Travel report

Visit to the school “Pastorcitos de Belén”
La Paz de Carazo, Nicaragua

After arriving at the Managua Airport, in Nicaragua’s capital, not far from the Panamericana we drove one and a half hours south where we encountered the village of La Paz de Carazo. The little houses of the village are distributed around the center of the village where there is a church, community house and a village square.

As the temperature is warm to hot during the entire day in La Paz de Carazo, life happens outside: The cooking, eating, washing by hand, playing, aso. take place in the backyards under the shade of the trees. The little houses, usually covered by corrugated iron sheets, give protection in the night and during the rainy season. Many children and young people are on the street. Elderly people sit in the shade.

Nicaragua has ocean to the east and west and has two large lakes. The warm climate produces a variety of plants, vegetables, fruits and flowers. Is it the natural catastrophes such as earthquakes, tornados or floods that bring poverty to this beautiful country, or is it the corrupt politics of the present government? There are many unemployed and few prospects for the next generation. Many families have to survive with 100 Cordobas (=ca. 4,5 US $) a week!

Sister Magdalena cooking

Pastorcitos de Belén means “the small sheperds of Bethlehem.” Their school year begins at the beginning of February. There are 105 children in kindergarten and primary school. They are taught by seven teachers and an English teacher.

As in every house, the rooms aren’t closed in school; this means you hear the lessons and the voices of the children! Unbelievable for us Swiss!!! I couldn’t teach with this noise level! But in La Paz de Caraazo, it is normal! The happy , clean children in their white shirts and dark blue trousers or skirts, quickly win my attention and my heart!

As many of the children have little to eat at home, they receive a cup of milk and a loaf of bread for breakfast at 8 o‘clock and a simple lunch at midday. Mothers take turns cooking and distributing. This allows them to be involved and assume some responsibility for the children’s needs and education.

The construction workers responsible for the construction of the building for the future library are highly motivated and are putting out a great deal of effort. They dig, brick, do woodwork and install everything by hand in spite of the daily heat of at least 30 degrees, yet they are joyful and in a good mood! 

Now, furniture, computers and books have to be bought. 

The library will be a place to study for children and also for the adults of the village who don’t own newspapers, books or computers. Children, adolescents and adults who wish information and knowledge via internet, rather than just through TV, will have access. It will make it possible for people to communicate with relatives (and sponsors) in the country and abroad more easily, because the mail is not reliable, and is very slow. 

Sister Magdalena Pavon, headmaster of the school, is happy that the construction is on schedule, and pleased with the continuous development of the school. Not only does she wish to give the children a good education; she also wants to communicate a sense of responsibility, caring and respect towards each person, their own culture, landscape and nature. 

Each franc from Switzerland is well invested here and helps the children of the village to have a better future. 

Stay in Nicaragua from 5th to 27th February, 2011 / Agnes Oeschger