The Ciudad Sandino Play Center


The sky is the limit. These inspirational words grace the front door of CANTERA’s recently opened Play Center in Ciudad Sandino. Weekly, 70 preschoolers and kindergarteners come here to continue learning after school—while having fun.

In the 1908s, CANTERA founded a Community Preschool which educated thousands of Ciudad Sandino’s children over the course of 30 years. The preschool closed in 2018 to follow the current Nicaraguan educational model and CANTERA’s financial reality. In its place, the Play Center opened to continue imparting holistic education for the community’s youngest members.

Through games, books, dance, theatre, art, and sports, the Play Center is full of endless, educational fun for the community’s little ones. Because these children are falling in love with learning at a young age, they are so much more likely to love learning for the rest of their lives. As have hundreds who have walked through CANTERA’s doors before them, these children will become the community’s architects, computer technicians, leaders, business owners, university professors, social workers, and Play Center Teachers.

Two teachers volunteer their time and love at the Play Center. Committed community members keep the Play Center thriving with their volunteer work and enormous hearts.

The teachers get parents involved in their children’s’ education—a key element for kid’s overall success and well-being. The parents have formed committees to support the Play Center’s in everything from building maintenance to organizing activities for the children.

Of course, the final element that helps make the Play Center a reality is you. With your solidarity and kindness, extracurricular education for Ciudad Sandino’s children is possible.

Thanks to you, the sky really is the limit at CANTERA’s Play Center.

CANTERA Continues Amidst Uncertainty

Dear Friends,

We are deeply grateful for the support you are sharing during this difficult time in Nicaragua. Throughout the country, political and civil unrest continues to affect almost every part of society.


CANTERA is constantly adapting to the national crisis. Staff goes into work daily, but most activities and workshops have been put on hold for the time being.

In all communities where CANTERA accompanies, the people are using the leadership and empowerment they have developed to adapt and support each other. In urban areas, for example, the safest times and places are chosen for youth to receive psychological and emotional support, which is currently a priority.

Additionally, CANTERA is working to maintain stability throughout this crisis so that we can fully engage with Nicaraguan communities when the opportunities arise. Violence continues to deeply affect the communities CANTERA accompanies, especially urban youth and their families; the need for trauma, healing, and psychological support is and will continue to be great.

Finally, we want to share with you that two employees of the CANTERA Development Office have just moved back to the States. Andy and Rose are deeply grateful for the lives they have led thus far in Nicaragua and are going to be returning to their respective home states. This challenging decision was made for a number of reasons, including safety.

The Development Coordinator, Bill, will continue working in full capacity as CANTERA Liaison to Friends of Cantera. Please contact him at with further questions or information.

Please continue to keep CANTERA and Nicaragua in your thoughts and prayers.

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Seeking Solidarity

Dear Friends,

As you may have seen or heard, Nicaragua has been experiencing civil and political unrest over the last several weeks. We want to thank you for your continued friendship and support for Nicaraguans and their communities at this time.


What does this mean for CANTERA?

Over the past month, we have seen the effects that the sociopolitical unrest has quickly had on CANTERA and all of the Nicaraguan people and communities. We continue to accompany our children, youth, men and women, supporting them in the best way possible given the country’s current situation.

CANTERA Youth Leaders in the urban programs have been most affected by the unrest. Support is offered constantly for youth and their families to help heal trauma and work towards peaceful alternatives to violence. Last week was the first week that the urban community centers could open every day for safety reasons.

Many of CANTERA’s programs in rural areas have been put on hold, as travel to and from communities is not always possible.

Unfortunately, all five immersion trips scheduled for June and July have been cancelled or postponed. This will have a tremendous economic impact on CANTERA’s Conference Center.

If you would like more details or up-to-date information about what is going in CANTERA and Nicaragua, please e-mail us at

As we continue moving forward, we hope that you keep CANTERA and Nicaragua in your thoughts and prayers.
Thank you for your continued kindness and solidarity.

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A Cornerstone for Community Empowerment

This letter has been printed in the Friends of Cantera Spring 2018 Newsletter and was written in honor of CANTERA’s 30th anniversary.

Sister Donna Innes, Friend of Cantera Executive Board Secretary, with Sr. Anabel Torres

A letter from CANTERA’s Founder and Director, Anabel Torres

Dearest Friends,

Like you, we know it is so important to listen to the people’s voices and experiences.

Even in choosing a non-profit name, we turned to the communities, “What should we be called?” CANTERA was suggested, meaning cornerstone.

“Why cornerstone?” we asked.

You work alongside us, supporting our leadership and ideas as we develop our communities, laying a strong foundation of sustainability, health, and prosperity for our families and neighbors,” the communities responded.

Today, you are a cornerstone in this accompaniment, leadership, and empowerment–working for a world in which we see our shared humanity,a world in which we work for equality for all people, a world in which we seek justice for all cultures, across boarders, and despite language or race.

You dream with us and carry the spirit of CANTERA to other parts of the world; you visit us to learn and teach; you support us as volunteers and dedicated donors; you work

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Thank you for your friendship and support!

alongside us and listen to the people’s voices and experiences.

Your friendship is a cornerstone for Nicaraguan community empowerment.


Anabel Torres


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A Letter from Anabel Torres: CANTERA Update


Dearest Friends of CANTERA, friends of Nicaragua,

As we write today, we request you keep Nicaragua and its people in your thoughts and prayers.

As you may have heard in the news, Nicaragua has been experiencing social and political unrest since last week. In this situation, CANTERA seeks to foster peace as we continue supporting the communities where we work.

CANTERA strives to promote the well-being and sustainable development of the vulnerable communities we serve and in light of the country’s current situation, we continue to support Nicaraguans as the country seeks peace and social stability; we support the healing of individuals, families, and communities that have been most strongly affected by recent violence.

In conjunction with many other non-profits in Nicaragua, CANTERA is acting in solidarity to support countless communities. We are still actively supporting the leadership, development, and empowerment which you so generously support.

With much love, we send hugs from Nicaragua to you. Please hope for compassion, peace, and love for Nicaragua. We have no doubt that this intention will multiply throughout the world.

In solidarity,




CANTERA – Center of Communication and Popular Education
Founder and Director

Basta to Violence against Women

Amidst a machista, patriarchical society, young leaders–women and men–raise their voices to say Basta! Enough! to violence against women. Below is a CANTERA Youth Leader’s reflection on violence prevention:

“Basta to Violence Against Women” by Victor Mercado

All women experience the violence of street harassment. As men, we should respect all women. For this reason, I say “basta” to violence. Basta to repeating what our grandfathers, fathers, uncles, and brothers do to women. Let’s make a change. Let’s prevent the street harassment from which women in our society suffer.

Let’s construct a more equitable society by first making changes in our own families, then with our friends. We are youth working for violence prevention. We are agents of change.

Support Youth Leadership in Nicaragua Today!

Photograph and reflection by Victor Mercado, CANTERA Youth Leader. Victor’s photograph and reflection were among the 15 finalists in CANTERA’s 8th Photo Contest for Social Change.

CANTERA: School of Dreams

What does CANTERA do? How does CANTERA change the lives of youth, children, or small farmers in Nicaragua?

In the video below, Roxana shares her story–an experience with which 30 years of CANTERA Communtiy Leaders relate. Today, Roxana is  a social worker.

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CANTERA: School of Dreams

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Video elaborated by the CANTERA Communication Team.

“I want to speak out…”

On the streets of Managua, women are cat called on every block and groped on crowded buses. In their homes, physical and sexual abuse is commonplace; however, it is silenced, a taboo topic in the family and surrounding community.

Below, a teenager from CANTERA’s Youth Program finds refuge in her peers and CANTERA Staff. As leaders and advocates for human rights in their community, they constantly support each other. The CANTERA Community Center where they meet is a safe space for emotional support, friendship, and leadership training. As youth tell their story and learn about social problems, they begin healing. This healing process allows them to blossom as leaders who face inequity and work for women’s rights together. As youth leaders, they make a commitment to work for change in their community; they refuse to stay silent.

In commemoration of International Women’s Day last week, Adilia’s piece is shared below.

Adilia Noemi VG
“I have not asked you to cat call me, so why do you do it?
I am tired of street harassment.”

“It’s been very hard for me to talk about these kinds of things. I have been taught to feel embarrassed, to be silent about what should really be reported, to look at abuse and harassment as something normal. Every time men have abused me in the streets, I have cried out of anger. I have felt so powerless after these incidents, knowing that these men feel as though they have not done anything wrong.

“With this photograph I want to illustrate how machista men harass women on the street every day. These men believe they own women’s bodies. It angers me that we are seen as objects, not as human beings who deserve respect.

“Today I feel supported by the women in my CANTERA Youth Center. This has inspired me to move forward. I do not want to continue complaining and feeling fear. On behalf of all women, I want to speak out and say: We have had enough of abuse and violence!”

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Photograph and reflection by Adilia Vallecillo, CANTERA Youth Leader. This photograph and reflection won second place in CANTERA’s VII Annual Photo Contest for Social Change which took place in 2017.

The Everyday Struggle for Women’s Rights

Today, people around the world are protesting, marching, and demonstrating in the streets. The cause that unites them: Women’s Rights.

In this one-minute video, female CANTERA Youth Leaders raise their voices. Watch the video to hear what human rights are important to them!

Internationally, March 8th commemorates the movement for women’s rights.

Today, people are taking to the streets. But everyday, women fight for their rights.

Everyday mothers and grandmothers protect their children from abuse and violence. Nicaragua has one of the highest rates of sexual violence in the world. The vast majority of victims are women and children, and 80% of victims know their abuser.1 Amidst this reality, mothers do all they can to keep their children safe–avoiding leaving them home alone, accompanying them to and from school, teaching them whom to trust.

Everyday social workers work with girls and boys to prevent violence; psychologists accompany youth to facilitate healing. From street harassment and frequent cat calls to murders of women, violence against women is tragically normalized in Nicaraguan society. As the CANTERA Youth Leaders mention in the video above, they long for harmony, happiness, freedom, and respect. Accompanied by CANTERA Staff, these youth have learned to critically analyze their reality and stand up for their rights.

Everyday teachers support youth to follow their professional and academic dreams. These efforts combat the reality that almost one-third of Nicaraguan women have their first child before their 18th birthday, constituting the highest teenage pregnancy rate in Latin America.What’s more, Nicaragua also has the highest rate of child marriage in Latin America–14th globally. 41% of girls are married by age 18, 10% by age 15.3 Supporting youth to follow their academic, professional, and leadership dreams is key to changing this reality.

Everyday, Nicaraguan women challenge the status quo with their strength and spirit. Women hold positions in universities and government, rejecting the stereotype of housewife. Men accompany this societal transformation, respecting women’s opinions, supporting women’s leadership and professionalism, assuming their responsibility in housework, and practicing non-violence. CANTERA Youth know their rights. Everyday, through theatre, gender workshops, and their example as youth leaders, they educate their community on equity and non-violence.

Sources: 1Al Jazeera2United Nations Population Fund3Girls Not Brides 

Blog post contributed by Rose Costello Enos, Communications Coordinator for the CANTERA Development Office.


CANTERA: 30 Years and Counting!

A mural outside the CANTERA Community Center in Ciudad Sandino.

For 30 years, CANTERA has accompanied Nicaraguan communities in their empowerment and leadership. CANTERA’s model is based on the communities’ needs and dreams–as the community expresses them.

Depending on the community, CANTERA’s programs look a little different; as you can imagine, rural and urban communities have different goals for themselves! Likewise, farmers and children have different dreams!

CANTERA supports communities as they support themselves. Leaders of all ages learn to work in their community to improve their quality of life. CANTERA supports rural farmers in sustainable agriculture, urban youth in education, and families in healthy communication and non-violence, to name a few examples.

Check out CANTERA’s programs below!

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Support Nicaraguan Communities Today!

Blog post contributed by Rose Costello Enos, Communications Coordinator for the CANTERA Development Office.