This spring break, while many college kids bask in the warm Cancun sun, six University students will be volunteering at Nicaraguan schools.

They are part of the Nagarote-Wesleyan Partnership, a University community service group that raises money to help the people of Nagarote, Nicaragua. This past Friday, the group hosted Comer for a Cause II, a follow up dinner to the first Comer for a Cause, which took place last December.

Students paid five dollars for a food buffet provided by Taj of India and Puerto Vallarta.

The dinner was followed by a comedy show from Punchline, a stand-up comedy group.

Members were pleased with the outcome of the event.

“I think the dinner went really well,” said Rishabh Phukan ’10, a member of the Nagarote-Wesleyan Partnership. “We were pretty happy with the turnout of the first Comer for a Cause, but this one was even better.”

The partnership contributes to the efforts of the Norwalk-Nagarote Sister City Project, which is based in Norwalk, CT. Sister City was created in response to the devastation of Nicaragua after the Contra War, particularly in the area of Nagarote. In an effort to involve the University community with Sister City’s services, Sean Corlett ’07 created the Nagarote-Wesleyan Partnership.

Nagarote is a primarily agricultural area of Nicaragua with about 32,000 inhabitants. Conditions there are no better than the rest of the country, which has been troubled by revolutions, earthquakes and hurricanes in the past few years.

“Water is scarce,” said Jessica Smith ’09, the head member of the Nagarote-Wesleyan Partnership. “On the outskirts of town, sometimes you only get water for an hour a day, if that. Many families do not have plumbing or electricity, [and] the main source[s] of employment [are] sweatshops and the Coke-bottling factory.”

Over 60 people attended the dinner, earning the group another $300 to add to the money they have already collected. Every penny the group earns goes directly to their efforts to help the people of Nagarote.

The partnership will use the money in a variety of different ways: it will pay for school supplies and fund a service that will get children safely to school while their parents are at work. According to members of the partnership, this service is vital to the community since the majority of parents leave early in the morning for daily work in sweatshops, and it is often impossible for them to take their children to school.

In addition, the partnership is funding a literacy project for high-school-aged children in areas of Nagarote where teens are at high risk of becoming involved with drugs or violence. Sister City offers a variety of classes for Nagarote’s people and much of the money the Nagarote-Wesleyan Partnership raises will also pay for teachers to teach these classes.

“The projects that we do with Sister City generate many jobs for people who might otherwise be forced to work in sweatshops,” Smith said. “One woman who I stayed with last year took a course sponsored by Sister City and was later able to teach it. It also created a job for her husband, who became the watchman for the site.”

Though this year’s trip is only weeks away, the group is not cutting down on its efforts to raise as much money as it can. The partnership is currently selling five-dollar T-shirts and hosting a recycling drive on Foss Hill. They have also placed change collection jars in many local stores and restaurants.

Along with these more typical fundraising activities, the group has partnered up with the fifth grade class at Farmhill Elementary School in Middletown. They have asked those children to donate as many school supplies for children in Nagarote. This interaction with the elementary school highlights the Nagarote-Welseyan Partnership mentality, according to members.

“Our biggest emphasis is partnership and equal footing with the people we work with,” Smith said. “We do not simply want to raise money to be shipped off to Nicaragua, we want to build strong and personal relationships.”

To learn more about the project go to and

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