The El Triunfo Learning Resource Center and Playground (The Little House of Knowledge: a World of Fantasy) is an educational space designed to provide alternative education for children, youth and adults in this community. The philosophy behind this project is “Learning by playing/doing”.
Established in 2015, this center has been a successfully innovative initiative providing educational opportunities through reading campaigns, storytelling sessions, agricultural training, entrepreneurial literacy, arts and crafts classes, cultural events, educational games and books lending, research support and tutoring, internet and IT technology access, etc. This center is made by a playground; a small house storing educational resources; and a recently constructed open shelter for different activities. It is very popular among community members to meet and share with their neighbors. However, openness has brought some risks. As in most parks of Nicaragua, this one has attracted vagrants, drug addicts, drunkards and other people meeting with not very good purposes. They have caused damages in the park and leave lots of trash related to alcohol and drugs consumption. Some of these people show up even during the day, scaring children or preventing parents from allowing children to visit the park.
The project will bring important enhancements to minimize these risks and increase the opportunities offered so far. A 400 ft. chain-link fence will be constructed around the park, which will provide safety, allow better control on access and protect the existing facilities and future projects. The project will also provide resources to build two latrines and repair the adobe-made walls of the little kiosk.
SOL will partner with the The Self-help Women Group “Unidas Triunfaremos” which is a lending cooperative made by seven women who are indeed agents of change in this community. The group’s official activity is providing small loans to community members for small businesses and home needs; but they go beyond that, promoting other activities in the fields of education, economic development and social work. They have been SOL’s main partner in the community for different projects, including the construction and refurbishment of several classrooms, a community vegetable garden, and the construction of the Park/LRC.
ABOUT THE COMMUNITY:
The community of El Triunfo is located in the municipality of Tipitapa, 9 miles to the north-east of the municipal capital. It was founded around 70 years ago by workers of one of the Somoza’s private farms. Most of the 700 inhabitants of this low-income, rural community work as farmers, either on their own small farms or for large agribusinesses. Some others have small businesses in this village and others work for the free-trade factories located in Managua and Tipitapa. In response to their many needs, a group of women organized as a lending cooperative has developed a strong leadership which has successfully identified and carried out a number of projects to help improve the quality of life. Over the years, this group and the community has collaborated with the national government and other organizations to dig a well, install electricity, and build latrines, a health clinic, and an elementary school.
In 2014, SOL worked with the El Triunfo community to expand the elementary school. Together we built one new classroom and finished the construction of one that was partially built, but in use. After this successful experience, SOL decided to support the construction of a park, but introducing elements of a Learning Resource Center. The community members participated enthusiastically in the construction of a playground and a kiosk made with traditional and environmentally friendly materials like adobe. In the last years, SOL has supported this initiative through enhancements to the playground and the implementation of several educational projects, including vocational training, cultural activities and planting a community garden using technologies to deal with climate change effects.
ABOUT THE LEARNING RESOURCE CENTER:
The Little House of Knowledge: a World of Fantasy is a playground with a kiosk containing books, games and other educational resources and roofed shelter for educational and cultural activities in the community El Triunfo. The project was developed as a result of an education needs analysis made by Seeds of Learning and the Self-Help Lending Women Group. Children in the community needed spaces for recreation and opportunities for expanding and reinforcing their knowledge after school. As a result, in 2015 the group and Seeds of Learning decided to create a hybrid between a Learning Resource Center and a park. Very recently, a roofed shelter with cement floor was built to provide a better experience for children to meet, play and implement educational activities under the shade and with proper tables. This project has been one of the most successful experiences in the Managua region. Around 25 children visit the park every day to play and learn. 42 children are enrolled in the different activities that include storytelling, reading campaigns, spelling competitions, traditional games, handcraft making, homework-making and research support, dance classes, and many other activities. In 2018, the Little House received 4,450 visits, despite the socio-political crisis. Very recently Internet access was also installed with local resources for community members to improve communication and access to information. This place has become a point of reference and meeting for families in the community who visit the place for relaxing, playing with their children and chatting with other community inhabitants. Teachers of the local school have recognized the contribution the Little House of Knowledge is making in favor of quality education. Children who attend the park regularly show better performance than those who don’t. For many children, reading has become a habit they are learning to enjoy. Many organizations have visited the house to organize activities with the children or donate additional resources.
ABOUT THE PROJECT:
This project will further enhance the facilities of the LRC/Park by building the following improvements:
– The construction of a 400 ft. chain-link fence will protect the park area from undesired visits, like drunkards, drug addicts, or gang members who leave trash, steal some resources and damage the existing facilities. A fenced area will allow other type of projects, like a vegetable garden, to teach modern farming techniques to children and the youth. In general the fence will provide safety and better control on access to the park, encouraging in this way an increase in visits and participation in educational and cultural activities.
– The construction of two latrines with hand-washing stations will help to keep the site clean and develop good hygiene habit among children and the youth. The lack of these facilities force children to satisfy their physiological needs in the open, which cause odors and disgusting waste in the area. Additionally, these facilities will increase the demand for the park by other organizations and institutions to hold different type of social, cultural and educational activities.
– The project will also provide resources for the adobe-made kiosk repairs. The stucco of the walls, made with mud, are falling down, leaving the adobe exposed to erosion, bug infestation and further deterioration. The project will provide resources to repair the walls and repaint the beautiful murals of the kiosk.
The Outputs expected are:
• A safer and cleaner space for community and educational activities that promote individual and collective development.
• An ideal environment to develop new and innovative hands-on projects for children youth and adults, including a small vegetable garden, landscaping projects, scientific projects, etc. In this way the center will be promoting a different approach for education, based on a learning-by-doing approach.
• An increased in participation of children, youth and adults in the educational and cultural activities promoted by the park.
The group of beneficiaries of this project will include:
42 children and youth registered as regular users of the Little House of Knowledge: a World of Fantasy who will enjoy improved facilities and have a safer space for other hand-on projects, including gardens.
120 children and youth studying elementary and high school in the village and other neighboring education centers, who will access internet and library services in safer facilities.
500 community inhabitants who will feel more secure visiting a community place for recreation, education and human interaction.
7 members of the Self-Help Women Group “Unidas Venceremos” who will see their capacity enhanced through the management of improved facilities for offering additional services to the community.
MONITORING AND EVALUATION:
The priority of this project is based on several factors:
• The impact of the LRC/PARK in El Triunfo has good chances to be enhanced and expanded through this type of improvements in the facilities.
• Enhanced safety and hygiene will encourage more visits from the different groups of beneficiaries, allowing a further development of human resources for sustainable local development;
• Enhanced facilities will be used by multiple groups within the community
• SOL has a excellent working relationships with the women group and the community;
• There is a solid and very well organized group of community members that ensure the sustainable management of the project in the future.
The project impact indicators to be monitored include:
– An increase by 20% of children enrollment and attendance to the LRC/PARK.
– An increase by 20% of community members visits to the center.
– Implementation of at least four hands-on educational projects per year.
– A 20% increase in demand of the park facilities by other institutions/organizations.
– Increased capacity to develop self-sustainable activities to ensure an autonomous functioning in the future.
April-June 2020 (or earlier if funds can be raised)
Project Costs: $6,000.
Photos of the project in 2019 can be seen here.