e p i s o d e # 21
Permanent Smiles

To Learn more or DONATE to this important project:

Nicaragua School Project Society

email Kathryn Moncur

Casa Xalteva, Spanish Language School

Videography/Editing: Matthew Nothelfer
Photography/Editing: Alicia Wszelaki
Music: Mike Slayen, Scott Fox

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An interview with Kathryn Moncur, Founder
Nicaragua School Project Society

Tell us about the people involved in Nicaragua School Project Society.

The people involved in Nicaragua School Project Society come from an intercultural friendship. The founders include Juan Carlos Roblero, Andres Martinez, and myself. The Canadian board of directors include Jim Moncur & Deborah Moncur (my parents) and two friends: Katie Gregg and Tara Kelk. The board assists with fundraising ideas and the financial aspect of the project. Juan Carlos and Andres act as my core volunteers and advisors when we are executing the project in Nicaragua. Our project is extremely special because of this intercultural relationship - where two cultures have come together to do good work, this has been a huge learning experience for all of us.

What do you do?

We instill a little bit of happiness to children in a community called El Pantanal. Our goal is to donate two packages of school supplies to children at Jose De La Cruz Mena School annually. Recently we have taken on another school, Escuela Salomon de la Selva, that we discovered on a dirt path road near the Volcano Mombacho. The 60 students all belong to farming families. They are also in great need of supplies and help. With other donated money we create other projects. Some examples of other projects we have done include: building toilets, a library, a tree project, and sponsoring students to go to school.

What needs did you see to fulfill your project?

The need in Nicaragua is never ending. Schools require outside help. We picked El Pantanal (specifically) because Andres's family lives there. The area is particularly impoverished due to limited job opportunities. Most people collect metal materials to recycle. These children and their families feel extremely burdened by the idea of buying school supplies.

How is Nicaragua School Project Society a success?

Nicaragua School Project is a slow and small evoluntionary process. Instead of trying to make HUGE changes, we have made realistic changes. The project has been alive for 2 years now, and currently we are trying to obtain charitable status in Canada. I think future donors want to see a bit of history before they feel inclined to donate. This project is an intercultural relationship; meaning that I (the foreigner) haven't gone to Nicaragua and done all the work myself. I have completely immersed myself into their culture in order to find out how to help the people there. I believe that using the advice of my Nicaraguan friends has been the reason why this project has gone so well. As foreigners, we assume that people in developing countries need certain things, then we buy and spend our money on all the wrong things. Since I have had the help of Juan Carlos and Andres, and other Nicaraguan volunteers; we have been able to reach out to Nicaraguan children in a culturally appropriate way, by buying them the actual supplies that ALL the kids use down there. It is a mistake to assume what the kids would need without talking to the locals. I also love that I can facilitate a type of charity work where my Nicaraguan friends can feel extremely motivated because they are giving back to their own community. Our project shows an instant result: I fundraise, buy the school supplies, package the supplies, and then we deliver them directly to each child. There is no concern about whether or not the children are getting the supplies. One more point I want to make is that we put all the donated money into the Nicaraguan economy as well. We buy directly from a local book and school supply store.

How will Nicaragua School Project Society change in the future?

We hope that it slowly grows every year. If we are able to help more schools in the future, that would be fantastic! I believe that when I achieve charitable status more people will feel motivated to make contributions to our project. In the next 5 years I hope to continue doing what I am doing now. No matter how big or how small things become, one thing is for sure, the children in our 2 schools will always get school supplies as long as we have the support. 10 years? who knows? helping 100 schools? Is that a ridiculous goal? Im excited to see what happens. I care about this project as much as a mother cares about her child. That is for sure.