Since 2007 our community outreach has evolved from the distribution of school and sports supplies to a multi-front education-centered foundation called the Casa Llanta Fund. We’ve always taken a grass roots approach to problem solving real life issues that exist in our community. We’ve grown with the needs of our neighbors and our mission is committed to education. Through slow but steady property sales and volleyball tours over the past 8 years, we’ve established and supported our non-profit organization named the Casa Llanta Fund.
So what exactly does the Casa Llanta Fund do and how do we help the community? Here’s a status update on our key initiatives.
In 2007 with the support and guidance of Rootham Gourmet Preserves out of Canada and the Rotary Club of Guelph South, the Casa Llanta Fund formed a sustainable women’s cooperative called Condimentos del Carizal which produces and sells homemade jams. Financial training and a micro loan were provided to the women in the community. The 10 members of the co-op are now distributing their products into hotels and local shops throughout San Juan del Sur.
With funds from the Rotary Club of Guelph South and proceeds from Pitaya Festival, the Casa Llanta Fund built a community kitchen for the women’s cooperative in 2013 on land donated by Tim Kelly. The women have opened their own shared bank account for their savings and are now completely self sustainable. We no longer provide financial aid to the women directly, however we continue to indirectly support them with group sales from the teams that we bring to the community.
Carizal Scholarship Program
With the proceeds from the Pitaya Festival, Casa Llanta Fund was also able to establish a program called “Becas del Carizal” in 2012. Becas, or scholarships, are provided to any aspiring child or young adult in El Carizal who wishes to continue education and is unable to afford it. In 2012 the fund supported 6 students in high school and university programs. In 2013 there were 5 students enrolled in the program and in 2014 there were 6. In 2015 we had 7 students on scholarship and we are hoping to continue to grow with our students into 2016.
In 2009 the Casa Llanta Fund established a partnership with Comunidad Connect to provide bi-weekly English Classes for students in the community of El Carizal. The ages of our students range from 2 to 20 years old. The class size averages 30. The class is multilevel and the older students serve as assistant teachers at times. The goals of the classes are to create enthusiastic life long language learners, prepare students for an international world and form confident ambassadors for the community.
Due to the growing popularity of the classes, we are now receiving students from other neighboring communities including Talangera, Las Delicias, San Rafael de la Bahia, Las Pampas, Las Quintas and Escameca. In addition to the English classes, we also host field trips and sports clinics throughout the year to inspire them to stay in school. The cost to run these classes is $150 per month. The classes attract regular volunteers and benefit from visiting teams throughout the year – many of which usually buy jam from the women’s co-op which is conveniently located across the street from the school.
In January of 2014 Bastin Vrancken and Brooke Rundle founded a cooperative for children and adults with disabilities in San Juan del Sur called Manos Unidas. Manos Unidas translates to “hands together” which signifies the culture of teamwork and togetherness within the cooperative.
The cooperative meets on weekdays in the Mobile Library to congregate, learn and produce products. Manos Unidas started with the making of handmade silk flowers and has evolved into the production of fashionable tote bags made from repurposed rice bags. All materials are sourced in Nicaragua and each bag is hand crafted by the individual named on the bag tag. Wherever possible we strive to use recycled materials for decorating the bags.
All of the earnings from the sale of products go towards the payment of salaries for the co-op participants every two weeks. As of July, 2015 the salaries of the students within the program are now fully funded directly through the sale of bags meaning that our foundation no longer pays their salaries out of our annual fund.
Our tote bags are currently for sale at Auric surf shop and Hotel Alcazar in San Juan del Sur, as well as the Garden Cafe in Granada. Bags can be purchased on order by contacting the founders at the Casa Llanta Fund.
In 2015 the Casa Llanta Fund partnered with Escuela Adelante to provide much needed school books for the 80+ students in the daily after-school English language course. This supplemental education program is dedicated to honoring the unique needs of students of all ages – whether it means preparing for a successful career as an entrepreneur or preparing for a university degree. Supplying books for the students in this program is critical to the success of the students. The ongoing monthly expenses to operate this program are $100 per month.