A Small Family Making a Big Impact
HOW AN ARCHITECT, A LAWYER AND A LITTLE BOY ARE TRANSFORMING NICARAGUA
Life is a little different for Erlin and Yovel Alvarez and their little boy, Andrew. They live between two volcanoes on an island in Nicaragua filled with mangoes, large pigs and horse-drawn carriages. Yet they are leading a team of high-impact leaders who are dramatically impacting the future of their country.
In January of 2010, Erlin Alvarez had just accomplished the impossible: He had overcome growing up in rural poverty in Nicaragua, a country still struggling to overcome a decade of revolution in the 1980s, and had found a way to go to Managua, Nicaragua’s capital city, to graduate from law school. To top it off, he found himself just months away from marrying the girl of his dreams, a young woman named Yovel who herself was close to graduating with a degree in architecture.
The couple were movers and shakers who had fought their way into “the fast lane” in a country seemingly stuck in reverse.
One night when Erlin had returned to the island of Ometepe in the midst of Lake Nicaragua to the south of the country, his parent’s house began filling with more than a dozen of the island’s highest achieving students, including his younger sister and brother, Sandra and Josue. The group had sought out a meeting with Boy With a Ball staff, including Jamie Johnson and Josue Garcia, to plead for the organization’s help. A period of intense drought, followed by a time of dramatic rain, had doomed their parents’ crops and left them without the money they needed to finish high school or go to college. They had fought so hard, for so long, and now their dreams were about to die.
Erlin sat in the midst of the group and listened as Jamie and Josue were moved by the passion and commitment in the student’s voices. He heard the Boy With a Ball team agree to pray and ask God to lead them to find the funds the students needed for scholarships to keep them in school if the students would agree to let BWAB form them into a team that would turn and develop young people and their families in Nicaraguan slums. As Erlin sat under his parent’s front porch in the candlelit night and listened to these young people struggle to achieve what he himself had just accomplished, he found himself almost involuntarily agreeing to lead the group and to help them reach their dreams.
Five years later, Erlin and Yovel have a young son named Andrew and their team has grown from a dozen, to almost triple that size. A good portion of those original students have just graduated from the university due to Erlin and Yovel’s work with Boy With a Ball, and now they have established teams in three locales: Managua, the island of Ometepe and the city of Leon.
Beyond providing scholarships, these teams have gone regularly into Barrio Morales, an impoverished neighborhood close to the university in Managua, and have provided tutoring centers and help to additional young people who would not make it without Boy With a Ball’s help.
As Boy With a Ball Nicaragua team members are graduating from college, they are turning and forming BWAB Professionals, an extension of the team who will turn and invest in others. They are very clearly making certain that the investment into their lives goes on to be a gift that keeps on giving.
Erlin and Yovel and little Andrew have traded in the “Nicaraguan Dream,” for becoming courageous leaders who are helping young Nicaraguans reach their own dreams and, as a result, the future of Nicaragua is being powerfully transformed.
For more information on Erlin and Yovel’s work with Boy With a Ball Nicaragua or for how you could get involved in this life-changing work, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. In December, Boston-based architecture firm, Tocci Building Companies, partnered with Boy With a Ball to support this important work in Nicaragua. We are grateful for the investment in this important work!