Happy Holidays

Dearest Friends and Family of Future Roots Project,

We have so much to be grateful for this Holiday Season. The last year proved to mark the beginning of a new chapter in the Future Roots story. Not only have we furthered our mission of providing educational, artistic, and health initiatives to impoverished communities in Nicaragua, but we have also officially accomplished our goal of becoming a registered 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. This, of course, is big news for both the Future Roots Project and you, our cherished and long-time supporters because, now, every dollar that you choose to donate is 100% tax-deductible!

In addition to this big change, our newest collaborator, Timothy Daly, will bring a unique, community-focused artistic project to the Laguna de Apoyo in the beginning of 2017 to expand Future Roots Project’s commitment to provide access to a quality arts education to the children of Nicaragua.

We enter 2017 hopeful and humbled by the big hearts and generosity shown to us by you, our dear friends and family, in 2016.  From the bottom of our hearts, we thank you for all of the support, both financial and emotional, that you have given us. We could not do this important work without you. A special thank you to our primary supporters; The Rotary Club, Palmer’s Bar, Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, Tim & Sandy Belden, Kerry & Sheryl Ness, Mr. Haugan, Julie & Karlos Weisenhorn, Claire Engebretson, John Lapointe, Gail & Tim Mueller, Virginia Belden Charles, Mita Bell, Lynn & Tom Wiggins, Tim Nelson & Bryan Williams and to all the musicians who donate their time and talent to us each year.
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As we enter into this season of togetherness we remember that each of you has touched our lives in some way and for that, we cannot be more grateful.  Know that you are in our thoughts and our hearts this Holiday Season!
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Speaking of togetherness… let’s get together in the New Year!  Our very own Jaime Belden will be returning to Minnesota in late January and we would like to re-connect with you, our family and friends. We invite you to the family home of Jaime in Robbinsdale to share refreshments and to talk with you about our year and what is on the horizon Future Roots Project in 2017 and beyond! Mark your shiny new calendars! The get-together will be on January 23, 2017 from 6-7:30pm.

If you are interested in attending, please send an e-mail to nicaragua@futurerootsproject.com with your name and how many guests you would like to bring. We will get back to you with the specifics. We thought that this informal get-together would be a great way to reconnect with you and we would be honored if you could attend.Thank you again for your loving support and we will see you in the New Year! We love you!

With gratitude and kindest appreciation,
Jaime, Elizabeth, and Timothy of Future Roots Project

Back to Haulover

I have been on the Carribe Coast of Nicaragua for a little over 3 weeks now, working again in the community of Haulover.IMG_0024My focus is teaching children to read and I have begun my work in the classrooms of two wonderful teachers, Marlett and Lolita.  These two teachers have roughly 45 students combined.  After my first week I was able to evaluate each student individually, and it became quite clear that there was a real problem with literacy, however I feel very confident that with some time these students will be reading in no time.booksBooks are hard to come by, but highly appreciated and I could never get tired of my students coming to my house asking to borrow one.  This community of 3,000 people are indigenous inhabitants who speak a variety of languages, which adds to the problem of learning to read just one.  Most people of Haulover speak English Creole, which is not a written language and others Miskito, another non-written indigenous language to this area. IMG_0165The people are fisherman and live off of the land they work.  Corn, breadfruit, plantains and seafood is abundant along with other jungle vegetables and fruit bearing trees.  The people are familiar with their lands and the things that they share that land with, however they are many obstacles to hurdle still.

Haulover is located in the RAAS region of Nicaragua, and autonomous, self governing part of the country.  It is very secluded by the jungle and winding rivers and it shows with the non-exsistant help from the many NGOs that are found on the Spanish-speaking side of the country.

By investing my time in the community here makes a significant impact.  To see how my time has already brought change to the children here makes me feel like with more time we could see a lasting difference.  If you are able we are looking for five people to become sustaining monthly donors to help Jaime and I continue our work with the children of Nicaragua.  A monthly donation of $10-20 can bring more books, teaching tools and trainings to struggling teachers we work with.IMG_0005Donations are now tax-deductible since Future Roots Project has become a 501c3 non-profit organization and your help is important to keep our project sustainable.  Please continue to visit our website to get updates, share our work with family & friends, and do not be shy to contact us with any questions you might have.

Thank you again for all of the support, it truly changes lives!

Making moves……

They say if you want to be an expert at something, do it for 10,000 hours. I feel like I have sang the same songs for about that long….oh yeah and every song has a very active dance that goes along with it. Last year was all about how to incorporate music into preschool in Nicaragua. It seems really easy: give them kids music in Spanish. If only it were that easy. Changing an education system that has operated a certain way for hundreds of years takes time and energy. The schools here have been operating in survival mode, doing to best they can with what they have. Many of the teachers (and adults in general) had childhoods filled with experiences many of us can only begin to imagine. Instead of memories reading books, playing at the park, or going swimming, they tell me about dictatorship, fear, death, war, violence, abuse, starvation, sickness and natural disasters.

People continue to suffer from the trauma of the past and poverty, abuse, nutrition are all still real problems facing Nicaragua today. But somethings have gotten better. For example access to education has improved immensely. More kids have the possibility to go school today in Nicaragua than ever before in history. This is really important because approximately half of the population is under 18. Not all kids go to school and the schools are at maximum capacity. The school system expanded very quickly, under very difficult circumstances and faces many challenges. They don’t have enough trained teachers and its not a desirable profession. Why would someone pay money to get a teaching degree when they will earn so little they will live below the (Nicaraguan) poverty level? Most teachers have high school diploma, but some don’t and all of the teachers are products of the same struggling education system we are trying to change. So to ask them to do something that has never been done before (sing songs they don’t know and dance with little kids) it is asking them to step out of their comfort zone. It requires them to step back from the authoritarian role and overcome their embarrassment, not to mention the logistics of managing a class of 40 kids who are singing/dancing.

On returning to Nicaragua….

The influence a teacher has often isn’t seen for a long time. Working with 3-5 year old children in preschool I often wonder if they will even remember my existence. I, personally, remember almost nothing about preschool and I have no memories of my undoubtedly lovely teachers. So each year when I leave Nicaragua, to spend a few months in Minnesota, I always hope the kids will remember the meaningful connection we have made. Kids don’t learn from people they don’t like and if they don’t remember me….

The first school I visited since returning was the school that originally brought me to Nicaragua in 2009 when it was built. The classes are overflowing with kids who didn’t have a school until 7 years ago and the kids I first knew are either in high school now or have dropped out. I have made a point to continue to visit and share all the tools, strategies, games and music with the community that first inspired me to work in this country: Pantanal.

I entered the classroom of Profe Claudia, one of my favorite teachers, and was overwhelmed by the reaction of her 3rd grade students who still remember me from preschool….3 years ago. Their faces lit up, several of them jumped to their feet and they started shouting out fragments of what they remember… “The monkey song….Que te pasa? Calabaza!……the little octopus!!” These kids, now much bigger and better behaved, still remember!

The preschoolers are in 3rd grade!
The preschoolers are in 3rd grade!

4th Annual Fundraiser

4th Annual Future Roots Fundraiser

Come join us for our 4th Annual Future Roots Fundraiser at Palmer’s Bar! It is going to be a wonderful night of live music from the Rich Lewis Band (7-9pm) and The Hand-Me-Downs (9-1am). We look forward to seeing all of you to celebrate another year of service in Nicaragua.

Future Roots is an all volunteer based international project bringing educational and artistic opportunities to impoverished communities in Nicaragua. Also aiding in the implementation of several health initiatives aiming to improve conditions and quality of life.

“Though my work may be menial, though my contribution may be small, I can perform it with dignity and offer it with unselfishness. My talents may not be great, but I can use them to bless the lives of others…. The goodness of the world in which we live is the accumulated goodness of many small and seemingly inconsequential acts.”
                                                              ~ Gordon B. Hinckley

 

To see more information or so sign-up for our Newsletter please visit our website:
www.futurerootsproject.comAnd if you are unable to join us or would like to make a donation online you can visit:
www.gofundme.com/futureroots
Facebook event can be found here:
https://www.facebook.com/events/906365309473798/906460942797568/?notif_t=plan_mall_activity&notif_id=1469037031147954

Every dollar raised for the children of Nicaragua, goes farther than it ever could in the United States.  Our project is possible because of generous donations from our family, friends, and community.  Together we can directly improve the lives of the children.

We can’t do it without your support!

Going on tour…

We have been working hard to improve the school system in Nicaragua and it hasn’t been easy.  A systemic change in education takes dedicated teachers, hard work and patience.  The sad truth is that the schools are actually doing better now, than they did in the past.  Only forty years ago, there was a dictator and the right to an education was a privilege of the wealthy. Today the classrooms are crowded and all kids have the right to attend school.

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Unfortunately  the education they receive is substandard because most teachers have no training and they lack very basic resources.

Last year we paired with the Ministry of Education to help with the monthly vocational trainings for all of the preschool teachers in Granada, Nicaragua. This month we began phase two: Visiting the classrooms.  During our visit we were able to assist in the implementation of new ideas and it was inspiring to see the change happening.

Check out this short video and try not to laugh at the little ones who are struggling with the macarena and trying to learn the months of the year at the same time.

It’s hard to say who appreciates our visit more: the students or the teachers. The final words from the teachers are always”We will be here waiting for you” and all of the visits end the same way: kids lining up for hugs and high-fives.

 

When you meet someone special…

One of the hardest parts about living in Nicaragua is the amount of suffering happening all around you, everyday. It’s hard to accept that you can’t help everyone, even though your heart tells you that it is the right thing to do. This means setting limits and investing your resources in projects that will make a sustainable difference. However sometimes you meet someone who breaks your heart wide open and you would give anything in the world to help them.

Meet 5 year old Nayansi and her mother Francisca.

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Nayansi was born with spina bifida, hydrocephalus, and is paralyzed from the waist down. She has already had 7 surgeries and will need at least 5 more.

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She lives in a very poor rural neighborhood, far removed from any non-profits or organizations that could potentially help her, and the only landmark is the landfill full of burning garbage.

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Her father abandoned them after finding out about her birth defects, when her mother was 4 months pregnant. Life for Francisca has been beyond difficult as the sole caretaker of Nayansi AND of her father, an amputee, who suffers from diabetes. The three of them live together in this windowless shack made entirely of corrugated metal. Making ends meet has been impossible, given the situation, and as a result they live a life of abject poverty.

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Francisca did not ask for money, but instead for a wheelchair for her daughter that she has carried everywhere for the past 5 years. Thanks to generosity of Darrell Ward, a Rotarian from Oklahoma, her wish was granted.

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Despite Nayansi’s physical disabilities, she is a happy little girl who makes jokes, smiles and laughs. She was thrilled to receive the assortment of art supplies and books we were able to give her.

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This little girl has touched our hearts in a way that words can’t describe. We are committed to doing everything possible to continue to help her family. We are beginning to gather resources and if you have any connections or suggestions of people/organizations who may be able to help, please contact us at: futurerootsproject@gmail.com

Stay tuned for updates and sign up for our newsletter if you’d like to receive a monthly summary of our projects!

3 Weeks, 300 Filters

The past three weeks has been full of water filter trainings and distributions in collaboration with Darrell Ward, a member of the Rotary Club of Muskogee, OK.  People in these communities who collect rainwater, from the ground and any other place they may be able to find it, use these bucket filters to provide purified water to their families.  In a country where clean water is hard to find for drinking or cooking, these Sawyer filters are a blessing and we have been repeatedly thanked or gifted mangoes in appreciation.

100_2165300 filters have reached 1349 people in a total of 8 communities.  This is not the beginning or the end of this amazing project, to date 650 filters have been distributed throughout Nicaragua and next year, Darrell will return for another distribution.

100_2110It is almost impossible to describe the conditions that some of these families live in; some live a few meters from the landfill and deal with a terrible infestation of flies.  Others find themselves and their children sick from waterborne illnesses because they have to scoop water from a hand dug ditch for their drinking water.  And others deal with mosquitoes that carry diseases like Dengue Fever and Chikungunya, both causing dangerously high fevers that can be fatal.  Others have no option but to buy water from a tanker trunk that may or may not pass by their homes every 8-15 days.

It has been a pleasure to assist in the distribution process, which includes interviews, assembling bucket filters, and post-surveys.   We have met many new people who have helped us organize these community gatherings, such as Leonel, who is a member of the El Tunel, an barrio located outside of Masaya.  He has become our newest contact person for this group of people and has extra parts to repair any bucket filter that many have an issue.  We cannot thank him enough for his help and look forward to seeing him in the new future.

100_2173As educators we are always pleased to meet the children of these communities.  These kids live rough, rural lives and may have to walk miles to get to school, but we are thankful that they at least have the opportunity to drink clean water that will keep them healthy and happy.  Of the 1349 people reached these past three weeks , 536 have been children.

Again, we have to thank Darrell for his dedication to provide clean water to the people of Nicaragua.  We look forward to working with him long into the future.

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Rotary Water Filter Distribution-Week One

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Jaime, Marta Castilo (President of the Masaya Rotary Club), Darrell Ward, Liz, & Pochote community members with their new bucket filters.
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Bucket Filter Assembly Training

We are happy to have Darrell Ward here with us again in Nicaragua.  He is here with us for a month distributing bucket filters to hundreds of people in the rural areas of Masaya.  Darrell is a member of the Muskogee OK Rotary Club and has been working in Nicaragua for years distributing water filters and working on other water projects that aim to provide potable water and improving quality of life.  This is our first time helping with the distribution process. We started in Pochote, where 50 families went home with new filters that will provide clean drinking water for 30 year or up to one million gallons.

These Sawyer filters will remove all bacteria, viruses and parasites that live in the water found in these communities.  Our day began with Darrell giving a training on how to assemble the unit before each person received their own to assemble and show that they knew how to clean the filter before they could take it home with them.  Below is a video of one man assembling his bucket filter.

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Darrell Ward with community members of Nandayure with their new bucket filters.

Day two was spent in Nandayure, another community outside of the city of Masaya where another 50 families received filters.  We drove to a small church down a dirt pig trail until we came to group of people waiting for our arrival.

Again Darrell gave an assembly training and after we stepped outside and began the distribution.  The video is of a women who we visited in her home showing us that she knew how to clean her filter.

Another important piece of this project is to visit homes that already have filters to check in to see how the filter is working, to ask any questions, and to do any repairs that may need to be done to filters.  We visited 10 families this past week, here are a few pictures of the home visits.

We want to thank Darrell for allowing us to help him on this amazing project, we are only one week in, stay tuned for updates about what else we will be busy with this month!

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