Community Outreach is a division of La Merced, through which team members and contributors can systematically provide assistance to the barrio (neighborhood) surrounding the Church, the Marilac school and the Roberto Clemente Clinic. In addition, it is though this program that members of our traveling team develop relationships with the people of barrio, relationships built on mutual understanding, respect and love.
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. Violent crime is uncommon, although the families do utilize decorative metal gates and doors to protect themselves from non-violent crimes such as burglary, which is quite common.
Members of La Merced make effort to have mutually beneficial exchanges with our brothers and sisters in the barrio. In January of 2017, under the leadership of Dominic DiBartolo, La Merced held a soccer camp:
After several days of intense training, new friends sit for a photo
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 maintains a scholarship program through which concerned individuals here in the United States can sponsor a student for one school year for $100, an amount which covers the cost of annual tuition, uniform and books! Currently, the program is sponsoring seven children.
The Roberto Clemente Clinic
The Roberto Clemente Clinic provides primary care for women and children in the barrio. Please click here for more info.