My kind of black Friday!

Well, yes, I did go black Friday shopping, but it was on Thanksgiving day, and we went shopping for used wheelchairs in Managua!  We were very successful, finding six simple folding chairs, one supportive child size chair, three walkers, two canes, and a wipe board……………and all of that for under $600! Thanks to Wilmer and his brother for helping us to negotiate prices, and drive us! Ever helpful, talented, fun, and enthusiastic, Wilmer offered to repair wheelchairs needing a little tlc. These chairs are to support children in transferring from one location to another, NOT TO BE USED as a seat.

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This store was a line of chairs on the side of the road!


My host family very kindly let me turn part of the living room into a storage area for wheelchairs and walkers!


We have already delivered a walker to Brayon and a wheelchair to Eric. While visiting with Brayon we learned about his five year old neighbor Ezekial, who can not hear from one ear, does not go to school, and is only saying a few words. We provided information to start the evaluation process. Brayon also needs new shoes and wants to learn English. He is a delightful and bright eleven year old, who wants to be a television news broadcaster or a lawyer! His grandparents are raising him.

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Accessibility to Eric’s house was eye opening! It was hard to push the wheelchair to his house without him. I can not imagine pushing himself in the chair, but once he gets to the main road it is smoother. Lisa kindly bought the classroom a colorful box to replace our worn out cardboard surprise box. The box is made of bamboo and recycled plastic ties. It’s satisfying to support a local, small family business and recycling.


Forgive me, I cannot figure out how to turn this picture around!


Memorable moments and highlights of the week!

Wow, it has been a rewarding and full week! Here are some of the most memorable moments!

Carrying a walker, a cane, pair of crutches, three back packs full of classroom supplies, 24 maracas and 24 small baskets and fighting our way into a packed bus with all these items, all while my back pack strap was caught up in the walker!


Arrival and installation of the enormous mirrors!


Walking with Derling and noticing how much more control he has.

Hearing Maria’s giggle as we imitated her actions, and see her mother enjoy the connection.

Teaching picture exchange system (PECs) with Elias, watching his smile, hearing him say “dar me” (give it to me) with great clarity.

Expanding Nelson’s use of pictures to include a drink, and seeing how quickly he learned, even though he wanted to drink straight out of the bottle and not small quantities from the cup.

Hearing Diana say “alto” as we played a stop and go game in the wooden cart. Watching her using  PECs independently for the first time.

Watching Adriana take Liseth by the hand and make her sit down to play balloon. Nice role change! We are normally taking her by the hand and asking her to sit.


Seeing Darling’s enormous smile as Wilmer played hide and seek with our new enormous mirror!


Watching Emmanuel folk dance in front of the mirror with great gusto!

Having a day where Darling’s aunt did not need to hold onto her in her chair, as the new chair provides the necessary support.

A very productive meeting with the director of the special education school in San Marcos, and another great meeting with the minister of education, sharing information about CIELO de Amor. They are both very supportive and appreciative of the project.

Unrelated to the children, it was fun to see the mountains of oranges and bananas that are processed across from my house.

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Warm welcome back, and off and running!

I received a warm welcome by my staff, host family, and friends. Wilmer met me at the airport, Monday night, and In spite of flight delays all my bags and wheelchair arrived with me! Yahoo! Everything went smooth other than having to leave 25lbs of overweight items in Eugene. Thanks to Krista Jo for coming to the airport with me at 4am, taking the extra baggage, zip tying the chair together, writing my labels, and keeping me calm. Muchas gracias.

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It’s been great to see the children and notice how they have developed. The staff and families have done a great job continuing the program. Many of these children had not been to school till we opened in May, so it’s not easy for them to sit and pay attention, in particular the teenagers with autism. However, I noticed greater social interaction, calmness with the familiar routine, and although brief, longer attention span. It was rewarding to hear Yerling who has Down’s syndrome begin to imitate sounds of vowels, and her friend Gina imitating actions to the itsy bitsy spider. The park we built of tires is being used well, both by the children in other classes and with our physical therapist, practicing balance, walking, climbing, strengthening, and attention building. I am pleased with the variety in our small playground, allowing children of varied abilities to enjoy it. Maria who used to cry a lot, is content almost all day. Nelson, who has autism is initiating sharing his plantain chips with peers and staff. The laughter as we play red light, green light, or toss balloons on the blanket fill my heart. The children in the rest of the school seem less scared of the children with disabilities, and continue to visit regularly.

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I attempted to fit the wheelchair I brought with me for Darling. It’s never easy and I always wish my wheelchair specialist friends and PT’s were with me. Till they come I do my best, send photos, and welcome feedback. Although the chair fitted less than perfectly, Darling’s aunt told me she had a fever with excitement! Unfortunately I did not capture her great smile on my photos. In her old chair her aunt was always holding her from behind to ensure she did not fall out. I hope with the new chair her aunt can engage with her face to face.


I met with the team, who had brought pastries to welcome me. Liseth has been very conscientious tracking all the money, down to every cordoba. She has been building relationships and connections with the health center, government, minister of education, and Los Pipitos. She also organized a meeting with the parents to share resources, hear their needs, and what is going well. It was very moving to hear the parents response, tears were shed, appreciation expressed, and support provided. Parent support at its best! While i was gone 15 teachers from the area visited our class to learn about what we are doing, and as well as regular classes and physical therapy they hosted a large party! They have been busy!

It’s amazing to have such responsible, reliable, passionate, committed, creative, thoughtful, enthusiastic, energetic, positive, and fun staff. They make all the difference. In addition we have a new volunteer, Lisanne from Holland. She has been helping with the children, and is quick to pick up on strategies we are using. She has also kindly raised money from family and friends. This weekend she organised the painting of our very dark green class, to white with bright yellow trim. She received generous and ever enthusiastic help from Wilmer and his brother. I am looking forward to seeing it on Monday. She also made some beautiful and cheerful mobiles, and cut out felt shapes for story time. Dank u vell Lisanne, her family, and friends!

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I went to Masaya today looking for classroom supplies, crutches, walkers, and wheelchairs. Success on every front except the wheelchairs. I have another contact in Managua. So hope to follow up with this soon. It is such an honor to be able to meet some of the needs of the children with disabilities in La Concepcion. Thanks to you for your generosity!

Fabulous fiesta!

I was really touched by the great turnout for the launching party! And your generous donations. Muchas gracias.

Four of the five board members! Jeani we missed you.  My cousin Daniel and dear friends!


Launching CIELO de Amor!

Check out our website!

Please come help celebrate the launching of CIELO de Amor!

You, your family, friends, and children are invited to celebrate CIELO de Amor!

On: Sunday November 16th 2014

At: Hop Valley tasting room 990 W 1st Street Eugene, Or 97402

Between: noon and 3pm Snacks provided, child friendly

Hope you can come!