Elena E. Benedicto
(updated March 2007)
What this project is about
    some background... who are we... where are we now
The details
    housing arrangements... other arrangements... how much money is needed...
    where to send your donations... how we handle the funds
Contact information



This project provides funding for indigenous girls and young women to go through secondary school.
The girls and women are members of the Sumu-Mayangna communities of Eastern Nicaragua.
WHY?... some background...
I began working with the Sumu-Mayangna communities in Nicaragua and Honduras in 1995. One of the circumstances I observed early on was that the percentage of girls going to secondary school was minimal (children get primary school in their communities, then they have to go to the main mestizo town in the area).
Life conditions (such as lack of food and housing) are hard for everybody in the mestizo town, boys and girls alike. But, given the scarcity of resources, girls are more likely to stay back home, than boys are.

So, what I wanted to do was to provide girls in these communities with the opportunity to go to secondary school: a safe place to live in the mestizo town and resources -food, clothing (uniforms are mandatory in Nicaragua), and school supplies.

And so was born The Mayangna Girls Project, a Fund that offers grants for Sumu-Mayangna girls' secondary school.

who are we?

The Project is supported by some 80+ people (mostly linguists, mostly women), whose annual contribution ranges from $10.00 to several hundreds of dollars.

where we are now...

The Project is in its 12th year. We now have some 30 young girls and young women. Five young women graduated in December 2006, some will be teachers in the community, some will be able to apply for nursing school, some will go to the local university... The best of it all is that they are begining to think about all the ways they can contribute to their communities with their education and the degrees they are obtaining... . Congratulations to all of them!!

Email us ( for all the details in our last Newsletter!


housing arrangements...

Housing arrangements have changed over the years. Nowadays, when they need to go to a mestizo town (Rosita or Bonanza), the mostly stay in private homes.

In the past the House of the Mayangna Woman in Rosita was an option, but it is no longer operational.

other arrangements...
Academic supervision is conducted by the members of the Program for Bilingual Education (PEBI), which also reinforces cultural ties with the communities. They, generously, also provide help with school homework, especially important on their first year when their Spanish (the language used in school) is not so good.

I visit twice a year, meet with them and make sure that they are doing well in school and have all they need. I also meet with the parents, try to answer all the questions they might have and listen to all their suggestions.

how much money is needed...

Currently, in an effort to keep up with the changing circumstances (for instance, a few communities are begining to have secondary schools) the Project offers three types of grants:

•  a full grant (C$ 600/month, ± $35) for those who need to move to the mestizo town,

•  a partial grant (C$300/month, ± $18) for those who can attend a community high school, and

•  a small grant (C$160/month, ± $10) to help defray some of the basic expenses for those who remain in a community (especially young mothers with small kids).

The school year is 10 months and runs from February to November.

People can participate in different ways: from sponsoring a girl on your own, or with a group,  to a one-time contribution (for general use, such as school supplies, library materials, personal time for some project...).

'Typically', a person's contribution ranges from $10.00 to several hundred dollars a year, so there is room for every preference. Unless otherwise specified, we target all donations to tuition and living expenses of the girls.

where to send your donations...

The Mayangna Girls Project, Inc. is now an official non-profit organization in the State of Massachusetts.

You can:

Elena E. Benedicto
Linguistics Program. Heavilon Hall 307b
Purdue University
West Lafayette, IN 47907

Mayangna Girls Project, Inc
account number 5001486332 [routing (ABA) number: 274976067]
PEFCU (Purdue Employee Federal Credit Union)

West Lafayette, IN 47906

how we handle the donations ...
Money is collected once a year, usually in October or November, so that the grants are ready in January when the academic year begins in Nicaragua.
The funds for a given year are sent to Nicaragua in January and in July, to the Research Center for the Atlantic Coast of Nicaragua (CIDCA) that, besides conducting research on cultural and scientific issues related to the Atlantic Coast of Nicaragua (the region where the Sumu-Mayangna live), also manages cooperation projects with international organizations. CIDCA, then, makes the monthly payments to a personal savings account that each grantee has in the mestizo town's savings bank.

To ensure the continuity of the project and a smooth running of its organization, we count on the following people:

- a member of the PEBI-Sumu ( Program on Bilingual Education), Eliseo Taylor
                            -- to supervise organization in Rosita;
- our liaison in CIDCA, Arali Jimenez Administrative Director and Lydia Calero Librarian
                            -- to deal with economic matters in Nicaragua, and with logistics;
- the US-Nicaragua Coordinator, Elena Benedicto,
                            -- to oversee the organization in Nicaragua and in the US.
 - our Treasurer, Becky Brown,
                            -- to take care of all money matters in the US.

If you have any questions about the Project, I'll be glad to answer them.
Write to me at:

or at:

Elena E. Benedicto
Linguistics Program - Heavilon Hall 323
Purdue University
West Lafayette, IN 47907

Last updated March 15, 2007 by