When it comes to education and opportunities, Nicaragua has one of the most underserved populations in the hemisphere. According to 2009 UNESCO and World Development Indicators database, the average Nicaraguan has slightly more than four and a half years of schooling, and in rural areas where resources are limited and poverty can be extreme, the numbers dip to around two years of education. As a result, two-to-three out of 10 Nicaraguans can’t read or write, and almost half of a million children from the ages of 3 to 12 remain completely outside Nicaragua’s formal education system.

At Fara Foundation realize we can’t reverse those numbers overnight and certainly not alone. We support other committed nonprofits that operate in the Matagalpa region, such as Infancia sin Fronteras, a Spanish nonprofit that benefits more than 15,000 area students, building schools, providing teachers and serving free breakfast and lunch daily to those 15,000. We operate a private elementary school on one of the Fara Coffee fincas and supplement other public schools with supplies, as needs arise.

Fara Foundation also has an emerging scholarship program for deserving students in the area who would like to pursue higher education. To that end, we were thrilled to congratulate our first college graduate at the end of 2011, and we are actively seeking other young students whose families don’t have the resources to pay for college or even high school.

As it turns out, our founders have a long-standing history of promoting education in the Matagalpa region. In 1956, when Finca Santa Rita belonged to Maria’s paternal family, her father built a school for the workers children, today that school is flourishing. The Farahani’s purchased the farm in late 1990 and currently employ two teachers and accommodate 50 students.

We also regularly fill a “wish list” for theSan Franciscopublic school, located adjacent to another finca. “We’ve helped them repair their musical instruments and build recreational facilities, given school supplies and other in-kind donations,” says co-founder Maria. “We are encouraging the workers from both schools to send their kids to high school, and, if they perform well, to let us help further their education.”

“Our first scholarship recipient just graduated – making her the first in the existence of her whole family to go to college. Matagalpa is full of very bright students who want to continue their education, as education is the equalizer. It’s really exciting when you see that lives have been changed.” We are currently seeking college and high school scholarship applicants for the 2013-2014 school year and beyond.

Fara Foundation’s future plans include increased cooperation with existing public schools, such as those operated by Infancia Sin Fronteras, and to continue providing free Matagalpa headquarters for the organization. As part of our partnership with Infancia, our Clinica Fara dentist regularly visits the nonprofit’s schools to educate students on oral hygiene and give free dental supplies to families.