Helping Children in Nicaragua

Mareili Amrein worked as a social worker in different fields in Switzerland. While she was taking a time-out from everyday life in Switzerland, she only wanted to make some holidays in Nicaragua (Central America) and to improve her Spanish. She was relaxing and taking some Spanish classes at the touristic spot Las Peñitas on the Nicaraguan Pacific coast, when she ran into the everyday problems and hard circumstances of the kids of the surrounding villages. She began taking care about two boys by preparing lunch for them and play some games. More and more kids from the surrounding villages joined the group. The project was born.

Sonfloras incidental beginning

Mareili Amrein worked as a social worker in different fields in Switzerland. While she was taking a time-out from everyday life in Switzerland, she only wanted to make some holidays in Nicaragua (Central America) and to improve her Spanish. She was relaxing and taking some Spanish classes at the touristic spot Las Peñitas on the Nicaraguan Pacific coast, when she ran into the everyday problems and hard circumstances of the kids of the surrounding villages. She began taking care about two boys by preparing lunch for them and play some games. More and more kids from the surrounding villages joined the group. The project was born.

Due to the reason that it was not a planned process or financed by an organization or foundation, Mary first had to spend all her time and her own money to keep the volunteer project running. Each day the volunteer project in Nicaragua got bigger and bigger, so every helping hand was needed.

The role of her friends and the volunteers

Mary could convince and gain first friends and backpackers in Nicaragua to volunteer at her project. Volunteers and her network became an important source for financing the project and for carrying out work. Friends and family at home as well helped her with contributing financially or helped out with some work from abroad like creating the website or searching some sponsors and volunteers. Due to the dedication for social work and the project, several volunteers put their own ideas into the project and established activities like homework support, football trainings and tournaments and much more.

The status quo

Nowadays the volunteer project operates in two locations Las Peñitas and Tamarindo and reaches approximately up to 100 kids. In Las Peñitas, the project owns a house with a big backyard, which the kids can use for doing homework and as a playground. The foreign volunteers always have been a good support, but for particular tasks the project needed local and long-term employees.

There a now working several locals in full- and part-time jobs as psychologist, teacher or social worker for the project. Of course there are some things to consider when working with children. To improve the education, several kids are sponsored by foreign godfathers to visit a private school, because the public schools are not providing a good education. Sonflora helps the kids in different fields as education, nutrition, healthcare and other social issues.

It became a family for the kids and a place, where they feel protected and can live out their childhood.

The name of the organization “Sonflora” originates from the Esperanto language and means Sunflower. Sunflowers always face the sun and leave their shadow behind.

What about Sonflora’s future?

Especially at the second location in Tamarindo an improvement is planned and needed. Nowadays the project takes place in a private house and at its front yard. It is planned to buy and construct a house and an area for the project. For that Sonflora is still searching financial sponsors. In Las Peñitas the capacity is exhausted to accept more kids to the project, due to missing additional workforces.

To fill the gaps, more local employees and foreign volunteers are needed.

On the one hand Sonflora tries to find financial supports and on the other hand Sonflora promotes more for finding volunteers. A first important step was to begin offering voluntary jobs on the website by Volunteer World to increase the range and to professionalize the way of marketing the project to volunteers.

How to become a volunteer at Sonflora?

Sonflora needs a lot of support and is happy about every helping hand. For financing the construction of the new house in Tamarindo and operative costs, Sonflora solicits for donations. Another possibility to contribute financially is to become a sponsor (godfather) of a particular kid to cover the costs of visiting a private school. The sponsorship of a kid costs about 50 USD per month and covers all expenses for the school visit as transport, school uniform, books, other school materials and the school fees.

Sonflora charges no fees for volunteering

Manpower is also needed and volunteers are always welcomed to help out in the project. Volunteering is possible at the project from 3 months upwards. An accepted time period for a volunteer is individually depending on his Spanish level. Volunteers, which take a gap year might begin without any Spanish and take classes on the spot. Sonflora charges no fees for volunteering at the project and can help out to find an accommodation, to organize a shuttle service from the airport or Spanish classes and can support in case of any problems.


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You are amazed by Sonflora’s work or generally interested in volunteering in Nicaragua? Click here and find your dream volunteer program!

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