In 2004 a group of high school students from Santa Cruz, California, traveled to Nicaragua to do service at the little school in Managua, Jardin Infantil y Comedor Belem. Roselyne Soto, the daughter-in-law of Rosamaria Bell, had introduced a small community of interested individuals in Santa Cruz to the cause. With duffle bags full of donated clothing, shoes, backpacks, vitamins, medicines, dental supplies, school materials, and toys, the Californians arrived at Jardin Infantil to a crowd of beautiful smiling faces. The children were dressed in clean white uniform shirts and navy pants or skirts. They sang songs and gave hugs. The fair skinned norteamericano teenagers made fast friends with the young, darker skinned children from a very different Central American world.
Every year since then, groups of teenagers from the United States have gone to spend part of their summers with the students at Jardin Infantil y Comedor Belem. Each year they bring bags full of clothing, toys, and other supplies. Each year they share the joy of music, art, and play with their younger Nicaraguan counterparts. Each year they paint classrooms, serve lunches, and provide service to help the children who learn and grow at the little school in Managua.
It is hard to know who benefits more from the visits made by the norteamericanos. The mission that guides us is “to bring joy to the children of Nicaragua”. During our visits, joy can be seen, heard, and felt at Jardin Infantil y Comedor Belem. We have all been touched deeply through our experiences with the children, teachers, and directors at the little school in Managua.