El Jicarito is a small and poor rural community in Tipitapa of about 250 people. They had a group of pre-school children (about 15) having classes in provisional facilities in a family house. Around 30 more elementary-school students have to travel to neighboring communities (more than two miles away) to access education, affecting the motivation and capacity of families to send children to school. The local MINED officer and the community came to the conclusion that having a school in the community would help families to reduce expenses, ensure a safer access to school and potentially increase enrollment, attendance and quality.
This project was an opportunity to pilot the use of alternative construction materials (super-adobe) which SOL Managua staff had been researching. To formulate the project, SOL established a partnership with a firm of Spanish architects (KnitKnot), who worked as volunteers in the school design and fundraising. The design was developed to depart from traditional Nicaraguan school design and create an enjoyable space for children and the community, encouraging creativity, imagination and cooperation. Another goal was to provide new ideas to communities on how to improve housing, which is usually made with plastic and zinc. You can see the school design and concept here.
Construction is still underway, as preparing the land took more time than initially planned. In addition, the structure has been built using US construction standards for earthquake-prone areas, requiring massive amounts of concrete and steel. This has been a new experience that has required a lot of research and practical learning, and we are looking forward to finishing the project in 2017.
Knitknot also helped spearhead an online fundraising campaign, which raised almost $33,000 for the construction of the new school! We thank the many generous donors who helped us reach our fundraising goal. To learn more, view our project video here.
January, 2018 Update: What a project this has been! This year we completed the columns, walls, floors, windows and doors, and the massive roof that is designed to capture the prevailing winds to cool the classrooms down. And with the final coat of paint the school looks fantastic. The school has been in use by both elementary and preschool students since the beginning of this year, even though we haven’t officially finished the project. We are still planning on filling in the floor in the outer areas around the buildings, installing a “cage” type ceiling to prevent people from entering from above, and painting the inside of the bathrooms and bodega area.
Click here to view updated photos of the project. We thank KnitKnot for their generous partnership on this project. We also thank Builders Beyond Donors for their donation of support and all of the other generous donors, volunteers, and community members who supported this project.