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Students Volunteer in Nicaragua

Meredith Berry-Toon

For more than a decade, 100-plus Canterbury students have been actively involved with the Fabretto organization, working on a variety of projects. This year, for ten days during Canterbury's March break, nine students, two faculty chaperones, and one graduate dedicated their efforts in Esteli, Nicaragua's fourth largest city and bustling urban center, and in Cusmapa, a remote, rural community along the northern border with Honduras. This was the twelfth consecutive year that students and faculty have surrendered part of their break to work with some of the poorest people in the Western Hemisphere.

The mission of the Fabretto Foundation is to "empower under-served children and their families in Nicaragua to reach their full potential, improve their livelihoods, and take advantage of economic opportunity through education."

In Esteli, the 2017 volunteers continued the work begun four years ago to develop and enhance the conditions of the Fabretto Center in La Cruz, the marginalized community of Esteli's municipal garbage dump. The students enrolled in Fabretto's program in La Cruz spend their day in classes, academic enrichment, art, and organized play rather than work alongside their parents in the dump collecting recyclables and scavenging for items to resell. Canterbury volunteers worked to expand and improve the community garden, which sustains the center's kitchen and meal program.

"I was very fortunate to return to Nicaragua for a second time," said Sarah Cox '17. "The most important lesson I learned while there was that genuine happiness does not come from material possessions but rather from the community that you are part of."

"My experience in Nicaragua was life-changing," said Cam Napier '17. "The stories I heard of Fabretto's force for change through education really inspired me. I hope to work with the organization in the future and get others involved."

Highlights of the trip included playing soccer with the kids, watching Cusmapan sunsets, sampling the food, and enjoying the warm weather. In addition, students surrendered their cell phones and/or other devices for a full ten days in order to devote their full attention on their work.

As he has done for many years, Alan Chamorro (Canterbury Class of 1980) and his family hosted the group in Managua, Granada and in San Juan del Sur for several days.

To view a sampling of photos of the trip, click here.