The cycle of poverty can only be broken when a new generation of students is able to safely learn from qualified teachers, and a pattern of achievement, success and advancement emerges to set a hopeful standard.
Why We Sponsor?
One of the most vital and essential ways to touch the lives of our Nicaraguan brothers and sisters is through sponsorship. In Nicaragua the latest statistic is that 50% of all children drop out of school by the end of 5th grade. Children in Nicaragua cannot even begin to afford their books, much less the uniforms and the shoes that are required by the government to go to school, so a sponsorship provides those needs, and for those student who are hungry, it provides a meal a day. The sponsorship means that you can write to your student, it means that you can hear from them and get letters from them, and, if you choose to go to Nicaragua you can have special time with them while you are there and to know them and their families personally. Sponsorship is a valuable precious gift. Sponsorship allows NRN to establish relationships with individuals in need of the hope and transformation found in Jesus Christ.
NRN has found that sponsorship has a ripple effect because individuals who are sponsored often go on to make an impact in their larger communities.
NRN is focused on supporting our pastors in the establishment and growth of primary and secondary schools in the communities they serve. In a country where only 41% of students finish 6th grade, families that previously did not have the funds to send even on child to public school now see the opportunity to send each child to private Christian schools.
NRN supports two inner city schools in Managua, and two in the rural communities of Los Brasiles and La Concha. More than 1,800 students are now enrolled in schools that provide 6 years of primary and 5 years of secondary education. Exciting programs have emerged including computer classrooms, extracurricular English tutoring and even a coveted public lending library. In two of the schools, Special Needs programs have been established that serve nearly 100 children who previously were left behind.
These schools have been in place long enough to demonstrate that the approach is working beyond all expectations. Graduation rates and achievement on nationalized college entrance exams for these students far exceed national averages and scores from the wealthiest school districts. Families that previously would have pulled their children from school in order to earn money are keeping their students in school because they recognized there is a chance for their child to live a completely different life and have new opportunities.
The Christian schools are funded largely through individual sponsorships of attending students are private donations. Sponsoring a child pays for their books, uniforms, tuition, fees and a meal each day. For every child sponsored in these schools there are dozens of others who still need to find a sponsor so they can have the same opportunity. If you’re interested in learning more about sponsorship, click here.
In Nicaragua, only a tiny fraction of college-aged people attend university. That makes graduation a TRUE celebration. Understandably, the idea of a college education was unthinkable for the poor families in our area of ministry. Yet NRN-supported secondary schools began to flourish and our students started graduating with dreams for further achievements. God place NRN face-to-face with a new opportunity to serve Him and these students. And, what a high impact opportunity it is.
A post-secondary education is our best chance to break the cycle of poverty and establish a new pattern of achievement, success, employment, and reinvestment. It is a powerful motivator for younger students to see their predecessors completing a college education and returning to the community with degrees, jobs, and new perspectives. With more than 200 NRN students currently enrolled in post-secondary education programs and pursuing their dreams, the potential for meaningful and sustainable impact is massive.
NRN’s goal is to raise support for every student who graduates from our secondary schools and demonstrates interest and commitment to a post-secondary education program. Prospective students must study for and take the nationally administered college entrance examination. NRN works with the individual students to determine the most suitable path for each one. This might mean enrolling in a four or five-year program at one of the public or private universities or enrolling in a two-year technical or vocational program. Throughout their course of study, we meet regularly with the individual students to ensure they are applying themselves, getting good grades, and receiving the assistance they need to be successful.
With God’s help we are making huge progress toward this goal. As of year- end 2012, most of the more than 200 students receive support through NRN, gifted by individual sponsors and churches. In 2013, we expect more than 50 NRN-sponsored students to apply for NRN support for college. These students wish to join the ranks of future leaders, both to provide for their families and to give back to their community. The need for new sponsors, therefore, is dramatic and immediate.
With a college education, Nicaraguans have better opportunity to make connections that will help them: secure a job in the face of a 60% unemployment rate; qualify for management positions; and even start their own businesses. Specifically, having English and computer skills sets our friends up to take advantage of these growing industry needs.
One recent graduate, Oswaldo, recently shared a letter of thanks with us and from which we provide this excerpt:
"Thanks to you, God formed a character in me to always go forward, to never give up. The conditions and problems we face are not important, but what is important is the faith that you will achieve your goals. Jesus impacted my life through all of you, and now I am able to impact other lives."
The need for sponsorship of college students is great and growing each year. If you are interested in making a difference in the lives of Nicaraguans through college sponsorship, click here to learn more.
There has historically been little support for children with special needs in Nicaragua. There are few public or private educational programs, trained teachers are in short supply and most parents lack the knowledge or resources required to provide the right kind of care. Social and economic pressures also conspire to put the appropriate educational and medical attention far beyond the reach of the typical special needs child in Nicaragua.
Jill Sima, a visiting NRN volunteer who has a child with special needs, took notice of this huge gap and was determined to make an impact. Putting together a partnership between her church in Indiana and local Pastor Oscar Cruz, Jill's efforts took shape in 2005 as NRN's Special Needs Ministry emerged. A classroom was built, teachers were hired, and students were properly evaluated for inclusion in what is now known as the Agape Program within Oscar's King Rey Solomon school.
This growing and vibrant ministry has developed a holistic approach that tries to meet the unique needs of the special needs student, their families and dedicated teachers. Short term mission trips throughout the year bring physical therapists, special needs teachers, and parents with special needs children into the classrooms to share experiences, perform evaluations and provide hands-on training.
The program and ministry have thrived in ways that only God could have imagined. Children are blooming mentally, physically and emotionally. The availability of quality care and instruction is producing students with a strong sense of self-worth, confidence, increasing independence and camaraderie with new friends. Parents who are now better equipped to care for their children quickly light up when speaking of the impact the program has made on their families.
Building on the success of the Agape program, NRN now supports a second special needs classroom located in the Joshua 1:8 school within the community of Los Brasiles.
These two locations now support over 100 children and 12 loving staff members who are making enormous progress in the face of autism, Down syndrome, deafness, learning disabilities, and a range of other acute physical disabilities. Recent additions to the ministry include an equine therapy program and a vocational program for secondary students.
Financial support for the Special Needs Ministry comes primarily in the form of student sponsorships provided by individuals in the United States. The money is directed toward the operating expenses of the program including teachers' salaries, books, student uniforms and supplies. This rapidly developing ministry still has many children in need of sponsors. Please inquire here if you are interested in learning how you can support this ministry through sponsorship, contributions or participation on a mission trip.
The Impact of NRN Sponsorship
This video debuted at the NRN Gala this fall. It speaks to the very core of our ministry in Nicaragua -- which is the life changing impact that happens through sponsorship-driven relationships.
In the video, Coleman Henderson shares his personal story with sponsorship against the larger backdrop of NRN's ministry efforts. Coleman is a longtime NRN volunteer and former current member. He speaks from more than a decade of commitment to loving on -- and being loved back -- by his Nicaraguan brothers and sisters.
If you are already a child sponsor -- we are sure this video will strike a chord with you. And we invite you to share it with your friends through Facebook or email with a specific request to consider whether they may also be called to sponsorship in Nicaragua thru NRN.
If you are not a sponsor -- we hope this helps you understand why and how we are so committed to this program. If it moves you to want to learn more about sponsorship -- please click here to let us know. We'd love to share more with you.
** Special thanks to John Wright of MediaWright for the substantial amount of time he committed to bring this story to life!
Please visit our Sponsorship FAQ.