Saturday, March 8, 2008

March Newsletter

“A Night for Nicaragua”
As most of you know, Proyecto Laguna is hosting our first annual fundraiser on March 20th at the Kiss CafĂ© (2400 Boston St) in Baltimore, Maryland. Tickets are $45 in advance and $50 at the door. Ticket price includes Latin cuisine, beer and wine, mojitos, and entertainment. There will also be a silent auction featuring Nicaraguan crafts as well as many local donations. Tickets can be purchased online from our website, clicking on “donate now”. Even if you can’t make it, all donations are welcome and appreciated. We are looking forward to seeing many of you at this great event!
To buy tickets or make donation click here -

Living Earth Institute
We are making progress toward our goal of installing rain gutters and a back-up water tank at the Ruiz Castillo School. This is a goal the parents and school administration set in March of 2007 and it has been wonderful to see the pride and empowerment they have felt as this project has taken steps forward. Two engineers, Robin Kirschbaum and Pam Elardo, visited from the United States in February. Robin and Pam are from the Living Earth Institute ( and worked with Proyecto Laguna to earn a grant from Pangea ( engineers visited the Ruiz Castillo School and met with school personnel, our parent group, and a local contractor. They are currently working on their final technical designs. We hope to start construction in April.

School Gardens and Health Education
We continue to work with the Ministry of Education on the school garden project. In the month of February a Ministry of Education representative gave a seminar to Proyecto Laguna and school personnel on nutrition and how best to utilize a school garden.We are also in the process of coordinating with the Ministry of Health to set up health and hygiene classes for the schools. We hope to start these classes in the next few weeks

Thank you
Thank you to everyone who made donations this month. We depend on your donations to make a difference in the lives of the people of Diria. A special thanks to the Robeson family who, after reading our previous newsletter, decided to sponsor to the Guadamuz family. Thanks to the Robeson’s generosity, the Guadamuz children will be able to attend school this year.

Photos in this update are courtesy of Kristine Ambrose. To see a selection of the photographs of our project taken by visiting photographer Kristine Ambrose please link to her website:

How You Can Make a Difference Today
To make a donation now connect to our website:
For questions or comments feel free to contact us at

Website and Blog Updates
You can find complete details and read current and past blog updates on our web site:
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Monday, March 3, 2008

February Newsletter

School is in Session
The first day of the new school year in Nicaragua was on February 4th. The weeks leading up to this day were busy for us!
Proyecto Laguna distributed over 500 backpacks filled with school supplies to children registered in our program at the three schools we work in. We were also able to supply a backpack to each of the teachers filled with notebooks, markers, pencils, pens, glue, scissors, and more. Each school also received supplies of blank paper, art materials, and office supplies.
Children and their parents renewed their contracts with Proyecto Laguna agreeing to be responsible, attend school, and complete their school work. Over 100 new children registered with us and will receive school supplies starting in July.
The children and teachers were happy to have their new backpacks and the community gifted Proyecto Laguna with oranges, toasted corn, kisses on the cheek, and blessings as a way of showing thanks. Parents thanked us for giving their children an opportunity to attend school.
We were thankful to have two of our board members, Kathy and Buzz Belcher, as well as three volunteers, Hazel Alemanza, Raul Planas, and Christy Myers, to help us distribute backpacks. We couldn’t have done it without their help.
The cobblers have finished the first batch of shoes and they did a great job. The shoes are well made in high quality leather. The cobblers should be finishing up our initial order in the next week.
There are still children who will not receive shoes this year, as we receive more donations we hope to continue providing more shoes to more children.

Special Cases
In the last month Proyecto Laguna was approached and asked to help two families in great need.
The Guadamuz family was recommended by the vice principal of the Ruiz Castillo school. He reported that this family was extremely poor, the children had not attended school the previous year as the mother could not afford shoes, uniforms, and school supplies. In this family there are 4 generations living in a one room house. The grandmother and mother take in washing but the money earned from this barely pays for food.
The vice principal helped the mother register the children for school but he knew the children would not attend school without shoes or uniforms and would be unable to do their school work without paper and pencils.
The Leyva family lives in a small community called El Arroyo, about 30 minutes down a rough dirt road. We do not normally work in this community but were touched by the story of this family. Five months ago a mother of 5 was tragically killed in this poor farming community. The 5 children were taken in by their great-grandmother, Berta. Berta is an old woman and is unable to do any physical labor. She has no source of income and now lives with her 5 grandchildren in her one room house made from sticks tied together. The whole community has tried to help support this family by providing them with food but due the crops loss and prices increases no one has much to spare. The director of these children’s school had heard of our program and approached us to ask if we could help.
We visited both of these families and explained how Proyecto Laguna works; we would provide them with the necessary school supplies and in return they would be responsible for attending school regularly and completing their school work. Both families registered with us.
Upon hearing about the Leyva family Christy Myers agreed to sponsor all 5 children. The Leyva’s are very grateful. Due to Christy’s help we are able to make a difference in the lives of these children.
We do not yet have a specific sponsor for the Guadamuz family. Please contact us if you can help out with this family.

Penny Wars
We would like to thank The St. Vincent de Paul High School of Petaluma, California for choosing Proyecto Laguna to benefit from their Penny War fundraiser. As one of the charities benefiting from this fundraiser we have received a $1500 donation. This money will make a big difference in the lives of the children of Diria.
Penny Wars are a fun and effective way of raising money in a school, dorm, church or office setting. If you are interested in raising money for Proyecto Laguna please contact us and we will provide you with the information you need.

The American Nicaraguan Foundation
The American Nicaraguan Foundation has accepted applications from Proyecto Laguna’s schools. This means that our three school with benefit by receiving a shipment of teaching supplies twice a year. This will greatly benefit the schools and supplement the supplies that Proyecto Laguna is already supplying. We look forward to working further with the American Nicaraguan Foundation.

Sofia Kelly sets a great example
Sofia Kelly, a recent kindergarten graduate from the US, decided that she wanted to raise money to help Freddi, the boy her family sponsors. Along with a friend, she set up a lemonade stand and raised over ten dollars. Sofia mailed her earnings to us along with personal letters to Freddi wishing him well. We were impressed by Sofia’s caring and her willingness to work hard to try and help out a little boy who lives so far from her. If a young girl can raise $10, imagine what you could do.

To see a selection of the photographs of our project taken by visiting photographer Kristine Ambrose please link to her website:

February is shaping up to be an exciting month for Proyecto Laguna. Mid month the engineers from Living Earth Institute will be visiting and completing their technical designs for the water/sanitation project at Ruiz Castillo. The school’s staff are very excited about this project and we look forward to it as well.
We also will be kicking off the school gardens project this month, working in conjunction with the Ministry of Education. We hope to have working gardens at our schools that will help to provide nutrition to the students as well as providing a hands-on natural science laboratory.
Proyecto Laguna will also start working with the Health Ministry to provide a variety of workshops for the students at our schools.
We hope that this year we continue to grow and flourish. We thank you all for your support in our first year and hope for your continued support.

Thank You
Thank to everyone who made a donation in the month of January. We depend on donations from persons such as you. We would like to say a special thank you to Karen Ameloot, Rebecca Parr and Natalie Christensen who donated several personal hygiene kits to Proyecto Laguna.

January Newsletter

Non-Profit Status

Proyecto Laguna received a wonderful holiday gift this year, non-profit status! Proyecto Laguna is now officially a 501c3 Certified Non-Profit Public Charity in the United States. We are very excited for the opportunities this brings us and the benefits it brings to you, our donors. All donations are now tax deductible, and having governmental recognition opens a lot of doors for us.As a result of our non-profit status, all donations made in 2007 are tax deductible. We will be sending out receipts to all of our donors in the last year to use for tax purposes. If you don’t receive your receipt by the end of January please contact us at

Sanitation Project

In other good news, the Living Earth Institute has been awarded a grant from the Pangea Foundation to come to the Ruiz Castillo school and install two water tanks, rain gutters, and repair/replace the latrines. Our parent group is very proud of themselves as they helped solicit this grant, and the teachers and parents are all very much looking forward to the benefits the children will receive as a result of this project. The engineers from Living Earth plan on visiting in February to work on their plans. They are working in conjunction with Proyecto Laguna. We will be responsible for doing the community organizing and educating that is necessary to make this project a success.

Packing Day
In December teachers and parents from Diria came into Granada and helped us pack the backpacks that will be distributed to the children later this month. About 15 people showed up and helped us pack 700 backpacks with notebooks, pencils, erasers, dictionaries, pencil sharpeners, crayons, etc. Next week we will be distributing these bags to all of the children enrolled in our sponsorship program. Your efforts have made this happen and will make an incredible impact in the lives of these children.

Making Shoes
Proyecto Laguna is working with shoemakers in Diria to make pairs of shoes. Yes, there really are still cobblers! As we didn’t have enough money to make shoes for all the children, we asked the teachers to help us pick out the children who were most in need. The ones who are most in need are those who wouldn’t be attending school next year because they had no shoes. The teachers helped us gather shoe sizes for hundreds of children.Proyecto Laguna is working with local shoemakers because we believe it is important to keep investment within the community. By employing local workers, the money we pay to make shoes will go right back into Diria. If we were to buy shoes in the marketplace our money would go to shoes made in China. We have also found that by employing locals we get much higher quality goods, people take pride in making goods for their own community.As we receive more donations we hope to continue making more shoes for the other children registered with us. We need your help in this matter as there are children who need shoes who will not receive them at this time.

At the end of December we had a visit from Kristine Ambrose, a professional photographer from Los Angeles. Kristine visited several of our families and took some truly amazing pictures. She plans on displaying her photos and donating a portion of the money she makes to Proyecto Laguna. We are also able to use her photos for our website and other advertisements. All the photos in this newsletter were taken by Kristine.
You can visit her website at:

Thank you
We would like to send out a special thank you to Turf Valley Country Club located in Ellicot City, Maryland. They collected over $600 and donations of medicine. Thank you for your generosity.
We would also like to thank everyone who sponsored a child and those who donated money this month. Thank you for supporting the work we are doing and helping the children in Diria succeed in school and in life.

This newsletter will be sent out monthly and will keep you informed of our news and the projects we are currently working on. Your help is greatly appreciated.