I’m way behind on posting because we have not had good internet but this post needs to be done in any case. It isn’t about our recent activities, it is about Education Plus Nicaragua which we visited back in May last year.
I didn’t give this organization enough mention in my May 15, 2017 posting. We visited the school and talked at length with a couple of staff members and met some of the kids. The children love going there each day, if for no other reason that they get a decent meal. But most of them appreciate the supplemental education that they get as well.
I received this email today and feel compelled to post it and ask anyone who reads this to consider giving $5, $10, $25, or more one time or on an ongoing basis. I can just about count the monthly contributions that I do regularly on one hand and this is one of them.
“Dear friends and family,
Where to even begin.
Last week, political protests erupted all across Nicaragua, leaving more than 30 dead so far. Protesters are sick of what they view as their corrupt and inept government, and government forces have met peaceful protests with guns and mortars. New laws were announced increasing income taxes, higher taxes on social security payments, and decreased medical coverage. At the same time social security is almost insolvent, its funds having allegedly been used by the main political party, the Sandinistas, to purchase luxury housing and private businesses for themselves. Censorship has kicked up – news channels that are not pro-government have been shut down, and things only seem to be getting worse. “President” Daniel Ortega has announced he will be rescinding the social security reforms, but the number of protesters is still growing, with some police forces disobeying orders and joining the side of the people. Businesses in the capital are on strike today, demanding the release of political prisoners and an end to censorship and violent repression.
While the social security reforms were the main trigger of the protests, this really has been a long time coming. Several other issues have caused the protest, including the government’s inept handling of a recent natural disaster in the Indio Maiz region, and because the people are sick of a public education system that says it averages 25 children per classroom but actually averages 50 or more. Now, a common protest against non-profits such as Education Plus is: “why are you educating that children? That should be the government’s job. If you provide the education, then the government has no incentive to do their job. Therefore, you are actually contributing to the problem.”
Well, in Nicaragua, the endemic corruption is so bad that even if there were more funding for the school system, little would find its way to the children. More fundamentally, the current government does not want its people educated. University students are a main faction of the protesters. The government knows that with education comes greater awareness and a decrease in the sense of powerlessness. Uneducated people are poorer – so the government can buy their votes cheaply in election years by going around giving out sacks of food and cheap building materials to repair homes. Additionally, it is the poor and illiterate who are the easiest to manipulate. We have firsthand accounts of the police going into our community of Pantanal and paying men 200 cord (about 6 USD) to attack peaceful protesters.
This is not the e-mail I wanted to be writing. But big things are going on right now in Nicaragua, and I want to let you all know that with Education Plus, things will be business as usual as much as possible. While public schools are closed for now, our doors will be open. Our employees do not want to stay at home, in fact, they say they feel safer at Casa de los Sueños. We have arranged transportation so they can get to and from work safely. If the power is cut across the country as is rumored (in order to prevent communications of what is going on to the outside world), we will keep our doors open. We will cook with wood and teach in dark but still enthusiastic classrooms. We will remain a safe place for the children to come and be children throughout the crisis.
If we start to argue about “government responsibility”, it is the children who will lose. It falls to us who actually have the economic power to make a difference, to educate the children who will be the future leaders of their country. As Cardinal Obispo Silvio Baez recently told a gathering of university students at the Metropolitan Cathedral, “The students of Nicaragua are its moral reserve.”
To make a donation to help us continue feeding the children during the crisis, please click on the button below:
Thank you for standing with us during these heartbreaking times.
With hope and gratitude,
Monica, Jim, the staff, volunteers and children of Education Plus
Education Plus Nicaragua