Las Peñitas is home to an amazingly beautiful estuary and natural reserve, which hosts a wide variety of activities. Working with community members, we offer numerous excursions that visitors only get the chance to experience through a tour with a local guide. Such activities include estuary tours in traditional canoes, crab and clam hunting, learning to fish by hand, and overnight fishing trips. All proceeds from these excursions help fund initiatives such as mangrove reforestation, turtle conservation, and our field trip program, which facilitates educational trips for local community members.
Waste management is a serious concern in Las Peñitas. Many streets are littered with trash, and families often burn their garbage, which pollutes the environment with toxic fumes. Our community recycling program addresses this issue by separating items that would otherwise be considered “trash” into usable materials that can serve a practical purpose. Some of the products we create include trash bins made from plastic bottles, game pieces for Chess and Othello, colorful and creative toys for children, and bracelets made from plastic bags. We also have plans to construct stand-up-paddleboards using 2-liter plastic bottles. It’s a great way to keep our community clean, and we’re also able to sell some of our products for a profit, which help us to pay our teachers and fund other Casa Verde initiatives.
Chess is a great way for individuals, both youth and adult, not only to interact with one another in a friendly and competitive manner, but also to develop important critical thinking and problem solving skills. Numerous studies indicate that people who practice chess on a regular basis have overall improved cognitive functioning. Our chess students meet weekly to learn more about the game and improve their skills. Our eventual goal is to travel to other areas of Nicaragua and Central America to compete in various tournaments and competitions.
Recycled Pallet Furniture
We offer pallet furniture classes for anyone interested in learning more about furniture design and woodworking. Through collaboration with local carpenters and guest teachers, students learn to design and construct different types of furniture using pallets and other recycled wood found in the community. The furniture we make can then be purchased at cost by our student carpenters or sold for a profit to local businesses and individuals. The proceeds from each sale are then divided between our carpentry teachers, our carpentry students, and a fund that is used to buy additional tools and materials.
Our classes in creating unique, handmade crafts are among the most popular activities we offer. Participants exercise their creativity while also creating products that generate a source of income. We partner with several businesses and organizations to give our products more visibility and help our artists sell their designs. Artists receive half of the profits from their sales and the remainder of profits are reinvested back into La Casa Verde to pay our teachers and buy more materials.
The public education system in Nicaragua is in need of reform. Classrooms are overcrowded and lack resources, while teachers are overworked and underpaid. Our school support program offers assistance to the local teachers and introduces new ideas and alternative approaches to education. Volunteers in our school support program work in collaboration with local teachers either as guest teachers or teacher’s assistants. In this capacity, volunteers are able to deliver lessons and activities on any number of topics, including vocational skills, recreational hobbies, personal health, and environmental issues.
When people in Las Peñitas are asked “What is one thing that you would like to learn?”, the most popular response, for both children and adults, is “English.” Our language program utilizes an interactive and practical approach to language acquisition for both community members who want to learn English and visitors who would like to improve their Spanish. We facilitate frequent conversation opportunities and strive to create an environment of reciprocal teaching, where students are encouraged to teach as well as learn.
Educational Field Trips
Nicaragua is an amazing country filled with diverse culture and beautiful landscapes. However, due to financial limitations, many Nicaraguans never get the opportunity to travel outside of their own town. By partnering with other organizations throughout Nicaragua and Central America, our aim is to facilitate educational trips for local community members, with the ultimate goal of exposing trip participants to new ideas and creative solutions that can be implemented in their own communities.
Mangrove Protection and Reforestation
There is an increasing problem of deforestation within the estuary of Las Peñitas. Unfortunately, many locals are cutting down the estuary’s mangrove trees to sell for firewood, and these trees play a vital role in the estuary’s delicate ecosystem. Without the habitat provided by the estuary’s mangrove trees, many native plants and animals would not be able to survive. Through collaboration with local organizations and individuals, La Casa Verde brings education and awareness to the problem, as we continue to seek viable solutions for the health and longevity of the community’s natural environment.