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What We Do - Nicaragua University in the Countryside
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Rotary Calgary Nicaragua Project -

October 2023 Update


In 2020 our Club was involved in a Rotary driven effort establishing a UNICAM or “University in the Countryside” in the Nicaraguan municipality of Tuma-La Dalia (located approximately 100 miles northeast of Nicaragua’s capital of Managua) to train local high school graduates to become qualified dentists, optometrists, and family doctors and provide care for a medically underserved population of approximately 300,000 people. Responding to a request for funding from the International Host Rotary Club of Calgary (Canada) and the local Host Rotary Club of Jinotega (Nicaragua), the Rotary Club of Woodland contributed and solicited additional financial support from other area Rotary clubs, as well as several individual donors. We collected a total of $5000 USD which was forwarded to the Rotary Club of Calgary.



The COVID-19 pandemic and policy decisions by the Nicaraguan government delayed the project, and other difficulties resulted in narrowing the scope of the project to just dental students who went into a 5-year program to graduate. University of Managua faculty members provided the training for these students, all of whom are from the local region and, it is hoped, are likely to remain after graduation. Eventually, with funding from two Rotary Districts and a Global Grant, more than $70,000 US were raised for the project.


Due to continued instability in the relationship between the project implementer UNICAM University and the Nicaragua government the original project will not be fully realized and is stopped with completion of the dental education portion of the project.  In accordance with The Rotary Foundation (TRF) policy, the remainder of the project has been cancelled and unused funds have been returned to TRF.  Although, the project fell short of its larger goal, the parties involved can be proud of the work completed, it will have a lasting positive impact.


We have received word this week from the International Host Club Project Leader that 67 students continue their dental training with faculty members from the University of Managua and went on to report:


Many of these dentists will hopefully remain in Nicaragua to provide desperately needed services in the poorest parts of the country. The students in the other professions continue to be trained. The faculty modified some of the plans and is managing without the financial support in various ways. Most importantly, the commitments to the students are being met and most will graduate. We don’t know how many will remain in Nicaragua because of the current political situation. Hopefully, many will but I am certain some will or already have left.


After the difficulties met throughout the project, I believe I would do it all over again if the outcomes were similar. I want to thank everyone again for their incredible patience and support throughout.”   – Israel ‘Sonny’ Belenkie


Some of the dental training equipment acquired with this grant.