It seems incredible to think that four years have gone by since we began our humble efforts in the community of El Manzano #1. The time has definitely flown by but it has been filled with a sense of renewal, hope, happiness, gratitude and joy. These are the emotions that we feel for those that support our efforts and make this all possible.

When we think back over the past twelve months (ok 13 months, we are a touch behind with this blog) there are two major factors that stand out to us.

First is the size and nature of the projects we have been able to take on. These are projects that we never could have imagined a few years back and that have the ability to draw a new life plan for our neighbors, a path that will break the poverty cycle that so many of our friends and neighbours are stuck in. More on this shortly…

Secondly, and equally important is the relationships that we have formed this year. For Waves of Hope, these relationships, which were all formed and cultivated organically – good people opening doors and creating connections with other good people – have transformed our little organization into one that can now dream bigger than ever.

There are so many people and organizations out there to thank:

• To the entire Surf for Life team for their huge financial support and its crew of endless volunteers for their tireless work efforts in helping Waves of Hope build the first high school in our region. This school will service over 10 communities and 230 students daily and this school will give students, whose education would have previously ended at the age of 12, an opportunity to graduate high school and apply to colleges, universities and technical careers. It gives these students a chance to dream big and it will provide them with opportunities never imagined.

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• To the New Gens Rotary Club from Temecula for their support (both financially and through their own sweat) in helping rehabilitate the Manzanillo Elementary School. This project featured a complete scrub down of the school, new paint inside and out, a fixed roof, a new composting toilet, new teachers desks, 60 student desks repaired, a new well, a hand-washing station, clean water filters and more.

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• To the Blue Bridge Project for spending two weeks with us this summer working alongside our neighbors and friends at the high school site and also digging out the sand in our turtle hatchery (also known as the torture pit). These students brought so much love and energy into our community and really touched the hearts of our young students during Kids Club.

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• To the Alt Breaks students from George Washington University, Case Western Reserve University and The Study Toronto for spending their school breaks on the ground with Waves of Hope helping to mix cement, move blocks and rocks and dig trenches for our new high school.

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• To Share the Stoke for spending an amazing week with us and for bringing such a generous donation of surfboards down for our local community!

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• To the women of Surf With Amigas for spreading such happiness and joy across our community!

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• To all of our interns over the past year – Jason & Jillian, Milo & Edgar (don’t shave), Genna & Pamela, Corinne & Lily and Stephen – thanks for coming into our community and making it your own and mentoring of our local youth, for the endless hours spent in the classroom, for your heartfelt dedication and most of all for doing it all with a smile! Your efforts will never be forgotten.

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• Eloise for the development of our awesome new website – www.waves-of-hope.com.

• To all of our donors and supporters who have believed in our efforts from the start or joined us over the past year. We are very grateful for all of your love!

• And to anyone not mentioned, don’t worry we haven’t forgot you either, we just know we can’t make the blog too long or people won’t read it!! THANK YOU TOO!!

We also want to take a moment to say thanks to our incredible community for continuing to believe in us and work alongside us. We have seen something incredible happen over the past year. More volunteers showing up at the worksites to help out, more neighbors coming by to offer a hand during Kids Club, more surfers participating in the Grom Surf days. This show of both effort and support reinforces the fact that our programs and initiatives are working – that our neighbors believe in Waves of Hope. Together we are creating this Wave of Change.

Ok back to the projects….

In addition to all our regular programming (Kids Club, Turtle Conservation Efforts, English Classes, Educational Support, Scholarships & much more), Waves of Hope was able to take on some larger projects this year and that is what we’d like to expand upon today.

New High School Project – Ongoing

In partnership with the local Ministry of Education and San Fran based Surf for Life, Waves of Hope broke ground on the construction of a local high school. This is a huge project for us and we are only a few months away from completion!

The finished school will feature six classrooms, an administration office, a teacher’s lounge, a computer lab and library, composting toilets, a greenhouse, a performance stage and more. We are also building this to be a sustainable school with green plans featuring grey water systems, rainwater collection & solar panels.

There are 230 students pre-registered for classes that begin this February.

Over the next few years we also plan on adding technical courses as well to help create job skills. These will include mechanics, baking, agriculture and computing just to name a few.

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Although the support of this school has been incredible we are still about $30k short in funding so please consider a DONATION today! We are also in need of donations of school supplies, Spanish books, computers and much more. Please contact us at info@waves-of-hope.com for more info.

Manzanillo School Rehab – Dec 2012/Jan 2013

For only $3500, alongside our new friends from the New Gen Rotary Club in Temecula we were able to turn something old and broken into something new again. This school was built 20 years ago but had not been maintained ever since (budgets for maintenance don’t really exist in Nica). The school had crumbling walls, loose electrical wires, broken glass, a contaminated well, a toilet without a door – well you get the picture.

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This project was more about sweat and labour, which proud parents and students gladly provided, than it was about the cost (although the donation went along way as well). It is truly amazing what can be accomplished for such a little amount down here.

New Greenhouse – July 2013

A young man named Stephen decided to ride his bike from New York City to Oregon to raise funds for a new greenhouse for our community. The most amazing part of this story is that he had never even been to Nicaragua, let alone El Manzano #1. This is one of those connections, where amazing people bring other amazing people into our circle and things just happen!

After the bike adventure Stephen showed up ready to go and in less than a month was able to build this greenhouse and also mentor Antonio, one of our local agriculture scholarship students in how to manage the greenhouse and cultivate the seedlings. The greenhouse has been up and running for about a month now and is continuously producing seedlings which we distribute out to the community to be planted into home gardens. These seedlings are a real source of food and nutrients for local families and a major step in the battle against hunger.

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Next Up: Francisco Laguna Elementary School – Winter 2014

Well we are definitely busy down here and the new high school is going to keep us on our toes for a while, but there is one other major project that we are planning for this winter – a new elementary school for a neighboring town.

Francisco Laguna is a small town of about 70 families that is located about 3 kilometres from our community. Each day 120 elementary aged students attend classes in their ‘school’ – a structure with dirt floors, no walls and little more.

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Our dream is to provide these hard-working students and teachers with an actual school and alongside our new friends from Surf for Life and the New Gens Rotary Club we are going to make that dream happen!

Construction begins in early 2014!! To learn how you can help, click here.

As we move into our fifth year, we now know that anything is possible!

Thank you for your support and love and please consider a DONATION today!