A RENOVATED Preschool
Las Abejitas preschool (translated as “Little Bees”) in the city of Somoto, northern Nicaragua, was in desperate need of repair. It had shabby walls made of wood and broken pieces of brick; a kitchen with an unfinished roof that allowed cockroaches, wasps, and mosquitoes to get inside; and a very rough and dusty floor. It was also dangerous for children who would travel by a hilly, dirt road to get to the school—especially when it rained.
“There aren’t any other preschools nearby for these children,” says Swaleh Karanja, CCFC Nicaragua’s Country Director. “In this area, when buildings are damaged, they have to close and parents have to try for another school (which is often full).”
The 54 boys and girls who attend Las Abejitas preschool love to learn and participate in activities like crafts or painting. In addition to lessons on numbers, vowels, and colours, the children learn about respect and how to interact with each other. The school also provides children with lunch to keep them energized until their parents return from long days at work.
“Before, the teacher could barely organize activities on the floor because it was rough, causing bruises on our children’s knees,” says Marlene Sandoval, a mother from the community. “For 20 years, no other organization cared about rebuilding the preschool or improving the conditions for the children so they could have a better quality education.”
CCFC staff, along with community members and our partner on the ground, INPRHU (Institute of Human Development) worked together to renovate the deteriorating infrastructure. They replaced the steep dirt path to the school with stairs, refinished the floors and walls, installed sanitary services, and built a retaining wall to support the structure. The renovations have greatly improved the children’s attitude towards their education. It has also brought peace to worried parents, as well as a sense of empowerment to the community as they have seen what they can accomplish when they work together.
“Thanks to the project, the preschool is much more suitable for our children,” says Elsi Yamileth Betanco, another parent. “The community is now willing to take care of this preschool and will continue to take action to make it safer.”
Today, the preschool doubles as a community centre. The space gives elementary school students the opportunity to receive afterschool help and also allows community members to meet and participate in training and workshops.