We Give Back

“Help others without any reason and give without the expectation of receiving anything in return.” ~Roy. T. Bennett

I’ve been in a funk this season of giving. Maybe it is because of the political situation in the U.S. Possibly it is because of the crowdsourcing scams I’ve seen in Nicaragua and my island home of Ometepe. And then again, it could be because lately I’ve been disappointed in people in general.

Whatever the reason for my funk, the only way I know how to get out of it is by stressing the goodness of people, the selfless acts of giving, and promoting people who give without any reason and without the expectation of receiving anything in return.

For this reason, I would like to introduce you to two expats on Ometepe Island who give back selflessly to their communities.

Jen Archer

Jen Archer is the Founder and Curator of Ascential Dance Theatre Colorado (ADTC). It is a professional dance company, service organization, arts advocacy & historical society providing classes, performances, and lectures. She teaches English to local Ometepe children and adults using a unique curriculum combining elements of dance, music, art, and martial arts.

From a Colorado newspaper which explains more about her programs and philosophy.
Colorado Woman uses Dance, Art, Music & Martial Arts in Nicaraguan Curriculum. 

The Ascential Language and Arts School (ALAS) is entering its fifth season on Ometepe Island. There are over 250 students invested in ALAS. Jen is an amazing and inspiring woman who is giving her students ALAS or wings on Ometepe Island.

Tis the season for giving. You can support ALAS here:
Year 5: ALAS in Ometepe

Catherine Downing

Cata, or Cat is another incredibly giving woman on Ometepe Island. She gives back to her community on Ometepe Island in many ways. She helped to start the Ometepe Mercadito in Santa Cruz.

In addition, she started a fund for solar lights and great books for kids.
The children of the Las Cuchillas Primary School have no electricity in their village and so they can’t do homework after sunset.  On the tropical volcano of Ometepe Island, dark comes early.  This project will buy the Las Cuchillas school  20 solar lights for students to share and to take home to do their homework at night. ($40 each). Then, they can read their siblings to sleep with the wonderful Magic Treehouse books (La Casa del Arbol). These easy Spanish readers spark the imagination and strike up a love of reading. We hope to buy 5 complete sets of the 32 book series, so every girl and boy has fun reading all these great adventures throughout time, even after night has fallen. ($150 each set of books).

Tis the season for giving. Let’s help Cata reach her goal for these kids.
Solar Lights and Great Books for Kids

To go with the Ometepe Mercadito, Cata started a fund for money vouchers for the students that attend the mercadito. School children on Ometepe will be more hungry this year after the severe loss of crops due to storms. This project will give Market Money Vouchers to all school children on Maderas volcano to bring to the local farmer’s market to get healthy food to eat. At the same time, they will help to build the local market economy and learn about buying and selling sustainably in their own community. The local market reopens in December and we want to be ready to attract all kinds of sellers with the promise of ready buyers & sellers – the beautiful school children of Ometepe Island.

What an awesome idea and way to present real life marketing skills and support sustainability.

Tis the season for giving. You can help Cata meet her goals for the children here.
Feed School Children of Ometepe and Teach Sustainable Markets. 

Well, I definitely feel better after writing about these two amazing women on Ometepe Island.

“You give but little when you give of your possessions.
It is when you give of yourself that you truly give.” ― Kahlil Gibran

Thanks to Jen and Cata for brightening my funk and demonstrating the real reason for the season.

18 thoughts on “We Give Back

  1. This is our 6th Christmas celebrated outside of the US and, as always, I am ever so grateful to be away from the commercialism, ubiquitous Chistmas carols and every-earlier selling of stuff in the US. (Can you guess I’m not much of a Christmas person?) I understand your disappointment with people in general (which happens to us too, several times a day when reading the news) and have to say that 2017 has been a truly funked up year, Debbie. Nevertheless, it is heartening to read about the people you’ve profiled here and learn about what they have contributed to the island. What they’re doing is truly the spirit of Christmas! Anita

  2. What a lovely program Debbie! Yes, I agree…the holidays get a bit overwhelming. So much focus on material giving and not enough on giving back or just simply being a good person.

  3. I can relate to the funk. Subbing at my old school this week to capture the spirit of 2nd graders helps. I’m trying to climb out of the Wintet Blues hole and your heartwarming post about the goodness of others gave me a leg up. Felix Navidad!

  4. You are like the proverbial Dutchman with his finger in the dike, trying to stop the natural flow of things. Let happen what happens, the people survived before you came and will afterwards as well. Of course there is nothing wrong with trying to help people in need, but you can only do so much. This is one of the worse things for new expats to see the amount of poverty in NIcaragua. It is better to do things on an individual basis that to give XX number of dollars to some charity/ NGO.
    Dios te bendiga y feliz Navidad… un besito!

  5. Thank you, Debbie. I was feeling so fragile today and wondering how we are going to “afford to work” in Nicaragua this year. This post about me & Cata was extremely encouraging. I can’t wait to hug you. 🙂

      • I am so grateful to read all of these. I was feeling incredibly discouraged after being back in the US for 7 months. I wanted all of you to know that we just received a $100 donation from someone who we’ve never met, all because of this blog. Also, my dear friend just donated the $ for us to buy 300 personalized pencils for gifts for the students. I am so overwhelmed with gratitude. It feels good to have a support network cheering us on. Let’s celebrate with a student performance in March! 🙂

  6. One man i never hear of : he runs the cheapest Launcha on the island for over 21 years now , and has the price so low that he invests every year heavenly on his launcha ! Only in hope so that the poorest of the island can go to the mainland and back … He is not known to most of the people here on Ometepe because he is working almost all year round in the US. ( he is actually half american / half Nica ) He also doesn’t know I am writing this , so I will not mention his name ..
    But I think it is worth mentioning !

  7. I appreciate the opportunity to give to the children of Nicaragua. Thank you for highlighting the goodness in people. I agree that it is hard with the political insanity in the US now. It makes it difficult to focus on much else. So your blog becomes a welcome change.

    • Karen, you made my day with your comment. Thank you so much. I was going to write a very depressing rant about a crowdfunding website I recently discovered on Ometepe Island. I am so glad I didn’t because I want to focus on the goodness of people instead. Karma has a way of taking care of those who abuse and take advantage of others for their own personal interests. I realize now that I am not in control of what others do, and I can relax a little.

  8. I want to do a tee shirt saying … PEOPLE SUCK … okkkk , I can hear the groans sssssss..
    Truth is …they do … so whats new you ask … well its our own attitude that can dig way down and then dig your way up to some hope …””””””once again ..”””””””!!!!!!!
    I was ripped of with fraud last week by my sooooooo very nice and helpful driver here after helping the dude with numerous things ” aside” from booking him and getting other clients for him… etc.
    Im tired of all the rip off people who claim they help here in Central America ,,,and make money off..”””””.helping”””””” ..hmmmmm… quacks….. DISGUSTING … AGAIN … PS!!!!!!
    I spent 16 years in Miami with the BIG BROTHERS BIG SISTERS ORG OF GREATER MIAMI..helped 3 lil sisters , one for over 10 years… so …how was that experience??
    I learned their parents sucked ,,downright gross human beings in general..
    so wow … now what …?? I go for hope …hope that people will””” wake up “””someday … in the meantime , right now , I don’t want to help a flea … Im done.

    I’d rather adopt a dog .
    Merry Christ mas.

    • Oh Heidi, I am so sorry. Let me tell you a little story. Yesterday, we were buying roasted chicken at a tienda. Beside us was our contractor who helped build our house 7 years ago. He lied to us and ripped us off for over $600. I have been furious for 7 years. I did everything I could do to shame him, and spread the word that he was not trustworthy. He had a new motorcycle and pulled out a wad of money to buy his roasted chicken. I just stared at him, gave him the evil eye and said nothing. I recently had to cut ties with a toxic expat friend on Ometepe, too. Yet, I am relieved and grateful for the lessons I learned. If I simmer in anger, then it turns to revenge for those who have wronged me and then I am filled with bitterness. I decided for my own peace of mind that life is too short to focus on anger. I have no control over other people and the choices they make. Let go, and let karma take over. I believe that most people are inherently good, those are the ones I try to focus on. That is only my humble story, but it works for me. Focus on the goodness of the world. There is so much to be grateful for. Hugs to you Heidi, and I sincerely hope you have a Merry Christmas. ❤️

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