Nicaragua Update: November 2020

We have loved looking back at the last decade of kindness as Random Acts celebrates our 10th anniversary this month, and our destination projects are no exception. For our November 2020 destinations update, we are taking time to look at the past, present, and future of our Dreams to Acts: Nicaragua project. Spoiler alert: your support is continuing to make a real difference in San Juan del Sur. 

Photo of the Free High School campus in November 2015

Looking Back

Random Acts first began work in Nicaragua in 2012, when we fundraised to help the Free High School of San Juan del Sur purchase a school bus. A few years later, in 2015, Dreams to Acts: Nicaragua was born. This project focused on funding the construction of the Center for Human Development, which now acts as a campus for the Free High School. Between 2015 and 2018, we worked together to turn the dream of a safe, operational high school campus into a beautiful reality. Dreams to Acts: Nicaragua also sponsored children’s theater programs with the Barrio Planta Project and partnered with the Sister City Project to construct EcoStoves and BioSand water filters in rural Nicaragua. Today, we continue to use donations to support the Free High School and its mission to empower rural Nicaraguans with access to education. 

Virtual Learning

Our destinations manager, Rea Niessen, reports that it is “good news from the Free High School” this month. In our September 2020 update, we discussed the Free High School beginning remote learning. The on-campus technology to make this possible was provided by Child’s Play during the Dreams to Acts project. A generous donation from the Ackles family funded the purchase of laptops and modems so that students could stay connected with their teachers. 

Right now, more than 400 students are participating in either remote learning or safe, socially distanced learning spread across 12 rural middle schools. Remedial classes are a priority, as students catch up on material they missed at the end of last semester. The semester ended in July, but many students needed to drop out during the spring due to COVID-19 concerns and/or a lack of reliable internet access. Remedial classes are currently held once a week at the Free High School, with students using seven classrooms to maintain safe distances. Teachers at the high school are balancing virtual and classroom learning to keep their students as safe as possible, just as their fellow teachers around the world are doing.

Fallen tree on the EcoLatrine building

Surviving the Storm

In the past, we have discussed the importance of the sustainable building practices that Casa de Tiera used when constructing the Free High School. We have also recently posted about the role it plays in disaster risk reduction. Unfortunately, the bamboo construction at the Free High School was put to the test when Tropical Storm Gamma hit Nicaragua in October 2020. Heavy rains loosened tree roots, which caused a tree to fall on the Eco-Latrine building. The good news is that no one was injured (a small perk of virtual learning), and the building remains largely intact. The roof was damaged, but the building itself stands strong. 

From Rea’s letter: “As our builder Austin Drill explains, this is the result of the type and strength of the bamboo that is used for the buildings…Many supportive columns were used for the combined exterior and interior partition walls, with a tight roof. Another area of support was in the well-fastened connections between independent bamboo members.”

Looking Forward

We are so glad to hear that remedial classes, virtual learning, and safe classroom learning are all up and running at the Free High School. Your continued support is helping the students and staff at the school to carry on their mission of education and empowerment despite pandemics and tropical storms. Humans are resilient, especially when we work together to make the world a kinder place.

Excited to see what Dreams to Acts: Nicaragua accomplishes in the next five years? We know that we are! You can learn more about our Ten-Year Celebration, including limited edition merchandise and our “$10 for 10” campaign here. And, as always, stay tuned for more updates on how your support is changing the world.