by Richard Geary and Will Hanks

It was great to be in Nicaragua again. Richard was welcomed back to Bluefields like a long lost son with crowds of people coming up to say hello, share their news and find out what the Trust’s plans are for the future. We were shown great kindness wherever we went.

Richard returning to one of the schools he helped build
Richard returning to one of the schools he helped build

Initially, we hired a truck in Managua, filled it with educational supplies and distributed them to the schools we support in and around Bluefields. It was wonderful seeing these schools, many built by Peace and Hope Trust teams, full to capacity with bright and eager young pupils grabbing their chance of getting an education. As you can imagine, the provisions we handed out were gratefully received by both staff and pupils. The schools were generally in good condition, but looking a little tired.

School supplies being distributed

Two classrooms still had uneven earth floors and in one school themain teaching block was a basic wooden, rather dark building.Richard had the idea of internally lining this otherwise sound building with Plycem [interior boarding] and painting the rooms white to brighten things up. The Headmaster was delighted at this idea and arranged a small army of local helpers to carry out the refurbishment. We ordered the materials the same day and they were delivered that evening! Two days later we turned up with all the necessary nails and tools and the team of locals set to work.

Dark walls of the classroom.
Dark walls of the classroom.
The volunteers and lined walls.
The volunteers and lined walls

By the end of the first day, two rooms were almost complete and a first coat of white paint had been applied. It was incredibly impressive how hard everyone worked, parents, village members School supplies being distributed Dark walls of the classroom. The volunteers and lined walls and teachers alike, all keen to volunteer and do their utmost to improve their village school.

New whiteboards and supplies.

We were then told of a small school, close to Bluefields, in desperate need of equipment and so we decided to pay a visit. The teachers were doing their best but it was obvious that they were urgently in need of chairs, desks, books and stationery. The only white board available was on loan from the local church, long with a number of pieces of furniture. We immediately set off back to the local shops, returning the next day with essential supplies, including three new whiteboards. We are sure that with a little bit of extra support and investment this school will go from strength to strength. A new pupil’s chair and desk made in Bluefields costs about £35 and we would like to instigate a ‘Sponsor a Desk’ scheme to do just this. Please let me know if you would be interested.

We provided each school with paint to smarten things up, both inside and out.

We called on the ‘rock breakers’ at the quarry and once again witnessed what a precarious and hard life they lead. The new road linking Bluefields to the rest of the country has meant that stone can now be transported from elsewhere easily and consequently there is much less local demand, resulting in even harsher economic circumstances for these people. We were upset to see that one of the ladies had sore and swollen eyes from the repeated trauma of small stone chips flying into them. There are now only around twenty people still working the quarry and so we went and bought enough safety glasses and protective gloves for them all. In addition, we bought a tarpaulin for them to hang up as protection against the extreme elements of rain and sun. We hope that the Trust will soon be allowed to build in Nica again and can return to buying stone from this community.


The Trust continues to support a feeding programme and It was heart-warming to see the children here tucking into a wholesome lunch. The Trust pays for fifty children to have a daily nutritious meal and we have just committed to funding this for a further three years.

We didn’t have time to travel up to La Barra ourselves, but we could send things there by the river boat. Hence we packaged up numerous school supplies, along with spares for the rice mill and enough corrugated iron to re-roof the village clinic. Since our return, we have received a message from La Barra saying that everything had arrived safely and to send thanks and best wishes to our supporters back home.

Supplies being loaded for La Barra
Supplies being loaded for La Barra

Presently it is not feasible to send a UK dental team up the Rio Grande de Matagalpa. In the past we have worked with a local Bluefields’ dentist, who is a great friend of the Trust. This time we met him, along with colleagues from Frontier Mission and have now arranged and paid for a five day trip for him and his nurse to travel up to Frontier Mission’s clinic in Kansas City (an extremely rural village many hours up river). The plan is then for people from surrounding villages to be brought by boat to see him.

It was also great to be able to get a favourable report from Frontier Mission on the water project we have paid for in the villages near Kansas City. Everything looks very positive at the moment.

One of the most moving moments of the trip occurred when visiting Casa Materna next to Bluefields Hospital. This is a maternity unit supporting women from the rural villages who travel to Bluefields for the birth of their babies. Most of the women are desperately poor, arriving with only the clothes they stand up in, and they may have to stay for several weeks before the due date. The accommodation is very basic and was full when we visited. We were there to distribute 50 Maternity Packs, assembled on our behalf by the wonderful Margaret Storey and her friend Jean. Margaret returns to Bluefields for roughly 6 months each year and is a fantastic friend and support to the Trust. She supports local employment by ensuring that, where possible, pack contents are manufactured by local women (one is a fourth year Medical Student). The packs contain an eclectic assortment of maternity essentials, ranging from soap and flannels to baby clothes and nappies and all are very gratefully received. Richard had the privilege of praying for some of the mums, babies and families, including one girl who was just 16 and particularly fearful. Margaret plans to distribute further packs soon and we are so grateful for all that she does.

A school uniform is still required for children attending the city schools. Roxanna has a list of roughly fifty children who need our help this year and she is in the process of buying and distributing what is required. Unfortunately, the shopkeeper we use was away in Managua during our trip and so we had to leave this in Roxanna’s capable hands.

We were wonderfully supported by three Nicaraguan colleagues:
Nestor who sourced the rice mill parts for La Barra, helped us navigate the stationery suppliers in Managua and recommended Alex, who became our excellent driver for the first part of the week. Roxanna was indispensable with her language skills and passion for the Trust’s work. She is a massive asset and a community leader in the making. We were also so impressed with the teams of volunteers who helped at the schools. It is a great privilege for the Trust to enable these amazing people to invest in their communities and to see them grab this opportunity with both hands.

There is plenty of scope for new projects. The schools we support need further maintenance. One needs a new room for the pre-school. We are attempting to form a partnership with the BICU University and supply some medical equipment for the poorer medical students. They are also requesting help in building a small clinic on the University Campus. We will keep you informed of how this progresses. There is also a call from one of the rural schools for a computer and projector. This would both open up many
educational opportunities and allow the school to become a CPD centre for local teachers. We will obviously continue to fund the feeding programme, water projects, dental and medical trips, school uniforms and school supplies.

Thank you so much for your support. It was incredibly gratifying to see what a difference the Trust is making to so many lives.

Best wishes,

Will (

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