Lázaro Project provides educational supplies, supplemental meals and health initiatives for students on Zapatera Island.
When we were 17 years old, we spent a summer volunteering in Central America with a youth program called Amigos de Las Americas.
After selling countless boxes of oranges and grapefruits as a fundraiser, we embarked to the small town of El Portillo in Masaya, Nicaragua. As volunteer partners, we lived in El Portillo for 8 weeks with a host family. We organized several projects, including the construction of a large water storage tank at the local elementary school. We partnered with local workers in the town willing to donate their skills and labor, and the water tank we built is still serving its purpose to this day. During our stay, we befriended Lázaro, a hard working man from the El Portillo, with whom we have remained in touch since 2004.
Over the years, we remained close with with Lázaro as he worked full time, and registered for university classes at night and on weekends to earn his college degree in accounting. Lázaro later followed his passion to become a founder and teacher of an under-served elementary school on Zapatera Island. The elementary school on this island receives little funding from the Nicaraguan government and does not have electricity. The teachers receive a salary of US$226 a month.
In true Amigos de las Americas fashion, we worked with Lázaro to develop a Community Based Initiative (CBI), which is a project that addresses a unique need in the community. Lázaro evaluated the needs of our school on Zapatera Island, and together we developed a plan to supplement the school’s funding to address the most critical deficiencies.
In 2014 we began our project to raise funds for Lázaro to distribute. Our goal was to raise $1,000 each year. Our money raised supplemented the supply of nourishing food and educational materials for students and teachers on Zapatera Island.
In 2017 we became an official recognized non profit, further enabling us to begin introducing new project programs and accept donations from foundations. Even more exciting, in 2018 our board members were able to visit Zapatera Island to finally meet the students and teachers that have benefited from our donations over the previous 3 years. In 2019 we launched a health initiative to provide students and families with a doctors visit, vitamins, anti-parasites, toothbrushes and toothpaste. In 2020 we increased our health initiative funding and provided care packages for 40 families during the Coronavirus pandemic.
We are more motivated than ever to continue the wonderful work of our project and take advantage of new opportunities that come with being a non profit organization. Please stay tuned as we grow in new and exciting ways!
Thank you for your time reading about our mission to improve student lives in Nicaragua, and we hope you will join us in supporting this impactful project. Please enjoy the slideshow above from 2004 during our first trip to Nicaragua with Lázaro and his local community.
Ben, Lázaro and Matt