Finding water for our School Project was one of the first priorities...
Gonzales is a specialist in building wells and has built over 80% of
the wells in the Mango area. In January, he started work on our first
well. Each of the school's 2 wells
will be dug by hand, and the soil removed a bucket at a time.
At just over 1m in diameter, the first well ended up being 52-ft deep!
of the cement, sand, and concrete blocks were shipped 4-hrs downriver
by boat from the nearest town, Tortuguero, then carried by horse 2.5km
to the project site. Adin and his team are now working on the second well. So far, it's over 60-ft deep... and no water yet!
"On a scale of 1-10 for difficulty... what would the Mango project be?"
(Brent) have been a builder/developer for over 20 years and had
numerous challenging projects. Someone recently asked me...." on a scale
of 1-10 for difficulty, what would the
Mango project be?" "Pretty close to a ten," I responded. Due
to Mango's extremely remote location, with access only by boat for
11-months of the year, getting materials to the project site is one of
our biggest challenges. There's a
dirt road to Mango that is only accessible for 4-6 weeks at the end of
the dry season. This
dirt road is 32km from the closest main road in the area and is not
maintained by the local government due to a lack of resources. During
this wetter than normal dry season,
there were 3 sections of the road, totaling 3 km, that were still
impassable without some serious remedial work.
approached the mayor of Tortuguero and other community leaders to
devise a plan to improve the road. The mayor committed to donating the
use of the municipalities dump trunk
while a local businessman, and owner of a rock/gravel pit, offered to
donate the necessary rock and gravel. We, Amparo, agreed to hire a
second dump truck and a local backhoe operator to haul material and
repair the road.
12 long days of working hard to repair and upgrade the dirt road, the
first vehicles began to pass. Access to Mango was now open. Although
repairing the road was very costly,
approximately US $12,000, it opened the way for us to deliver the
building materials we would need for the project and benefit the
community at the same time.
We believe in involving the local community in this school project.
Our building committee is made up of local men that are very passionate about their community and the school. Together,
we tackle the decision-making process, management, and supervision of
the project. These men, and dozens of others,
have donated 100's of man-hours of their time as well as some of the
materials. They cleared the land, and over 400 fence posts were donated
and installed by one of the men and his family. The entire 7-acre
property is now fenced.
We are buying building materials locally whenever possible. All of the wood for the project is being purchased from local landowners. We give them a list of the specific dimensions
of wood we need, then they cut down trees from their land (in the jungle) and mill the lumber to the sizes we need. This is all done freehand by chainsaw! This lumber is then hauled
by horses to the project site. Sometimes this is for more than 5 km! Working
together with the Regional Department of Natural Resources, and a local
NGO, we will be planting 10-trees for every 1-tree harvested for the
project. We're committed
to teaching the importance of sustainable harvesting and reforestation.
Our priority is providing employment to the locals of Mango first. We
are acting as the general contractor for the project and hiring locals
that have some experience in construction. We're
only hiring contractors from Managua that have skillsets not found
locally. For example, concrete blockwork is not common in Mango. We're
also buying construction equipment and carpentry tools, and teaching
locals concrete, carpentry, plumbing, electrical
skills. After the project is finished, these tools and equipment will be
used in our school's workshop to continue teaching these skills.
In March... we officially broke ground!
super grateful for the help of Andrew (our son), Connor, and Aaron, who
came down for a visit in March to work on the project! For 8-days, they
worked side by side local
men from Mango, established friendships, learned some Spanish, and about
the local Nicaraguan culture.
managed to get all the concrete footings in for the first two
buildings, Amparo house, and the Guard house. Gregorio, a local civil
engineer, worked with us on the site preparation
for the ranchon building.
big push during April has been to get all the building materials
delivered to the project site. As already mentioned, the rainy season
could start anytime in May, making it
difficult or even impossible to deliver materials to the site again.
Once the road becomes impassable, we will have to wait a year until we
are able to pass again.
Materials for the timber structure of the ranchon are on site.
We're currently in the process of delivering 40 truckloads of cement, sand, gravel, rebar, and concrete blocks to the site.
COVID-19 in Nicaragua and our Next Steps...
the time of writing this, there are "officially" 13 confirmed cases of
COVID-19 in Nicaragua and 3 deaths. There are rumors of more cases, but
nothing has been substantiated.
We'll continue to share more about the impact of the coronavirus in
Nicaragua as things change. For now, the government has not ordered any
official social distancing measures or closures.
said, we are taking precautions and have established strict rules with
our volunteers and workers. For the project, most of these rules we've
adapted from the construction
industry in BC. As construction continues to be an essential service
there, we also believe it is here.
the first week of May, we will begin construction of the multi-use
ranchon, the kitchen, and bathrooms, as well as the storage building.
We'll also begin framing Amparo house
and the Guard house. We will continue with construction as far as we
possibly can with the funds that we have available.
Thanks to the incredible generosity of our Donors last December, $106,000
$75,000) was raised for the first phase of the project. These funds
have been used to repair the road, build our well's, and purchase the
materials for phase 1. The rest of
the funds will be used to build the concrete block buildings and the
timber structure of the ranchon.
we need to raise at least another $55,000 to complete phase 1. If more
funds become available... we will immediately move forward with the next
phase of the project...
the primary classrooms.
Why build the multi-purpose ranchon first?
collaboration with Mango's leaders and teachers, it was decided that
this multi-use building should be built first. Currently, there is no
secondary school in Mango or in 7
other villages in the area. This building will be used to start fulltime
It will also be used to run Amparo's programs and will also serve as a community center for the region.
In the second phase of our project, we will advance with the school's traditional classroom buildings.
In anticipation of Amparo's school
coming to Mango, Zenelia Solano, the principal of Mango's primary
school, and one of the schools other teachers, recently returned to
university to complete their teaching degrees.
Zenelia and the other teachers are
excited to be part of of Amparo's school project and passionate about
educating the kids of Mango, and the surrounding villages.
Together, we'll work to enrol the
20% of primary aged kids that aren't in school. Together, we'll work to
see every child have the right to a complete education.