Institutional linkages and affiliations are critical assets to Partnership activities. W/NP has enjoyed a mutually beneficial fluid relationship with the Wisconsin National Guard for many years, and more recently with the WNG State Partnership program. In late June of this year, the Managua office hosted five WI National Guard members. The purpose of the delegation's visit, coordinated by Kathrine Berberich, US Army Bilateral Affairs Officer, was to learn more about the projects of W/NP in Nicaragua. Katie understands the value of collaboration and commented, "I just can't stop thinking about how little things make a big difference. I am from Wisconsin and it is within my reach to do something small to make a big difference." We very much appreciate their interest and especially taking time to learn about the many W/NP projects that produce significant impacts as a result of volunteers from WI and Nicaragua working together.
The Merida/Ometepe Learning Center (LC) started to function in 2012, a group of around 10 women started learning basic sewing and now they receive other classes such as jewelry and knitting. Around 50 women from the community have benefited from the classes being taught at the center. The LC was really needed in the community so the women could learn a skill and then be able to do something at home to earn some incomes for their families. Things at the LC have been going very well. The women are very motivated and keep moving forward with the classes. The LC is in the process of building a small store where they can sell and exhibit their products and rent bikes to foreigners visiting the community.
Just recently in the month of June, the school in Merida held an event to recognize an outstanding teacher and student. Around 200 hundred people attended this significant event including teachers and students. The event focused on the value of good education and the best teacher and best student of the entire island were selected and recognized. To their delight, Merida won the two recognition's, and they were very happy for the accomplishment. We look forward to seeing the store finished and see the women succeed in their lives. Special thanks to Bill Davidson & Jana Radtke, the Grace Lutheran Church and all other donors who have helped make the dreams of these women come true!
The children meet on Mondays, from 2 pm to 4 pm and divide time, reading and then drawing or making ornaments with colorful leaves, and learning to knit.
Each February, W/NP hosts a Learning Center Trek which allows volunteers the opportunity to travel to Nicaragua and see first-hand how the Learning Center Program is changing lives. Without a doubt, the experience provides a better understanding of how one person really does make a difference. The self-governed Learning Centers in Nicaragua have become very successful as they address the desire for continued education and learning new skills. This year, workshops in Estelí and Managua included basic first aid/CPR, electricity, knitting, quilting, sewing, making belts with soda tabs, self-esteem, holiday egg decorating, macrame, window building and baking with bananas.