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A Twinning Link for Los Pozitos

Friday, 25 July, 2003

Santa Rosa Fund helps establish another twinning link

By Jacky Rushall (From Issue 21 of the SRF Newsletter, July 2003)

I applied for a sabbatical in December 2002 and was lucky enough to be awarded this opportunity. The sabbatical scheme was offered to schools in challenging areas, with a high level of deprivation, such as High Street School in Stonehouse, Plymouth, where I teach. The time taken could be up to six weeks and how the money was spent was very flexible. The main criteria were that it should have some benefit to the teacher, pupils and school.

My interest lay in travel and learning about other cultures. I also hoped to be able to help children in a Third World country. I knew a little about the Santa Rosa Fund but not how it worked. So I rang up June and Martin Mowforth who invited me along with them to Nicaragua to see for myself how the charity worked. And so my adventure began.

The Fund arranged for me to observe many of the ways in which it helps projects in Nicaragua. As the Fund was always looking to extend its help, visits were arranged to a number of needy schools, with the possibility that I could form a twinning link with one of them.

Sister María-José López of the Berriz order of nuns, which has a base in the town of El Viejo, was instrumental in my search for a link. In the nuns’ Land Rover we travelled for two hours up into the hills of dry tropical forest in the Cosigüina Peninsula and came to Los Pozitos — the village of little wells. It was love at first sight!

The village is a campesino community of 16 families with over 30 children in attendance at school. Twenty-two of them are of primary and secondary grades, aged 8 – 19, and are taught all together in one class by Melvin Jesus Sevilla Campos. Melvin lives in El Viejo but travels to Los Pozitos on Mondays and returns on Fridays, staying each night in a small wooden room next to the old school house (see photograph) and having meals cooked in turn by different families in the village. At present a mum, Reina María Molina Días, teaches the pre-school children, usually about 10 – 12 in number.

The only cost which is met by the Nicaraguan government is Melvin’s salary. Fortunately, however, the village has been funded by Amigos de Holanda (Friends of Holland) to build a new purpose-built schoolhouse — see photograph. Members of the community, including the children, have built the school themselves. When we visited, the new schoolhouse was not quite ready for use, and the only equipment they had was a few tables. The parents have to provide everything that is required for their childrens’ education.

Martin and I returned the following week bearing gifts of school materials and an envelope of $200 for the purchase of resources, which I gave to the Committee of Parents which oversees education in the village. The parents were delighted and I left puppets made by the children from High Street School along with some photographs of and writing (in Spanish as well as English) about my class. I also left a camera for them in the hope that they will reciprocate with photos and an exchange of culture by writing to my school in Plymouth.

The community has no electricity; so life is hard. But everyone we met was so happy and welcoming. And they seemed keen to establish a link with my school.

My journey was a wonderful experience and I learned so much about the politics and lives of people in Central America. My lasting impressions of the Nicaraguans are of a very resilient, hard-working and welcoming people who are delighted to receive help, but on their terms. Many thanks to the Santa Rosa Fund for a life-changing experience.

High Street Primary School in Stonehouse has a website on which the twinning link is featured. As the link is developed, the website will be updated. For more information and photographs of the community, please visit the site at:

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