COVID-19 Update

Hello Mas Mariposas supporters,

As the COVID-19 crisis escalates around the world, we as the board of Mas Mariposas want to make sure to keep you updated on how the epidemic is affecting the community around La Mariposa and how your money is being used. As you can imagine, government leadership and guidance is lacking in Nicaragua, so organizations, businesses, and schools have been on their own in making decisions on how to proceed, leaving efforts to control virus spread inconsistent and chaotic.

Paulette made the decision to close La Mariposa to students two weeks ago, and workers have been allowed to choose to stay at home if they wish, besides some essential staff who can do their jobs independently (night guards, animal caretakers). Paulette is trying not to fire any of the workers for now, keeping them on salary and offering alternative work for Asociación Tierra such as tree planting, which can be done spread apart from others. They are also offering free fresh produce to people in need as there is an abundance from the garden with no students to feed. Skype teachers continue to teach online classes either from their homes or spread apart around the La Mariposa grounds, and for now they are the only source of income for the school besides donations and Paulette’s personal pension.

We know that with our realities changing daily, jobs being put on hold, children home from schools, and health concerns for family and friends, there is a lot of uncertainty for all of us wherever we are in the world.  While it may be harder for some to continue to give when the future of your own income may be in doubt,  many of us do still have our normally expected income, with options to work from home, and have support systems around us to meet our daily needs.

But for the people in the already struggling communities aided by La Mariposa, whose day-to-day livelihood depends on things like selling in markets and taking crowded public transportation to get to work, actually taking the steps needed to slow the virus spread in their country would be devastating. As Paulette described in her last Facebook update: “Please be aware that following all the rules here is very difficult, sometimes impossible for people who manage on 2 barrels of water a week (the barrios of Panama and Palo Solo), live maybe 6 people to a room (my neighbours), and do not have disposable income to stock up (let alone panic buy!!).”

How can you help?  The doors of La Mariposa Spanish School may be closed to students, but there is still plenty of work to be done!  Let’s each do what we can to make sure these projects can be sustained through this crisis:

Skype Spanish Classes: As mentioned earlier, Skype classes are the the only means of income for the school currently with no students physically attending in the near future. Sign up for Skype classes (and sign up your children, grandchildren, tell your friends…) to brush up on your Spanish, and help provide ongoing employment for the great teachers at La Mariposa! Spread the word about this great resource!

Chispa de Vida: Although the therapy and educational aspects of the program are currently unable to meet, there are still families of children with special needs who are supported with food, material needs such as diapers, and critical medications the family could otherwise not afford for their child. Consider becoming a monthly sponsor of Chispa de Vida, and help make sure these especially vulnerable children are cared for through this crisis.

Water Project for the poorest high-altitude communities:  As Nicaragua comes into the driest months of the year, La Mariposa helps to buy extra barrels of water for the families in the mountain communities of Panama and Palo Solo who normally would live on only 2 barrels of water a week supplied by the town. Through a generous donation, water to the community of Panama has been covered for the next few months!!  We would LOVE to see the same happen for Palo Solo (the community up the hill from Canada Honda)!  La Mariposa currently sends 3 tankers of water up to the community each week at a cost of $40 per tanker and will continue sending that amount into the month of May until the rainy season begins. Think about the extra amount of handwashing you’ve been advised to do daily…could you sponsor one $40 tanker to be sent to these families, so they have enough water to meet their basic daily needs including adequate handwashing?  Could you cover the whole community for a week ($120)? A month or more?  Make your one-time donation and designate your gift toward the Palo Solo Water Project.

Animal Rescue ongoing care:  No matter the crisis going on around them, the animals in our care still depend on us to provide their daily food and health needs. Consider a monthly horse or dog sponsorship to help keep the rescued animals of La Mariposa fed during this time, and to continue to provide a salary for the workers who provide their daily care.

Tree Planting Projects:  Already thousands of trees have been planted through the environmental efforts of Asociación Tierra. During this time with no students, many staff members of La Mariposa are continuing to help plant tree seeds in recycled cartons to be started and given out as seedlings to be planted throughout the community. Seeds for the most desirable trees need to be purchased, and some of the more rare trees which are being requested by high-altitude communities like Panama and Palo Solo as windbreaks are important because they are the ONLY tree species (Coppell and Laurel) that can grow under the volcanic gases in very dry conditions. These trees need to be purchased as saplings, and the total cost for the trees requested by the communities who need them will be $1600 for the Coppell trees, and $500 for the Laurels. Any gift toward the cost of these trees to promote reforestation in communities already devastated by the effects of climate change would be greatly appreciated!

Remember, ANY gift, either one-time or recurring, toward ANY of these projects, helps keep the La Mariposa Spanish School and Paulette’s mission through it–which we’ve all come to know and love first-hand–from going under during this time of crisis. We don’t know how long it will be before the world returns to “business as usual,” including international travel and tourism. Can we help La Mariposa continue its work to communities in need in Nicaragua even without income from students staying in the hotel? Can we help the wonderfully skilled employees of La Mariposa continue working and earning a basic salary to take care of their own families? We appreciate how all of you have stood with Paulette and La Mariposa through the hard times of the past couple years, and together may we continue that support and encouragement through this newest challenge!

Be well! (And use some of that extra free time in quarantine to take more Skype Spanish classes!)

Tara Steiner

For the Mas Mariposas board

Water trucks provide water for local communities.

Water tanker sent by La Mariposa arrives weekly.

Water trucks provide water for local communities.

Families refilling barrels of water.

Guillermina helps plant tree seeds to grow hundreds of new seedlings for future planting.

Skype classes keep teachers working while keeping a safe social distance. 

Puppies who were rescued this summer recently participated in a free sterilization clinic at La Mariposa with their new families.

Francesca is one of the children in Chispa de Vida who receives medications necessary for her medical condition through help from La Mariposa.