La Mariposa Spanish School & Eco-Hotel in Nicaragua

Community projects at  La Mariposa Spanish School & Eco-Hotel

Our projects are organic in the sense that we do not work from a Mariposa blueprint. We respond as best we can to the needs of the community. We do not imagine for one moment that we have got it right (or that we ever will!), so be prepared for things to change and to be asked for your opinion on where we should go next. We take the view that the fundamental problem is poverty (and it is worth remembering that La Concha is by no means the poorest community in Nicaragua) and that significant changes are required in our way of life in the West for the situation in Nicaragua, as well as the rest of the "Third World," to really improve. Meanwhile, however, we will continue to do what little we can here in La Concha.

The following is a summary of projects we are currently undertaking. However, we continually support the community in a number of small ways, helping with various projects based on requests from the community and from individuals. We ften finance parties for school children, provide prizes for contests, lend our automobiles out for community events, and work to promote and coordinate with other nonprofits and development organizations in the area.

New Project:   Children with Disabilities

Working with children with disabilities in San Juan de la Concepcion, La Mariposa is starting a new project as of December 2013 working with Los Pipitos in San Juan de la Concepcion. Los Pipitos is a national organisation that works with families and children with disabilities around the country. Alongside local staff and volunteers we will provide a 6 week program of activities for children with disabilities, including music, crafts, games, and sports.

A few years ago the special education school run by Los Pipitos in San Juan de la Concepcion was robbed of everything. Prior to last week they only had chairs, one table and a chalkboard. There are at least 15 children with disabilities in San Juan de la Concepcion, however only two have been going to school, as the school has no resources. Some children are integrated into public schools, while others stay home.

Thanks to the generosity of students at La Mariposa we donated books, pens, paper, Legos, lacing materials, variety of games, soccer ball, and more! We hope that after this program during the vacation ends, that more children will attend school, and La Mariposa can continue to offer this as a volunteer placement.

The needs for children with disability in this area are huge. We hope this is the first of many projects in the area for children with disabilities. Volunteers are needed between Jan 6th and 20th 2014 for the second half of our program. Volunteers alongside the local teacher and volunteers, will help play with the children, organise a variety of games and activities that are appropriate to the children's developmental level. No experience necessary, but special education teachers, OT's, PT 's, speech therapists very welcome. Intermediate Spanish helpful.

Santiago Garden Project

La Mariposa Eco-Hotel and Spanish school has partnered with Michael Richardson and the municipality of La Concepcion in Masaya, Nicaragua to fund a community garden project. This project allows twenty-six families in the Santiago community to grow a ten meter by ten meter vegetable garden. With the funding, we are providing each family with a living fence, made of espadillo, a fast growing plant to keep roaming roosters and pigs away. The municipality and La Mariposa are providing seeds, and the municipality, an impressive irrigation system. This system directs water throughout the entire year, from a main cistern in la Concepcion to each individual plot. We are providing compost boxes and training in organic waste management to each of the families. The compost will be made up of worms and oxen manure. Families share information using a communal system where in they take the training and knowledge they have adapted and pass it on to the next round of beneficiaries. We have gathered the first nine beneficiaries at one home to do compost and planting training session and we continue to monitor in the weeks following. Some of the families already have some understanding of sustainable agriculture.

Santiago Garden Project in La Concepcion, Nicaragua
Santiago Garden Project in La Concepcion, Nicaragua
SSantiago Garden Project in La Concepcion, Nicaragua

La Mariposa Employment Project

La Mariposa Eco-Hotel and Spanish School is a project in and of itself, offering employment to the local community. Our policy is to employ individuals exclusively from La Concha, and from outside this community we only accept interns or volunteers. On average 40 people and their families benefit from this project either through direct work at the hotel (teachers, maintenance workers, kitchen staff, etc…) or via our projects, such as salaries paid out to teachers, community organizers, or farm workers for example. Through our homestay program La Mariposa provides income to local families in exchange for taking guests into their homes. We provide wages that are slightly above average and we always conform to Nicaragua's labor code, including workers' rights to maternity leave, paid vacation and severance pay. This employment project also has the benefit of a spill-over effect, in which the income provided to individuals or families is mostly spent locally. We also hire people who might otherwise have difficulties finding work, and we are always willing to give people a second chance. The social nature of the work environment at La Mariposa means that our workers are supportive of one-another, and helping out a fellow employee experiencing difficulties is not uncommon.

All of La Mariposa's employees are keen to be involved in our eco-tourism project and we encourage interaction between our workers and the guests or volunteers. This may include offering informal Spanish conversation, showing you their particular expertise (cooking, medicinal plants, bird spotting, caring for injured animals, for example) and acting as guides on foot, horseback, public transport or using the Mariposa pickup truck to get to know the local village or go further afield.

Wildlife and Animal Rescue
Rescue dogs at La Mariposa Spanish School & Eco-Hotel in Nicaragua

We have undertaken a number of initiatives on our small piece of land to promote wildlife. We have planted and preserved a variety of flora for hummingbirds and butterflies. We reforested the land with trees to increase the local bird population, which includes Nicaragua's national bird the guardabarranco. These efforts to reestablish the natural vegetation have also created a habitat for iguanas, lizards, boas, squirrels, agoutis, and coatis. We also have a frog pond which is home to a variety of species (including a non-poisonous tree frog) that help keep the mosquito population down, as well as provide a chorus in the evenings.
A rare frog at La Mariposa Spanish School & Eco-Hotel in Nicaragua
In addition to fostering an environment of diverse flora and fauna, we also rescue and rehabilitate animals. We have a total of five aviaries for our parrots, parakeets, toucans and other birds. All of our birds kept in enclosures have been rescued, and when possible we release them back into the wild. We have also received rescued animals from the community, including four capuchin monkeys, and others which we could not support on our land - for example, once we released a female anteater and her baby into Chocoyero Nature Reserve. Roaming around the property we have seven dogs and five cats, almost all of which have come to us as rescued animals and we have rehabilitated them. Out on the ridges around Volcán Masaya we have a herd of 13 horses, now in semi-retirement, giving rides to our guests on Sundays and by special request. It may surprise many to know that this project is very costly - food, medicine and enclosure maintenance is one of our largest expenditures at La Mariposa!

Rescue horses at La Mariposa Spanish School & Eco-Hotel in Nicaragua
The rescued baby monkeys at La Mariposa Spanish School & Eco-Hotel in Nicaragua
The Chocoyos Rescue Project at La Mariposa Spanish School & Eco-Hotel in Nicaragua

Panama Primary School

A local classroom near La Mariposa Spanish School & Eco-Hotel in Nicaragua
Panama is the poorest part of La Concha. The fumes from the Masaya Volcano pass directly overhead, so almost nothing grows there. The Panama primary school services about 200 of the 700 children in the community, although the majority of the children cannot attend school because they have to spend their days helping their families to collect the daily supply of water. With donations from past students, we have built a retaining wall, latrines and a small library. La Mariposa has taken responsibility for regular building maintenance, repainting, and furniture repair/replacement. The guests at the hotel have also donated books, clothing and school supplies. We pay a part time teacher to work with small groups of students in the library, some of whom would be considered to have learning difficulties if they had the resources to be diagnosed. We also used to truck water up to the school for meal preparation, until two generous guests funded the purchase of oxen to do the trip everyday. We hope with the growth of our organic farm that in the future we can provide vegetables to supplement the meals with much-needed vitamins.

Ruben Darío Primary School

Ruben Dario Primary School services more than 200 students from La Concha's barrios Los Encuentros and Los Mercados. Our intention at Ruben Dario has been to replicate the successful library/teaching project that we have at Panama School. La Mariposa and its guests have contributed funds to complete the construction of the library, and supply both the school and library with books, furniture and other school supplies. We received a generous donation that allowed us to undertake a project to build a retention wall to prevent and repair erosion damage. We are paying our teacher full-time now because he is splitting his time between mornings at Panama and afternoons at Ruben Dario. Kids from the morning classes also come in the afternoons to enjoy books from the library in the school's Rincon de Leer (Reading Corner). The library has a lending program so that students can enjoy reading in their spare time at home.

Panama School book project in Panama village, Nicaragua
Panama School book project in Panama village, Nicaragua
Panama School book project in Panama village, Nicaragua

Santiago "Story Corner" After-school program

In 2007 the international organization Save the Children, in conjunction with a private nonprofit Libros Para Niños, constructed a building for a small library in the barrio of Santiago, which is part of La Concha. In March of 2010, representatives from Save the Children came to inform Paulette at La Mariposa that they would be cutting funding and could no longer afford to pay the teacher. The "Story Corner" serves as an after-school activity for children in the afternoons, and the building has become a social meeting place for the youth of Santiago. Paulette agreed to continue paying the teacher and Libros Para Niños agreed to continue sending books. The guests at La Mariposa donate books, clothing, school supplies, and toys to the children that come to the Story Corner. Recently we have a put in a small community farm to provide vegetables to the surrounding community as well as planted several trees to offer sowme shade. Building reparations, such as a new roof and repainting the interior, are done through a combination of Mariposa funding and financial support of volunteers and students.

Reforestation Projects
planting at school

Previously, Paulette initiated a program in the local secondary school educating the students on conservation and protection of the environment. La Mariposa paid a professor to teach a class and organize an Ecological Brigade up until the teacher accepted a position in the local Ministry of the Environment. We still work closely with the Ministry on reforestation projects when feasible. On the Mariposa grounds, we maintain a small plant nursery from which we donate saplings and ornamental plants to our various projects. We plant our trees and other natural flora in schools and public space in and around La Concha. In November 2010 we undertook a project planting 20 or so already large trees around the sports field in San Juan to provide shade.

Organic Garden

Although our organic garden is on a tiny piece of land, it produces nearly all of the lettuce and salad leaves we eat in La Mariposa (and we eat a lot of delicious salads!), some of the carrots, beans, beets and a selection of other seasonal vegetables..

Teaching English

Literacy Project at La Mariposa Spanish School & Eco-Hotel in Nicaragua
Although La Mariposa believes that learning English is not essential to local development, we understand that individuals in the community and our staff are often keen to expand their language capabilities. We offer volunteer work for certified English teachers to service the secondary schools in the municipality of la Concha. We also offer hotel guests or volunteers without certification the opportunity to teach English informally through conversation classes to local secondary school students or our staff. Many of our staff would like to learn English in order to communicate more effectively with our guests, which is especially helpful for those people coming to La Mariposa with little or no Spanish background.

The Eco-Tourism project

In October 2010, Paulette attended a meeting hosted by INTUR (the agency responsible for tourism in Nicaragua) at the town hall about promoting tourism in La Concha. From this meeting came the idea that La Mariposa should try to shape the direction of tourism in the community, marketing La Concha as an eco-tourism destination. La Mariposa is committed to working with businesses and touristic places in the community in order to achieve this goal. La Mariposa has already collaborated with El Nisperal Nature Reserve and Coffee Farm offering tours as a means to generate community based tourism in the rural barrio of Palo Solo, La Concha. With future plans to create a field study center for groups seeking a more educational based program, La Mariposa hopes to pursue other community based tourism initiatives in the La Concha.

Daycare Centre at Santiago
Daycare Centre in Santiago

The building used in the afternoons for the Reading Corner in Santiago is now being used as a daycare project in the mornings. With the help of foreign development aid, the daycare is a collaborative effort between the department of Masaya and the local town hall. The goal of the project is to provide free childcare to low income families in the neighborhood. La Mariposa became involved in the project because the initial investment was not sufficient to finish the construction of a kitchen to provide a meal in the mornings to children attending the program. We have since been involved in connecting guests to the project in order to secure much needed donations, such as children's toys, books and school supplies. Currently, we are paying half of the teachers' salaries due to a cut in funding, and we will continue to support the project however we can in future.

Youth Sports Project
Soccer League in San Juan de la Concepcion, Nicaragua

Los Zapatos Rotos Corazón De Campeón (Broken Shoes, Hearts of Champions) is a soccer league created by Marlin, one of our Spanish teachers at La Mariposa. He dedicates weekends to working with soccer leagues since he knows the importance sports can play in lives of children and youth, especially in keeping kids out of trouble. La Mariposa is helping Marlin with funding for this league, as well as two new leagues in the municipality. The donations we receive are used to provide prizes and equipment for Marlin's leagues and also enable us to host daylong tournaments for different segments of the municipality. We would like to continue developing sports projects to benefit more children and youth in the community. Finally, with the help of the local town hall we have built a fence to prevent balls from getting destroyed by passing traffic.

Take a look:

Cassidy, aged 6 years, wrote a book on her Mariposa experience and has sold it to raise money for the poorest children.

Upcoming Projects

    When we are gearing up for high season, we start to think about future projects that we could develop or support within the community. This year (2011) we already have a few different ideas in mind:

  • Bee Project
    Franklin, who works in the town hall on environmental issues, approached La Mariposa with an interest in building a beehive project in a community west of the eco-hotel, called Palo Solo. With our funding the hope is to provide protective bee keeping suits, bee boxes to store hives, wax panels, the bee colony, a machine to process honey and barrels to hold the honey. Pedro, a gardener and local bee expert who has so diligently worked to build the gardens at our afterschool program, will be responsible for training the local community to work as bee keepers. This project is fundamental in building up the bee population, a species that is rapidly going extinct on a global basis, and for providing sustainable employment to the local community.

The Bee Project at La Mariposa Spanish School & Eco-Hotel in Nicaragua
The Bee Project at La Mariposa Spanish School & Eco-Hotel in Nicaragua

La Mariposa Fundraising Packet
La Mariposa School Fundraising Packet

If you would like to help us continue our community projects,
please consider a tax-free donation
which can be given through our friend, Reverend Brian Peterson
at Ascension Lutheran Church in Austin, Texas.

La Mariposa is not affiliated with any religious or political organisation.

La Mariposa Spanish School & Eco-Hotel in Nicaragua Statnekov Internet Consulting