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Ecotourism with a purpose: supporting education in rural Nicaragua

Sister Communities of San Ramón, Nicaragua (SCSRN), a Durham based non-profit, is excited to announce that we will be building four new classrooms. These new classrooms will be built in the communities of El Roblar and El Jinete, in the municipality of San Ramón, Nicaragua. This brings the tally of classrooms built by SCSRN, to 28 classrooms over 14 years.

Apart from private donations, SCSRN's primary financial resource for social projects like this one comes from cultural immersion ecotours to this rural mountainous region of northern Nicaragua. Visitors spend four days at Finca Esperanza Verde, an eco-lodge and coffee farm founded by SCSRN, and then three days in the town of San Ramón, staying with host families and learning about Nicaraguan culture. Visitors know that their money goes to support the local tourism industry of San Ramón, and also to fund social projects, like the construction of classrooms in rural communities.

The classrooms in El Jinete will be used for K-6, in order to meet the need for space in this growing community. This year, 140 children enrolled at the beginning of the school year, and thirty were turned away because of lack of space. We are very happy to have this construction project come to our community, because we want all of our children to get the chance to study," says Leocadio Sanchez, community leader in El Jinete.

In El Roblar, the new construction is part of SCSRN's "High School for All" campaign, in conjunction with the Ministry of Education's secondary rural school project. Many children in rural communities do not attend high school because of the high cost of daily transportation to the nearest high school, and because teenagers are expected to work to help support their families. The Ministry of Education has begun high school classes on the weekends in some rural primary schools to ensure that all children have access to secondary education.

High school classes in El Roblar began three years ago, each year opening up a new grade (in Nicaragua high school lasts five years). This school year, the El Roblar primary school has been filled to capacity with just first-, second-, and third-year students. As this school year comes to a close, teachers and administrators have been worried about how they were going to accommodate the rising fourth-year students. The construction of these two classrooms comes at just the right time. In the words of one administrator: "Parents in rural communities are seeing the importance of high school education more and more, and they want to send their kids to school, which is great, but we were very worried about not having enough space for them."

Our intimate relationship with San Ramón, a municipality with a population of approximately 45,000 people, allows us to respond to community-identified needs in ways that few international non-profits can. This relationship is also why our ecotours are so meaningful to our visitors and ensure a level of respect and dignity for all involved. We invite you to come and be a part of transformative change in this beautiful corner of the world! Learn more about our cultural immersion ecotours here:  

About Sister Communities of San Ramón, Nicaragua

SCSRN has been supporting community-identified projects in education, health, sanitation, and environment in the rural municipality* of San Ramón, Nicaragua for over 20 years. All construction projects are completed by the community – SCSRN covers the cost of materials and specialized labor, and the community contributes the unspecialized labor. To learn more visit:

*Nicaraguan municipalities are comparable to counties in the United States. San Ramón has a population of approximately 45,000 people, and currently 78 rural schools.

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Genuine Ecotourism always has a purpose, and your project sounds very much like Genuine Ecotourism! One has to admire the flexibility of the national and the local government in accepting funds from a private tourism business, not always the...

Genuine Ecotourism always has a purpose, and your project sounds very much like Genuine Ecotourism! One has to admire the flexibility of the national and the local government in accepting funds from a private tourism business, not always the case. Let us hope that the students which will occupy the classrooms you are building will also learn about the importance of Ecotourism and be able to develop relevant, useful skills. Please do keep us posted about the progress of your inspiring project!

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Antonis Petropoulos
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