Since 2009 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 and we’ve grown with the needs of our neighbors.
So what exactly does the Casa Llanta Fund do and where does the money go? Here’s a status update on our key initiatives:
Jam Making Women’s Cooperative
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 that produces and sells homemade jams. Financial training and a micro loan were provided and the 10 members of the co-op are now distributing their products into hotels and local shops in 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 cooperative in 2013 on land donated by Tim Kelly. The women opened their own shared savings account and are now completely self sustainable. We no longer provide financial aid to the women directly, but continue to provide indirect support through jam sales to the teams we bring to the community.
English Classes in the Carizal
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 and 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 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 classes attract regular volunteers and benefit from visiting teams throughout the year – many of whom also buy jam from the women’s co-op which is conveniently located across the street from the school. The cost to run the classes is $150 per month.
Carizal Scholarship Program
With the proceeds from the Pitaya Festival, the Casa Llanta Fund established 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 but 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. We now have 7 students on scholarship in 2015. We are currently seeking funding to support the 7 scholarships.
In January 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 four times a week in the women’s shelter.
Manos Unidas started by making handmade silk flowers and has evolved into producing tote bags using plastic rice bags recycled from local grocery stores. All earnings from product sales go towards the payment of salaries for the co-op participants, every two weeks. The bags can be purchased in town at Auric surf shop across from the Taco Stop.
The monthly expenses to operate this program are $120 for the teacher salary and $140 for the school bus. Visit the Manos Unidas website to learn more.