While volunteer teaching in Nicaragua, we were able to learn about the broken education system and the relationship between the education system and the extreme poverty the country faces.

Co-founders John Bickel and Gabe Ervin 

In Nicaragua, schooling is free, however, many children are denied the opportunity to learn simply because their families cannot afford the supplies, books, etc. required to attend school.

 

ONLY 44% OF STUDENTS MAKE IT THROUGH PRIMARY SCHOOL BEFORE HAVING TO DROP OUT. UNFORTUNATELY, THESE STUDENTS ARE NOT DROPPING OUT DUE TO POOR GRADES OR AN UNWILLINGNESS TO LEARN, BUT RATHER BECAUSE THEY CANNOT AFFORD TO CONTINUE THEIR SCHOOLING.

It was hard for us to imagine how a country with so much potential could break out of systemic poverty when their youth are not being educated. With only one month to volunteer before returning the States, we hoped to find a way to continue to help once we left.

On an off day from teaching, we visited a group of women in the mountains of Matagalpa who used traditional indigenous weaving methods to make beautiful crafts and clothes.  These women sell their work locally in order to make a living that allows them to stay out of the sweatshops that have become prevalent in Nicaragua since the enactment of the Central American Free Trade Agreement.  They are able to work on their own schedules and make their own business decisions, while working in the comfortable conditions of their own workshop. 

 

They create incredible, hand-woven goods while only using recycled clothing, that has been reduced to its fiber materials, giving new life through weaving and production on foot-pedaled looms and sewing machines. Through these methods, they avoid energy waste and the production of harmful chemicals that are all too common in manufacturing. When we saw their creations, we thought it was remarkable what these women could make with recycled fibers

It was soon after our visit that we came up with the idea for Lokono.  If these women would agree to make us backpacks, and we could build a supply chain from the mountains of Nicaragua to the US, we could fund our volunteer organization, La Esperanza Granada, to donate a backpack full of school supplies for every backpack that we sold.

 




La Esperanza Granada is working with us to donate the backpacks to kids that need the supplies the most as well as have good attendance and grades in school.  Not offering a hand out, offering a hand up.  And anyone that purchases a backpack will know that they have made a difference in the life of a young student.