Semana Santa Celebrations

A Very Happy Easter

Easter week is a very festive time in Nicaragua with lots of parades and parties. With the gracious and generous sponsorship of the Davison family from Washington, DC, the students of Education Plus were treated to their very own Easter Fiesta!!

The dance music started shortly after 10 in the morning, the line of kids for the “Moonwalk Bounce House” was long, you could smell the cotton candy and popcorn in the air, along with the chatter and laughter of over 100 very happy children and many of their parents.









One of many highlights of the party was the Dance Contest. There were contests for different age groups as well as one for the staff and volunteers. What a hoot!!  It seems that Education Plus has some pretty talented dancers!


Staff and volunteers dancing to the endless amusement of the rest of the community

Along with the popcorn and cotton candy, the students were served boxed juice drinks and snacks.  Even more exciting, the children received copies of the photos taken of themselves over the last three months, which they are always anxious to receive. To have more than a photo or two of oneself is a rare thing in Pantanal, so the kids are ecstatic when we give them photos.  Finally, to top it all off, at the end of the party, all of the students were presented with Easter gifts that were donated by friends, family, and classmates of the Davisons.  Other than Christmas, we do not usually just give things away to the children, but rather we give them the opportunity to “earn” toys, clothes, and school supplies though good attendance and behavior.  A holiday like Easter, however, was a good excuse for us to depart a bit from the normal rules.

Muchas Gracias to the Davisons and a big thank you to Jordan Lerum from California for bringing down bunny and froggie ears and over 500 photos to the children at our Semana Santa party.  A big thank you also to all of our volunteers and the locals who helped make this party come together for the children.

To see more photos, visit our album on Facebook by clicking HERE

Jexael, Gabi, and Jenner with their friend Jordan Lerum

Jexael, Gabi, and Jenner with their friend Jordan Lerum


Education Plus Receives Grants from Vitamin Angels and Samaritans International Nicaragua

Patrick Brown and his team from Samaritans International unloading 48 cases of fortified rice!

November and December were signal months for Education Plus: we built three new partnerships, with, Vitamin Angels, and Samaritans International Nicaragua.

In November Vitamin Angels provided us with a grant of a years supply of Vitamin A and multivitamins for 250 children under the age of 5, as well as a year’s supply of multivitamins for 94 pregnant and lactating mothers.  While Education Plus works on a daily basis with children ages 3 – 15, we know that the proper nutrition necessary to grow and learn begins in the womb. Vitamin A is essential to immune function especially in children under five who are most vulnerable to common infections and diseases.  However, the national Vitamin A coverage in Nicaragua is a mere 7%. Our first shipment of vitamins arrives mid-December and we are excited to start with a Vitamin A campaign, for the health of our children, present and future!

On December 5th we were honored by a visit from Patrick Brown and his team from Samaritans International Nicaragua.  Samaritans International is an amazing Christian organization that aids hungry children all over Nicaragua through grants of fortified rice.  Each serving of these Mana Soy Rice packets contains a days supply of multivitamins – essential for the healthy development of our students.  After being taken on a tour around the barrio, Mr. Brown and his team surprised us by proceeding to unload no less than 48 boxes of fortified rice packets – enough to feed 100 children per day for two months!  This is a huge blessing for us as it will now have freed up our food funds to buy more fruits, vegetables, eggs, and milk – and no matter what, to provide a balanced meal to all of our students.

Valeria helping to carry in one of the Manna Rice cases

First trip ever to the Beach


Field trip to Playa Hermosa, May 2012

On Friday May 26 2012 Education Plus was able to take 33 of our members to Playa Hermosa, near San Juan del Sur.  While many first world foreigners come and enjoy the beautiful beaches of Nicaragua, those that live just an hour and a half away in our community of Pantanal most likely never see the beaches in their lives because they just cannot afford the trip.  We really wanted to do something for the kids that would expand their horizons and let them see where an education could take them, and taking them to see another part of their country, the beautiful Playa Hermosa in this case, has been our dream for a long time.

The kids with Gerry from Casa del Agua, our trip sponsor

After talking to several people, we finally found a sponsor for the transportation in Granada.  The trip, however (like most endeavors in Nicaragua) did not go off without a hitch.  The bus to take us there broke down on the way from Managua and they had to send a new one down.  Thus, the kids, who had started to assemble at the school at 8am for a planned 9am departure, were forced to wait nervously.

In the meantime, while we were supposed to celebrate Carolina’s 8th birthday at the beach, her father had decided not to give her permission to go.  While San Juan del Sur is only an hour and a half away from Pantanal, most of the community have never ventured this far, let alone seen the ocean, and some were thus fearful about letting their children go.  This was particularly prevalent in homes where the children were being raised by their grandparents.  Many other parents, father’s especially, refused to let their children go because they felt if they themselves could not go to the beach, their kids shouldn’t go either.

Carolina building a sand castle with one of our volunteers

To prevent us from taking Carolina to the beach, her father had her mother take Carolina to work with her in Granada that morning.  We spent an hour driving around the city trying to track her down.  We were unable to find her or her mother, having just missed them, and returned disheartened to Pantanal.  That is when we learned that the original bus had broken down and  were told that another would not be able to arrive until 10:30!  This, of course, in Nica-speak meant 10:30 or later.  While stressful, in the meantime while waiting we were able to convince one grandmother to let her grandchildren go, and Carolina returned with her mother!  We went to her house to beg and plead with her mother to let her go.  Finally, her mother relented (the father works in the fields gathering cocoa beans during the day so he was not there).  After at least 20 phone calls and chasing down the bus in central Granada, we discovered that what came was actually a 15 person van. No matter, with several people sitting on laps and a few wooden chairs added, we were soon ready to go!

Ivania and Elia

It was then that we discovered that Elia (8) and her sister Ivania (7) were missing.  Their cousins told us that their grandmother had decided not to let them go for fear for their safety.  This explained why I saw Elia crying earlier that day when I came by their house.  With the bus fully loaded, we drove around the corner to Elia’s house, where we begged, pleaded and promised their grandmother for 10 minutes until she finally relented.

Thus very fully loaded, we finally made our way to San Juan del Sur, where we picked up/crammed in a group of 6 more very patient volunteers, and headed to the beach!  After a very bumpy ride to the beach, the eager kids jumped out of the van and into the water!  While some were a bit fearful of the waves, all went in on their own accord.  They were surprised to find that the water was salty! The location of Playa Hermosa has an added bonus – from the beach, you can look across the water to Costa Rica.  Since we had just recently taught the kids how to find Nicaragua on a world map, and that Costa Rica was located to the south, it was great to be able to render this lesson concrete.

Dave Jones from Volcan Music brought a boogie board lent from Byron Lopez from Arena Caliente surf shop, and Dario from San Juan del Sur Surf and Sport loaned us a surf board.  Gerry from Casa del  Aguain Granada sponsored our transportation, fruit and water, and Mayor Eduardo Holmann generously waived our entrance fees to Hermosa and arranged a set meal plan for the kids.

The kids loved playing on the boogie board!

The kids were taken with the beauty of the beach and had one of the best times of their lives.  Swimming and laughing and splashing each other.  The volunteers also found it very rewarding – to hold the hand of a child the first time they ever enter the ocean, the first time they ever experience waves or build a sand castle, is a profound and joyous experience.

We stayed as long as we could and made it back around 8pm that night.  Almost all of the kids were sound asleep in the ride home.  An amazing, amazing day.  Thank you to all of our sponsors and volunteers!

Read about the experience of one of our volunteers on her block by CLICKING HERE

See more photos below:


Arts and crafts with special guests

On Friday, May 11, Education Plus welcomed special guests Chris Rushton, Ashish Virji, and Fiona from the UK to visit the school.  They visited Pantanal and brought lunch, fruit, and milk for the kids, as well as a load of arts and crafts supplies!  There was a literal scream resembling something out of the opening of a Justin Bieber concert when we brought the art supplies out.  The kids were just that excited.  There was a rush of activity as the kids decorated posters (and themselves) with glitter, stick on letters and stars, and watercolor paints.  For some, this was the first time they ever learned how to paint!  It was a wild time but so worth the effort.  Thank you to Chris, Ashish and Fiona for bringing such joy into the children’s lives.