Bridging The Gaps | Area Nonprofits Play Critical Role In Helping Those In Need
Originally posted on VCReporter.com on Nov 22, 2016
Headquartered in Ventura, GOCARE is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) charity that empowers adults and children living in Nicaragua with the fundamental belief that citizens may live a self-empowered life through the power of education.
Founded in 2001, “GOCARE creates opportunities to reduce poverty and inspire people toward independence through culturally responsive education, mentoring and awareness,” said Michelle Cekov of Camarillo, president and CEO.
Throughout its tenure, GOCARE has worked closely with local residents and communities to create and implement educational and economic development programs into its curriculum, which includes adult education through reading and math, preschool, day care, computer instruction, English instruction and vocational training.
“GOCARE is a legal nongovernmental organization that has been recognized by the Nicaragua Ministry of Education as an exemplary model for youth and adult education courses,” Cekov said.
To date, GOCARE has helped more than 3,400 students graduate from its programs with the core philosophy of the “Come Back to Give Back” mentorship and leadership.
“While pursuing college degrees, students become mentors and leaders within their own Nicaraguan communities and help give back by teaching others to aid people out of extreme poverty into a bright, successful future,” Cekov said.
GOCARE was originally established by a group of Rotarians who traveled to Nicaragua to support and develop programs for people living in extreme poverty. GOCARE began its work when its founder, Jan Lindsay of Santa Paula, saw the need to create an individualized and sustainable model community program to help people in rural areas to be empowered in their lives through education.
“When Jan first started working in Nicaragua, he, like most others, was overwhelmed by the amount and depth of poverty and need he experienced there,” Cekov said.
On his first trip, he was introduced to the community of Pantanal, outside of Granada.
“He was impacted deeply when a group of women and children of Granada shared their story of how they were living off the resources of the local dump,” Cekov said. “They were asking for help; Jan felt powerless at the time and was moved to find a solution to help the people he met. Jan, as an economist, began studying the issues of world poverty in depth. What became apparent was that there were more unknowns than knowns.”
It became Lindsay’s mission to create a community-centered organization that could work together and pool resources and knowledge to empower people through education. Lindsay passed away in 2014.
“GOCARE embraced the philosophy that education provides the path to eliminate poverty,” Cekov said.”Education empowers people to help themselves, and through this model, the Come Back to Give Back model was born.”
GOCARE currently operates through donations and investment income; contributions from donors, however, have dropped off significantly in recent years.
“Many people only want to support programs directly in their own communities,” Cekov said.
“Our world is getting smaller every day and we are connected socially and economically like at no other time,” she said. “We believe that it’s important to have good international behavior, and one way that you can do this is by supporting programs like what GOCARE is offering in these impoverished communities.”
The rural communities where GOCARE students live are very isolated, and the average income is less than $3 per day.
“There are no opportunities for our students to use a computer or learn a second language,” Cekov said. “The programs and scholarships that we offer are designed to help the people living in impoverished communities to learn a skill or trade so that they can empower themselves through education to rise above the situation.”
Full article here.