ATRAVES works to build education for all, a healthy life, and new opportunities in Nicaraguan communities.
ATRAVES Newsletter - December, 2012
Revival! - November, 2012
ATRAVES worked with an amazing group of individuals and bands to put together a benefit concert on November 17th and 18th in Providence, RI. An enormous thank you to all the volunteers who made this possible, to Brown Bird and The Low Anthem, the hardworking Columbus Cooperative, and the generous Berberian family. Check out the beautiful venue here.
Second Annual Adult Graduation - October 2012
With the end of the year approaching fast, we are celebrating all the hard work and commitment that participants from Camilo Ortega and San Juan de Oriente have shown to our adult education classes with a well-deserved graduation ceremony. Since March, 72 women from Camilo Ortega have participated in weekly cooking, dance, sewing, handicrafts, beauty, and health leadership classes. Another 14 individuals from San Juan de Oriente have participated in regular small business and micro-enterprise trainings. On Friday, October 26th 2012 all 86 graduates arrived first thing in the morning for a leadership workshop with ATRAVES Nicaragua founder and UNAN professor Julio Lopez. In the first of this four part series which will continue weekly during the month of November, Profesor Julio spoke about growing personal capacity and fostering the qualities of an effective leader. After the workshop ended the graduation ceremony commenced. The ceremony included a speech by Executive Director Leticia Rojas, awarding of diplomas, a special performance by the dance students and their instructor, Cindy, and plenty of photo opportunities for proud family members and graduates. Thanks to all the volunteers and staff who helped make our programming and this ceremony possible!
Sayonara Lara - Sept 2012
As we said goodbye to the last volunteers of the 2012 season, it was also time to see off Lara Jackson, ATRAVES' Director of Administration and Operations, as she returned to the States to pursue new opportunities and spend more time with her family and friends. Lara first came to Nicaragua in April of 2010 as an ATRAVES volunteer, and decided to stay on as our Volunteer Coordinator. Lara focused her work on developing the health program, supporting the Casa de Salud construction, increasing the programmatic impact of volunteer work, and growing administrative capacity. We'll miss her dry wit, acumen for both ends and means, extraordinary ability to do the right thing and do it practically, and solidarity in action. Lara, you've given us five years of work in two and a half years of time. Gracias!
Lauren Wilkinson Memorial Project - May-Nov. 2012
The ATRAVES family has spent a few years pondering what sort of project we could undertake to honor the memory of our very first Volunteer Coordinator, Lauren Wilkinson. Lauren was passionate about environmental sustainability and education. We think she'd love the new, green Lauren Wilkinson Memorial project, an urban agriculture initiative which promotes food security, erosion prevention, and environmental education. Learn more about Lauren here. There will be two main sites for the project: the HD Garden, which is located behind the schol, and the Community 'Vivero' or plant nursery, which is located a few plots down the hill from the Casa de Salud.
University of Michigan volunteers kicked off the season by clearing the land for the HD Garden, prepping the soil, and planting the first seeds. Three weeks later, the Unitarian Universalist Church of Sharon youth group helped transplant those sprouted seedlings to locations throughout the community. Community leaders and ATRAVES staff work to divide transplants between family patios and plots left empty after the 2010 landscape and subsequent evacuation, in hopes of reforesting these vacant areas. MET Sacramento volunteers continued planting activities, and started the process of clearing the new Community Vivero plot. The Nourish International group began construction on a retaining wall made of old tires to support the Vivero plot, with additional projects funds going towards securing and improving the site and Vivero 'hut'. Throughout 2012, volunteers and HD students grew and transplanted lettuce, tomato, radishes, papaya, guanabana, cashew, passionfruit, mahogany, Guanacaste, olive, and madero. There were some failed experiments - beets, peppers, chiles - as we get used to the soil and try to improve it. It's a fun learning experience!
The plan for 2013 is for the HD Garden site to be used for growing fresh produce for HD school lunch and to add an experiential environmental learning aspect to HD science classes and Kid's Club. The Community Vivero will be used to start fruit and vegetable trees for family patios and precious wood and fast growth trees to transplant throughout the community for erosion prevention.
Casa de Salud Construction and Continued Health Work - July-August 2012
Activity at the Casa de Salud didn't stop after Health Month. With continued financial support from the Tufts and MET volunteers, we were able to offer weekly consult days through the first week of August. An additional 224 patients were seen (62% female, 37% aged 12 and under), all of whom were given free medicine and diagnostic tests as needed. One day of consults was attended by a dermatologist, and two others by an OB-GYN. Other summer projects in the Casa de Salud included a bright, cheerful paint job, with light green and blue paints purchased and neatly applied by MET School Sacramento volunteers, and a new multi-purpose classroom created with funding help from a group of Nourish International volunteers from the University of Pennsylvania and Wake Forest University, with furniture designed and built by individual volunteer Brendan. The classroom has so far been used for the HD graduates scholarship program, HD computer classes, Kid's Club English classes, and promotoras training sessions.
Kid's Club - Feb-Oct 2012
Aside from doing a stellar job coordinating our Volunteer Program, Corey Blant was also able to coordinate Kid's Club activities throughout 2012, ensuring that HD students and other local youth had the opportunity to partake in creative and educational extracurricular programming. Corey led weekly English enrichment classes during the school year, except on weeks when volunteer teachers replaced him. In February and March, volunteer Shelly led a unit on photography. The University of Michigan delegates provided three weeks of daily afterschool fun in May, dedicated to cultural awareness, team-work, and self-esteem. Their activities included the human-knot challenge, baseball and frisbee, an ancient Hindu art form known as Rangoli, and break dancing lessons. During June, volunteers from the Unitarian Universalist Church of Sharon youth group hosted three days of afterschool English lessons and arts & crafts activities, and also sponsored a trip for HD students and teachers to the National Zoo on Teacher Appreciation Day.
July is school vacation month in Nicaragua, but HD kids had lots of volunteers around to keep them busy. The Tufts volunteers hosted an intensive three-day Olympic contest, with activities focusing on healthy self-image and teamwork. Volunteers from the MET Sacramento school challenged students with logic puzzles, music lessons, volleyball tournaments, and creative English lessons. Throughout the year, Kid's Club participants helped with gardening and transplanting activities, and in August the Nourish volunteers put together a special unit with environmental themes. Nourish also designed and delivered a basic computer class for HD students and graduates. Corey will continue all of this important work through the end of the school year, finishing up English classes, and offering Computers, Gardening, and Sports as well.