YOUR DONATIONS KEEP THE SCHOOL ACTIVE
When was the last time you did something unselfish for someone else that turned out making you feel really good about yourself? Well, here is your chance.
The Ometepe Bilingual School at Hacienda Merida provides free English-language classes to underprivileged children from the local community. The school is funded entirely by private donations and relies on volunteer teachers. Our vision is to develop an alternative and self-sustaining educational system in Ometepe, an area of Nicaragua that does not receive much government funding. Situated on Ometepe Island, a recently declared UNESCO biosphere reserve in the middle of Lake Nicaragua.
Why is it important to teach English to local children? Ometepe, along with the rest of Nicaragua, has a fledgling tourist industry, which brings essential income to this poor region. However, many of the local guides, hotel staff, hotel owners, and people who rely on tourism for their livelihood do not speak English. Not because they don’t want to, but because they haven’t had the chance to learn the language. That’s where we come in. We want to bridge this gap and educate a new generation of bilingual Nicaraguans who can work not only in the tourism industry, equipped with vital language skills that will ensure their professional success and the island’s continued economic growth, but help Nicaragua move forward on many fronts…led by the children we are now helping get a better education.
Since our humble beginnings three years ago, we have had many success stories. We are particularly proud of 16-year old student Horacio Hernández and 12-year old Alberto Lanuza. The two boys attend the local high school in the village of Merida in the Maderas National Park, while also taking full advantage of the free English classes we provide at Hacienda Merida. In addition, our sponsorship program is sending them to Ave Maria University English language Institute - an USA accredited institution in San Marcos (mainland Nicaragua) on the weekends. Here they are making excellent progress in their internationally recognized English-language program. Horacio has recently graduated to the 5th and Alberto to the 4th level of the program and they are in top of their class. It is not easy task for Horacio and Alberto, they rise at 4:00 AM every Saturday to travel four hours each way by motorbikes, ferry, taxis, and chicken buses to do this.
Recently we funded and additional six of our students between the ages of 12 and 17 years to travel to Ave Maria English Language Institute and take the placement test for Saturday English classes. While our sponsorship program has given Horacio and Alberto these wonderful opportunities, we simply cannot afford to help other local children on our own. We need your support. Your donation will help to cover the cost of transportation, tuition fees, meals, and books. We expect to have another 10 to 15 students emulating these success stories during the next 3 years. But we can do so much more with your help.
The program is divided into 14 levels, each level consists of 10 weeks of language training and costs $320.00 per level. This amount includes tuition for 10 weeks, books, transportation and meals. There are no administrative costs. All donated funds go directly into a special scholarship fund set up by the administrator, Alvaro Molina, founder of Hacienda Merida.
Our efforts are reaping additional benefits for the children... Recently we were contacted by the Associate Dean of Admission from Lawrenceville School in New Jersey, offering scholarships for students between the ages of 13 and 16 years. The English language skills our program provides are a key part of this opportunity. Our bilingual school in Merida is taking on the challenge with parental support.
In order to prepare Ometepe kids for a preparatory school education in the U.S., we need to improve dramatically and quickly their English skills. Although a great resource, the Saturday program at Ave Maria University takes too long. A better solution for college-bound students is to enroll them full time in the Ave Maria Language Institute Academic Program. The program is excellent and runs for 8 months. The cost per child is $525.00 per month. This amount covers books, monthly tuition, transportation, personal expenses , lodging and food.
Please help gifted students like Horacio and Alberto reach their full potential. Your donation can make the difference between a lifetime of poverty, or a world full of opportunities and hope. Just click on the Donations section in our website and you can make it happen.
YOUR DONATIONS HELP THE SCHOOL TO GROW
We have had interested parties wanting to sponsor various items for the children so we have broken everything down as follows (amounts in USD):
$30 = pays for a school uniform
$10 = pays for a child to go on a school trip ($120 for a full class of 12). We plan 2 trips per class during the year.
$5 = pays for a month's worth of paper/writing/drawing utensils for a child ($60 for a whole class).
$250 = covers the salary of a teacher for a month. That's just over $20 per child.
So, to sponsor one of our 12 pre-school students through Ometepe Bilingual School for a full year including all the above costs it is just $350! Not bad by Western standards!
We also accept sponsorship of the smaller individual items through our Omprakash donation system!
Thank you in advance for your generosity! We've included some pictures of our students who are very excited about moving out of their temporary space and into their new class room!
Alvaro Molina and the Team of Hacienda Merida / Ometepe Bilingual School
OMETEPE BILINGUAL SCHOOL
Welcome to Ometepe Bilingual School!
Our current flagship project is the elementary school program at the Ometepe Bilingual School.
The overall motivation to start this project was fairly simple: to provide a strong education to local children through small class sizes, quality nutrition and community engagement while simultaneously reducing pollution of the natural biosphere reserve and Maderas National Park with the use of EcoBricks. The Ometepe Bilingual School is built almost solely from 1.5 lt plastic bottles packed full of inorganic waste. Everyone can get involved in cleaning up the rural Merida community and make a little money by making an EcoBrick and exchanging it for 60 cents at the Hacienda Merida. We at Hacienda Merida consider the education of Nicaragua's population of utmost importance. 40% of the hotel's profit goes directly toward the Ometepe Bilingual School that we have built here on the hotel property. Our goal is to improve the education in the rural community in which we operate. The Ometepe Bilingual School has grades kindergarten through 4th grade and plans to expand to 5th grade in 2018. By 2020 our goal is to be kindergarten through 6th. This affords them the possibility of a better future. We are fortunate enough to be recipients of laptops for each classroom through the "one laptop per children" initiative. These computer have basic math games, books and other materials crucial to the education of our students. Unfortunately, initiatives such as these simplifies the real deep-seated problems in countries like Nicaragua; discipline, attendance, and familial participation in the education process.
Want to work with kids in the shadow of a volcano on the largest island-in-a-lake in the world? Want to create opportunities for rural Nicaraguans in an increasingly global world? Come to Ometepe Bilingual School! Here the contributions of volunteers are vital in delivering a bilingual curriculum to our students.
Volunteers work approximately 30 hours per week in some combination of the following classes:
OBS Kindergarten, first, second and third grade students! Fourth grade coming in 2017!
As a volunteer, responsibilities will include assisting the classroom teacher in implementing activities and supporting student learning; leading the class in English language activities; and planning activities (for execution in Spanish or English) at the direction of the classroom teacher.
Depending on the needs of the school, other opportunities may exist. These include coming as a guest to adult English classes being taught by long-term volunteers; working on school-related administrative projects; assisting with non-school related projects (related to the Hacienda, recycling efforts, conservation education, fundraising, publicity and social media etc.).
Whatever your work assignment, you can look forward to a fun, rewarding experience at Ometepe Bilingual School. Furthermore, Ometepe is a beautiful place and you will find many great opportunities for recreation in your free time.
Average Daily Cost: $21.42
We offer volunteers a subsidized room and board package for $150 per week. This includes shared housing and 3 meals per day. You must pay separately for any extra menu items (e.g. smoothies, beers, snacks). Please see the accommodation description for more information. Our minimum volunteer commitment is 4 weeks. However, people who wish to volunteer for shorter amounts of time, or get involved in some way can do so by reading to children, playing with them or bringing materials for our class rooms, but are not offered the volunteer discount package.
For long-term volunteers (3+ months), we offer additionally discounted room and board packages.
If you require a private room, we offer a 20% discount on the current room rates (depending on availability) with a 30% discount on menu items.
Please reserve a room for the duration over your stay through the link below, either a dorm included in the 150$/week or a private room at an additional cost:
We can also arrange homestay housing with a local family.
The weekly fee ($150) includes a bed in the shared dorm, 3 meals per day, purified water, and wifi Internet access. Volunteers are housed in the dorms at Hacienda Merida. Any additional food items, such as smoothies, coffee and beer are not included. You will have a bunk bed in a shared room with a fan, a locker for your valuables, and a short walk outside to toilets and showers. Our menu is healthy and varied with many vegetarian and vegan options. Depending on demand, buffets are offered for breakfast and dinner. You can upgrade to a private room with bathroom for additional cost. We can also arrange homestay housing and meals with a local family, if you choose prefer.
Our closest international airport is in Managua, Nicaragua. Use ground transportation to reach Rivas/San Jorge. Flying into Liberia, Costa Rica is also an option. Once landing there, there are public buses that run from Liberia to the border of Costa Rica and Nicaragua and then another bus runs from the border to Rivas/San Jorge.
From San Jorge, we recommend two options.
Option 1: Ferry from San Jorge to San Jose del Sur. Ferries depart daily at 9:30AM and 5:00PM. Once on the island, transfer to Merida via taxi (1h, approx. $30 US)
Option 2: Ferry from San Jorge to Moyogalpa. Ferries depart hourly from 7:00AM to 5:45PM. Then, taxi (1h30, approx. $35 US) or public bus (2h30, approx. $1.25). The public buses serving Merida depart Moyogalpa at 8:30AM, 2:30PM, and 4:30PM.
Hacienda Merida, Maderas Volcano
Ometepe, Rivas - Nicaragua
Hacienda Merida, Maderas Volcano
Ometepe, Rivas - Nicaragua