Nicaragua: A Year at La Bastilla

Monday, 17th January 2011.  Where has all the time gone?  I can’t believe that it has been a year already and that it’s time for me to pack my bags and say goodbye to La Bastilla and Nicaragua.

What a year it’s been!  So much progress has been made at the technical school since I have been here.  When I arrived there were no cabins at the eco-lodge, whereas just last week the third cabin, 'Las Maderas' was completed bringing the total number of beds of the hotel to 28.  Similarly, whereas this time last year the school did not have its own infrastructure and was making do with a few rooms kindly set aside by the coffee estate, the staff and students are now preparing to move into their brand spanking new,  eleven-building school complex in two weeks time.



Last month was the first ever graduation of the technical school.  I swelled with pride at being fortunate enough to be part of the celebrations and, taking a moment to reflect on the day, I must confess that I got really rather emotional at realising that over the year I had witnessed the transformation of the group of students from (at times cheeky) teenagers into confident and articulate young adults with endless possibilities ahead of them.

Whilst at times the setbacks, obstacles and slow pace of certain activities has been frustrating, one of the benefits of working on a relatively small project at grass roots level, rather than a large national or institutional project, is that it is easier to implement change, resolve problems and observe progress. For instance, at the end of my first full month here in February 2010, the technical school’s financial self-sufficiency rate was 18%, whereas it has gradually increased over the year, peaking at 55% at the end of October 2010, and finishing at 30% at the end of last month (December 2010).  Whilst the rate fluctuates from month to month, I am fully confident that the school will reach its goal of 100% financial self-sufficiency by 2014.  I hope to come back in three years to confirm that my predication was correct.

By means of goodbye I leave you with a short video of La Bastilla that sums up the essence of the project and which I find truly inspirational.   http://www.vimeo.com/18430861 .



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