The perils of the corona virus in Nicaragua have not been much in the news recently. That is why we continue to handle the pandemic in a cautious, responsible but also flexible manner. The activity club has been reopened since October with only 3 members of the community home and one other participant who lives nearby.
We meet at the back of the garden of the community house, away from public space on the street. That was a first step. While waiting for the right time to open up the Activities Club for all our participants, we have now taken an intermediate step to open it up for those who live not too far away. William has joined us for two afternoons per week, and Renee participates on the other afternoons. In this way we never exceed the maximum of 5 participants in a session, so we can maintain a distance between the work tables
Per 1 March, Wilfredo joined us. He is new to the Club. A while ago he visited us with his mother asking if he could join us. At that time we were not ready to give him a ‘green light’. Wilfredo attended the only special school (“escuela especial”) in Juigalpa for many years, although his mother is not very positive about the school. When I asked her what he learned there, she replied: “Nothing”.
After the special school, which accepts pupils up to about 15 years of age, there is no follow-up alternative from the Ministry of Education. But our Activities Club at least offers an alternative for a limited group of adults with an intellectual disability. Wilfredo has now started his six-week introductory period, in which we want to get to know him, assess if the club is a good place for him and what his needs are. During one of his two afternoons with us he will be making piñatas (stick paper on a balloon and then decorate with crepe paper); on the other afternoon we will ask him to paint flowers made from plastic bottles. We hope to find out what he likes best and what he is good at.
Unfortunately the quality of education in Nicaragua is poor, and even worse, it is not getting any better. In primary education pupils get automatically promoted to the next grade; grades cannot be repeated, while there is also no special support for pupils who lag behind. It makes one wonder. Last year, many children did not go to school because of the pandemic. They could have taken lessons online or submitted homework by WhatsApp, but not everyone has got these options in Nicaragua. Nicaragua is one of the poorest countries on the continent. A large part of the population depend on jobs in the informal sector and there is no benefits system. So last year many students struggled even more than in previous years, but got automatically promoted anyway. It is clear that the Government does not see the added value of well-educated youth.
Until now, we have been keeping the corona virus out, but we remain very alert to the possibility of a new surge. Time will tell when we can fully open up our Activities Club again. In these difficult times, we know you sympathize with us, and we also sympathize with you in the Netherlands where you live with very restricting measures which affects the well-being and connectedness of many. Let’s keep inspiring each other!