8-27-14  |  Volunteers

Learning with Lener: a story by volunteer Gemma

BY: Elena Laswick

Gemma Campos, a Fabretto volunteer from Spain who recently travelled to rural communities that Fabretto supports, recounts the story of her time with Lener, a preschool student in Somoto.

When I got to the school ‘Divino Pastor’ in Somoto, it was already 12:30, and preschool had let out for the day. ‘I’m too late,’ I thought to myself. But upon entering the classroom, I saw three figures seated around a small table. The preschool teachers María José and Alejandrina, along with Lener, their 5-year-old student, had waited for me to arrive.  Lener, who was drawing, looked up at me timidly.

Lener began attending preschool classes at Fabretto’s center when he was three years old. María José, who was trained by Fabretto to use a hands-on, Montessori teaching methodology, explained that she integrates practical, hands-on exercises in her lessons. Children can work at their own pace as they develop and strengthen basic skills.

When Lener began to show me what he’d learned, the impact of the Montessori style of education was clearWhen I asked if he knew how to count, he brought a wooden box with numbered sections and a set of sticks. He began to place groups of sticks in sections according by number, while counting aloud ‘one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten.’ For Lener, this activity makes learning math fun and engaging.

As he became more comfortable with me, Lener told stories and jokes, making us smile with his infectious laughter. He also showed me his favorite item in the classroom: the drum. While most Nicaraguan public schools offer few opportunities to explore diverse subject areas, Fabretto classes allow students to try out music, arts, sports, and technology in addition to core school subjects.

We had such a good time that I didn’t even realize it was already 2pm. I apologized for having kept them for so long, but María José told me that it was fine since they usually spent the afternoons with Lener. That’s when I realized that no one had come to pick him up.

I learned that Lener is the youngest of 12 siblings, all boys. His mother can’t pick him up since she works to support the family, and his 8-year-old brother Jeffrey takes care of him, bringing Lener to school and picking him up every day. Just as I was about to leave, a child entered the room. Lener’s face lit up and he ran after him. I knew it must be Jeffrey.

When I said goodbye to Lener, I suddenly had a feeling, a premonition, of the rest of my trip and everything that I was going to experience. Now that I’m back and writing these stories, I know that my time in Nicaragua was entirely unique.

My time there, although short, was very special to me, and I learned so much so quickly. It’s an experience I would recommend to anyone.

If you are interested in following in Gemma’s footsteps, please click here to learn about Volunteering with Fabretto. You can also help Fabretto to support children like Lener by making a donation today. 

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