My dear friends, I have been in Nicaragua for approximately a month. I've encountered and worked with multiple organizations that are in need of the donations that you have supplied, but one in particular stuck out the most. Asociación Pro Ayuda a la Niñez Nicaragüense (APAN), which roughly translates to Association for Helping Nicaraguan Children. This nonprofit was founded in 1992 by Ronald Mendieta Gutiérrez and José Arrieta from Diriamba, Nicaragua. Their main mission is to help children who are at risk (poverty, homelessness, crime) through offering technical training courses in carpentry, beauty care, baking, sewing and other arts and crafts workshops. The objective of the courses are to give children applicable skills that would allow them to improve their quality of life through better job opportunities.

One of my favorite things that they do is empowering young girls by teaching them valuable skills to enable them to be financially independent in the future, putting them on the right track to perhaps aim for higher education. Within the past years, they have worked against the machismo culture that pervades Latin American countries by changing the perspective that women hold about their role in society and as equals to men and not their inferior. I think it is important to support an indigenous organization as they possess the cultural astuteness to needed to provide change from within their society. It's an emic approach.

Some of its programs are below:

Vocational trainings: APAN offer training classes to keep children off the street, providing vocational skill building. At the same time this promotes values in education among children and youth. Basic workshops at this point are: carpentry - dressmaking - dance - drawing - craft - hairdressing and beauty.

Working with families: a great deal of follow-up of APAN activities is given to the families of the youth that is attending the social center, the dialog with the parents is very important to find the solutions from their own family environment for the development. Giving talks and workshops on violence, gender, alcoholism, "code of childhood and adolescence", etc.

Recreational, educational and sports activities: excursions, study visits, workshops, lectures, games, crafts, exchanges with Nicaraguan organizations, sports leagues. Many of the current voluntary promoters of these activities are former beneficiaries from previous projects in APAN.

Thematic campaigns: Against violence, civil, political, social and cultural rights, sex education, reproductive health, nutrition etc. Before Christmas time APAN is organizing Caravana Navideña.

Child and Youth Council: Was formed by young people ages 12 to 16, elected by the youth of each of the neighborhoods and vocational-schools in democratic elections. All decisions, complaints about the workshops, proposals, activities etc. that affect APAN have to be discussed also in the Child and Youth Council. It is also the one that takes charge of the relations with young people of other organizations and Nicaraguan groups forming relationships.

“In recent years APAN has experienced a significant decrease of its funding (because of the crisis in 2008) which has forced the organization to reduce staff and service offerings. Actively investigating sustainable strategies to generate revenue to support their social programs, projects and the learning center, APAN has started to create multiple revenue streams through the sale of baked goods and handmade artisan products produced by current students and alumni of their workshops. Based on their success, APAN aspires to develop additional strategies to generate revenue sustainably by leveraging their organization's existing physical and human capital and to convert it into social entrepreneurship activities.” – from a proposal by Santa Grinberga, associate at APAN

TL:DR: Basically, the above states that there is a decrease in funding due to shortage of staff. APAN plans to combat this by exploring alternative streams of revenues that they can incorporate into their programs that will also help improve their community.

Where is it: Diriamba city in a strategic place between 7 different suburbs, and presence of work in 22 districts of the urban sector of Diriamba, with aspirations to expand their work to more municipalities eventually.

Why they would benefit from your donations the most: The laptop that Ashley graciously supplied would help give the children access to publishing software for their marketing campaigns to promote their program and mission. There is a new volunteer member who intends to start a computer training course for APAN. The supplies donated by Alice, Tong, Hema, Glenda and countless others would be for the children to use in technical classes for taking notes and schoolwork. My apologies if I missed anyone, but thank you so much for your donation. I will be visiting APAN during the last week of my program to personally deliver the donations.

I think the impact that APAN has had over the years on its ingénues has been extremely progressive in fighting the machismo culture that is rampant in Latin America and in empowering young women. Your donations will continue to help this important non-profit organization afloat that has been making an impact on its community for over two decades.

So it is with your permission that I hope to be able to take your generous donations to APAN.

-Tu Anh 

photos via APAN's Facebook page. Visit their official website here (only in Spanish):