Together with a video production company called Up Periscope Creative, we are giving the people of Rancho Grande a voice, hoping to spread their story and inspire others to work for something bigger than themselves. Crew members from the company joined us on a trip to Rancho Grande in the summer of 2016, where they followed the lives of our children through their happiness and their struggles. They are now in the final stages of producing this documentary.
The Clean Cookstove Initiative began during one of Project Nicaragua's biannual trips to Rancho Grande, Nicaragua. Members noticed families cooking on traditional, indoor, open-fire stoves, and the resulting indoor air pollution. The families themselves recounted respiratory problems from smoke inhalation, unintentional burns, and accidents with the children. In an effort to alleviate this issue, our chapter initiated a project to replace open fire stoves with ONIL stoves – safer cookstoves that lower the risk of burns, reduce smoke indoors, and burn fuel more efficiently. A partnership with HELPS International has enabled us to install stoves in 20 households in Rancho Grande. We plan to continue installing more stoves every winter and eventually make the project sustainable by teaching older students to do repairs, creating a business. Through surveys and spirometer testing, we are able to measure the project’s effectiveness in reducing fuel expenses and improving safety and respiratory health. In the future, we plan to partner with clinics in Rancho Grande to assess additional health statistics, and to improve and expand this project further.
Project Nicaragua is dedicated to improving the educational opportunities for Rancho Grande's children and youth. Throughout the year we develop comprehensive, engaging lesson plans for our students filled with hands-on learning activities, including science experiments such as model volcanoes, solar ovens, borax crystals, and more. We focus our efforts on their educational needs, topics in school subjects that need reinforcement, and areas where individual students are struggling. After classes, which we teach in our biannual trips to Rancho Grande, we offer one-on-one tutoring sessions and homework help.
We also realize that a comprehensive education isn't all about math, science, and English. In addition to the core subjects, we have held health classes, computer workshops, leadership training, and female empowerment seminars to enrich other areas of their lives.
In 2010, Project Nicaragua at OSU micro-financed a business venture founded by a group of talented seamstresses living in Rancho Grande. The seamstresses design, create, and sell unique clothing and accessories. Our chapter of Project Nicaragua utilizes then uses free trade to help them find buyers for their products in the United States.
The bakery was created in 2012 as a part of a hands-on initiative to empower and educate young people in Rancho Grande. Students from Tierra Prometida received a micro-loan from Project Nicaragua to jump-start their business. A local baker was hired to help the students learn cooking techniques and recipes in accordance with the unique climate and culture of Nicaragua. The bakery continues to be a helpful source of income and learning opportunities for students.