“Teacher Rita is downstairs, cleaning the storage room,” the other teachers told me. I am at San Pedro Apostle School, one of four centers under the supervision of Director Rita Fabiola Reyes López located in the municipality of Ticuantepe, Managua.
Indeed, between old furniture, broken slates and dust, was Teacher Rita with her hair braided under a hat. “You should not come in it’s very dirty. I`ll be out, ¨ she shouts from the inside. At that moment a man says between his teeth, “that’s the difference between being a teacher by vocation and those who just come because they have to. She knows how to roll up one`s sleeves.”
Rita Reyes holds a degree in Pedagogy, with a specialty in primary education. Dirita is where Educación Público Rural, NER, has its central office. Dirita has been the head of this nucleus for more than five years. Dirita along with San Pedro Apóstol, Santiago Argüello and Los García are all a part of the municipality of Ticuantepe, Managua. The first two are part of the 26 schools served as part of the second phase of Cargill’s Nutriendo el Futuro and CARE Internacional project, through the local partner Fabretto Foundation.
Because of the project, changes in Dirita School and San Pedro Apostol have been significant. However, beyond the presence of Nutriendo el Futuro, they are aware of Rita’s willingness and desire to help. With a group of volunteers from Cargill, parents and teachers clean the school. Rita will not only clean- she will go as far as sharing food safety recommendations with the delegation of the Ministry of Education.
Beyond the changes made in the dining hall, kitchen and storage room, for teacher Rita, the most significant changes have been in children’s habits and behavior. “We have strengthened our strategies and experiences with the students in the topic of SAN (Nutritional and Food Security). Thanks to the school garden initiative, choices in snacks and hygiene have improved, such as washing hands and swapping 75% of junk food with fruit. In the beginning, we struggled with parents who preferred to give children soda beverages. That has also been a important change in the children’s eating habits. “
Professor Rita Reyes with students from the San Pedro Apóstol school, Ticuantepe Managua
In spite of finishing the first phase of Nutriendo el Futuro, Teacher Rita continues as a spokesperson for the project. Little by little, she has been able to get other teachers of the municipality of Ticuantepe on board the project. “As a teacher and TEPSE (Programming and Evaluating Educational Workshops) trainer, we take ownership of what we have learned from the project, and pass it on to teachers throughout the municipality. “
In the new phase of Nutriendo el Futuro, all of these learning processes will be strengthened to positively influence behavioral changes within students, faculty, and parents through campaigns and trainings on the topic of SAN, always in direct coordination with the Ministry of Education.
“During the municipal evaluations, we were able to present our work, how it has been done, how the project has supported us, and how school gardens have become family gardens. This year, MINED made a presentation of how school gardens work – using as an example a school garden just like ours,” clarifies the teacher.
Dirita and San Pedro Apóstol are now references when it comes to the subject of food and nutrition security in schools. This has been possible thanks to Cargill and CARE’s Nutriendo el Futuro project, who work hand in hand with teachers like Rita who love what they do. However, a lot remains to be done. For now, they will continue on with the cleaning of the school to optimize the space where children learn and play.
ON THE TEACHERS DAY, MAKE A DONATION TO HELP US TO GUARANTEE THAT MORE TEACHERS, LIKE RITA REYES, CAN HELP NICARAGUAN CHILDREN LOOK FORWARD TO A PROMISING FUTURE BY LEARNING IN A SAFE ENVIRONMENT AND QUALITY EDUCATION.