments at our grand opening

The rain did not dampen spirits!


From Oprah to Pantanal – Maida Berenblatt Teaches the Kids About Self-Esteem

On January 31st 2014’s Friday Activity Day we welcomed Maida Berenblatt, therapist, counselor, and professor. She set up an activity with the children along with a song, “Why do you love yourself?” She is an expert and author of several books on self esteem, personal growth, and wellness planning. Maida has appeared on several TV talk shows, including twice on the Oprah Winfrey Show.

“Think of six people in your life that you love, trust, and value. Don’t take too long, just the first six people that fit this description. One, two, three, four, five, six. There, now you have them. Consider these six people, did you make the list? Do you love yourself?”

This is how Maida started off her visit with the kids in Pantanal, with the help of volunteer translator Laura Leibold. The visit continued like this, as she asked the students if they loved themselves, and why. The kids really took to Maida’s presentation, the watched, silently engaged, taking in all that she had to say. She called out individual students and asked them to list a few things that they loved about themselves. For most students, it took a few moments to find an answer; this isn’t a question that most of them are usually posed. While it took a bit of coaxing, the results were spectacular.

Each child was given their own piece of paper where they wrote down a few things that they loved about themselves along with a picture. Their answers ranged from Jorge’s, “I love that I play soccer well” to Yuleydi’s, “I love my soul and form of being.” Watching seventy children try to express what they loved about themselves really brought the room alive.

We will continue to implement Maida’s concepts, asking the students who show us completed work what they like about what they have done.

Here are a few examples of what the kids said:

“I love myself for my eyes and for my hair and for my skin and for my fingernails. And I take care of myself so that I’ll always be safe and healthy” -Maria Esperanza

“I love myself how I am.” -Pedro

“I like my eyes and also my heart because it helps the people. And I like my hands and my head because it always thinks of the poorer people.”

“I love myself for my intelligence and for the way I am. And I’m also proud because I speak a little English and I’ll do everything possible to learn English.” -Jenny Massiel

“I love myself for my eyes and also for my smile, and my heart, and my soul and life.” -Keyla

“I love my intelligence.” -Wendy

Thank you Maida for starting this important dialogue with the children of Pantanal!

A Christmas Story

Christmas Gift Collage

 Click Here to read Volunteer Blog Story!

Happy New Year from Education Plus Executive Director Monica Loveley and Intern Keeley Walsh!

We are thrilled to start 2014 with the happiest news we’ve ever had to share.  Christmas 2013 was for sure the highlight of what has been an amazing year of growth for Education Plus and the children we serve.  After months of fundraising, planning, and organizing, weeks of identifying uniform and shoe sizes, and hours in Managua’s Oriental market, everything finally culminated with our Christmas events on December 24th and 25th.

We finally began to see our hard work pay off on the morning of the 24th as we moved backpacks full of school supplies and gifts for 98 students, 39 of their brothers and sisters, and 2 entire families to the school in Pantanal. Even though we had told the children to arrive at the hour their normal class times, the whole barrio seemed to be there before the first class had even begun. The day was full of joy and surprises as the kids opened their backpacks to find school uniforms, new shoes, notebooks, colored pencils, pens, stickers, pencils, scissors, pencil sharpeners, blankets, pencil cases, cups, story books, clothes, coloring books, art supplies, socks  and much more. The way the kids walked out of the room with their new backpacks on their back and proud grins on their face really said it all. Thanks to our generous donors we were also able to provide Christmas presents for 23 girls from an orphanage in Granada, as well as 50 children from another program at the other end of Pantanal. All in all, we were able to provide something for Christmas for over 200 children! Thank you sponsors!!!!  Those of you who sponsored individual children will be getting personalized e-mails with photos as the kids finish their thank you notes this month.

PicMonkey Collage3

December 25th started out the way it always has in Pantanal – the streets empty, silent and dusty.  However, by 1pm the party company and volunteers had arrived and the children of Pantanal were lining up behind brinca brincas (or bouncy houses) as they were inflated. Jim noted how the behavior of our kids had significantly improved from last year as they patiently waited in line; most likely at least in part due to our program, which encourages behavioral improvement by providing structure with both consequences and rewards. The party included music, dance competitions, four piñatas, two bouncy houses, face painting and was full of excitement! Vigoron (a traditional Nicaraguan meal), cotton candy, and popcorn were served for 300 people, with over 500 community members attending the party throughout the day and beverages provided for all. The fiesta was definitely one of the highlights of our children’s lives and was made possible thanks to your support and a huge contingent of Christmas volunteers!

Click on the collage below to view more photos from this special day 🙂

PicMonkey Collage

Thank you all so much for making these amazing things happen for the children of Pantanal.  We look forward to sharing even more smiles and successes with you in 2014!

Wishing a very happy 2014 to you all,

Monica, Keeley, Jim, and all of the children and volunteers of Education Plus



Girls with their new backpacks! Over 100 students received backpacks from us for Christmas this year.


Prisila Castillo

Prisila Castillo, 9

Prisila Castillo, 9


Name: Perla Prisila Ramirez Castillo

Birthday: 27 October 2004

Grade: 3rd

Home life: Prisila lives in a tiny one room wood home with her mother and two sisters (Diana and Gabriela). She shares a bed with Gabi and her mother.

Favorite school subject: English, Language and Literature

Likes to do for fun: Prisila loves to dance and study

What she wants to be in the future: A dance teacher

Where she would like to travel if she could travel anywhere in the world: New York, to visit her godmother

Her favorite things in the world: To study and her family

Short story about Prisila, October 2013, by former volunteer Anja

Who actually is this girl with the famous name? Prisila is the oldest daughter of Yami and Diana‘s sister. Everyone who doesn’t know Diana should have a look at Diana Castillo‘s page 😉

At 9 years old Prisila is already a very charming personality. She’s really mature for her age and a good and attentive English student. To keep it short: she is so friendly, so open-hearted, so helpful, so adorable and beautiful. She will win a lot of men’s hearts.

There was one time especially in Pantanal when Prisila showed me how generous she is. One morning, before she had class, she wanted me to make “tiste” with her, a national drink of Nicaragua. Tiste is made out of cornstarch, cocoa powder, sugar, water and ice cubes. I tried it once before and I didn’t really like it as it was very sweet, like all the Nica drinks – way too sweet for Germans. But I helped Prisila with preparing the drink. I think she was really proud that she could show me everything. And when it was finished, she offered me to try the tiste first. I was really touched by her offer as for Prisila tiste was something special, she couldn’t drink every day. So while I wasn’t too thrilled by the idea of drinking it, but I was really excited that Prisila wanted me to try first. I tried the first sip of our tiste and I still didn’t like it :-D. Nevertheless I was happy that I did as it made Prisila very happy which was more than worthwhile.

You showed me that people living in poor circumstance have often the biggest hearts. Thank you Prisila.

Watch a video of Prisila speaking English (this was taken when she was 8 – she is way better now even):


Prisila with her little sister Diana

Prisila receiving shoes from Education Plus at Christmas

Prisila receiving shoes from Education Plus at Christmas



photo 4 (2)

Prisila gives some love to our volunteer Lisanne



Prisila with her family


Prisila walks arm in arm with her little sister Gabriela… and a box

Prisila with one of the family chickens

Prisila with one of the family chickens








the sky is the limit!


Using an old headboard as a teeter totter with her cousin Chepe





Luis Navarro – Deutsche

Luis Navarro, 12

Luis Navarro, 12


Name: Luis Alfredo Navarro

Geburtstag: 27 Juni 2001

Klassenstufe: 2

Wohnsituation: Luis lebt mit seinen 5 Geschwistern und seiner Grossmutter in einem Zimmer

Lieblingsfach: Mathe

Hobbies: Fussball

Traumberuf: Polizist

Traumreiseziel: USA

Groesster Wunsch: ein guter Job


Kurze Geschichte über Luis: November 2013


Die 18-jährige Freiwillige Leonie Hohnholz hat zusammen mit einer anderen Freiwilligen, Inga Plum, ein Literatur Programm gestartet, als Ergänzung zum regelmäßigen Englisch Unterricht. Leonie und Inga arbeiten hart, damit kein Kind vergessen wird. Bei Education Plus glauben wir daran, dass jedes Kind, nicht nur die mit den besten Noten, das gleiche Potenzial haben und die gleiche Aufmerksamkeit verdienen.

Einer von Leonies Studenten ist ein 12-jähriger Junge mit dem Namen Luis. Luis lebt mit seiner Oma und fünf Geschwistern in einer Ein-Zimmer-Wohnung ohne Fenster oder eine funktionierende Tür. Der Boden der Wohnung ist die Erde auf dem das Haus damals gebaut wurde. Seine Mutter verschwand vor fünf Jahren während einer „Geschäftsreise“ nach Costa Rica, woraufhin der Vater die Familie verließ. Seine Großmutter stellt Luis, zu seiner Verlegenheit, ständig als langsam hin und das vor den anderen Kindern. Wie dem auch sei hatte er immer wieder Stolpersteine in seinem Weg beim Lernen, die aber nicht seine Schuld waren. Luis ist den anderen Kindern in seinem Alter hinterher, weil er vor ein paar Jahren aus der Schule genommen wurde, um seine Geschwister bei der Kaffeebohnenernte zu unterstützen. Seine Cousins machen es ihm auch nicht leichter, indem sie auf der Straße spielen während er lesen lernen soll. Es ist einfach nicht cool, wenn man lieber lernen will statt mitzuspielen. Aber Luis hat uns alle überrascht dank der Hilfe von Leonie. Hier ist was Leonie dazu sagt:

„Gestern arbeitete ich mit Luis, weil er für eine ganze Zeit nicht zu den Lesestunden gekommen war. Ich dachte wir müssten alles wiederholen, aber eigentlich machten wir einen ziemlich großen Fortschritt. Als wir mit dem Unterricht anfingen kannte Luis nicht einmal die Buchstaben. Dieses Mal erkannte er sie sofort und nach einer Stunde Arbeit begannen wir sogar mit dem Lesen. Nachdem die Silben geübt waren konnte Luis am Ende sogar seine ersten Worte lesen. Ich war glücklich darüber genauso wie er. Als ich ihm sagte, dass er wirklich einen großen Fortschritt gemacht hatte, war er so stolz, dass ich es in seinem Gesicht sehen konnte. Am nächsten Tag sagte ich ihm, dass ich ein Foto machen wollte während er las um es ins Internet zu stellen und jedem zu zeigen, was Luis gelernt hatte, weil ich so stolz auf ihn war. Es hat ihn sehr gefreut. Man konnte es in seinem Lächeln erkennen.

Wir sind stolz auf Leonie und Luis und freuen uns darauf euch über Luis weitere Fortschritte in den nächsten Jahren zu informieren.

Leonie and Luis reading together

Leonie und Luis beim Lesen

Luis studying hard at Edu+ with his fellow "Tigers"

Luis und seine Tiger-Mitschüler beim Lernen