We are Tessa Tracy and Metea Koronas, two friends from Cambridge, Massachusetts. We’re raising money to support the children’s library and community center that we founded in Matapalo, Nicaragua with a team of local youth in 2018.
Matapalo is a rural community of about 500 people in the mountainous region of Matagalpa, in the northwest part of the country. We first visited the community through a cultural exchange program in 2014, and we’ve continued to return over the past five years. Over the past three years we’ve worked on building a house in the community, and now we live here full-time.
Matapalo is full of hardworking and generous people who we will forever feel indebted to for the friendship and wisdom they’ve shared with us over the past 6 years. Many of the children in this community are as dear to us as our own cousins and siblings.
Working with other lending libraries in the area over the past few years, we’ve come to see that these institutions harness children’s early love for reading while also providing a safe and supportive learning environment. The children in our community love reading, but books are extremely hard to come by in this area. When you do come across them, the selection is limited and the prices are inaccessible.
Since opening the library, we’ve built a collection of 200 books ranging from picture books to novels. In addition to operating as a lending library, we offer English classes, art classes and dance classes. On the weekends, we open as a free space for homework help, crafts and games.
We’ve been operating in our new building since May 2019, and look forward to seeing our local youth co-founders run the project independently. We have ambitions to expand our project to offer a wider range of classes and academic scholarships for students who graduate high school. Not only will improved access to books, school supplies and extracurricular academic support open doors for the children in Matapalo, but the young people we partner with at the head of this project will also have a unique opportunity to develop their leadership skills while giving back to their community.
So we turn to our community in the U.S., and ask that if you are able, you consider making a contribution of any size to support this project. With only $10 we could buy a book. With $40, we could build a bookshelf. With $200, we can fund an art course. Below, we have included a list of our current needs and goals.
We would also be endlessly grateful for any non-financial support such as recommendations for children's or young adult books to keep on our shelves. We are also always collecting new or like-new backpacks, Spanish-language books, art supplies and school supplies. Your questions, feedback and advice are also welcome.
If you know anyone else who may be supportive of this work, please spread the word. Thank you in advance for your generosity, and for taking the time to learn more about this project.
August 2020 Goals
Women's Beekeeping Entrepreneurship - Contact Us
We recently worked alongside Nicaraguan community organizers and a curriculum development expert from the University of Wisconsin in developing the project design for a year-long initiative that would train women in Matapalo and another nearby community, Nueva Santa Celia, in beekeeping and entrepreneurial skills. The project would strive to increase economic opportunity and leadership skills by teaching participants to upkeep beehives, elaborate of honey and wax based products (i.e. soaps, candles, hand creams), and sell their products for additional income. All courses would be taught by a team of Nicaraguan women and youth with 5 years of beekeeping community empowerment experience.
We are currently seeking funding for this collaborative initiative. We have developed an extensive project proposal and detailed budget. If you are interested in learning more, please contact Tessa Tracy at [email protected]
Continue to fund art classes - $250
We are looking to raise $250 to offer another 6-week art class. These classes have been extremely popular and the children always refer to this opportunity to express their creativity as their favorite library activity. These courses are taught by the same artist who designed and painted our library’s beautiful mural.
Fund a baking class for women - $250
We hope to begin offering programming for adults in the community as well. Women have expressed particular interest in baking classes. Baking classes create entrepreneurial opportunity as women will learn to make goods that they can make and sell conveniently from their homes. We are in contact with a woman from a nearby town, San Ramon, who is excited about the idea of offering these workshops in Matapalo. We are fundraising for ingredients, supplies, a small convection oven and a teacher stipend.
Expand our book collection to at least 300 books
In 2019 we reached our first goal of 200 books. Let's reach 300! Contact Metea or Tessa to donate used Spanish-language books or explore our Amazon book wish list here: https://www.amazon.com/hz/wishlist/ls/2EWV7T95AW5N?ref_=wl_share.