Friday, July 31, 2020

Supporting Agualí

As many of you know, Nicaragua is near and dear to my heart. In January 2006, I intended to take students there just once. One of those students returned the following year, and I took a total of more than 100 students and colleagues and my own family members over the next decade. Many of those students have returned with me or on their own, and many more of them tell me that their visit was one of the most important experiences of their life. It is my home away from home, and I am in contact with one or more friends in Nicaragua every single day.

Things went seriously awry there in April 2018, so I have not been back -- though one of my Nicaraguan friends co-led my January 2020 travel course in Costa Rica. In fact it is that friend -- Ernesto Ocampo -- with whom I have been working most directly on a new project to help the people of northern Nicaragua. By "working with" him, I mean that he and others in Matagalpa have been doing terrific work to help their community, and I've been consulting with him on how to share that work with potential supporters in North America and Europe.

Nicaragua faces a triple crisis: the global pandemic and economic recession are compounded by the political repression that I have described in some detail elsewhere on this blog. Ernesto and others are responding with a comprehensive approach that integrates community development, environmental education, and English-language education. It is best described by our mutual friend Sage from Chicago -- please keep reading Sage's excellent description of this exciting work, and please join us and other friends of Nicaragua in sharing the project and pledging financial support.

Note that the sponsorships being suggested could be shared as part of a project for a class, club, or religious organization, or simply a group of friends wishing to make the world a better place!

Read all about it at Agualí
Sage writes:

Please consider sponsoring a student for Estación Biológica Agualí's new and exciting project investing in a new generation of environmental leaders in Nicaragua.

Here's an overview from program materials:

"The Agualí Biological Station has created a one-a-half year program for 25 young people that facilitates high-quality education, using English-learning as a tool to acquire new skills in environmental education and multiple other skills."
"In order to carry on with this project, we need people who will be willing to sponsor as many students as possible, the cost for the whole program is worth twice than requested; however, we ask for a contribution of USD 40 per month for each student, and other costs will be covered by the Biological Station and Matagalpa Tours."

There are different sponsorship opportunities that you can explore at this link: https://forms.gle/X1aQMCj6uJMivhq3A

Sponsorship keeps the program 100% free for students, keeping people afloat during these difficult times - in particular in economies that rely on tourism. Agualí's educational model is holistic - not just English language education, but also a base in subjects from permaculture to trail building to theater - the skills to create a graduating cohort of professional naturalists and environmental educators.

You can commit to a one-time donation or recurring sponsorship for a part or all of the program. For example, I have committed to sponsor one students at $40/month for 12 months. You also have the option to be put in contact with the student you are sponsoring and have a more intimate look into the program and the amazing work that is happening at Estación Biológica Agualí.

Head to https://www.facebook.com/AgualiMatagalpa to check out the other work Agualí is doing, and send me a message to access a comprehensive overview of the program through email - I hope that you will consider supporting the amazing work of Ernesto Ocampo and the Agualí team!

James again:

Feel free to contact me with any questions. I would also be happy to set up a video chat with Ernesto, myself and any potential supporters.

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