The Villa Japon Learning Resource Centre (VJ-LRC) is located in the community of Villa Japon, 10 miles North of Tipitapa, in the department of Managua. The center was built in 2014 with funding provided by Diamante Blackmon, a North American DJ of Nicaraguan origins, and Seeds of Learning; the labor was provided mostly by several groups of US volunteers and the community. It opened early in 2015, and has become a key element to improve education quality not only for Villa Japon, but also for other neighboring communities. The Center serves around 300 permanent students and other 100 occasional visitors. It is also source of information and support with equipment for 13 teachers, who also use the center for educational activities. The centers has internet connection and has some computing equipment (laptops and tablets) for students to do research and do their homework. This service is also used by teachers to plan their classes and download digital media used in classrooms for more a enjoyable and dynamic education. Some of the activities planned with visitors include reading sessions and campaigns, spelling and grammar classes, tutoring, English and French classes, computing classes, library services, among others. The center also promotes creativity and imagination through educational games and handicraft making. The center also promotes arts through dancing and has its own dance group. For adults in the community, the center has delivered vocational training on agriculture, health and leadership. The center receives between 75 and 100 visits per day and around 10,000 visits annually. It is also a point of reference for community members, who use the center for meetings and other social activities.
The center has become a valuable asset for the community, promoting education quality and relevance. Kids feel very motivated to attend and have shown commitment to keep the center clean and in good shape. Every day, users participate in cleaning and providing maintenance to the center. However, the center is located in a piece of land without any protection. This has put the center at risk and has become target for thieves and drug addicts who spend evenings in the center’s corridors. Parts of the facilities have been damaged by these people who also soil the walls and floors. External lights have been destroyed. In the past, the center has been robbed twice; 12 desktop computers, a speaker and some chairs were robbed. Lately, during the hours of operation of the center, some teenagers who don’t attend school have been causing trouble in the center, scaring and bullying kids.
This project, in partnership with One Dollar for Life included the construction of a fence around the Villa Japon Learning Resource Center. The project included the construction of 83 meters of fence made partly with quarry stones and concrete beams and columns. Half of the fence was constructed from concrete and the other half iron bars framed by concrete columns. The total height is 2.10 mts. In front of the fence is a gate made of steel, secured with padlock.
The fence will provide additional security to the Villa Japon LRC area, which allows for the best conditions for kids to attend the center and have access to quality educational opportunities in a safe environment. The fence has increased confidence in the community and more children are attending the center. A safe area also provides space to start new initiatives like a vegetable garden, as part of a comprehensive education. Play ground equipment has been installed as well.
Photos of the project can be seen here.