What we have achieved in San Juan del Sur since 1989:

  1. Schools built (with hands-on labor provided by the communities):

–MIRAVALLE: Primary School (1993)

–MONTE CRISTO: Primary School (1994)

–ESCAMEQUITA: Primary School (1996)

–CAPULIN: Primary School (1997)

–LAS PARCELAS: Primary School (1998))

–PAPATURRO: Primary School (2000)

–LOS BARBUDOS: Primary School (2001)

–OJOCHAL: Primary School (2002)

–LA REJEGA: Primary School (2003)

–CEBADILLA: Primary School with Composting Toilets(2005)

–BARRIO LA CUESTA: Primary School (1991)

–EL OSTIONAL: Primary School (1992)

–CEBADILLA: Primary School * (2011)

–SAN ANTONIO DE BASTON: Primary School and Children’s Lunchroom* (2012)

(* with “green materials,” minimal carbon footprint)

  1. Enlargement or repair of schools:


–PRESCOLAR NEWTON/MONTGRIS: Raised playground, new roof for library

–CENTRO PRIMARIO MONGALO: New roof, new water pump


  1. Other support for Education:

 –We supported the Women’s Literacy Campaign and the founding and continuation of the Free High School for Adults, that currently has 1,060 graduates and 500 students a year.

–We Built two Houses for Teachers (Barrio Holmann, 1990).

–Every year we spend about $1,500 to buy school supplies for preschools, primary schools and high schools.

  1. Appropriate Technology for Public Health:

 We have in place permanent programs to help rural families produce safe potable water in their homes (BioSand Filters) and to transform their country kitchens from caves full of smoke (dangerous for everyone’s health) into spaces with clean air, thanks to our EcoStoves which make the smoke disappear.

BioSand Filters: We have fabricated and installed over 700 of these filters using the old all-cement design, followed by another 130 made from 10” diameter PVC tubes, and another 500 “Filtritos” made from 5-gallon buckets. Most rural communities in the San Juan del Sur township have some families who own one of these three types of filters, which when working well eliminate 100% of parasite cysts, and up to 95% of E. coli (fecal) bacteria, typically found in rural wells.

–As for the EcoStoves with chimneys, we’ve fabricated and installed more than 600 in various communities, and since 2017 we’ve built them with Green Ingredients, using compressed un-fired Earth Blocks made of clay-rich soil and dried horse manure, thus AVOIDING THE USE OF CEMENT ENTIRELY and using only a small amount or iron rebar. After all, IF CEMENT WERE A COUNTRY IT WOULD BE THE WORLD’S THIRD LARGEST EMITTER OF GREENHOUSE GASES. Why are we building these stoves? Worldwide, cooking smoke kills more people than AIDS and Malaria combined, and we want to do our part to change this, one family and one village at a time. See video on homepage of

NEWS FLASH: BREAKING (GOOD) NEWS, 21 September 2022: The Newton/San Juan del Sur (Nicaragua) Sister City Project has just been awarded a generous grant from the Thoracic Foundation to support our EcoStove Project for two years. The Boston-based Thoracic Foundation supports efforts to combat respiratory illness. Newton’s EcoStove is made with unbaked earthenware bricks and has a chimney to vent smoke out of the house (and out of people’s lungs). Stoves are fabricated by participating families under supervision of Newton’s Stove Coordinator. Domestic air pollution (from cooking smoke) will cause more premature deaths on the planet this year than AIDS and Malaria combined (World Health Organization). Here is a recent video that shows how these earthenware stoves are built:

Note: We used to simply give the filters and stoves away, but for the last 6 or 7 years we have supplied the raw materials and technical expertise, but have required the families themselves to supply the actual labor of fabricating their own and their neighbors’ filters and stoves–what’s sometimes called “sweat equity” that encourages “owner buy-in” of these technologies.

We have also been promoting EcoLatrines, that is, Composting Toilets that turn human feces into compost, without leaking anything harmful into the water table or other parts of the environment. And starting in 2018 we have begun to participate in a project to install low-flow flush toilets with mini-leach-fields.

  1. 4. “Green” Construction Materials:

We have been promoting building materials with minimal “carbon footprints” when compared with traditional materials such as wood-fired bricks, cement and iron rebar. Our Compressed Earth Block Press makes large, strong building blocks out of a mixture or clay, sand and occasionally a handful of cement. In the past we have used these blocks to build EcoStoves, although starting in 2018 we have begun making the stoves of the Compressed Earth Blocks and only a little bit of iron  rebar, with two burners and an escape for the smoke to rise up the chimney. These stoves have an extremely high rate of combustion of the wood, and produce very little smoke. And getting away from the use of cement in our stoves is a crucial climate-friendly break through for us, because IF CEMENT WERE A COUNTRY IT WOULD BE THE WORLD’S THIRD LARGEST EMITTER OF GREENHOUSE GASES.

We have also experimented with the use of bamboo instead of iron to strengthen buildings.

  1. Links with other organizations:

 We have encouraged the participation of various other organizations that have assisted in the development of San Juan del Sur, including the following:

–Years ago we invited VOSH (Volunteer Optometric Services to Humanity) to bring a delegation of ophthalmologists and optometrists to San Juan del Sur,and they have returned every year for over 15 years to offer eye exams and free reading glasses or recycled prescription glasses to hundreds, even thousands of people in the area.

–We have arranged the work of hundreds of volunteers from various countries who have come to San Juan del Sur to work alongside us and our colleagues in schools, clinics, school construction, and other activities in rural communities. Among the institutions represented are: Simmons, Harvard (Medical School), Boston College, Lasell, Tufts, Lehigh, Rice, Massachusetts, Art Institute of Boston, Universities of California (Berkeley) and Oxford (England). Students from the two high schools in Newton, Massachusetts (Newton North and Newton South) have come regularly for many years to work on volunteer projects.

[It’s worth mentioning that most of these volunteers pay to live with local families, and thus have substantial impact on the economy of San Juan del Sur.]

–We have also coordinated our efforts with Rotary International, Engineers Without Borders, Habitat for Humanity, Fundación Tierra, Movimiento Comunal, Comunidad Connect, Union Church (Newton), Alcaldía de San Juan del Sur, NicaCan (Canada), Biblioteca Móvil, Barrio La Planta Project, the Center for Affordable Water and Sanitation Technology (Calgary) and others.

–More recently we have invited the Engineers Without Borders chapter from Lehigh University to work with us in San Juan del Sur and to make a multi-year commitment to return. Their projects have focused mainly on community-based water projects.

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