My relationship with Nicaragua started when I went with an Oxfam Farmer’s Brigade in March 1987. I spent five weeks teaching farmers how to maintain and repair their newly acquired farm machinery. I was very impressed with their simplicity and appreciation of life, and I always entertained the thought of returning.  Fast forward to Nicaragua 2011 where I ended up looking for old friends from the brigade.  I eventually found 5 people at Casa Blanca, where I had worked, and with whom I spent the day reminiscing about events 24 years ago.
While riding an express bus back to Managua a few days later, a young university student from Estelí seated beside me, passed me a note asking if I spoke Spanish.  I said that I could, barely, and Sarai proceeded to tell me their dilemma of career limitations because of lack of affordable English lessons, a skill that more and more employers were seeking in employees.
I returned to Canada several months later and found the Oxford TESOL (Teaching English to speakers of other languages) course at UBCO in Kelowna. At the age of 55 I was finally going to university.  I finished the course, and in January 2012 found myself back in Estelí, Nicaragua. Sarai introduced me to her church elders and I started teaching in their church three nights a week to a group of 20-30 students.  It was a huge learning curve for a retired grain and cattle farmer from Alberta to start a new career teaching English in a developing country. Two months and dozens of new friends later I said goodbye but promised I would return in October. 
I flew back to Calgary, landed and promptly went to a birthday party.  There I met a dentist from High River, Vicki McMullen, to whom I told about my recent experiences in Nicaragua.
In October 2012 I was back in Estelí with a Canadian ESL teacher, a Nicaraguan teacher, and our own schoolhouse, albeit rented.  Classes five days per week, and we were an actual English school.  Teaching adult and children groups, each with its own curriculum, was a stressful but rewarding challenge.  
In December 2012 Vicki McMullen wrote asking me to organize a dental brigade.  I met Dr. Larry Molina, my since then Nica dentist friend, with whom I organized my first dental brigade which was a resounding success. Doctors Vicki, Larry and Melida Rios, were able to provide 70 adults and children with complete dental care.  This experience led to many more brigades, the largest being Moses Lake Medical Team, which provided medical, optical, dental, and physio care to over 1000 people in 5 days in February 2016.  This connection enabled me to accompany MLMT to Nigeria in November 2016 on a medical mission, an adventure I will never forget or regret.
I joined Medicine Hat Rotary in 2015 by Skype from Estelí, and started to attend the meetings of Estelí Rotary Club in Nicaragua.  Convincing the Estelí club to actively pursue sponsorship from the MHRC, they decided to plan a renovation project at Club Sta Lucia, a home for abandoned and indigent seniors.  MHRC sponsored the project and we were able to almost completely renovate the home.
Medicine Hat High School Interact became involved by the energetic encouragement of Theresa Eisenbarth. They sponsored two projects, one, a house built by Estelí Rotaract Club for 76 year old Alberto Gutierrez, which evolved into three more residences built by the municipality for his siblings.  They had been living in shacks not fit for human habitation. The second project was sponsoring a complete water delivery system to 200 residents in the community of Santa Rosa.
Estelí English School has also secured funds from other sources for another community, Macuelizo, which received latrines, complete water system, grey water system, and laundry facilities.  We also arranged medical and dental brigades to attend the residents, this being the very first time medical personnel had ever been to this community in 50 years!
Today at Estelí English School we have 10 groups of students receiving English classes 6 days per week, all free of charge.  Two qualified teachers manage and instruct upwards of 200 students, from beginner to advanced, with long lists of people waiting to enter our classes.
We at EES have been able to achieve many successes, but those have been shadowed at times by failures, which have not deterred our vision.  Onward and upward, which keeps our motto “English is the key” alive and well.