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Brenda, one of the Montessori teachers, with some recently donated First Aid materials for her classroom

Alix Hughes Visits Morazan

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“Alix Hughes (FoM trustee) spent a couple of days in Nicaragua in September, visiting the new preschool classrooms and meeting the teachers. The most obvious change he noticed in the country since his previous visit was the new roads which mean that the prawn harvest can be trucked out of Puerto Morazan more efficiently and also that the municipality no longer gets gets cut off due to torrential rains. He was also informed that a further one hundred new houses are planned for Puerto Morazan for young families. The preschool teachers expressed their gratitude for the new stationary they had received from “Balance Stationary”.

Teacher Training

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The Montessori teachers are continuing their monthly training, and helping each other to improve their skills. Evelien, a dutch volunteer, recently visited one of the training sessions and sent back this report:

“I was very impressed by the teachers! They took their job very seriously and demonstrated their teaching methods with the utmost care: taking their time while the other teachers made notes. Furthermore, they were eager to give each other tips and discuss the problems they all faced. It really amazed me how creative they are at designing teaching tools that are simple, but very effective at the same time. You could see that they are very passionate about their job.”

FRIENDS OF MORAZAN SUCCESSES

children and breeze blocks

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FoM has continued to support the salaries of pre school teachers in Puerto Morazan but is now offering monthly training sessions in Montessori teaching methods to the community pre school teachers as well. Mercedes has taken up a new post with the Ministry of Education and a new teacher Reyna has taken over at El Arbolito. FoM raised £1500 using Gift Aid plus a £500 donation from Cotham parish Church.This money was matched by BLINC from income from this year’s Copa Sandino in May and so building work has begun on the new pre school in the barrio of Paz Ali in Puerto Morazan. This will be the fourth new build pre school in the past 12 months funded by FoM and BLINC.

4 Months Volunteering in Morazan 

As part of my course at university I was required to spend the academic year abroad. Instead of just taking part in ERASMUS in Alicante like some of my peers, I felt the urge to do something slightly different. After 9 months away I’m back in the U.K., and trying to work out the cheapest and quickest way to get back to my now beloved Nicaragua.

For the first 4 months of my trip I was working with BLINC. I spent Monday to Wednesday working in Puerto Morazán for BLINC and then the rest of the week in the large colonial city of Leon with another organisation.

Morazán is a fantastic place, and I thoroughly enjoyed the work that I did there. As I wasn’t full time I didn’t want to commit to just one thing. Most weeks I’d spend two mornings in a Montessori pre-school and an afternoon in one of the secondary schools teaching English, but then on top of that I was able to do whatever was needed at the time. This included writing reports on past projects, visiting various schools to assess where we should focus our efforts, coaching football, visiting workers cooperatives, public speaking; basically just saying yes to anything that came my way. This enabled me to see most of the department of Puerto Morazán and also made daily life a lot more varied and interesting.

I was staying with Norma, the head teacher of the secondary school I was working in. Her door was honestly always open, and I met so many people who just stopped by on their way to work, or the shops, or the football field, just a constant flow of people really. Nicaragua is such a refreshingly welcoming place, and by the end of my first month working in Morazán I felt so at home there.

I can’t speak highly enough of Nicaragua, or Puerto Morazan. If you ever have the possibility to go, even just for a short period of time, I urge you to. It’s absolutely wonderful.

Kit Lambert – July 2014

Bristol based Balance Stationery came out to distribute school materials in Morazan

Bristol based Balance Stationery came out to distribute school materials in Morazan

Mask making in Teodoro S.Kint secondary school

Mask making in Teodoro S.Kint secondary school

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Visiting the Lucrecia Lindo shrimp co-operative who receive support from BLINC

The opening ceremony for the Brian Lambert pre-school

The opening ceremony for the Brian Lambert pre-school

At a football tournament in Managua with an U16s team from Morazan

At a football tournament in Managua with an U16s team from Morazan

Delivering FoM funded tables and chairs to pre-schools

Delivering FoM funded tables and chairs to pre-schools

Xmas fundraiser
Trustees and supporters enjoyed themselves selling home-made cakes and Nicaraguan crafts at the North Street Xmas fair in Bedminster. Hundreds of visitors to the FoM stall were invited to win a bottle of Nica rum or a cash prize by trying to find the buried treasure hidden on a map of Nicaragua. Over six hundred pounds was raised for our work in Puerto Morazan with under fives. Thanks to all our volunteers for helping out but a special thanks must go to trustee Elspeth Reid who baked most of the delicious cakes and lent FoM the attractive marquee.

FoM Xmas Fayre

FoM Xmas Fayre 2

Teacher Training Session

A few photos of two teachers who recently took part in a Montessori training session. Brenda and Yasmina were trained in El Arbolito pre school, one of the schools funded by FoM. The session was a huge success.

 

Visit to Tonala and Puerto Morazan – July 2013

I was woken at 5.30am to get myself ready to visit some of the pre schools in Tonala and Puerto Morazan as well as deliver some furniture.  We picked up 7 shelf units made by the father of Gioconda Arostegui and set off. The route from Leon to Tonala felt familiar and I enjoyed passing through Chinandega and El Viejo. The streets very busy as ever with vendors, shop keepers and children on their way to school.

We stopped first at Pre escolar Carrusell in Barrio Plan, Tonala. (The first of two new classrooms I was to visit.) Here I met Professora Candida teaching her class.  The classroom was very well organised and the resources well looked after. Candida talked with great enthusiasm of her upcoming Montessori training in Costa Rica.  Currently she has the materials but has not, as yet, had her training so I did not see Montessori in practise. There was a water filter in the classroom which was being well used. Some pupils had brought bottles to fill and had the on their desks. A delightful young boy named William told me that he liked having a water filter, he could get a drink whenever he wanted. The teacher talked of the benefits of not relying on pupils to bring water from home. A young girl, Yoysis, helped herself to a cup of water to cool herself down while working. I followed suit shortly after, it’s thirsty work watching others teach! Outside I was shown the wall which had been prepared ready for a mural. New shelving units were delivered to the classroom today.

A drive out into the ‘campo’ later and we arrived at the second of the new classrooms to deliver shelf units. Pre escolar San Jose in the community of Luis Andino. Here I met Professora Brenda, you will also be undertaking some Montessori training in Costa Rica. The teachers at both of these schools said that the first aid training they had recieved had been bery useful.  Once again the classroom and resources were beautifully looked after and water filters being put to good use. I was introduced to the Director, Rodolfo and the Vice Directora, Eladia. At this school a mural is already in place.

After leaving this school came the biggest surprise of the day for me.  I do not have entirely fond memories of the long, hot and incredibly bumpy bus rides I have endured on my way to Puerto Morazan in the past.  Imagine then my delight that I was not only travelling in a large pick up, we had been delivering shelf units remember, but there was a smooth new road! It seemed to me that we arrived in no time at all at Pre Escolar Bristol in Puerto Morazan. Here the  class was organised into zones, home, geography, sensory. Everything was beautifully organised. Unfortunately classes had finished so I did not see pupils in their class. I was able to take part in a meeting with, Professora Marta, Professora Ana Julia, Professora Roxanna and Professor Norberto. All of the afore mentioned were very keen to pass on their thanks from themselves, their pupils and communities to BLINC, Friends of Morazan and in particular Roz Payne for their continued support. Professora Darling was not at the meeting as she was working at El Arbolito in Tonala, a fact that seemed to be causing some confusion. (Though I cannot claim to have followed allo of the conversations very closely, the Spanish was coming hard and fast!) the Professora in San Fransisco at the moment is Professora Yasmina, unfortunately we didn’t make it that far today. The main roads are improved, but the smaller roads are still tricky and some of the distances between schools are long.

I asked the teachers if and how they passed on information to teachers in the first grade about their progress and attainment. They said that they were aware that it would be good to do this so that first grade teachers had more idea of the skills and knowledge already gained by pupils in the Montessori settings.  When I asked how the pupils progressed in comparison to those attending other or no pre school the initial response was that the pupils always want to return to pre school. With very little further questioning Professora Marta volunteered that she investigate this and find out exactly how her previous pupils were doing now in grades 1-3. She thought she could do this within a 1-2 month timescale. Professora Roxana and Ana Julia were also keen to investigate.

Amid the current Dengue epidemic a trip to visit the Esperanza Unida women’s co-op did not feel like such a good idea so will have to wait for another trip. At this point we returned to Leon, the pick up emptied of shelf units but now carry a head of platanos, two large watermelons and a large container of shrimp. On the way out I did manage to take a photo of the swanky new ‘Welcome to Puerto Morazan’ sign.  I’m now resting once again in the comfort of Gioconda’s home where she has shown me great hospitality.

-Sheena

FoM stall at Amnesty hands puzzle

FoM trustees and volunteers ran a stall at the Amnesty International Garden Party on Sunday and raised £75 for three water filters. The rain didn’t put people off having a go at the Nicaragua buried treasure game while children handled Nicaraguan puzzles and artefacts and tried to work out what they were for.”

FoM trustees and volunteers ran a stall at the Amnesty International Garden Party on Sunday and raised £75 for three water filters. The rain didn’t put people off having a go at the Nicaragua buried treasure game while children handled Nicaraguan puzzles and artefacts and tried to work out what they were for.”

Nicaraguan Fairtrade speaker at International Women’s Day event

Senora Agueda Ordenana, a Fairtrade Honey producer and womens community worker from the central Boaco cattle ranching region of Nicaragua, will be the guest speaker at an exciting event on Fri 8 March at Mshed from 6pm to 9pm. The evening includes songs from Shanta plus a chance to see the new Chocolate exhibition and a Chocolate tasting session thanks to Divine. Tickets £7.50 from the MShed box office T: 0117 352 6600 info@mshed.org

Agueda working with her bees as part of the NAOMI co-operative.

Agueda working with her bees as part of the NAOMI co-operative.

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