Community outreach is now a division of La Merced, through which team members and contributors can systematically provide assistance to the barrio (neighborhood) surrounding Our Lady of Mercy Church, the Marilac school and the Roberto Clemente Clinic.
The barrio is modest and simple. Most of the streets are cobblestone, and there are few automobiles. An occasional horse drawn cart rolls by. Boys play soccer in the streets. At stop lights, children sell roasted cashews and trinkets to the occupants of vehicles.
At first glance the homes appear typical of a Latino community. The facades of the homes are of brightly colored stucco. However, a closer look inside reveals tiny one- to two-room dwellings constructed of walls of corrugated steel and concrete block. Some families share their dwellings with their livestock.
Infrastructure is primitive. Large drainage ditches carry away raw sewage, trash and run off from rain. The streets lack sign age, which makes traveling like working through a maze.
Even with what appears as so little, these people have so much. They honor family and have strong traditions and customs. Loaded with spirituality, they take care of their neighbors and share whatever they have. They are docile. Crime is lower in Nicaragua than in any other Central American country. Violent crime is practically nonexistent.
The Marilac School
Education for ALL children in Nicaragua is a fairly new concept. It was not until 1993 that the Republic of Nicaragua made education for all children compulsory. Before this time, there were very few public schools and the majority of the community schools were run by the Church.
Marilac School offers kindergarten through 12th grade. Students in Kindergarten through 3rd grade attend in the morning and 4th through 12th grade in the afternoon.
The school building consists of various concrete classrooms and a playground. It is operated by the Sisters of Charity, but lay persons provide most of the instruction. Math, Spanish and English are held in these classrooms. The office is simple: a small room with a desk and chairs. The principal’s office is just as tiny, and allows the principal’s desk and two small chairs for misbehaving children. There is no air conditioning.
Over the last several years, La Merced has collected and delivered general school supplies, soccer balls, computers and an overhead projector. La Merced also established a scholarship program through which concerned individuals here in the United States can sponsor a student for one school year for $100. $100 pays for a student’s annual tuition, uniform and books! Currently, the program is sponsoring seven children.
As you can see by the pictures, the children are very happy and well mannered. Many of these students are either on scholarship, sponsored by others from all over the world, or their parents make huge sacrifices for them to attend.
The Roberto Clemente Clinic
The Roberto Clemente Clinic provides primary care for women and children in the barrio. Please click here for more info.