Once hindered by degrading infrastructure, the José Artigas school, located in Ciudad Sandino, Nicaragua, is back on track thanks to hardworking volunteers. Early this year, four IS volunteer groups from Michigan, Virginia, and Louisiana improved the school’s facilities, served as teacher’s aids and increased class attendance.
The José Artigas school, serving nearly 2,000 students, suffered from grave infrastructure problems. In 2013, there was no kitchen, and the bathrooms and drinking fountains were unusable; but worst of all, the lack of resources kept the school from providing quality education.
Local officials and International Samaritan identified the necessary projects for improving José Artigas. Volunteers were directed to remove and reconstruct the majority of bathrooms, drinking fountains, and sidewalks as well as aid the teachers in the classrooms by teaching math or English.
All four groups were prepared to face and understand the realities of Nicaragua and the workers in Ciudad Sandino with a visit to the local garbage dump and visits with families who work there. Some even witnessed the same children that they had spent time with earlier in the day walking to the dump after school. Extreme conditions and work obligations affect school performance for these children, which causes low class attendance and fatigue. Children workers risk skin, lung, and intestinal disease while picking among shards of debris and dump trucks. To help their families, they will endure ten hours in 104-113 degree heat at wages of $2-3 a day. Situations grow worse each day with the impossibility to escape poverty without external help.
To provide a future for children and their families, International Samaritan invested in reconstructing José Artigas. Bathrooms were renovated, piping was fixed, drinking fountains were reinstalled, sidewalks were completed, and the remains of abandoned concrete were removed. The municipality of Ciudad Sandino was inspired by International Samaritan’s volunteer work and has since been constructing two new classrooms for the students.
The mission accomplished more than the organizers could have hoped for. The principal, teachers, and students sincerely appreciate the work of the volunteers. These moments between the volunteers, children, and coordinators represent something that supersedes improving the school’s conditions- it represents the lessons shared between different cultures and traditions.