A group of Rancho Santa Fe residents recently visited Nicaragua, where they are sponsoring girls from underserved communities who attend a newly constructed nonprofit boarding school. (See photos in gallery above.)
“We went there without very high expectations of what we would find, but it was just a remarkable trip,” said Rancho Santa Fe resident Maria Delgado, who was part of the group that got to meet the girls they’re sponsoring. “Not only beautiful because of the nature and the wonderful people, but we were very, very impressed with how the school had been built. It just opened this February, so it was brand new.”
Delgado and the rest of the group first heard of the plans to build the school, Escuela Vera Angelita, about seven years ago. They visited in March, about six weeks after it opened.
“As it went on and got built, it was exciting to have all this come to fruition,” she said. “It exceeded all of my expectations.”
Students are admitted based on financial need, according to the school’s website. School officials work with other schools and organizations to identify prospective students, who then go through a testing and interview process. The inaugural class had 80 girls from grades 5 to 8 who live in student villas on the campus. It’s eventual goal is to have students from grades 5 to 12.
They start each morning with a 7 am breakfast followed by school from 8 am to 4 pm, with a curriculum that includes science, social studies, math, English, Spanish, art, music and technology. The facility has state-of-the-art classrooms and a library with two-story glass windows that look over a central, outdoor amphitheater.
Flags of all the countries that have contributed to the school are on display in the main hallway, and an exterior wall of the school has a mural of influential women who have made a difference in the world.
“This is a great thing for people to get involved in as far as helping the school,” Delgado said.
The school is part of a US-based nonprofit called Visions Global Empowerment. In addition, Vera Eco-Resort is part of a holistic community development model that shares its 437-acre property with Escuela Vera Angelita with all profits benefitting the school and local community development initiatives, according to Vera Eco-Resort’s website. The property also includes a farm, coffee plantation, botanical gardens, onsite housing for staff and guests, plant nursery, and nature reserve, the school’s website states.
The Rancho Santa Fe group that visited received a tour of the school from the girls, who told them through a translator about their classrooms and what they were working on.
“We’re so proud of what they accomplished and what they’re doing there,” Rancho Santa Fe resident Lynda Kerr said.
In an email Delgado said, “After school we had the privilege of spending time with the girls. They greeted us with warm smiles, appreciation and enthusiasm. Groups of student ambassadors took us on a walking tour of their vegetable garden and the classrooms. The girls had only been there for six weeks and had already become comfortable and proud of their new environment. They shined with enthusiasm and joy in sharing Escuela Vera Angelita with us, their first visitors.
“We were with the girls for their after-school activities. We sang, danced, did Taekwondo and puzzles, while Lynda and Richard Kerr introduced origami and other crafts to the girls. A warm, healthy dinner is served in the dining hall from 6:30 pm-7:30 pm After dinner the girls do homework, and go to bed at 9 pm”
Delgado added in the email that “The goal is to allow these girls to rise up through education. To give them the tools needed to attend a collegiate program and work in the competitive environment of a tech savvy world.
“Technology is a focus, if the girls choose to stay in their home community they will graduate from Escuela Vera Angelita with the necessary tools to further their education or attain a job in tech and work remotely. They are all beginning to learn English along with other classes to help them communicate and compete in the global job market.”
Delgado said they encourage others to consider helping girls find and follow their dreams by supporting Escuela Vera Angelita.
For more information and to learn how to donate, visit veraschool.org. For more information on Vera Eco-Resort, visit www.VeraEcoResort.com.