Friends of Batahola Volunteers was founded in 2007 by Laura Hopps and Christine Ruppert, graduates of Boston College and the Casa de la Solidaridad program in El Salvador. Batahola volunteers are young people from the U.S. who accompany the Centro Cultural Batahola Norte in its work of empowerment of women and youth for social transformation. Volunteers live in the community as friends and coworkers, learning from the CCBN and contributing to the development of new initiatives. Some of the projects in which the volunteers are involved include:
- Taking part in the continuing formation of a 2-year volunteer program
- Designing and teaching an English course for adult students
- Updating this blog and writing periodic articles to keep friends and supporters in the U.S. updated on current events in Nicaragua, the Center, and our experiences as volunteers
- Facilitating an art class for adolescents in a violence-prevention program, in an outreach project of the CCBN
- Facilitating formation workshops for scholarship students
- Leading bi-weekly Taize-style reflection spaces for staff
- Coordinating youth trips to a local farm school
- Leading monthly creative workshops for kids
- Orienting short-term volunteers and translating for delegations to the CCBN
- Being involved in community activities, classes, and weekly Mass
- The current FOB Volunteers are Andrea Kraybill and Samuel Estes.
Kelsey Schrock and Erika Coe are the current volunteers at the Cultural Center of Batahola Norte (CCBN) in Managua, Nicaragua. They arrived in September 2013 and will be living and working in Batahola Norte until October 2015. They are now the fourth generation of Friends of Batahola Volunteers, originally started by Christine Ruppert and Laura Hopps, both graduates of Boston College. Kelsey & Erika are supported under the wings of VMM–Volunteer Missionary Movement (http://www.vmmusa.org/).
Kelsey Schrock is from southeast Iowa, and comes from an Anabaptist/Mennonite background. She graduated in May 2013 from Goshen College with a degree in Social Work and a minor in Spanish.
She has visited Nicaragua once before, spending three months there as a part of a study-service term through her college and is excited to be back. Kelsey hopes to learn more about community-based social work at the CCBN as well as what it means to live in in solidarity with the Nicaraguan people. Kelsey played soccer in college and looks forward to finding some pick-up games on the street or even joining a league. She also loves dancing and cooking and is hoping to learn lots of Nicaraguan recipes to share through the blog.
Erika Coe was born in Arlington, Texas but moved to Minnesota at an early age. She studied Political Science and Peace Studies at Augsburg College in Minneapolis, Minnesota. After college, she did the Public Allies Twin program, and got to participate in weekly trainings on the nonprofit sector and work at Waite House Neighborhood Center. There, she worked in the food shelf, a domestic violence program, and a coalition of activists organizing to apply for a community radio station.
Erika visited Nicaragua once before as part of a study-abroad program for two months, spending some time in the community of Batahola Norte. She grew up going to anti-war protests and learning the history of the social justice movement so she is excited to become involved at the CCBN, which focuses on empowerment as a means for social justice. Erika enjoys running, playing guitar, live concerts and eating chocolate. She hopes to keep the blog updated on current events happening in Nicaragua, especially involving gender equality and violence prevention.
Andrea comes from Virginia, England, and the past 16 years, northern Indiana. She is a member of the global Mennonite church, and spent eight months serving with a Mennonite congregation in Argentina after high school. At Goshen College, Andrea majored in art, while also studying religion, international studies, and participating in various music/drama groups.
During her college summers, Andrea was a volunteer in diverse faith communities. In addition, she spent one semester studying and volunteering in Egypt. Formed by these intercultural experiences in faith and art communities, Andrea felt called to the volunteer position at the Cultural Center of Batahola Norte (CCBN). She appreciates greatly the support provided through the Friends of Batahola Volunteers (FOBV) program.
In Managua, Andrea co-teaches the English class. She is active in helping lead art workshops for at- risk children and youth in a CCBN project in another neighborhood. In addition, Andrea updates their volunteer blog and helps in visual communications for the CCBN.
Samuel was born and raised in Scottsdale, Arizona. He attended Carleton College in Northfield, MN, where he majored in Religion and Latin American Studies. Samuel studied in Guatemala, El Salvador, and Nicaragua in the fall of 2006. He first became acquainted with the Centro Cultural Batahola Norte (CCBN) during a home-stay in Managua as part of his study-abroad program. He also spent six weeks in Colombia in the summer of 2007 facilitating workshops in the Alternatives to Violence Project. After graduating from Carleton in 2008, Samuel moved to St Paul, MN, where he was a volunteer for two years with the Lutheran Volunteer Corps and then spent a year at Casa Guadalupana Catholic Worker House.
Samuel is involved in various projects at the CCBN. He co-teaches the English class, accompanies boys and men’s groups in the violence prevention project, and facilitates workshops and tutoring sessions for CCBN scholarship students.
As volunteers, Andrea and Samuel focus their mission-work on accompaniment, working for social ustice, and nurturing Christian spirituality.
For more information on the Friends of Batahola Volunteers program, check out their blog at http://bataholavolunteers.wordpress.com.
For information about applying to the program, click here.