In 2015 we launched Enrich Missions to extend Christ’s love to children living in extreme poverty so they could fully engage their educational opportunities. We wholeheartedly believe that education + a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ are two of the strongest tools a child can have to overcome generational poverty.
Nicaragua is the second poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, with a drastically reduced Gross National Product (GNP) every year. Little to no government resources are allocated to education and while a child is legally required to finish Sixth Grade, almost 70% of students who begin First Grade will drop out before meeting that goal. And if they stay, the latest statistics say it will take them an average of 9 years to finish.
Our first initiative came when our Co-Founder, Wayne Tingle [my husband!], visited a local elementary school and saw several students sleeping at their desks while the teacher reported that other students had simply not shown up. Why? They didn’t have the energy! We immediately thought “it’s hard to learn when you’re hungry.”
And our Nutrition Program was born!
Grab ‘n go lunch, vitamins, and other delicious meals
A few weeks later another need presented itself, tutoring! In classes that are often over-crowded and noisy, not every child has the opportunity to grasp new concepts and ideas on the first try. But since the average adult male in our neighborhood has a Third Grade education and the average adult female, just a Second Grade education, many of our students’ parents can’t help with homework at home.
We partnered with local colleges and universities in the city to bring college students out to the neighborhood to provide tutoring in math, reading and more! Using a ticket system, teachers could report what the student was struggling with and the tutor could report back about the advancements they’d been able to make.
Students getting eye exams and glasses from Enrich Missions
But ultimately, when it can cost a full month’s wages (U$70) to outfit your child for school each February, for many parents the decision was easy to pull their child out of class and have them start working to help support the family. And that’s when we were inspired to incentivize education.
Enter our Enrichment Classes!
Brazilian JiuJitsu Enrichment Class
These classes have included Art, Ballet, Brazilian JiuJitsu, Chorus, English as a Second Language, Music, Photography, and more! Our program, thanks to generous donations from our Boosters, pays the kids’ tuition and for any other materials they may need to participate. The kids maintain an attendance record of 85% or better at school and have to turn in their grades every quarter. If their grades are slipping, they get fast tracked to Tutoring.
Over the years, we’ve seen so many of our students learn and grow. Some have even aged out of our system, but not before completing Primary School and moving on to Secondary education – beating all sorts of statistics. We’ve dreamed of how we can equip our students better for the future, for the work force and even college studies.
Christmas art and art show at a local restaurant
In Spring of 2022 we began working with Ends of the Earth Cycling and submitted the project that the funds from the Alaska Bike Ride 2022 would cover. It was ambitious and a little outside of the wheelhouse we’d been working in, but we knew that preparing our students meant it was time to look at training them on how to use computers and technology. It was time to start our Technology Program.
It’s hard to realize how different the lives of kids here are from our friends and family back in the US. But while most of them are familiar with cell phones and YouTube, access to computers, typing and basic Office-style programs are almost non-existent. Computer literacy could be the difference between a job that pays a living wage and one that barely meets the minimums.
Ballet and Music Enrichment Classes
With the preparation learned in Intro to Computers and the following courses, our students will have doors of opportunity opened to them that currently are closed. They’ll have the ability to change their future which will transform their lives. All while learning and being encouraged in a Christ-centered environment.
In March 2023, with project funds raised by Ends and all the lovely people we got to serve with and worship with in Alaska, we were able to begin our first Intro to Computers Class with 12 students!
Students take part in Intro to Computers and the Technology Program
Over the last few months they have been learning the parts of a computer, how to care for a laptop and have started typing regularly in class. Each student even has a keyboard that they’ve drawn out to scale on paper that they can take home and use to practice their keystrokes.
We have a core belief that “people don’t care what you know, until they know that you care” leads much of our ministry, including our Tech Program. Students are welcomed with love and taught to respect each other, their teachers and the equipment they use. Professor Irian integrates Bible stories into typing lessons, prays with students & answers questions about Christianity that may arise.
Spelling bee, Ted talks, reading group, and tortilla techniques class
By integrating the lessons from our bi-monthly youth service into all of our programs we are able to have on-going conversations about Biblical values and how we can apply them in our lives.
On behalf of the Tech students and their families, thank you for your prayers and support!!
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