El Lajero, Nicaragua

In April 2010, Building Bridges completed its inaugural service project by building a two room schoolhouse in the remote village of El Lajero, Nicaragua. A group of twelve Building Bridges volunteers traveled to the village to work side by side with the villagers and break ground on the school.

During the week long service project, Building Bridges volunteers spent each day on the work site from the early morning until the late afternoon. If the local workers were working, we were working. El Lajero is a very remote, very hot, and a very difficult place in which to build, but the Building Bridges volunteers worked tirelessly and together with the villagers to dig holes for the foundation, mix countless batches of cement, sift sand, tie rebar and lay cement bricks.

Over the course of the week, bonds were forged between the volunteers, the villagers and the skilled local contractors through hard work, laughter and even song, in a way that transcended any language barriers.

The intangible importance of these eternal bonds and relationships are best embodied in the paraphrased remarks from our driver for the week and now friend, Adalberto “Baby”Rivera.

I have never been with a group that worked so hard.  My job is just a driver.  On many work sites in the past I have helped a bit here and there but not always joined fully in.  I did more work on this site than on any other.  When I saw how hard you worked on the first day I was moved.  It was not only how hard you worked, but that fact that you chose to do the hardest jobs.  I am humbled that you would come to my country and build a school for our children.  This is an amazing thing.  And I simply could not sit aside and watch you work so passionately without joining in with you.  I feel a tremendous sense of solidarity with you and am honored to have worked with you.

Building Bridges volunteers also spent time during lunch and on breaks getting to know the “ninos” of the village by playing soccer, singing, dancing and reading. The children are the future of the village and are the key to stimulating real change in El Lajero. The new school will be a center of the community and will ensure that the children are able go to school and learn, even during the rainy season.

Local partners were essential to completing the project, as Building Bridges partnered with buildOn and Fabretto Children’s Foundation. buildOn has constructed over 300 schools around the world and 13 in Nicaragua utilizing a team comprised entirely of skilled Nicaraguan laborers. Fabretto has been working in Nicaragua for over 50 years and operates more than 40 schools with over 6,000 students throughout the country. The El Lajero school is now part of the Fabretto network of schools and each of the students receives two nutritionally sound meals every day.

Thank you to all of our donors that made this project possible and gave the gift of education to all of the children of El Lajero. If you are interested joining us on the next international service project or would like more information about this project, please contact us directly.

To get a sense of just how far children often have to walk to school each day, please watch this video.  Our partner in Nicaragua, Fabretto Children’s Foundation, walked with Carmen as she headed to the school we built in El Lajero one morning.