Great news!

CIELO de Amor 501c3 status was approved! I am amazed how fast this process was, thanks to the new 1023ez form! And support from David Atkin and staff at the Center for Nonprofit Law. Contributions are officially tax deductible in the USA from Oct 23rd 2014. Yeah! Donations always welcome!

Some days are tough

It’s not always rewarding. Friday was a particularly challenging day for me….Boxing Day for my British friends and family. I went to meet and measure a child who I knew needed a wheelchair in a nearby town. In the process I met his 24 year old sister who is very deformed, and a 14 year old girl with juvenile arthritis, in so much pain and without medication. I know you have all seen photos of children severely deformed, because they have received no early intervention, no services, perhaps a wheelchair that has added to their deformities. That’s what I saw today! It is heartbreaking. Sometimes I numb out, sometimes I cry, sometimes I reach out to my friends, family, and colleagues, and cry again. I feel overwhelmed. The physical therapist there has been trying to get medication for the girl with rheumatoid arthritis. Sometimes she is in too much pain to receive PT.

In the afternoon I saw three children whom I have given specialised wheelchairs, but none of them brought their chair. One said it is easier to carry her than bring the chair on the rough roads and the bus. One child does not have enough head control and the chest strap cuts into his neck, and the other said his child is too hot in his chair and so he carrys him over his shoulder. They use the chairs in their home and for short journeys.

The challenges here are huge and I remind myself “I am doing the best I can”. I carry on with my to do list one step at a time, eagerly awaiting colleagues who will visit me at the end of January. I am so thankful to Sandy, Natasha, Kyla and Jenna who are coming in January, and Elaine, Jodi and Kirah who are looking at tickets to come for spring break. Thank you. I am also very thankful to those of you who can not come, but provide words of encouragement, via e mail messages, Facebook posts, skype conferencing, FaceTime calls, listening ears, financial donations, tips on how to support the children or make an adaptation, show interest and call me. It all helps! Muchas gracias.

And then after the tears and chats, I start finding my drive again to figure out how to make this a sustainable project for years to come, so that the future children in La Concha receive services from an early age and throughout their life. I will keep you posted as ideas evolve.

Meanwhile wishing you all a very happy and healthy 2015.

It’s only Monday and vacation!

It’s only Monday and we are on a two week vacation. Nonetheless I have distributed four simple folding wheelchairs for transportation purposes. It was precious to hear Brayon gasp as he saw me wheel his chair to his house. Needless to say he was very appreciative of the wheelchair, as he can now go in the microbus and moto taxi. His world is opening up.  I also met Ezekial’s mother who will come to meet the visiting speech pathologists at the end of January.


While wheeling another chair to the carpenter to get a tray made, an elderly lady beckoned me over and asked if I had a wheelchair for her 34 year old son Neptali. I had seen him in a chair, however was told that he shares it with his elderly aunt whom I also met. Within ten minutes I delivered a chair to Neptali. We were all thrilled! Neptali also needs forearm crutches, which I shall try to purchase.


Chairs were also delivered to Jose who has a head injury, and a motor cycle with three people on board, picked up a chair for an elderly lady whose chair is broken. Cristofer’s family came to pick up his crutch, so he now has two! I bought four pairs of supported shoes, much needed by Gina, Maria Isabella, Brayon, and Derling, all who receive physical therapy. They either had very worn out shoes, crocs, or similarly unsupportive shoes.


Our wish list!

CIELO de Amor wish list!

20 people to donate $25 per month to cover salaries of three local staff: psychologist, physical therapist, and teacher.

10 people to donate $15 per month to provide transportation to 10 children in wheelchairs and rural areas, to school and physical therapy. Or help to buy a vehicle so we can transport children to school, Dr appointments, outings, and delivering wheelchairs.

$600 to get 3 specialized wheelchairs for Joni, Jessica, and Daniel.

$1-$1000 to contribute toward physical therapy equipment including parallel bars, child size walkers, specialized classroom chairs, stander, bench,

Physical therapist, occupational therapist, speech therapist, special ed teacher, autism specialist, assistive technology specialist, wheelchair specialist, to visit Nicaragua for between one week to three months, to provide training to staff and parents.

The most effective method of donating is to send a US check to CIELO de Amor, c/o Ruth Weinberg, 2160 Arthur St. Eugene, OR, 97405, USA, or deposit directly into our savings account at selco credit union. We can e-mail you the account details. For all other currencies you can donate a regular amount or one time payment, into our pay pal account. See our website Please contact us at if you have questions or comments.

We are so thankful for all your support and interest in our work. Hoping you enjoy this holiday season with good health, family, and friends.


Reflections on the year!

Well it’s been a little over a year since I came to Nicaragua to learn Spanish and volunteer with children with disabilities. What a year it has been! I have received support from so many people, in so many ways. It has been wonderfully overwhelming to be so supported! My gratitude is beyond words.

I thank all of you so much, but want to give special thanks to my ever supportive parents and sisters, my board members and dear friends, Jane, Jeani, Elaine, and Krista Jo, webmaster Jim Austin, Keith Schwartz for encouragement and finding 11 specialized chairs, Richard Parnell for technical support in adaptations, Dee Dee Freney, Dave O’Brien, Lisanne and her family and friends in Holland, motor team and all staff at EC Cares. Hermana Rebecca from Familias Especiales, to each and everyone of you for your interest and support, I am so thankful.

Since last December with support from so many we have provided:

Built 9 ramps, making two schools and one home accessible.

Wheelchairs and adaptive equipment
Provided and fitted 20 simple and complex chairs, 3 walkers, 3 canes, 5 pairs of crutches

Basic needs
Provided numerous supportive shoes, 3 mattresses, 3 strollers to transport children with disabilities, pampers and nutritional supplements for two children. Transportation costs for 7 children in wheelchairs or from rural areas

Physical therapy and equipment
Provided weekly physical therapy to 16 children in school and one weekly home visit
Provided equipment for physical therapist, including two mats, therapy ball,
Built a playground from recycled tires
Built adaptations for wheelchairs, trikes, carts,
Provided braces
Built a supportive chair from cardboard

Psychologist and special education services
Provided a classroom, led by a psychologist to 27 children, in four groups divided by age and ability.
Provided all classroom materials including books, puzzles, manipulatives, hammock, musical instruments, paper, pens, chairs, tables, and so much more!

Parent and staff training
Provided training to parents and staff in a range of strategies for children with disabilities.
15 educators visited us to learn about our class and strategies used.
A teacher and physical therapist visited us to learn about our strategies, for several weeks

Parent support and community building
Led parent support group and connected parents with resources for support with medication, food, braces, glasses, evaluations
Connected with minister of education, health center, special ed school, Los Pipitos locally and in Managua, hospitals in Managua, mayor
Hosted four parties with over 60 people coming to each one. Provided folk dancing, piñatas, food, drinks, gifts for children with disabilities and their families

Supported inclusion
Mediation between school staff and families for children integrated in regular school.
Loaned educational materials to families and teachers for children who are mainstreamed.

Created a website, and a non-profit organisation
See for website with lots more photos and information
See for weekly updates on our blog

What’s next?
We would love to continue and expand this project. If you are moved to support us either by sharing your expertise, fundraising, donating money, or encouraging words, we would be so grateful. Please contact us at, or donate directly on our website.

Providing Johaynner his first wheelchair!

It was very rewarding providing Johaynner his first wheelchair. From the moment that he saw it he was beaming. I have never seen him smile so much or make so many sounds, for such a length of time. His entire family were thrilled. Deanna and her family brought two wheelchairs on the plane from Oregon without difficulty.


Lisanne helped me adjust the chair to fit Johaynner before we put him in it. image

Johaynner has a special relationship with his father. He knows how to relax him, making it easier to put him in a seated position. Johaynner seemed happy to see the chair for the first time.


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Smiles all round!




Productive week: IEP’s and cardboard chairs.

We had a quiet week, as Monday was a holiday and several children did not come this week, as they had end of year parties in their other school or for family members. This gave us an opportunity to talk with parents individually, discuss progress made, and set goals for their child for the upcoming year. We updated goal plans for about 14 of the 30 children we are serving. Hopefully we will get to the others in the next few weeks. It was great to have Cristofer come for physical therapy for the first time, and his mother talked to the psychologist re some support with the siblings. In the afternoons, Wilmer, Carmendelia and I learned how to make a supportive chair out of cardboard, from a Swiss occupational therapist visiting the nearby town. It was quite a challenge to find cardboard and five days of work to make the chair. However by next Monday we hope to have a chair made specifically to fit and support Johayner, who can not sit unsupported. Material costs were about $4, including cost of the knife! If other families are interested in making chairs for their child we will be able to teach them. We tried to have fun in the labor intensive process! We glued five layers of cardboard and pasted three layers of telephone book pages. The chair seemed quite strong, and we are keeping them away from cardboard eating cockroaches!

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Here is Cristofer, Dany, Yerling, and Britany enjoying class and the playground! IMG_9802 IMG_9804 IMG_9806 IMG_9808 IMG_9774IMG_9810 IMG_9812

Lisanne and I did a jigsaw puzzle, trying to figure out new groups of children for the new year. We are now serving 30 children! IMG_9770