The Friends Project

The Las Minitas, Nicaragua, preschool project


I am excited to share that The Friends Project is taking on its most ambitious project — to help a community in rural Nicaragua realize a dream to provide a preschool for their children.

I have dedicated the past five years to living with families in El Sauce, Nicaragua, and the mountain settlement outside town of Las Minitas, chronicling their work in rebuilding their community following civil war and severe economic downturn. They are kind, resourceful, optimists and have a collective passion to work together. I’m inspired by daily by what they have accomplished with so little, including starting and running successful basket-making, tourism and coffee cooperatives.

Gustavo, the Las Minitas community leader, has twice ridden his horse down the mountain and delivered a letter for me. Families have decided that the preschool is a priority and have asked for assistance. They will build it, with a mason to guide construction, but they can never afford materials.

Why a preschool? There are 15 young students, who learn on two benches set in the dirt yard. Daniela Martinez teaches under a roof made with salvaged wood.


In 2012, The Friends Project was one of several community partners that opened the first elementary school there.

Before that, kids walked up to an hour and a half to get to school, and many weren’t able to attend. Now, the one-room school is full, with 35 students. It’s a point of pride in Las Minitas and Gustavo says, a symbol to them of the improvements they can make, for so many futures. The teacher teaches first through sixth grade all in that one room. There’s no room inside, and the kids are too young to share the space.

Families want a safe, secure and good environment for them to too, to learn, where classes don’t have to be canceled because it’s raining.  Gustavo and families lobbied the government for five years to obtain a permanent teacher there — a three-hour walk from town. Clearly, they believe, and put in the sweat. The school has made a huge difference. So will the preschool.

The plan? Provide materials and delivery of materials for a one-room brick school, with a cement floor and wooden roof. Total cost: $4,000 for a school that will last for generations.

I hope to raise the money by April 1 and will build it beside the farmers and their families. Through this blog, we will share updates and celebrate the opening on ths blog. Stay tuned!

As a friend recently said, education is something no one can ever take away. It opens possibilities. What will these kids envision and achieve for their community? Time and again Friends Project supporters, and our recipients, prove us right in our mission.

Want to contribute to the school?
You can make tax-deductible gift here:
(Livingston Cares is accepting donations for us, without taking a fee!)

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