Photo of the day: new project on the rise!


We wanted to do an official announcement of welcoming a new violence prevention project lead by Psychologist Ivania Pineda, called Desmarimbando en Batahola. The project will focus on teaching a group of 20 young people how to facilitate and lead discussions on gender violence, and also work to organize the community around this issue. The team is (left to right) Ivania Pineda, Claudia Mercado, Maria Christina Aguirre, and Misael Dormes, and Kelsey and I will also be helping out a few afternoons a week. Can’t wait to see the great things they will be doing!IMG_0745IMG_0739


-Erika C.

Photo of the day: a morning of music and dance

The Orchestra director Myra organized a trip with the dance group and Orchestra to a school across town where she teaches music classes.  They read a short story and lead a discussion on recycling and being environmentally friendly, and after the orchestra, choir, and dancer performances, the dancers even showed the kids a few moves!


-Erika C.

Photo of the day: Hilma and Erika’s little helpers…

As Gilma and I began the long task of numbering items to sell at the fundraiser, 2 little girls wandered by as their mother went to English class. They saw us labeling each toy, and asked if they could help. A few minutes later, 2 young boys walked by, looking for a way to pass the time before their afternoon classes at school, and asked to help us as well. The job took us 3 hours when it would have taken Gilma and I the entire day, and the kids wanted to contribute their time in support of the fundraiser. We were very appreciative of their help, and we had no problem paying in cookies! :)IMG_0333-Erika C.



Photo of the day: sneak peek of the youth theater play!

This group of youth has been studying about environmental stewardship as well as acting, and the play is about birds and other wildlife that are being threatened. They will perform at the Center’s annual fundraiser in two weeks, so let’s wish them the best of luck!


-Erika C.

Photos of the day!


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I have had an amazing first few days back in Nicaragua after my month long hiatus to Minnesota, for a visit and to clear up some medical issues. It felt like an eternity, but I came back to realize that life here does not skip a beat. I was welcomed right back into my role at the Center, and the staff was incredibly welcoming. It felt great to come back to the English class feeling like I had just left yesterday, and everyone has been buzzing around preparing for the annual fundraiser, which will be at the end of the month. I am so overwhelmed with gratitude for all of the love and support that I received while I was gone from my community here, and it reminded me that I am back to where I need to be.

We are also blessed to have a new camera here, so I have been busy learning how to use it! enjoy a few shots of life at the center this week. Abrazos!



-Erika  C.

Employee Profile of the Month


Name: Arlen Patricia Lopez Gutierrez

Birthday: October 9th

Neighborhood: Batahola Sur

Job Title: Librarian

Time working in the Center: 3 months (although previously worked here 6 years and has now returned)

A Little Information About Me:

I live with my mom, my daughter and my two nephews. My daughter is 13 years old and is studying in secondary school. After work every day I go to night class since I’m working on a degree in accounting. In my free time I like to dance, sing, make handicrafts and read literature. The farthest place I have traveled is to Guatemala with Father Angel’s choir. If I could travel anywhere I would love to go to Brazil. It’s the one country that has always fascinated me.

How I Arrived at the Center:

I grew up coming to the Center because my mom was part of the original group of women who gathered to form the Center with Sister Margarita in the 80’s. After that she was also the professor of beauty class and later on handicrafts class. My brother and I participated in classes since we were young such as painting, dance and music. I was part of the choir and played the french horn in the orchestra. I was also a scholarship student from about fourth grade up until my first year of college. In those days we did about every social service imaginable, including cleaning bathrooms, helping in the cafeteria, teaching basic education to adults and my favorite which was helping in the library.

The most gratifying part about my work is being able to work with young people. When you work with adolescents you can really see them change and form their character throughout their time at the Center. I also like that we create a space that allows children with economic needs to come and learn. When I was a kid I never would have imagined myself working with young people, let alone in charge and organizing a program like this. But, thanks to my own formation here at the Center, here I am.

Managua and Santa Julia: Big City and Rural Country Connections

Growing up in small-town rural Iowa, I always expected that living in a big city meant that you don’t know very many people. But here, that is actually the contrary. In fact one of the great things I’ve learned while living in Nicaragua, is that it’s a pretty small world. When you get to know someone, you’re bound have some shared friend or at least acquaintance. And once you’ve started making a web of connections, it only goes on expanding more and more the longer you spend time here. One example of this small and connected world of Nicaragua happened last month when I realized that our Formation Coordinator at the Center, Sonia Olivares, had met and gotten to know my host mom from my study abroad trip two years ago. My host mom’s name is Lola Esquivel, a strong leader and member of a women’s cooperative in the rural community of Santa Julia. With this community only being about a 45 minute bus ride out of Managua, we decided to plan a trip to visit Santa Julia with the idea of providing a service to those in the community, especially the women from the cooperative.


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So on Saturday morning the Beauty class along with some scholarship students got on a bus along with all of their hair-cutting supplies, books and a cd player bound for Santa Julia. The 16 women in the beauty class set up to begin giving free haircuts, while the 6 scholarship students got ready to play games, sing songs and read stories with the children from the community. Usually members of this community have to travel into the city to get a haircut which could mean an hour walk and a 30 minute bus ride. Not only that, but also many of the women in the community dedicate so much time attending to their crops, their family, their house and organizing meetings with the cooperative that there isn’t much time left for themselves. Therefore the opportunity to get a free haircut right there in the community as well as the chance to take a morning to pamper themselves was a treat! The activity was a quick success and more and more people began to arrive until finally we had to stop and pack up to get back to the Center.

It was a strange yet gratifying experience to be back in the community I lived in for 6 weeks and see all of the women from the cooperative again. It was especially unique to see my two worlds colliding as those from the Center shared their talents and services with the community that I had come to know and love over two years ago. Hopefully there will be more exchanges like these in the near future, both in Santa Julia and in other places where we’re sure to meet someone we know who greets us with warm hugs.