If you’re thinking of making a donation to the Sister Islands association or paying up on an Ometepe student’s scholarship you sponsor, the perfect day to do it is May 15. That’s the date of the Seattle Foundation’s “GiveBIG” fundraiser, which we participate in through our membership in Global Washington. Here’s how GiveBIG works: Read more…
Tickets are now on sale for the 2013 student delegation’s auction and dinner, which will be held from 6 to 9 p.m. on Saturday, May 11, at Woodward Middle School, 9125 Sportsman Club Road on Bainbridge Island. If you can’t attend, please consider making a tax-deductible donation. All proceeds go to projects on Ometepe. Order tickets or donate now. Read more…
It took just six weeks for the Ometepe community of Moyogalpa to build a beautiful auditorium for graduations and other community events. The Parents Association of Juan Roberto Smith High School in Moyogalpa raised half of the money needed by selling food and plantains grown on school property and by collecting donations from parents. The Sister Islands Association also helped.
This group was strong willed and determined to complete this project within six weeks to accommodate the Dec. 13 graduation for the Class of 2012. Prior graduations and cultural performances had been performed under a large tree at the entrance to the school.
The parent association began setting aside money for the project in 2011, eventually collecting $2000. But for the first phase, they needed $4,983, including the cost of labor. The Sister Islands Association’s Projects Committee awarded another $2,000, and the Parents Association and the Moyogalpa community were able to complete the project before the graduation.
The Moyogalpa community is now working on the second phase, a tile floor. The Sister Islands Association is contributing $1,154.
— Diane Jennings
By Dale Spoor
Watching a game of “Goal Ball”— a sport that uses a ball with bells inside — was one of the highlights of the recent Special Needs Delegation from Bainbridge to Ometepe.
The four-person delegation from the Special Needs Committee visited Ometepe from Nov. 6 to Nov. 16.
We met with the local chapter of Los Pipitos, an organization that works with people with special needs. With assistance from the national organization they have purchased land in Altagracia, and are planning to construct a center there that would better serve the needs of people in the special needs community.
We met with the Ometepe Special Needs Committee. We were told that there is a continuing need for the Nicaraguan Sign Language (NSL) workshops for the deaf children that we have sponsored, so these will continue next year. We also learned that there is a new law in Nicaragua that guarantees that the public schools will provide services for blind students so that they can participate fully in the various fields of study. Little appears to have been done to implement the law.
We attended an NSL workshop where about 25 children and family members attended. The workshop was conducted by two young men who began their sign language studies in workshops sponsored by the Sister Islands Association and another young man who, with our support, is currently studying to become an NSL interpreter. Several of the more advanced deaf students are planning to attend the Escuela Isaías in Managua where they will continue their sign language studies as well as a study a broader curriculum aimed at a high school diploma.
Recently, a school for the deaf has opened on Ometepe, in San Jose del Sur, and we are now investigating how we might support its programs or enable more students from Ometepe to attend. Currently families on Bainbridge Island provide scholarships for a number of special needs children: three blind students study at the university level, five deaf students study at special schools for the deaf, and three adults are studying to be interpreters for Nicaraguan Sign Language. In addition, the sign language workshops on the island sponsored by BOSIA continue on a regular basis for children and family members.
While on Ometepe, the delegation also met with members of the Committee for the Blind on Ometepe, where they shared their experiences and concerns. We delivered a chess set with pieces and a board specially designed for the blind. They demonstrated how they play “Goal Ball”, a competitive game using a ball with bells inside. They continue their interest in learning to use the JAWS computer program that allows them access to the internet and e-mail with software that provides spoken language. Two of the young people there are currently studying at the university level with scholarships provided by BOSIA members.
We also attend the vela (wake) for our good friend Jonathan Roise, and also a mass and the internment of the ashes that David Mitchell and Lisa Giles brought down with them.
The 24 students in the 2012 Student Delegation went to Ometepe with suitcases full of school supplies. They came back loaded with stories from the four towns where they stayed: San Pedro, El Corozal, Sintiope, and La Paloma. Read delegate Clara Hayes’ reflections on what she learned. Read more…
For the past several years, the Ometepe student delegation has taken on a community service project on Bainbridge—in addition to work they do while on Ometepe. The 2012 student delegation volunteered pulling ivy at the Housing Resource Board’s Ferncliff Village on Sunday, March 19. Read more…
If you want to be treated like royalty, just travel to Ometepe for an anniversary celebration! Read more…
Alexis Bonoff, who first visited Ometepe as a student delegate and now works at Si a la Vida, the home there for former street kids from Managua, writes about what it was like to be part of the 25th anniversary celebration on Ometepe.
By Alexis Bonoff
The day of the 25th celebration started off grey. It was perfect weather to work on decorating Ruben Dario elementary school and there were many hands helping, both Nicaraguan and American. We blew up balloons, hung streamers and displayed photos. Estela twisted palm fronds to make an arch in the entrances, and the band set up in front.
When we went back to change and eat lunch, disaster struck. The grey skies turned black and a downpour bled the streamers and sent the band running for tarps. With heavy hearts we returned—only to find the school just as colorful, if a little wet.
The delegation, proud in our beautiful new Anniversary tee shirts, sat in the front row. The seats filled up as people came in droves. My host mother from Balgue sat under the next tent with Jenny Diaz—still elated from her trip to Bainbridge for the first part of the Sister Islands’ anniversary celebration. I saw scholarship students, host families, librarians, English teachers, coffee farmers, and so many more who have participated in or benefited from the Islas Hermanas Association.
After the presentation and dances, we lined up for more food than we could eat. The tables were full of laughter and sharing, and delegation members mixed in with old and new friends. It didn’t matter if there was rain or sun, the mood was ecstatic and loving.
In 25 years, the Sister Islands Association has blossomed from a dream into a gift for two islands, two very different peoples whose joy to be together is palpable. This day, as with each day I live on Ometepe, I am honored and humble to be a part of such a wonderful organization. With a glass of rojita in my hand, I salute Kim and Ela, Dora and Estela, my Balgue family and everyone who has been a part of the BOSIA journey: Here’s to 25 more!
Just a couple of years after some communities on Ometepe got electricity for the first time, all primary schools on the island will have laptops for students next year, thanks to a grant from Fundación Zamora Terán, a Nicaraguan NGO.
Whereas other computers come with an owner’s manual, the XO laptop comes with a curriculum. This will be integrated into the Nicaraguan curriculum in all primary grades. Each student will have a laptop to take home at night. In some cases, the laptop will be connected to the Internet at home, in most cases it will be connected at school (it will be in Balgüe).
David Mitchell, a Bosia trusteee, and his wife, Lisa, were at the preschool graduation in Balgüe on Dec. 1 when Everisto Montiél, the director of the Maderas primary school system, announced that each graduates will start next year with a computer through the program. “Because of our connection to the Sister Islands Association, we’re always guaranteed a good seat (on the stage) and the opportunity to shake every new first-grader’s hand,” David wrote in an email. “And so it was today. We’ve been to lots of these graduations and they’re always amazing and full of hope, but there was something extra today that made it even more amazing.”
Fundación Zamora Terá is contributing $1 million for the laptops, and there will also be a series of fund-raising events on Ometepe, such as fishing tournamets and festivals. At a news conference announcing the program, there was also mention of asking entrepreneurs and professionals on Ometepe to contribute.
Teacher training sessions begin in December. In February, just after the new school year begins, 4,700 laptops are supposed to be delivered to Ometepe.
One Laptop Per Child is a non-profit focused on providing children in poor, rural areas around the world with a rugged, low-cost, low-power, connected laptop.
The organization hasn’t fulfilled its early, lofty goals. “But it has persisted,” Mitchell notes. “And while the hardware and software has gotten better bit by bit, the understanding of how to integrate computers into rural schools has grown a lot.”
One thing’s for sure: Distributing laptops to all students on Ometepe is a huge thing and will fundamentally change education on Ometepe.
David & Lisa
If you live on Bainbridge, please remember the Sister Islands Association when you respond to One Call for All. We use our share to support delegate travel to and from Ometepe.