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Villa España after the Hurricane

Friday, 19 September, 2008

In 1998 Hurricane Mitch hit Nicaragua with devastating effect. Around the town of El Viejo 4,000 people were made homeless. About 1,000 of these were re-housed in a new settlement, now called Villa España, which was built by the Spanish Red Cross. Families moved into their new houses in 2003, over four years after Hurricane Mitch, having spent the intervening years in a temporary tented settlement.

Many of the families there are headed by single women who, as the only breadwinners, need to go out to work. A pre-school where they could leave their infants in safety was therefore essential, and a Spanish order of nuns who work in El Viejo provided the funds for the building of a one classroom pre-school. The Nicaraguan government, however, did not support pre-school education and would not or could not pay the two teachers needed to run morning and afternoon classes. In 2000, the nuns therefore approached the Santa Rosa Fund to pay the annual salary of Veronica Ríos, one of the teachers, and since that time the Fund has also made an annual allowance to the pre-school for the purchase of materials.

In 2005, Veronica Ríos became pregnant and decided to return home to the village of Cosigüina to have her baby – she had previously ‘commuted’ to Villa España from Cosigüina at the beginning and end of each week. Her post of the morning pre-school teacher was taken over by Grethel del Carmen Campos Cabrera, who lived just round the corner from the pre-school as a resident of Villa España. Grethel .was then in the final year of her training as a teacher, and in 2007 she moved on to teach elsewhere in the country. Her post was then taken by Veronica Treminio from the village of Los Pozitos, and the Santa Rosa fund continues to pay her salary via the nuns.

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