BOULDER, Colorado—Nicaraguan singer/songwriter Moises Gadea headlined last Saturday’s benefit night for Empowerment International (EI), an organization that has provided community-based holistic educational programs to children and their families in extremely impoverished communities in Nicaragua since 2004. The evening event in Boulder, Colorado, will be followed by a second in Longmont, Colorado on Sept. 15 (click here). Both are headlined as “A Night in Nicaragua.”
One hundred percent of the proceeds from the two events are going to support Empowerment International’s programs in Nicaragua. More than 100 people attended Saturday night’s benefit event, which provided culture, chocolate, coffee, and other gift items put up in a silent auction and raffle. A slide show of Nicaraguan scenes and people was presented, accompanied by guitar songster Joshua Berman, former author of the Moon Guide Nicaragua. But the highlight was undoubtedly the appearance of Moises Gadea, who made his debut in the United States (listen to Gadea and Berman’s radio interview about their show here, including several songs performed live on KGNU).
The support of the following organizations, individuals, and businesses made the benefit events possible: INTUR, Gettliffe Architecture, Drew Estate Cigars, Nova Monda Cacao & Chocolate, Momotombo Chocolate, and Moon Travel Guides.
Empowerment International founder and executive director Kathy Adams explained the basic program structure, which involves daily home visits to encourage parents to send their kids to school and mentoring on how to enhance their children’s education. Empowerment International provides school uniforms, shoes, backpacks, and supplies, secondary school tuition, transportation for rural high school students, medical care, parenting programs, and counseling. This hands-on, person-to-person approach has garnered what may seem surprising results. Since 2004 Empowerment International has achieved a school retention rate of over 96% in a country with a greater than 50% dropout rate.
Of course, all this takes money, and the two “A Night in Nicaragua” benefit events help, but more is needed. For a sponsor cost of $30 per month, one may provide a needy child costs for school (books, uniforms, shoes, and socks), tutoring, home visits and monitoring, secondary school tuition, medicine and activities such as photography and baseball. Sponsors will receive a photo and biography of the child, personal letters from the child, progress of the child, the ability to correspond with the child and even visit the child and family. So there is direct personal involvement and one can see the impact on a child’s life first-hand. Of course, even one-time cash donations are helpful and appreciated.
Empowerment International offers several Nicaragua cultural learning opportunities. How about January’s Empowerment Bike Challenge for those of you who like adventure off the beaten path? The Empowerment International teen mountain bike club will host a seven day mountain bike adventure to parts of Nicaragua that are beautiful and untouched. Other Empowerment sponsored events for supporters starting next January are a Portrait Photography Workshop (women only), a Photography Workshop, and a Parent/Child Nicaragua Education Tour. In all of these events there is interface with the local Nicaraguans. See more information here.