Our Nicaragua Staff

Our Nicaragua Staff

Mercedes Guerrero Arista
Director Sembrando Esperanzas Nicaragua

MercedesMercedes remembers her mother taking in foreigners visiting the country in solidarity in the late 1980s. Since then, she founded the San Ramon Host Family Association which now includes 21 host mothers and families. Mercedes began her work with Planting Hope as the delegations coordinator, moved on to rural projects coordinator and now directs the organization’s Nicaragua offices. She still works with and oversees delegations and continues to share her culture and country welcoming visitors as she did as a little girl. Mercedes has a BA in Sociology with a focus on Rural Sociology. She has visited the US and Spain several times, in the spirit of intercultural exchange and for her work with Planting Hope.



Claudia Rizo Lazo
Administrator Sembrando Esperanzas Nicaragua


Claudia is Planting Hope’s very own “ad madre.” And has been administrating Planting Hope’s programs from her office at La Chispa Library since 2011.

Claudia has been integral to the success of Planting Hope in Nicaragua. She came to the organization with no knowledge of the work Planting Hope does, but quickly realized the importance of our programs from our delegations and Coffee Camps to our nutrition programs.

“Little by little I began to love all the things that Planting Hope does,” Claudia said.

Claudia took advantage of the opportunity to work with Planting Hope’s food program and quickly learned how important nutrition for children of all ages. She said that one time during her work in El Chile, there was a 7-year old boy who looked like he was 3 because of malnutrition and lack of enough food.

“This was very hard for me, to see that there are children who are suffering malnutrition in the communities. Here we are in our homes and don’t think about the people in other places who are in such great need. This is why helping with the Nutrition Program has been so important for me, we are providing food so that the children can grow and learn, because with good nutrition you can learn better.”

Claudia said she is continually reminded of the good Planting Hope does when she rereads a letter she received from a past delegation member and keeps as a memento.

“The young woman wrote to me explaining what she had thought about Nicaragua and about her life in the US. She said that she had thought she was going to see people with guns and that it would be a place where, well, she was very afraid of what Nicaragua might be. But upon coming here she saw a different reality that we are good people, that in spite of our difficulties, we are always laughing and we are very happy, that was one of the things she liked so much.”

“All of programs are like the seeds Planting Hope is sowing.”

Oscar Moncada, Director of Human Resources, Sembrando Esperanzas


Oscar Moncada, a part-time psychology professor on week- ends, has taken on the newly formed position of Director of Human Resources. Oscar, a Matagalpa native, received his high-school education in Miami while living with his parents there. He has a 7-year-old daughter, Maria Guadalupe. Oscar writes:

“I have worked with youth and children for a long time but my most important role now is guiding, directing, advising, assisting and motivating the young men and women inside and outside the organization to fulfill their goals and objectives in life. For me, this is very rewarding.”

“I see Planting Hope as an organization, which despite the difficulties, moves forward and fights in every way possible to provide the necessary assistance to the communities that need education and food. As a Nicaraguan and very personally, I thank you for that, as this motivates me to be better in all aspects of my work within this organization. Thank you for the opportunity and we are at your service.”

Digna Cardoza Gonzales, Rural Projects and Diagnostics Staff


Started at as a Planting Hope Scholarship student may years ago.

Digna Yesica Cardoza Gonzalez was born on September 22, 1987 in the city of Matagalpa.

She lives in Matagalpa in the neighborhood Walter Mendoza known as La Chispa. Her father’s name is Etanislao Cardoza Brizuelaand she has 3 sisters and 3 brothers.

She studies Business Administration at UNAN-FAREM Matagalpa and she also takes a computer course in order to enhance her knowledge of technological information. She helps other young people with computer classes at the La Chispa Library and in the community El Chile.

Her primary work is with the organization in the rural areas. She has also worked in various areas within the organization: cafe, internet cafe, computer classes, school library, accounting clerk in El Chile and the library and others. All of these have helped her to strengthen her knowledge and apply her experiences to reality and her career, she has given the opportunity to grow and employment in this wonderful project, which encourages young people to be entrepreneurs.

She hopes to continue to learn and work more so that this organization continues to grow as it has done so far.

PreSchool Teachers

Yasser Antonio Hernandez Perez, Delegation Coordinator and host family member


Yasser has worked with Planting Hope as a Host Family member for the past 3 years and with Planting Hope beginning in 2013. He is a Certified Nicaragüan Dance Instructor  and has studied accounting as well. He currently studies Social Development on the weekends and coordinates Planting Hope Delegations during the week.

He enjoys working with the many different personalities, learning peoples likes and learning how to get along and how to treat people in a respectful way. Delegations give us the opportunity to share the family activities that make up our lives, as well as social activities, helping the children and youth, men and women to improve their quality of life. Working with Planting Hope increases your responsibility and your commitment to take care of other people, to be attentive, to be respectful, friendly, polite, charismatic. We have the opportunity to develop many of our qualities as human beings if we share and have good communication with the brigades of people who visit our country.

Ariel Escorcia Translator and Support Staff, Planting Hope Delegations


My Name is Ariel Escorcia and i’m 25 years old. I have worked for Planting Hope since 2007 and I have worked with some delegation from Vermont during the past 3 years. I now work as a translator, as part of the delegation support staff for the different groups which visit Nicaragua every year. I really like to work with these groups because it is a great way to show and teach about my country’s culture and also because I want to learn more about the American Culture and most importantly, because Thanks to this job I can make new friends.

I am currently studying my final year of Sociology at the University of Northern Nicaragua and I also studied English for 3 years in The American School here in Nicaragua.


La Chispa Library  and Mobile Library Staff

Alvaro Arauz, Bus Driver


Alvaro began driving a rented bus for Planting Hope in 2005 and finally in 2012, when Planting Hope purchased the Mobile Library for Peace, Alvaro became our official driver.  Alvaro and his wife Margarita have also been serving Planting Hope hope as a host family, since 2005.




Nereyda Urbina, Co-Coordinator Mobile Library for Peace and La Chispa LIbrary


Nereyda Urbina, 27, serves as co-coordinator for the Mobile Library and has been
working with Planting Hope 2002.

“I love my job and I always say it is good to work because I have a salary for me and my family, but it’s good too because I have a job to teach and learn every day. I’ve always had dreams that I thank God for and all those involved with Planting Hope. My dream now is to study social work because I love what I do I want to learn more to give more.


Marisol Membreño, Co-Coordinator Mobile Library for Peace and La Chispa LIbrary


Glenda Marisol Membreño Guardado, is 28 years old and is a college student as well as a wife and mother for to a four-year-old daughter. She lives in Matagalpa, in the neighborhood La Chispa and has been working in the La Chispa Library for many years now.

Glenda began work at La Chispa as a librarian in 2004. In 2010 she began working with the Café Taboo. In 2011 she began working with the Mobil Library. In this moment I started helping as a volunteer, visiting the communities, talking about the project, and helping to move forward with the objective of helping and contributing to the education of the boys and girls of the communities, opening new spaces for opportunities with a new project that books, manual activities, and help for the teacher looking to improve together the quality of education.

“The organization has taught me that when you really want something, the obstacles that you have to take on don’t matter. If you want to do it, you can. When I began with the
micro business I didn’t have many ideas. It was hard. But as time passed and with patience and help from the group that we have created with a friendship that extends outside the office, I was filled with confidence and we were able to push on. We still have a ways to go but we’re always doing our best.”

“The thing I like best about this organization is that they never deny people opportunities when they want to learn or better their knowledge. Everyone is equal and we’re all working together and we all help each other all the time. It is important to take into account the people who my not have as much, to give them space to develop their abilities. That the children are those who benefit most from the different programs, being young and not being able to defend themselves.”

Jacarely Torrez, Computer Lab and Cyber Cafe Director


Jacarely del Carmen Tórrez Martínez, 23, attended primary school at the Tilburg Public School and I went to secondary school at Rubén Dario College in Matagalpa. She is currently majoring in the Science of Computers at the Private National University of Nicaragua (UNAN FAREM- Matagalpa).

Jacarely has been going to La Chispa Library since she was very little where she did research for school and attended computer classes and English classes with the professors
Beth Merrill and Nereyda Urbina.

Last year, Jacarely completed 90 practice hours for the university teaching computer classes at the La Chispa Library. Then she joined the Planting Hope team and is now teaching computer classes she also helps with the Internet Cafe.

In February of 2012 she began working with the coffee camps, developing motivating activities with a brigade from South Burlington.

“It was a very beautiful experience to be able to share those happy moments with the boys and girls of the rural communities.

The most important thing that Planting Hope has helped me to do is grow as a person. I’ve learned a lot about how to relate to children and youth, and seeing how they put effort into their learning and it has motivated me a lot. I’ve been captivated by their enthusiasm and perseverance. I’ve really liked working with this group and with the boys and girls, helping with their education and being able to develop in them abilities, skills and lots of creativity.”

Isamara Reyes, Mobile Library and La Chispa Library Staff


Isamara Selena Urbina, 18, went to Primary and Secondary school in the Tilburg School and spent time at La Chispa Library with her friends Wendy and Cindy working on their homework.

In April of this year she completed a year working with the Planting Hope first as a scholarship student in the library, on the second floor and then later I began working with the Mobile Library and the Café at the library.

“I like my work a lot. It’s helped me discover many things about myself that I didn’t know. Something I love about my work especially is the Mobil Library project. I love seeing the happy faces of the children when they see us come to their communities to work with them and help them with their classes.

My work also helped me a lot economically, at home and with my studies. Thanks to my job I’m paying my college classes and helping with what I can in my house since my mom is a single mother and doesn’t have all of the resources to pay for my college and my sibling’s studies. This project helps a lot of children in many different communities, but it’s also helped me in a great way.

I hope that in the future the organization grows every day and that is can continue all with all of its current projects, and with new ones. I hope it continues to benefit even more children and youth and I hope to be a big help to each of the projects that grow, even little by little, in this organization.”

Marvin Kraudy Flores, Performing Arts and Physical Education Instructor


Marvin “Chori” Kraudy Flores has been a performer since he was a young boy, using his shoe-shining box to calling his clients with songs and rhythms.  This interest in music and performing arts continued to grow over the years as he interned with a theater troupe and took on the task of training several Nicaraguan marching bands for their Independence Day Celebrations.   He currently works full-time with Planting Hope’s Mobile LIbrary for peace, bringing music, dance and drama to Matagalpa’s rural communities served by Planting Hope’s Mobile Library.

Chori also spends a lot of time playing basketball and refereeing and coaching men’s and women’s soccer teams.  His love of sports is also shared with the rural kids he works with, as he occasionally teaches physical education in the communities.

Israel Urbina, Drawing and Painting Instructor


Israel Urbina was born in La Chispa, Matagalpa. He is 36 years old and has been working with Planting Hope for the past 7 years.  In 2005, Israel helped to construct the La Chispa Library building.  A year later, when an accident left him paralyzed, he began developing his career as an artist, studying painting at the Santa Julia Billart Center in Matagalpa.  He currently teaches drawing and painting to children and adolescents at the La Chispa library two days a week. He enjoys helping others explore their own artistic abilities as well as sharing his culture with brigades of volunteers from the U.S. In the future he would like to create a small art gallery where visitors can buy Nicaraguan arts and crafts.


Luis Martinez, Security and Caretaker


 Luis is a 37 year old native of Matagalpa. He has supervised the maintenance and safety of the La Chispa library since 2002.  He lives at the Library in the evenings and at his nearby home with his wife and 4 year old son.




La Chispa Scholarship Students

Dayling, Mobile Library and Cyber Cafe


Dayling is a proud resident of La Chispa neighborhood in Matagalpa. He is 21 years old and is currently studying English. Dayling began working with Planting Hope in 2012. He works with the mobile library in the community of Ocalca, doing a variety of activities that improve the quality of children’s education. In the La Chispa library, he facilitates searching for information and other materials. Dayling’s favorite part of working for Planting Hope is having the opportunity to strengthen the foundation of education in his own country through music, theater, dance, and activities related to social and educational development. He enjoys working with the Planting Hope staff and gaining an understanding of other communities and people with different ways of thinking and behaving. In 5 years, he hopes to travel to other countries.




 Vilma is an 18 year old 11th grader from the Walter Mendoza neighborhood of Matagalpa. This is her first year with Planting Hope. Twice a week she can be found in the library research area, teaching reinforcement classes to local students. Vilma is thankful to be empowered to serve her community in this way. She appreciates being able to lend a helping hand to those who have also supported her. By continuing to develop her professional skills with Planting Hope, Vilma hopes to find a fulfilling career in the future.


Photo and information coming soon!



Lester is a 14 year old 8th grader from Matagalpa. He is a new member of the team in the La Chispa library, having just started working there in February of 2014. Under the supervision of Wendy, Lester works with book lending, helps students with difficult homework, and collaborates on projects. He likes sharing his ideas with the team and above all does his best to work with excellence and discipline. He hopes to continue his education and become an English teacher.




Marvin is a 15 year old native of Matagalpa. Despite his youth, he has been involved with Planting Hope since 2011. In the La Chispa library he helps children with finding books and doing homework assignments. He really appreciates the companionship and mutual support he has experienced by being part of the library team. In the future, Marvin would like to continue developing himself through more challenging work with Planting Hope. He hopes to study medicine in college.








Milton Armas


Milton Noe Armas Sanchez, 19, has been working with Planting Hope since the beginning of 2013 and has quickly become a true asset for the organization.

Milton has worked in several capacities including being a shadow student for the high school brigades, worked construction at the La Chispa Library, served as an assistant on the Mobile Library and has also worked as a night watchman for the San Ramon Office.



Rural Pre-School Teachers

Heydi, El Chile


Information coming soon!





Katherin, Las Caleras, Pueblo Viejo


Information coming soon!




Aracely Ramos, Ocalca


Information coming soon!





Sorayda, San Marcos de Apatite

Picture and information coming soon!

Rural Scholarship Students



Information coming soon!







Information coming soon!







Information coming soon!






Picture and information coming soon!