Becky is working in Managua at the Centro Cultural Batahola, a community center that offers a wide variety of educational and cultural programs for low-income families in the surrounding neighborhoods.
When Doug visited Becky on Thursday she was working in the center’s library helping the director sort through book donations. The library has more than 5,000 books. Four mornings each week Becky helps the library with Sala de Cuento (Story Room) events, where they go to neighboring schools to read books and lead the kids in singing, dancing, painting, and crafts.
At noon Becky joins the other staff for lunch at the center’s comedor, or dining room, where each day cooks prepare a plate of food for a reasonable cost (50 Cordobas, or $2) that typically includes rice, beans, salad/vegetable, some meat, and a fresco (drink made with fruit juice or a grain, such as oatmeal or barley). Some of the other staff are also from the U.S., but most are Nicaraguans, including 2 psychologists and the librarian. The gringos all agreed that the Nicaraguan staff bring a lot of humor and laughter to the lunches, which Doug observed.
After lunch Doug and Becky went to her home, only about two blocks away. Becky’s host mother, Amanda Del Socorro, runs a small store from the front of her home. She sells clothes as well as items she makes, such as piñatas and cake decorations. She learned how to make the latter at a course she took at the Centro where Becky works. Also at the home are a grandmother (Esperanza), sister (Xochilt), and a niece (Alondra).
Becky’s afternoon activities have varied a lot the past four weeks, especially since it has included a week of school vacation, when the routines at the center change. Somedays she has been at guitar or recorder classes, a few times there have been orchestra practices (an outgrowth of the many music classes taught at the center), and Becky is also practicing her flute during rehearsals for an upcoming concert.
The day Doug was there Becky was helping with recorder lessons. What impressed Doug was that the teacher led the students for an hour of breathing and music reading practice before practicing with the recorders during the last 30 minutes. While normally about 30 children are at the practice, today there were only a half dozen because it was raining.