English is The Key

Esteli English School

News and the rest!

Another successful year has passed and we are extremely satisfied to share our accomplishments with our friends and supporters.  

Our annual report shows our continuing dedication to providing English classes to those who cannot afford them.  Also our involvement with Dental and Medical Brigades is growing much more than we ever anticipated. 

 **Esteli English School Annual Report 2016/17

EES went through a gradual change from the major focus on medical/dental brigades to more emphasis on education.  Our resources moved from supporting large brigades to more targeted groups of people where we believe our funds and time were better utilized and provided more value per person helped. The results are as follows:

The School:

In August EES expanded its English program from volunteer taught classes in a home to paid professional teachers in a separate building.  Our student population has since exploded to a population of approximately 120 students in 6 groups, 4 adult and 2 children. We provide three hours of instruction per week to the adults, and the children receive 2 hours of instruction. 

Our classes utilize sound systems, internet, and projected lessons on whiteboards that allows students to interact in front of other students which encourage active participation in the class. Our school is fun, lively, and always noisy with English conversations and general chatter.

 EES employs two regular teachers, Laura Lewan (Adult classes), and Mary Cruz (Children’s classes).  Laura also manages the English classes as Director in Charge when the President is not available. Mary manages her own children’s classes but when she is called to translate in brigades for Global Brigades, Katherine Rosales teaches the children.  Cecilia White of ProNica, volunteers in the children’s classes when she is available.

 EES worked with Cheryl Murtland, academic director of Brentwood School College, Mill Bay, and Vancouver Island.  We connected Cheryl with UCATSE University, San Juan del Dios Hospital, and Club Santa Lucia, which will place her students from Brentwood into volunteer positions in these facilities.  EES was also asked to help develop a curriculum and find a teacher for English classes at UCATSE University.  We were able to find a volunteer, Keith Gargus, who now teaches two classes during the week and one class on Saturdays.

 UCATSE has inquired if EES can help start a primary school, grades 1-6, complete with all subjects taught in English.  We will act as advisor, and are now active searching for teachers who will be able to fill these positions.  As of July, we have an English teacher, and several other potential teachers who will possibly teach the other subjects.

 We were able to facilitate the connections between U of A, University of British Columbia Okanagan and Cheryl Murtland.  EES believes this will lead to more projects in the future involving these institutions.

Medical/Dental brigades:

Our first brigade in our project was in Ciudad Dario, where EES was involved with Grace Covenant Church from Charlotte North Carolina in July of 2016. This brigade of 30 staff, provided dental/medical/spiritual care to approximately 300 people.  We were responsible for transportation of equipment and several staff, assisting the dentists, sterilizing dental tools and administrating patients. Doug Thorson received complimentary training from Dr. Larry Molina DDS, in the sterilization procedure for dental tools and equipment. This allows us to further participate in dental brigade operations more effectively.

 In addition, EES worked with Fresno Sunset Rotary Club which saw 53 people from rural areas receive dentures free of charge.  We provided transportation, logistics, planning, and used our connections to help ensure this extremely valuable project was a resounding success.  This we are happy to say was the result of our participation with two Rotary clubs, local dentists, dental students; all of which was made possible by the donated medical facilities of UCATSE University.  Our previous work with Sor Sandra, President of UCATSE, enabled us to secure this invaluable location.

 Finally, Doug Thorson voluntarily participated in a medical/dental brigade in Nigeria in October and November in 2016.  This brigade was not funded by Esteli English School or its supporters; private, corporate, or government, but it did lead to an extremely valuable connection with representatives of Project Cure from the USA.  This organization is one of two that provide refurbished medical equipment to hospitals in countries such as Nicaragua.  The equipment is provided free of charge but costly freight and duty are the limiting factors.  These obstacles are not impossible to overcome as we have previous connections with the US Embassy in Managua.   Through communications with embassy officials and Rodney MacDonald, former President of ERSLA, Emergency Response Services Latin America, EES has already started the long process whose end result will see the equipment shipped by the US Air Force Reserve (Denton Flight) to Nicaragua without cost, bypassing Nicaraguan Customs regulations and duties.

Humanitarian Efforts:

EES was instrumental in getting the Club Santa Lucia renovations approved by Medicine Hat Rotary Club.  Rotary International required a signed municipal letter of approval from the Municipality of Esteli that gave Esteli Rotary Club permission to receive financial assistance from the Alberta and Canadian Governments. This took a lot of maneuvering, calls, personal visits to the Mayor’s office, and patience.  This project was formally approved in October 2017 by Medicine Hat Rotary, with funds of $22,500 committed to the renovations.  EES facilitated a connection between Medicine Hat Rotary and Esteli Rotary for this project.  Club Santa Lucia in now in the final stage (3 of 3) of the project which has already replaced the four  dilapidated bathrooms with four new handicapped accessible facilities, which now include hot showers, all new plumbing and electrical service.  The forty year old iron domestic water tank was replaced with a modern algae proof, plastic tank.  Now rusty water and bacteria issues are no longer a concern.  The tank stand and piping were upgraded to current earthquake proof specifications as past earthquake damage is clearly visible in the building. The dining room and kitchen are now receiving a new roof, complete with rafters.  The contractor will be replacing tiling, flooring, installing new cupboards, and kitchen equipment.  This project utilized EES time and resources with meetings, letters and calls between the Rotary Clubs.  Calculated at over 100 hours.

 EES brought Cargo from Canada full of donated children’s clothing and school supplies to distribute through local churches in Esteli and the rural areas.

 EES provided Christmas gifts, food, and entertainment for over 500 rural children in communities outside of Esteli.  With volunteer participation by Esteli Rotaract Club, we were able to share the support of our resources with children whose possible only gift for Christmas would be from EES.

 EES continues to provide support for the senior residents of Club Santa Lucia in Esteli.  We have provided meals for the 52 residents and staff, and provide basic sundries as funds dictate. 

 We funded engineer reports for a project in a small community 20 minutes from Esteli.  Macuelizo has no sanitation, electricity, or washing facilities for the 120 people, 40 of whom are children.  There is a well for the community but we hope to energize it with a solar powered pump, providing easy access to clean water.  There are no showers, laundry facilities, water storage, or bathrooms for these people.  EES made connections with two groups of people from North America, one of which has secured $15,000 US to begin this much needed project.   

Jan Scott of Miraflor Ecococinas is helping EES distribute wood burning kitchen stoves to many communities including Macuelizo.  We provide partial funding which helps subsidize the purchase of these stoves to those who would never have the resources.  These stoves not only use 40% of the fuel of regular stoves, but only produce 20% of the smoke and toxic gases.  Kitchen smoke kills 8 times more people in the world than malaria thus making these stoves a necessary advancement towards the improvement in the health of these people.

 Corporate Donations:

We were able to connect with three corporations which led to corporate donations totalling $10,000.  EES continues to communicate with potential corporate sponsors that will potentially lead to more support for the school and its projects.  Private donations and government grants were incredible this year, allowing EES to operate the school and projects on a large scale.

 Expanding our horizons:

EES has started connecting volunteers from North America with organizations in Nicaragua.  A budding medical student is now connected with Superemos Foundation in Esteli.  This student now has the opportunity to work in medical brigades during her breaks in University.  We have connected with other North Americans who have also approached us, offering assistance to become involved in humanitarian projects and organizations in Nicaragua.  We hope these developments will lead to a larger influx of volunteers looking to improve the quality of life of those in need in Nicaragua.

Esteli English School has grown substantially this year while altering its course slightly which has enabled us to provide a wider scope of help to those who are the most in need.  From our origins in 2012 with nothing more than an idea and plane ticket, to the regular school classes, health programs offered, connections between multiple humanitarian groups, academic institutions, corporations and government organizations, we are moving towards our goal of becoming a pillar in Esteli and for the people we serve. 

The process certainly has meant a steep learning curve, but we feel the efforts put forward are truly making a difference in the lives of those less fortunate.  These results would not be possible without our incredible volunteers, the business community, and of course without the financial assistance of the grants we have been able to secure.

Douglas Thorson.

Esteli English School. of 2015 EES received CRA registration number.  We are now a registered charity in Canada.
*EES provided free English classes with all necessary materials to beginner, intermediate and advanced students.  We also provided English language resources; audio files, access to free online English lessons, printed materials, and study aids (laptop lending service) to students not able to attend regular classes.
*EES made a presentation to Friendship Force Canada.  Several members are Rotarians and became interested in potential Rotary projects in Esteli through our connections.
*EES assisted 5 Nicaraguan medical personnel along with 15 medical and spiritual personnel from Grace Covenant Church in Charlotte, North Carolina who together attended 700 people requiring dental, medical and spiritual care in 2 locations.  

*EES was responsible for the transportation of the Nicaraguan medical personnel and equipment to each location.  The set up of the dental equipment and a part of the patient organizing was the responsibility of EES.
*We provided medicine and sundries for sick children, both in the hospital and in the home.
Gathered children’s clothing in Canada and brought it to Esteli for free distribution through Iglesia Hermosa.
*EES provided teaching and supplies; boxes of printer paper, ink, books, notebooks, pencils, markers for Amigos de Alemania School in Casa Blanca.  There are approximately 320 students and 18 teachers in this rural school.
*EES provided food and medicine for impoverished families in Casa Blanca.
*Facilitated transportation for a Canadian EMT who provided medical diagnoses for people in Casa Blanca.
*EES was instrumental in the success of Fresno CA Sunset Rotary Club’s denture project that provided 45 people with new teeth.   We helped organize project details by meeting in advance with local dentists and officials.   EES met with the project organizer on arrival and provided current information about challenges, logistics and problems.  Through our connections, Fresno Rotary was able to secure a dental clinic with two fully equipped dental chairs for part of the project.  This enabled 11 local dentists to participate and learn a new dental technique that built dentures in one day.  EES provided 2 local dentists, and an American dentist who was working through Boston University for part of this project.
*Organized and facilitated the donation and delivery of food, clothing and sundries to the senior’s home Club Sta Lucia in Esteli.
*EES refurbished a children’s room at San Juan del Dios Hospital, with new beds, TV, DVD player, paint and bathroom fixtures.
*EES provided transportation and logistics for the 15 member Moses Lake Medical Team, 3 Nicaraguan and one American dentist.  This team of 26 personnel provided medical care for 1000 people in 6 locations over 5 days. EES was a strategic part of the locating and preparing the sites, meeting with local officials at each rural clinic and organizing the local populace before the brigade arrival.  During the project, EES sourced much of the medicine (2000 prescriptions were dispensed free of charge) and medical supplies, transported medical personnel and patients, and assisted the medical team with translating and organizing patients.  The optometrist and support staff provided 313 pairs of glasses by prescription through Lions Clubs International.  EES sourced 7 volunteer translators through its Peace Corps connections, who translated for the 15 medical personnel.  This was a substantial savings to the team amounting to $2000.  
*EES assisted Sharon Gorman (dental hygienist and team leader) and her team of 6 medical personnel from Virginia, along with approximately 8 Nicaraguan medical personnel and assistants.  We provided transportation, securing of supplies, facilitating donations of food and sundries, and connecting volunteer translators with the team.  Virginia Dental Team provided dental care and dental instruction to over 300 adults and children in 4 locations. 
*EES organized and provided a 5 day tour of potential Rotary projects to 2 members of the Medicine Hat Rotary Club.  Their trip was made specifically to talk with local Esteli Rotarians and staff at Hogar Ancianos Club Sta Lucia.  This home provides food and lodging for seniors who have been abandoned, have no family, or have no financial means to support themselves.  There are currently 38 seniors along with 14 staff who live in the home, which is supported almost solely by the generosity of the local populace.  They discussed a potential project which will renovate the bathrooms, kitchen and laundry area. This home requires major renovations to the small bathrooms which have no handicapped access, the kitchen which cannot feed all the seniors at one sitting, and the laundry where all the clothing is washed by hand.
*We showed to the Medicine Hat Rotary members, several successful Rotary projects completed by other clubs from North America.  This alleviated any concern about previous apprehension to attempt a first time project in Nicaragua for Medicine Hat Rotary Club.  EES took the members to rural and urban homes that demonstrated the extreme poverty that many people live in.  We arranged a tour of a local cigar factory which is one of 65, that along with the actual field production of tobacco, provide over 30,000 jobs in the area. 
EES arranged a meeting with local officials at San Juan del Dios Hospital who are looking for financial support to build a Children’s Cancer Ward on to the hospital.  The engineer and staff had all the design and costs finished which the Medicine Hat Rotary may consider as a future Rotary project.

*EES has arranged for Dr Michael Johnson, medical internist and hospital medicine specialist, of Moses Lake, WA to work for one month on a volunteer basis at San Juan Del Dios Hospital in Esteli.  Our connections make the permission process a straightforward process.  We hope that this will be the start of many more volunteer doctors coming to Esteli to help with their medical skills at the hospital.

****** It is now November 10, 2014 and we are in session with classes six days per week with an average of eight students per class.  We have five groups of students studying levels ranging from Basic to Advanced. Our teachers teach all levels of English using proven methodologies of many ESL schools.

*Our Dental Projects are operating on a continual basis with Dr. Larry Molina and Dr. Melida Urbina providing care to children whose families would otherwise be unable to afford it.  The care ranges from extractions to fillings to rebuilding of teeth with enamel.  One of the children had been given sugar water for nutrition when he was young and several of his teeth with nothing but small brown nubs.  The dentist rebuilt three teeth with enamel which enables the small child to eat normally until his permanent teeth erupt in several years.

*In October EES provided a small school in Casa Blanca with a laptop, printer, and enough paper and ink to print off 60,000 pages for the students.   The eight teachers will now be able to type up a lesson and print off the worksheets for any or all of the 280 students in the school.  A very small investment goes a long way in Nicaruagua.

*EES has been asked to participate in the planning and implementing of a Dental Project for February 2015.  It will encompass five American dentists and three Nicaraguan dentists, along with support staff.  The total time will be ten days in Esteli for four dentists and five days for one dentist in a rural clinic.  Several hundred children and adults would receive care ranging from extractions to fillings to the occasional root cana. This would be a great project to be part of and would encourage more support from Canada and other countries.

*May 20th has arrived and our school has grown and evolved with more than sixty students in four groups each studying English three hours per week.  They have the opportunity to receive classes in the mornings or in the evenings.  Children's classes are in session three afternoons per week.

*Three teachers are providing quality English instruction to these students who are hoping to improve their English language skills and give them the chance for better jobs.  Esteli has seen the cigar industry boom which brings in many foreign investors requiring English speaking translators and facilitators.

*On Friday the 15th, I traveled to Casa Blanca to do the groundwork for our "Denture Project 2013/14.  Many of the older people in the small community do not have the extra money to buy dentures.  We plan to help as many people as funds and logistics allow.  Each set of dentures will cost approximately $300US for both top and bottom plates.  It is a small price for us in North America but an impossible feat here for the people of Casa Blanca.  Fyi the average wage when working in the bean fields is $2.40 per day so any help that we can give these people makes their daily lives a bit better.

*As of Thursday the 14th, we now have 7 seven children, one of which is a special needs child, along with two adults who tell me that they only want to learn regardless of the age of their classmates.

* I met another Peace Corps volunteer, Ali Sickle, who is working with community issues in a small comunidad outside of La Trinidad.  We hope to access each other's contacts in order to further our work here.

*Classes are going great with 14 students average Mon and Tues evenings.  Wed and Thur classes are packed with 28 coming and only room for 18.  Moises and I have our hands full and we love what we do.  A children's class has started Wednesday and Thursday afternoons with several in attendance for the lessons but I am happy to have the opportunity to teach any and all!

*EES has made a lot of contacts with NGOs and local agencies in Esteli.  Now we have connections with S.W.I.M. (Greg Stout), ERSLA (Rodney McDonald), and the US Peace Corps (Samuel McCoy).  Now we will be able to help these organizations with our time and resources.

*We are in the process of securing Flexacryl powder and liquid which will be used to make dentures for those in need in Esteli.  This will require a road trip to Costa Rica (darn)!

*Dr Larry Molina and Dr Melida Urbina are patiently waiting for EES to finish organizing a group of twenty or more people from the community who are in need of dental care, courtesy of the generous people in Canada who support us. 

*Mildred and I have submitted a budget for the equipment needed to equip a simple laboratory at Tim's Clinic. This will enable the medical staff to take blood and urine samples and test them at the clinic.  This will make the task of organizing transportation and future appointments for the children at the clinic, a thing of the past.  Blood and urine smear samples will be scanned and sent by email to several clinics in North America.  Available lab techs will then be able to analyze and send the results back within minutes to the doctors at Tim's clinic.   This will allow treatment to commence within minutes instead of days!

*We are painting the school on Monday Oct 28th and our first adult classes with be held this week.  Group 1 attends 7PM Monday and Tuesday.  Group 2 attends 6PM Wednesday and Thursday.  All classes will be 90 minutes in length with all materials and instruction provided free of charge.  We have a taxi fund for those who live more than a few blocks away from the school.  This will enable everyone to get home safely no matter what the time.

I will teach Group 1 and Moises Alvarado will teach Group 2.  The following week will be the start of the afternoon classes.  Watch for the latest photos and stories coming soon on our Facebook link below.

*I'm settled in to the Hotel Don Vito for several days until I can find accommodations and a location for the school.

*I will have a local cellphone number on Monday and will post it for anyone wanting to call.  It only took a few minutes at Claro (phone company) to get the wrinkles ironed out for a contract as I don't have resident status.  If I can score some luck and get a bank account here too, my work will be a lot easier.  Until then, it's ATM visits while turning a blind eye to the bank charges from our friendly Canadian banks.  LOL  Hasta luego!!

*We would like to thank Candice Kambeitz of Liveink.ca who made and donated our newly designed business cards.   

* EES would like to thank Sandra Shuya of Taber and Dr Wenzel of River Centre Dental Clinic in Medicine Hat for the donations of toothbrushes, floss cartridges and tubes of toothpaste for our upcoming dental projects.

*We have daytime adult and children's classes starting the first week of November.

*Evening grammar and conversation classes for adults.

*Our first dental project will begin in November with Dr Melida Urbina and Dr Larry Molina providing dental care to approximately twenty people.

*We have a connection to build dentures for approximately five campesinos from Casa Blanca.

*Our Canadian dentist will arrive in January for our annual EES dental project which will coordinate the efforts of three skilled dentists, providing care to approximately forty less fortunate people.

*We have a Canadian ESL teacher scheduled to arrive in the New Year who will teach classes and advise and coach our full time English teachers.

*A Canadian volunteer with a vast array of experience in animal health and carpentry will arrive in January and assist several Nicaraguans who work with the campesinos providing incentives for self sufficiency.

******We are in need of dentists, teachers, agricultural personnel, nurses, first aid instructors and just about any occupation that can be of assistance in a developing country.

******Anyone interested in volunteering their skills for any amount of time, please inbox me  at doug@englishisthekey.org for details.