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Update from the Office

November 16, 2007

The Smile of HopeThere have been a constant stream of visitors to the office today. It’s the deadline to submit an application for EI’s 2008 program, and mothers and fathers are sitting patiently, waiting to speak with Anielka or Milagros. By the end of the day, over 135 applications have been submitted.

“I’m estimating that probably, we have around 50 spots for new students,” Anielka says. The math is not difficult.

Some families, perhaps like Reina del Carmen Morales, the mother of three, will be left out. Reina del Carmen has three children. A single mother, she earns less than a dollar a day working in the free trade zone that abuts the barrio. What I manage to earn goes towards food,” she says. “There isn’t enough money left for uniforms, shoes, or school supplies.”

Her 15-year old daughter, Gema, is hopes to start high school this year, and she hopes that her 8-year old son, Luis Francisco, will manage to begin the third grade if he will be healthy enough. He was diagnosed with leukemia two years ago,” Reina says. “He missed the entire school year last year.”

Medical expenses are also a concern for the small family. Luis regularly visits a hospital in Managua to receive expensive treatments – blood transfusions. They receive some help from other organizations, but hardly enough to make ends meet.

With luck, with help, we do it,” says Reina. “I hope that the Empowerment International scholarship will make it that much easier.”

Still, it’s not yet certain whether Luis will manage to get a scholarship. Whether there is a chance for for Luis to attend school depends not only if he is well, but i there is room in the program and in how many other deserving candidates there are.

We’re going to evaluate the applications,” says Anielka. “We’ll be looking at attendance, grades, teacher evaluations. Still though, there are so many students.” Anielka added that recently another community has sought out EI’s support. “In Santa Ana, here are another 50 students who in need as well. I don’t know if we’ll be able to help them all.

Santa Ana los Malacos is a community about 5 miles north of Granada. Anielka visited the pueblo at the behest of Sergio Cabrella, one of the two teachers who instruct the 60 or so students there.

There are always problems,” Cabrella says. “The situation is difficult. Sometimes there’s no food at the school (students are traditionally given lunch in Nicaraguan public schools – rice and beans), and then the kids don’t attend.”

Cabrella says that around 50% of the adults in the community are unable to read, and teenage mothers – 14, 15, or 16 years old – are not uncommon. I’ve worked there for 11 years,” he says. “In that time, we’ve been teaching class in a community center. There’s no proper school.”

That is not all that the rural agricultural community lacks. There isn’t any potable water,” Anielka says. “Some people have wells, though most don’t even have electricity. It’s clear that there is a lot of need there.”

Whether EI will be able to step in to help is uncertain. There is need everywhere in Nicaragua, and with limited resources, it’s impossible to address it all. Still, that doesn’t mean that one should not try.

We’ll see,” says Anielka. “We’re looking outside of Villa Esperanza for students now. Perhaps in the future, we’ll able to work in other cities as well.”

It’s clear that there is a long road to travel, not only for EI, but for the struggling families which its scholarships help support. I’m glad that despite the challenges, both EI and the hard-working families that it supports, are trying.

— by Sam Jacoby (on location)

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In Nicaragua 50% of the kids that start 1st grade never make it to 5th grade. It is our goal to make this percentage drop significantly.

$30/month is what it takes us at Empowerment International to put a child in school. If you would like to help a child stay in school and get better life, please click on the link below or contact us

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