The three of us had been close friends since studying together at the University of Ottawa, and in 2005 we decided to reconnect on a backpacking adventure across Central America. During that trip, we came up with the dream of opening a small eco-friendly beach resort in Nicaragua that would focus on projects that benefit the local community. We spent the next couple years back in North America, working to finance our dream while continuing to scout locations and communities across Nicaragua. In November 2007, we came across the small beach-side town of El Manzano #1 and felt right away that there was something special about this town. After camping on what would eventually become our future home, we knew we had found our paradise –our new home.
A couple years later, on July 23, 2009 Waves of Hope was founded in Toronto, Canada with the mission of improving the quality of life in our community through strengthening local education, health, and infrastructure. We asked friends and family to support our new venture and they generously did, providing over $13k in donations over that first summer season.
Initial meetings were held within the community to discuss how best to utilize the donated funds and the initial projects were identified. These projects included the distribution of over 250 backpacks and school supplies to local elementary kids, as well as various school renovations and upgrades.
On December 31, 2009, the other half of our dream was realized as El Coco Loco Resort celebrated its grand opening. Today, El Coco Loco Resort plays an important role in the relationship between Waves of Hope and the local community by acting as a vehicle for employment and opportunity; by hosting guests and social tourism based groups that bring funding, ideas and awareness to the community; and by providing a community center for the local youth to come and enjoy.
Over the past five and a half years, more than $250,000 has been raised and invested into the local community through various projects and initiatives.
From the Founders:
We came into this project knowing very little about development work. What we did know was that we wanted to live alongside our neighbors and improve their quality of life along with our own.
Since our humble beginnings in 2009, we’ve raised over $250,000 for our community and had over 45 interns helping us on the ground. We have begun to see tangible results in education, health and prosperity within our community and we are just getting started!
We believe that living as part of our community is what makes Waves of Hope unique. Our friends and neighbors have taught us the beauty of simplicity, of how to be present in life everyday and how to enjoy even the smallest of passing moments.
Our projects and initiatives have generally been ideas and concepts developed by community identified needs and desires. We see our role mainly as being a facilitator. We help to review the feasibility of projects and assist in determining the best way to implement these projects. We then seek out funding partners to help make these community dreams into reality and then assist in the management and implementation of these projects. This partnership empowers our neighbors and allows them to design and implement their own path out of poverty.
We are very excited about the future here in Nicaragua and forever grateful for how our community welcomed us with open arms four years ago. We are also incredibly thankful for all of you who have helped make Waves of Hope all that it is today! Without you, none of this would be possible.
Ben, Jamie & Earl