Escuela Rural Luis Alfonso Velásquez


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Laguna de Apoyo Nature Reserve, Nicaragua

Be a volunteer with the GAIA Program at Laguna de Apoyo Nature Reserve in Nicaragua. Special discounts for Spanish courses and volunteering for special dates in 2016.

Until recently, the inhabitants of Laguna de Apoyo Nature Reserve was just another sleepy community of poor folks, whose special aspects revolved around the majestic nature and spectacular views on their doorstep. Today, tourism has hit the area hard. For better or worse, the community in and around the reserve is transforming rapidly, driven mostly by US citizens purchasing property and establishing tourism businesses in the area.

Gaia is accompanying the local community in this process in several ways, among them support for the education of the children of this special community. Our local elementary school has electricity, bars on the windows and locks on the doors, a well with electric pump providing potable water, restrooms and painted interior and exterior, thanks to Gaia working in coordination with the local community through the CPC (Comité de Poder Ciudadano). Additionally, Gaia has involved the children attending the school in several guided activities involving the development of appreciation for the natural area in which they live and the principles that make the area continue as a valuable natural site.

Whereas once the children of Laguna de Apoyo Nature Reserve were forgotten and marginalized, today the area has attracted the attention of several groups, some seeking to "greenwash" their principal activities through donations to the local community, in return for a blind eye lent to environmentally or socially questionable activities in the area. Gaia promotes healthy interactions with children which requires supervised and controlled contact with local children, unlike some other groups working recently in the area. Gaia advises anyone wishing to work with children in Laguna de Apoyo Nature Reserve and elsewhere in Nicaragua to choose their counterparts with great caution.

Gaia volunteers in classes with students of Escuela Luis Alfonso Velásquez

Students of Escuela Luis Alfonso Velásquez participate in liberation of a toucan into the wild

Singer Mario Montenegro visits Students of Escuela Luis Alfonso Velásquez in Laguna de Apoyo Nature Reserve

Improvements and repairs to Escuela Luis Alfonso Velásquez in Laguna de Apoyo Nature Reserve

Children of Escuela Luis Alfonso Velásquez read books!

Our considerations regarding the inappropriate behaviors of some supposedly benevolent people have informed us about some of the rules that seem obvious, but are not for many volunteers and donors. The most important of these rules is that after-school activities for children should not be conducted in environments where interactions can occur with unknown people, especially in a hotel. The safe and healthy development of children demands that children be protected from risky situations, where children can be exploited, such as in hotel lobbies. We do not conduct after-school activities without parental and/or teacher participation and supervision on the premises of Estación Biológica Laguna de Apoyo, and we recommend that potential volunteers consider carefully before participating in any project with does not respect the rights of children to this level of protection.

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Gaia supports education in the Escuela Luis Alfonso Velásquez in Laguna de Apoyo Nature Reserve. Gaia coordinated with Canadian book suppliers and a high school in Canada to build a school library for children whose parents may not be able to read. Photo Christine McGregor.



Gaia worked with the local community and the government and people of Japan to build "Escuela Primaria Héroes y Mártires de Xiloá" a completely new school for a marginalized, rural community on the edge of Laguna de Xiloá. Photo Jeffrey McCrary.



Children from Escuela Rural Luis Alfonso Velásquez join members of the community, government, and the staff of Gaia, in the liberation of Tookie, a Keel-billed Toucan who was rescued from the illegal trade in wild animals. Photo Ilse Díaz.


Apoyo Spanish School

A tour of students of Apoyo Spanish School to Catarina, with the lake and Granada in view. Photo Belén Camino.


Granada Nicaragua

Seva Centers International, a Gaia project in León, Nicaragua, provides yoga and Thai massage instructor training. Photo Rebecca Hagman.



Gaia works closely with Colegio Cristiano en Nicaragua, a free, private school in an impoverished neighborhood in León, Nicaragua. Photo Brenda McCrary.