Supporting Education in Nicaragua
The Dunhurst project to support education in Miraflor, Nicaragua was introduced to Dunhurst by Martina Gruppo. Martina is Founder of a social enterprise and ethical fairtrade initiative. The company sells coffee produced by farmers in Nicaragua, of which a percentage of the profits goes towards helping children of the coffee farming communities continue onto secondary education.
Dunhurst teacher, Louise Banks, invited Martina to Dunhurst to talk about her work for the Esquela Vincente Talavera School in Miraflor, Nicaragua, which inspired Dunhurstians to set up the Miraflor campaign. Since then Dunhurst has raised £10,000 for the project. At the school’s Summer Concert, staff organised a huge raffle and raised £4,000. The raffle was a wonderful gesture towards their much loved colleague, Louise Banks, following the death of her son, Sam, particularly as Sam was so passionate about the Miraflor project.
Louise Banks said: “Supporting the development of the school has improved the local community’s quality of life in so many ways. In the past many children did not go on to further education because they did not live close enough to the nearest secondary school (which is now an even longer, two hour journey away due to recent floods) consequently they left after Primary school and earned a low wage with no career prospects. They are very excited at the chance this gives them for further education – at the same time their attachment to the community and their families is strong and many hope, in the long term to bring some of the benefits of their education and training back to Miraflor.”
Thanks to the hard work of Martina with the support of Dunhurst, the Nicaraguan Government has recently granted the Miraflor school with secondary school status, which means 200 pupils will now be able to further their education, including adults, from this remote mountain community.
Dunhurst pupils and teachers continue to lend their support through selling coffee in the school’s reception area and selling cups of coffee at school social occasions.
Dunhurstians take action
A Spanish language/Miraflor activity has been set up for Dunhurst pupils so that they can learn to write letters to the Miraflor children in simple Spanish. The children have been enthralled to see pictures of the children in Nicaragua reading their letters.
The general hardship in the region means there is a need for clothes in Miraflor which are very expensive in Nicaragua. Although families put much of their earnings towards school uniforms, they have very little other clothing. Dunhurst has consequently set-up a clothing collection for Miraflor.
In 2013, Dunhurst's fundraising efforts were put to good use in the form of a new classroom for El Jilguero School. The pupils also took part in a competition to design a mural for the new classroom and enjoyed viewing images of their winning designs gracing the wall of the Nicaraguan school.
The designs were selected as part of a competition to create a mural on the theme of ‘What Dunhurst means to me'. The entries were judged by members of all ages from the El Jilguero community and they were so impressed with all the Dunhurst entries that they were unable to choose just one so decided to create a design based on a fusion of a selection of images. The Nicaraguan pupils also designed a mural to mirror the partnership between Dunhurst and El Jilguero School, Miraflor, Nicragua. Founder of the partnership, Martina Gruppo, gave a presentation to Dunhurst to show the outcome of the Nicaraguan mural competition and talked about how the mural was received by the teachers and pupils at the Nicaraguan school. Read more.
Martina Gruppo and Hada del Cafe
In 2011, Dunhurst teacher Louise Banks attended a reception at the Nicaraguan Embassy to launch Martina Gruppo’s ethical coffee business under its new name Hada del Café. Louise was invited on behalf of Dunhurst which has raised money to support the Miraflor Farming community, through building a new school (staff and pupils have raised over £10,000), as well as supporting coffee sales from the region. These sales are generating a better income for the Nicaraguan producers. Bedales HR Manager Jo Hunter also went to the reception having visited Miraflor with Martina two years ago (and helped with Miraflor classroom renovations).