Nicaragua: Meet Nelson Lanuza, an inspiring graduate from La Bastilla!


This week I’d like to introduce you to Nelson Lanuza, one of our December graduates who is now working at La Bastilla Coffee Estates. He is a great example of how much education can transform people’s lives, if they take advantage of all of the opportunities presented to them.     

Nelson is 21 and comes from Pantasma, a small town about 2 hours from La Bastilla School. He has 6 brothers and 4 sisters, his mother is a housewife and his father cultivates maize and beans. Of all of his siblings only 2 of his sisters completed secondary school, the rest left with only primary education. All of his brothers cultivate traditional crops and all of his sisters are married with children. His parents did not even complete the first year of primary school, and his mother is illiterate although his father can read and write. Nelson has the highest educational level in his whole family.   

After finishing primary school Nelson went to work with his father on the farm and didn’t attend school for 4 years. He started to lose his motivation to study until one day he met a doctor who asked why he wasn’t in school and encouraged him to go back. At this point Nelson was 15 years old but wasn’t able to stop working as his parents couldn’t support him. He found a night school he could attend, so each day after work he travelled to school and had classes from 5:30 – 9:30pm, travelling back to work at 4am each morning . He did this for 3 years, until completing the first cycle of secondary school.   

Nelson heard about La Bastilla from a friend and was offered a place at the school. It was a difficult decision to study full-time and stop working for the first time since he was 11. Initially he supported himself with savings and when these ran out, an older brother lent him the money to continue. At the end of the 1st year the coffee farm hired him to work during the harvest season, so he was able to pay back his debt and save up for the next school year. He continued working for the farm in the evenings and holidays, and so was able to support himself through the 3 years of school.  

Nelson was always one of our most highly achieving students, and during his final year he was even taking an IT course on Saturdays, because he felt that this would be an important addition to his CV.  Nelson says that he always worked hard on the coffee farm as he knew he could be hired after graduating and that this was a special opportunity as there are few good jobs available.  

Nelson has now been working for La Bastilla Coffee Estates since the 1st December, and is the deputy supervisor of the coffee processing plant, managing 5 other workers. He deals with the de-pulping, sorting and washing of the coffee and the drying process, as well as the treatment of waste waters.

He plans to continue working at the farm for the foreseeable future as he enjoys working with coffee which has good employment prospects as it is one of the most important products that Nicaragua produces for export. He is currently earning $200 per month which will increase with each year that he works at the farm.  He is also enrolling at university in Jinotega to study agriculture at the weekends. He has the advantage that having graduated as a “tecnico” from La Bastilla he can get his degree in 3 years rather than the usual 5.  

Nelson says that he always dreamed of having a proper career, but he almost gave up and became a small producer like his father. However, thanks to his motivation and willingness to make sacrifices for his education he has a really bright future and says that studying at La Bastilla has really helped him along the way. He says that he is especially grateful to all of the teachers at La Bastilla who work such long hours and devote their time to teaching students, as many of them have supported and inspired him.  



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