Education to Serve Communities


“We met here at the university,” María José recalls, beaming, with a hand pressed to her rounded stomach. Both María José and her husband will graduate from Nicaragua’s Catholic University of the Dry Tropics (UCATSE) just weeks before the baby is due.

“My life is also owed to the university, in a way,” she says. Her parents met here, too. It was back in the 1970s, as young students amid unrest in the country. “UCATSE is a university for life, not just for studying!” she laughs. “Studying here has helped me understand that we are all part of a society and that my education is meant to serve my community, not just myself.”

Now that is the kind of love story we literally support! Cuso International volunteer Andrei Startsev, a Russian-Canadian soil scientist, has recently trained teachers on soil analysis for farm practice, and helped set up the university’s soil laboratory. Soil is particularly important in Northern Nicaragua, where increasing dryness results in yellow fields, crackled earth, significant crop losses — and hunger.

“With Andrei’s guidance, we developed soil maps for the university’s farm and research centre. It has allowed us to ascertain the best type of pasture for the cows. Better pasture means better concentrate, which also means better cows, better milk and better incomes,” says Professor David Vallejos.