Heroes y Martires de Nandaime School opened on November 4, 2019 to support the education of 140 local children. One of the three classrooms was sponsored by retired OPP Sergeant, Mark Radke, who recently travelled to Nicaragua to assist with the construction.
Mark Radke was a dedicated police officer for 30 years before his retirement in 2018. While most people have a hard time adjusting to retirement, Mark was eager to have more time to give back to both his local and global community. He has chosen to take this new phase of his life to build a new school in Nicaragua with SchoolBOX.
As an OPP Sergeant and avid traveler, Mark has always been aware of his good fortune in comparison to the many people worldwide who struggle to meet their basic needs. Mark saw charity work as a natural continuation of his career supporting the community but was not sure where to start. He just knew that he wanted to help children and he recognized that education is the key to breaking the cycle of poverty.
Mark decided SchoolBOX was right for him after almost a year of research. He appreciated that SchoolBOX presents a specific mission to build schools and libraries in Nicaragua, maintains low overhead costs, and deliver results as he could see from the growing list of schools they had built.
Mark recognized that people are struggling all over the world and felt that it was important to support people in his local community as well as abroad. As a cancer survivor, Mark has seen the challenges many people face if they do not have family support throughout their illness. As a result, Mark also spends his time driving cancer patients to their doctor’s appointments with the Canadian Cancer Society.
Since getting involved with SchoolBOX, Mark has generously donated $23,000 to build one of three classrooms at the Heroes y Martires de Nandaime School. Prior to reconstruction, this school had been falling apart. The roof leaked when it rained, pieces of the wall blew off with strong winds, and a wooden beam had fallen while the children were fortunately playing outside. SchoolBOX recognized that this was an unsafe and unfit learning environment for the children of Nandaime and they needed donors like Mark to start construction.
Mark Radke, Nathalie Gunn, and St. Paul’s Anglican Church in Kanata have each sponsored a classroom to accommodate the 140 children who attend Heroes y Martires de Nandaime School.
Once construction was underway, Mark was keen to join the boots on the ground to see the progress first-hand. Although he had witnessed poverty in his previous travels, it was a different experience to spend a full ten days in the village and join the local’s daily lives. He saw that the school was the central hub of the community and acted as a gathering place for children and adults of all ages.
The whole community was immensely grateful for the support in rebuilding their school. Parents would join in to help the construction team whenever they could. Mark was especially inspired by two young girls who eagerly joined in on the work to help build their own school. Mark and his wife, Juliana, have written a message to the community which has been translated to Spanish and made into a plaque for their classroom. The message reads:
“It has been an honour and a privilege for us to be able to fund and assist in the construction of your new school. We believe education is the foundation from which to achieve your hopes and dreams and to improve ones life, family and community. Mark and Juliana Radke”
Mark’s contribution helps provide a safe learning environment for the children of all 120 families in the Nandaime community for many years to come. While everyone wishes they could make such a generous gift, Mark is quick to point out that even small gestures can have a big impact. Mark recalls an afternoon in Nicaragua when he saw an ice cream cart approaching and wanted to get a few people a special treat. With the help of Steven from SchoolBOX, he gathered all the nearby children and the construction crew to choose their ice cream. Mark ended up purchasing 51 ice cream treats which cost approximately $15 USD. Small gestures and contributions can bring so much joy to those in need.
To support SchoolBOX and the children of Nicaragua, join a volunteer trip and have hands-on involvement in improving learning conditions for generations to come. Mark wants everyone to recognize that “it doesn’t take a lot for us to help out and make a big difference”.
SchoolBOX is committed to ‘Making Education Possible’ for the children of Nicaragua. SchoolBOX implements cost effective programming by building schools, providing school supplies, libraries, and teacher training. SchoolBOX has built 111 classrooms, 84 libraries, and 61 washrooms in Nicaragua and serves over 20,000 students and teachers in 110 communities on an annual basis.
The SchoolBOX community is united in love for the children it serves and the belief that education can defeat poverty. SchoolBOX is comprised of thousands of people from different faiths and socioeconomic backgrounds. It empowers educators and students, and they in turn empower their communities and change the world.
Ilham Reda – Marketing & Community Outreach Manager