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Volunteering with Barrio Planta Project

Volunteering my time and making a difference in the lives of local children has been on my “Nicaragua To Do List” since arriving here twelve months ago.

Recently I joined forces with Elizabeth Renner of Barrio Planta Project and had the opportunity to do just that. For a month I worked along side Liz as an assistant teacher with the preschool program at Barrio Planta Project (BPP).

Liz has designed a curriculum that focuses on basic English including ABCs, primary numbers, the days of the week, greetings and more.

The children who participate in this free program range in age from three to seven. For most these classes are a supplement to their regular school program.

BPP Preschool Program

On Tuesdays we would walk a few blocks to the library and read books together.

San Juan del Sur Library

– San Juan del Sur Biblioteca


– Story time with their stuffies

And on Thursdays we enjoyed playing in the park. 



EJ & the Kids

– Everybody loves EJ!

When we weren’t at the library or playing in park we were dancing, making crafts, reading books, playing games or singing songs.


Jack O' Lantern

Reading Books

The kids always enjoyed playing with sidewalk chalk. And they had tons of fun playing memory games on my iPAD.


Sidewalk Chalk

Just like any typical preschool program in Canada or the United States we had circle time and enjoyed cookies and juice at snack time.

Snack Time!

As I helped the kids with their English they taught me a few new Spanish words and phrases including en la fila (in a line), cuidado (be careful) and orinando (the direct translation is “I’m peeing”, but this phrase actually means “I need to use the bathroom”).

When I walked through the classroom doors for the first time (and every time there after) Liz always made me feel welcome. The fifteen to twenty students that attend classes twice per week adore their “Profa Liz”.  She really is great at what she does and it was a pleasure to work with her.

Profa Liz

Thank you Liz (and BPP) for allowing me the opportunity to make a difference.

This was my first volunteer experience in Nicaragua, but it definitely won’t be my last. I look forward to working with you all again when classes resume in February.

Me & the Kiddies

To learn more about this non-profit organization and how you can make a difference click here.

Soon We’ll Be Speaking Spanish

I’m happy to report that we now have 4 hours of Spanish lessons under our belt.  

Alberto, a watch repairman by day, is our teacher. We pay him $5 per hour for our lessons.  Although $5 an hour for private lessons may not seem like much, it’s actually on the high side of day’s wage for a Nicaraguan.  To put things into perspective the maids working in our guest house earn a mere $4 for each twelve-hour shift they work.

We didn’t want learning Spanish to feel like work so we’ve made arrangements for Alberto to come to our house just 4 days a week for one hour at a time. 

We have a mutually beneficial relationship with Alberto.  He’s helping us learn Spanish on our own time, at our own pace, in the comfort of our home.  In return we have helped him to nearly double his monthly wage. Being Alberto’s first students ever, not only are we helping him earn some extra cash, we are also providing him the opportunity to improve his teaching skills.  

On class days Alberto shows up promptly at 5 pm (if not earlier) always with a smile on his face, ready to sit down and get to work. It didn’t take Gord and I long to recognize that have two very different learning styles.  Acting as our scribe I sit close to Alberto focusing intently on his every word.  Gord has a bit more of a relaxed approach to our lessons;  he generally sits back and casually takes everything in.

Although Alberto isn’t formally trained as a teacher our lessons are going very well.  We are learning a bit more Spanish every day and the fact that we are helping out a local is definitely an added bonus!

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