Project Ezra Schools - Established 1985
Miskito Indians, an indigenous tribe residing along the Caribbean coast of Honduras & Nicaragua.
Living in one of the most remote corners of the Central America means access to this area is limited to airplanes, boats, and foot. The principle highway through this region is the Coco River, the border between Honduras & Nicaragua.
In 1980, the Marxist Sandinista government of Nicaragua took control of the Miskito people. They confiscated boats, motors, and vehicles. Cubans arrived and began teaching a very atheistic & militaristic curriculum using drawings of assault rifles and grenades in their math books. Miskito leaders that resisted began to “disappear”, causing an armed uprising against the Sandinistas. As a result, in 1981 the government began a campaign to remove all inhabitants from the Coco River. Houses were burned, cattle killed, and fruit trees cut. 60,000 refugees escaped to neighboring Honduras. Over 100 communities were destroyed.
Rio Coco Chief Michael Bagby traveled from Maui to Honduras in 1984 with a relief team to deliver supplies donated by many individuals and churches on Maui, working with Truman Cunningham, a Miskito who coordinated the relief project.
In 1985 a Miskito teacher, Augusto Vicente, asked for help starting a school for refugee children. We purchased notebooks and pencils and Augusto began teaching a class that year. The following year, Sharon & Earl Washburn, teachers from Washington, helped us train teachers. Michael flew to Tegucigalpa, where he met Victoria Palacios, a professor of education and author of the “Coleccion Catrichitos” curriculum. Victoria volunteered to train our teachers and supply us with her schoolbooks.
In 1987, we began primary schools in 12 refugee villages and named the effort “Project Ezra” after a famous Biblical refugee. It was the following year that Laura Uyeda, President of Rio Coco, joined the team as Michael’s wife.
The war ended in 1990, and all the refugees returned to Nicaragua. The new Minister of Education asked us to cross the Coco River and become the “official” school in eight communities on the lower Rio Coco. Since then Project Ezra has grown in scope and quality.
Currently Project Ezra has primary and secondary schools in nine communities along the Rio Coco employing 54 teachers with an enrollment of over 1,600 students. Augusto Vicente still directs the school project with help from Truman’s son, Danilo Cunningham.
Over the past three decades, thanks to many volunteers, financial partners, and the Rio Coco Cafes, we have provided food and clothing, school supplies, teacher training, and educated thousands of Miskito children, many who are serving now as pastors, teachers and community leaders.