Education 4 Change: Transformation Stories from Miramar, Nicaragua
Unity 4 Orphans kicks off Giving Season with the first of five stories on how our holistic programs are helping vulnerable children. Today we’re talking about Education 4 Change in Nicaragua.
Our end-of-year blog series features transformative stories from 5 different locations, each highlighting a separate program: Education 4 Change, Healing 4 Change, Nutrition 4 Change, Play 4 Change, and Shelter for Change.
Education 4 Change Began in Nicaragua with ESL Classes
In 2015, U4O established an opportunity for local children to learn English as a second language, a skill that will help them succeed in their education and secure reliable employment as adults. As with so many of the areas we serve in Latin America, in the small coastal village of Miramar, Nicaragua, the lack of consistent employment and quality infrastructure makes it difficult to break the cycle of poverty. As the first semester of ESL classes wraps up, our team in Miramar is currently serving 43 students!
A pillar of our mission is to find in-country staff and partners, creating reliable jobs within communities, in addition to helping local children experiencing poverty. By learning to speak English, our students have more job opportunities upon graduation. However, U4O is also committed to a holistic model that not only teaches a tangible skill but also provides counseling for children enrolled in the ESL program.
This is not only about the English language; it’s not only about talking with the counselor. It’s about their confidence in themselves, in English, and in any career they decide to pursue. We’re always working on self-confidence with all of our students.
–Laighthany, Nicaragua Program Director & Teacher
U4O’s Holistic Model Inspires the Nicaragua Team to Instill Self-Confidence
With 15 years of experience teaching children, Program Director Laighthany has a special talent for bringing out the best in her students. She trains other teachers and counselors to talk to their students individually, and to empower, push, and encourage them.
Andrea, a 12-year-old student who has been in the program for nearly 4 years, shows obvious potential and takes ESL classes very seriously. A lack of support at home, however, was holding her back, and she wasn’t reaching her potential. By building Andrea’s confidence and giving her responsibilities which include helping other students, the staff is paving the way for her to be an advocate for herself and her future education.
On both a faith level, and also an English education level, Andrea doesn’t have the support she needs at home to fully be able to grow into who God wants her to be, and to pursue her skills and passions. This is a common story for children in the program.
–Caitlin Snyder, U4O Engagement Director
Program Counselor Helps Children Overcome Obstacles and Trauma
Program Counselor Greyddyn, or “Psico” as she’s affectionately called (“psychologist” in Spanish is “psicologo”), works with each child in the ESL program to help them overcome shyness, learning challenges, and even trauma.
One of our success stories is Vanessa, who came to us with very little belief in herself and knew zero English. She gained confidence along with ESL skills and finished the program two years ago, going on to university and earning money teaching others, and has even given work to another one of our students. She may have had an idea before enrolling in the ESL program, but not the vision for her future that she has now.
–Greyddyn, Nicaragua Program Counselor
The team measures attitude in several ways: behaviorally, including being respectful and getting along with others; professionally, with evaluations and personality tests administered by a licensed psychologist; and through their teaching methods, which encompass observation, teaching, praying, and relying on their collective experience and intuition.
What makes the Nicaragua Team so special is their honed collective strengths to truly connect with each of their students, see their potential, and apply the right mix of instruction and support. We continue to hear encouraging stories like that of Cristopher, an advanced student in level 6 of the ESL program in Miramar. In the beginning, he was withdrawn in class, knew no English, and spoke in an almost robotic voice. After a year in the program, through the mentorship of the staff, this 14-year-old boy has gained confidence and is nearly bilingual, opening doors to university and solid employment when he grows up.
As our longest-running program outside of Mexico, Education 4 Change in Nicaragua has the history to prove the effectiveness of our holistic model. We look forward to sharing more personal stories of transformation with you in 2024!