Erin is working at the Fortress of Hope children’s home on the outskirts of Managua. The seventeen children and youth in this home have been abused either emotionally, physically, or sexually and been taken from their homes and placed at Fortress of Hope by the Nicaraguan Ministry of Family. They have three separate houses on the property that house boys ages 2 to 11, pre-adolescent girls, and adolescent girls. The home provides their basic needs as well as sends them to school in the morning and provides activities, a social worker, and a psychologist in the afternoon. The families of the children can come and visit on set dates and work with the Ministry of Family to provide a safe home for the children to return to. When the Ministry of Family decides the home is safe, they work with the parents and the child to decide if it is better for the child to return home or to stay at Fortress of Hope and finish their schooling.
Erin is fortunate enough to have the most structured service assignment. The first week she worked with the director to map out her daily schedule. In the morning, she has been working with some of the staff teaching English. After English, she helps in the kitchen. This has been a very rewarding time for her as she has been learning Nicaraguan recipes but also forming a special relationship with the cook. She also takes the recipes home to her host family and practices with her host mother.
After lunch, she tutors some of the girls in trigonometry. When we arrived for our visit, she was tutoring Francela. Francela pulled out a quiz she had just completed and had answered 9 out of the 10 questions right. We could see how proud Erin was of Francela and the Francela’s excitement of doing well in Math. Francela told us that she understand trigonometry now because Erin has helped her. Erin tutors several different girls every day. After tutoring, she plans a different activity every day such as crafts and physical education.
Erin also has enjoyed her host family. While visiting in her home, her most mom and Erin laughed and told us about all their cooking adventures. Erin has also been able to find a host cousin to run with in the morning that keeps up to her pace as she trains for cross country in the fall.