Quetzaltrekkers, a Gigantona and a lot of happy kids

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Today was a great day for Quetzaltrekkers and one of the local projects that we support. Minibiblioteca Manuelita Sacasa is a social organization aimed at educating León’s youth through various fun and interactive workshops. One of its most successful initiatives is the “Movil,” a library on wheels that travels to different schools to provide educational seminars for young students. Quetzaltrekkers has proudly supported Minibiblioteca since 2012 by keeping the Movil running, quite literally. Paying for the gasoline for the motorcycle, as well as the salary of the travelling teacher and all necessary books and materials he shares, Quetzaltrekkers has paved the way for truly wonderful events like today. Similar to the concept behind the Movil, the event consisted of Minibiblioteca’s travelling to a less fortunate school in order to share resources and laughter. For our hand in the project’s success, Minibiblioteca was quick to invite us to see how our support had fostered a similar bond of support with this new school.

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In what was a great display of educational programs working together to benefit young students, Minibiblioteca took a trip to a small impoverished school in rural León. Traveling with about five teachers and thirty students, Quetzaltrekkers and Minibiblioteca set off to bolster a growing relationship that benefited all involved. Upon arrival, the hosts immediately demonstrated their kindness in welcoming their new friends, leading them to a shaded area where they would be given a small presentation on the importance of the event. After both parties shared their excitement about the opportunity to work together, the real fun began.

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Given the limited resources of the rural school, there were certain materials that Quetzaltrekkers and Minibiblioteca knew would provide a great experience for the hosting students. Most notably, a performance of one of Leon’s most famous traditions: the Gigantona. A historically rich aspect of the local culture, the performance of the Gigantona requires a couple of children to dress up in comical outfits and a couple of kids to play the drums, while some more kids add intermittent rhymes and jokes. Needless to say, the students of the small school were thrilled to have the opportunity to both watch and participate in the performance. And they were just as thrilled to be able to return the favor.

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After the ceremonial Gigantona performance, it was time for the hosts to demonstrate their fun and gracious ways, to the delight of both Minibiblioteca and Quetzaltrekkers. They kicked things off first by hosting a series of group games, from Simon Says to Rock, Paper, Scissors, leading to relentless laughter for the students, teachers, and hiking guides alike. Once everyone caught their breaths, the hosts provided a delicious lunch for all, followed by the presentation of a kind and symbolic gift for Minibiblioteca: an avocado plant and a lovely mosaic of Rubén Dario, representative of the growing relationship between local educators. After finishing the day with a relaxed reading session, in which Miniblioteca shared its many books and the host school shared its creative student-made books, the parties said their goodbyes and looked ahead to the next event together, which will once again be made possible with the help of Quetzaltrekkers and its generous supporters.

Volcano Boarding fun with Leon`s street kids

Quetzaltrekkers guides and Chavaladas kids on the top of cerro negro

This weekend, Quetzaltrekker volunteers joined 18 brave boys from Las Chavalades on a trek to the top of Nicaragua’s most active volcano – Cerro Negro. For most of the boys, this was their first visit to the “Black Hill” – a popular destination for thrill-seeking tourists interested in volcano boarding down the steep slopes of a volcano.

 

QT volunteers and Chavaladas street kids on cerro negro

Group picture before the hike with Cerro Negro in the back.

Las Chavalades is one of 4 projects here in León that receives ongoing financial support from Quetzaltrekkers. About 60 children from the ages of 6 to 18 are welcomed each day at Las Chavalades, where they are provided with help in order to overcome drug addictions and particularly difficult living circumstances.

When our vehicle pulled up to the Las Chavalades building, the boys rushed out in excitement. After a 45-minute drive on a very bumpy road, the boys raced up to the top of the 728 metre volcano, taking time to observe the impressive volcano and surrounding area. From the top, it took no more than 2 minutes to reach the bottom of the volcano for those who chose to try volcano boarding for the first time. For the rest of us, we had fun getting to the bottom on foot.

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Hiking up Cerro Negro. Quetzaltrekkers guides help carrying the boards.

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Having fun on the top.

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“I believe I can fly …”

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“Me, too!”

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Our QT guide Sofie and Chavaladas kid Goblin boarding down.

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We all shared a snack, hopped back into the vehicles for our return to León. It was a quiet ride back to the city, with most of the boys fast asleep after their big adventure.

 

Baseball Uniforms for Nagarote Champions

The boys baseball team wearing brand new uniforms

Baseball has been a celebrated part of Latin American culture since the 19th century and is second only to soccer in popularity in many countries. Many Nicaraguans spend their weekends cheering on both local and national baseball teams. When Quetzaltrekkers learned that the defending departmental champions of a baseball league for 9-11 year old boys in a small town near Leon could not afford matching uniforms, we stepped in to ensure that this talented, hard-working team was dressed to win.

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Piñata party at Barriletes

Piñata at Barriltes

Guest post from our guide Kiki

This week a few volunteers and myself went to one of the many projects that Quetzaltrekkers supports within the city of Leon, Nicaragua. Barriletes, located on the south end of the city, hosts and houses dozens of kids of all ages. For some, the project is an orphanage, giving a permanent home to the young children. For others, it is an afterschool program where impoverished working parents can drop off their kids to receive an extra meal or some help with their school work. In any case, Quetzaltrekkers has been a proud participant in the development of this wonderful growing community. Continue reading

Project La Casona

La Casona and Quetzaltrekkers

Approximately one year ago QT began to support the poor Leon community of RTO Walter Ferrety. This, like many communities struggles with teen drug abuse.  One of the recognized contributing factors to this issue is the lack of positive activities for teen participation.

Working with community leaders, QT has taken the initiative to improve the local football field La Casona to help create a more positive environment. The field was used during the day but as it had no lighting, drug abuse remained during the late afternoon and night. QT took the bold approach and paid for the installation of new lighting for the park. Now families, children and teens can use the park during the evening as well. Continue reading

Combating Violence Against Children

Some boys pose with the Quetzaltrekkers Director

Violence against children is a global problem. According to UNICEF, 1/5 of homicide victims are under the age of 19 and 4 out of 5 kids between the ages of 2 and 14 are subjected to some form of violent discipline at home. On November 30th, Quetzaltrekkers sponsored a theater festival to combat violence again children in Leon. The event was organized by Chavaladas, one of the organizations Quetzaltrekkers supports with monthly donations. The festival used music, dance and theatrical performances to create a dialogue about the effects of violence against children in Nicaraguan society.

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Partnering with the Peace Corps

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In the last month, Quetzaltrekkers has sponsored two amazing Peace Corps projects in Nicaragua. The Peace Corps program in Nicaragua is one of the most extensive Peace Corps programs in Latin America. Today, 177 Peace Corps volunteers serve in Nicaragua.  Quetzaltrekkers has a very strong relationship with the Peace Corps. In fact, the 2014-2015 Quetzaltrekkers Director was a former Peace Corps Volunteer. Peace Corps volunteers worked with Quetzaltrekkers to organize a world map mural in El Sause, Nicaragua and a entrepreneurship contest for high school students in Leon.

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