"US-Nicaragua Solidarity Since 1988" |
Description of Projects
Throughout its history, the TSTSCA has worked as a partner with the Santo Tomás Committee for Community Development. In addition to delegates visiting in the two communities we currently support a Children's Free Lunch Program and community Library, supporting both children and adults in our sister community. We also facilitate the sister school relationship between Lincoln Elementary School in Olympia and Escuela Rúben Darío de Santo Tomás.
A few years ago, in response to both a request from Santo Tomás and interest among people here in Olympia, we have committed to supporting a small scholarship program. See information at this link.
One of TSTSCA’s ongoing projects is a library ("biblioteca" in Spanish). See information at this link.
In 2013 TSTSCA helped update the Olympia-to-Nicaragua Construction Brigade's 1988 building project for the Casa de Costura in Santo Tomás See information at this link.
One of our members who lives in Santo Tomás now, Seano Chicharron, has been our literal "feet on the ground" in organizing the Shoe Project. Here is his report from April 2013:
We recently concluded the Shoe Project for 2013 and, thanks to generous donations like that provided by TSTSCA, the project was once again a rousing success!!! This year 165 children from the most impoverished barrios benefitted from the project. There was a time when it looked like we would fall short of our goal of 150 pairs of shoes, but at the last moment I was approached by a business owner here in Santo Tomas and he and his family put up the funds for another 40 pairs of shoes to get us over our goal!!
Please see the photos I sent with this message. One photo shows kids with one of two piñatas that were donated by our friend Bernys Ramos for the event - what a blast!! The rest of the pictures are of the shoes and their new owners! Remember, these are high-quality, hand-made leather shoes with hand-sewn soles and will last the whole year for most of these kids (and will even make great hand-me-downs for the ones that wear them lightly). In addition, this project was able to generate solid 3 months of employment for some local cobblers. So on behalf of all who benefitted from this year's efforts, THANK YOU SO MUCH!!! May you all continue to find strength and guidance in the important work that you do!!
A Little About the Project...
In 2011, we put a plan in motion: a project to gift a pair of school shoes for every child at the Comedor Infantil Children's Free Lunch Program at the beginning of the school year. The project is now in its third year and has been a rousing success! To fund the project, we have depended on donations from friends and family, TSTSCA and its supporters, and from community members and cake sales in Santo Tomás. The shoe project idea sprang from a series of conversations with former Comedor Infantil director Rosa Guerrero as to how best use funds to support the kids of the Comedor, who have always had a special place in my heart since my first visit to Santo Tomás in 2001 as part of a student delegation from The Evergreen State College.
In 2011, we were able to help 160 kids from the Comedor Infantil with local, handmade leather school shoes.
In 2012, with the help of TSTSCA we were able to expand that effort to include youth from Los Pipitos-Escuela Hermandad and some other kids from impoverished neighborhoods and distribute 210 pairs of beautiful shoes.
This year, we changed the way the youth are selected. With the help of Rosa Aura Segura (Director of the Comedor Infantil - Children's Free Lunch Project), we selected 75 kids from the Comedor Infantil with the most need for the shoes. With the help of Reynita Cabrera and las profesoras from La Escuela Hermandad, we were able to select 10 special needs students from Los Pipitos. In the same manner we were able to collaborate with the director of two schools in Las Lajitas (one of the most impoverished barrios in Santo Tomás - up on the cliffs overlooking the main section of town) to benefit 30 of their most-in-need students. We repeated this process with teachers and directors in two other elementary schools, one in barrio San Jose (another impoverished barrio)and another that serves children who live on the outskirts of town and often travel far (on foot) to attend classes. In this way, we are able to bring the project to areas that haven't benefitted in years past. The total for Shoe Project 2013 was 165 pairs of school shoes.
That's more than 500 pairs of shoes in the last 3 years... and we're just getting warmed up!!!
A Little About the Shoes...
Here in Nicaragua (as elsewhere in Latin America and Africa), China has been very active in donating funds and also securing access to a growing market. For that reason, there are a great number of (relatively) cheap Chinese-made goods available, including shoes. There are also a lot of second-hand and imitation shoes from the USA available for purchase. Of course, neither of these options does much to stimulate the Nicaraguan economy, devastated from so many years of war, exploitation, and neoliberal economic policies.
For that reason, we decided to "go local." The shoes we purchase are locally made, high-quality, hand-made leather shoes with hand-sewn soles. These shoes will last the whole year for most of these kids and will even make great hand-me-downs for the ones that wear them lightly. In addition, this project has been able to generate a solid 3 months of employment for a number of local cobblers each year.