The Selfless Dream of Helping Others

by Alex Fuller-Young on February 21, 2010

An excerpt from the news article written by Jan Findley
The Sun Community Newspaper, 5/31/2006

The government’s “public” schools in Nicaragua charge tuition and require a uniform, none of which many parents can provide in a country with a 60% unemployment rate. These are the “lucky” poor children – they attend Louise Brunberg’s school in Nagarote. Louise provides the shirts, skirts or pants and shoes, plus two meals a day!

Norwalk, Connecticut and Nagarote, Nicaragua are sister cities. Louise Brunberg, a school teacher from Norwalk learned about Nagarote from materials that came to her school from the sister city. She made her first trip to Nicaragua following her retirement as a school teacher in 1993. She got hooked. Hooked on the poverty she saw, hooked on the children whose families were so poor they could not afford the shoes and proper dress and tuition required by the government-sponsored schools. She was hooked on the hunger and the de facto unavailability of education to children of the poor.

She experienced her personal epiphany: Here was a place where one person, Louise, could make a difference, a real difference. She proceeded to go about doing so. She started a soup kitchen for children. As a teacher, she knew that starving children are in no condition to learn. Then, when an abandoned building became available, Louise and volunteers cleaned it up, got supplies, recruited teachers and opened a free school. In the beginning the only grade was first grade. (There were no second grade students, only beginning learners.) Since then, a pre-school class has opened, along with second, third and fourth grade as the children learned and passed the government tests. Many students, currently 260 poor children, attend her school. The school also shows off a beginning library and – wonder of wonders – modern plumbing, two elegant porcelain wonders.

Louise recruited teachers and teachers’ aides, ten of them; the yearly budget shows $995 covers their total pay. $995 a year might not seem like much to some of us, but to someone living in a country with chronic 60 percent unemployment, it constitutes riches. Most of the teachers spend part of their salaries for extra pencils and paper and books for the students.

Louise provides breakfast and lunch for the students. Mothers do the cooking, in exchange for which they are given food to take home to help feed the rest of their families. The mothers are the ones who gave the school a name. They call it La Escuela Suenos de Luisa – “the school that is the dream of Louise.” Clearly, they got that right.

{ 0 comments… add one now }

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: