Quetzatrekkers Leon has been working with communities in Somoto, Madriz since 2009. Our Somoto Canyon hike brings us right into the backyard of many small communities. Our goal has always been to work with these marginalized communities that we come into contact during our hikes.
In the past we built a kitchen and classroom to use as a library in the school. We also fixed the roof and put new floor in three class rooms, all with the help of Henry Soriano, community leader, and the parents who committed their time to help in the construction. Helping this community was really rewarding for us, but we knew that more schools around this area needed our help.
One month ago, we heard about this small school on the top of the canyon called Las Papayas, we drove with Henry Soriano for an hour, crossing the river and several farms, and finally arriving to the school where 36 kids receive class from two teachers. It was a weekend so we didn’t see any children, but some locals of the surroundings farms tell us about the needs of the center. Only way to get to this school requires horses, donkeys, 4 wheels drive vehicle, and no community member has a car. Some of the kids walk for two hours to attend class because these schools is the only one in this part of the canyon. That also means that when the river is too high (between June and July) the community becomes isolated and they can only cross the river swimming or utilizing a rope system. The only two teacher walk everyday 9 kilometers to teach class to these kids who are on the ages of 4 and 12.
We immediately felt the needs and wanted to give something back to this community who live in the same river we do our canyoning. A week later we talked to one of the teachers and he explained to us what their biggest need for them was: Uniforms! The families of the surroundings are really poor so most of them don’t have money to buy uniforms or even more than one pair of shoes. Some children end up not attending school because parents are embarrassed by not being able to provide essentials. Also they don’t have enough cloths for the week so they only attend 3 times a week because they have to walk two hours and they don’t have shoes.
Give them uniforms and new shoes seem a perfect plan to start working with this school, after a full day of shopping and a night prepping the bags, we were able to have a school package for the 36 kids. School package included a school uniform, shoes and school supplies like notebook and pencils.
In the morning the children, together with the parents, were waiting for us with a big sign thanking Quetzaltrekkers Leon, the kindergartens sang some songs before everyone gathered in the same space. One by one three of our volunteers gave the donation to each child, we also explain ‘who is Quetzaltrekkers?’ and our work.
After giving the donation, one of the moms walked to the front to give a speech but she was overwhelmed with emotion and was only able to say “thank you” before she started crying. We later discovered that it was the first time that someone took notice of this school needs and decided to give something back to the children (their future). The uniforms and school supplies is an incentive for these families, but they have the hard work ahead of them to provide an education to their children and try to find more help for the school.
We spend some time playing with the children and having fun with them, everyday one mom cook for the rest of the children and brings the lunch, some of them carry the rice and beans for two hours, but this way all the children can have a plate of food in the school. We also talked about other projects for the future and how we can work together with the parents and the community, but that would be another future post for our blog.